Match of the Round
Broadmeadow Magic v Hamilton Olympic
Sunday 12th August, 2:30pm at Magic Park
As if this wasn’t already one of the biggest rivalries in local football, on Sunday there will be so much riding on the result out at Magic Park.
Everything will depend on Saturday’s result between Lambton and Maitland, but a win could see Magic secure second place should Lambton lose.
The same result for Hamilton could see them jump into the top four, should Maitland lose. Make no doubt – this will be a fantastic spectacle.
It was no less spectacular the last time these two sides met, when Magic triumphed 4-2 in a six-goal thriller with both James Virgili and Kale Bradbury getting doubles.
Magic has spent a long time on the sidelines: excluding their Tuesday night 5-1 win over Newcastle Jets Youth, they hadn’t played since their FFA Cup victory against Canberra United back on July 25.
What Ruben Zadkovich will be hoping for is the desire from his men to carry over their good form of late into this weekend. Second place is up for grabs, potentially to be secured on Sunday.
That would more than likely set up a mammoth semi-finals showdown with Lambton. It looks likely it won’t be until then they welcome back main man James Virgili, who is struggling to overcome an injury he picked up in the FFA Cup win over Canberra.
Hamilton has been slowly getting their troops back to full fitness, and cameos from Jarryd Sutherland and Stuart Musalik are drawing Peter McGuinness closer to having a full contingent to pick from.
Jed Hornery could well make his return from injury this weekend also: he was on the bench in the stunning 1-1 draw with Lambton, but wasn’t risked by McGuinness as he hadn’t completed a full week of training.
The equation is simple for Hamilton, as it has been for a number of weeks. They need to keep winning to have any shot at the finals.
Either way, there will be goals in this one. Broadmeadow’s 44 goals and Hamilton’s 36 have them as the top two scoring teams in the division. With both desperate for victory, will they throw defence to the wind and simply go for it?
Adamstown Rosebud v Valentine Phoenix
Saturday 11th August, 2:30pm at Adamstown Oval
It’s a battle of the cellar dwellers, and just who ends up there come the end of next weekend could be decided on Saturday.
All it’d take is a point for Adamstown to avoid bottom spot, and fresh off a solid performance last weekend, they might fancy themselves for even more.
The last time these two met, it was Adamstown who triumphed. A 2-1 win out at CB Complex, with Adamstown going down and coming back all in the opening 22 minutes.
Adamstown’s solid performance last week was cruelled by a 92nd minute Adam Cawley goal, which condemned Rosebud to a 1-0 loss. They fought hard with a remarkably young side, but ultimately went down.
It means Adamstown has nearly gone through an entire round of matches without a win – their last came back in Round 10, against this weekend’s opponents, Valentine.
This is the last match of Adamstown’s season, as they have the bye next weekend and defeat would have them counting on things to go their way to avoid last place.
Whereas a point will do for Adamstown, nothing but a win will cut it for Valentine this weekend if they harbour ambitions of avoiding last place. They’re currently six points off 10th place.
They didn’t do their hopes of avoiding the spoon any favours last weekend, going down 4-0 to Charlestown. They were helped by Edgeworth’s victory over Adamstown, which has kept them in the running.
It will be a battered Phoenix outfit this weekend. Scott Carter, Reece Pettit, Aaron Niyonkuru, Luke Willard are sure to miss out. Riley Russell and Chris Brown are in doubt, and Wilson Edwards is out with suspension.
What the coaches said
Darren Sills (Valentine)
“Both us and Adamstown are playing for pride and their boys are in the box seat. In our department we have eight out, we’ve got a shocking run of injuries at the moment but with that comes opportunity for some of our 20s to get a kick in first grade and for us to see where they’re at.
“At this stage, we’ll bring in our import Shinji Shozu. Probably young Mitchell Lawrence, a young lad who we’ve got a bit of time for. Possibly Dean Pettit, and maybe Jesse Feighan or Jordan Bower.
“We’ve won two games all year so we’re not confident about winning the game of football, we are confident in seeing what these guys can do and giving opportunity. The guys that have been there week in week out have tried hard and battled well, we’ve been right in it in a couple of games. Last weekend wasn’t really a 4-0 game… but at the moment we’re finding ways to not go on and win the game of football.
“We were very much second in the physical stakes against Charlestown, and unless we can match teams in physicality we will have trouble in this league. We’ve moved the ball around quite well but have trouble once we get to a certain part of the pitch. We’ll do the best we can this weekend, and if we win the game it gives us an opportunity against Edgeworth next weekend to avoid the spoon.”
Lambton Jaffas v Maitland Magpies
Saturday 11th August, 2:30pm at Arthur Edden Oval
This is one of two matches this weekend who’s result will prove immensely crucial to the top four make-up. As such, it promises to be an absolute thriller.
Lambton need a win to keep their title hopes alive and three points would lock down a finish inside the top three.
Maitland could potentially maintain their place inside the top four with a loss, but will be desperate for a win to put all the more pressure on Hamilton on Sunday.
A Braedyn Crowley double proved the difference last time these two sides met, with Lambton triumphing 3-2 out at Cooks Square Park back in Round 10.
Jaffas went so close to victory last weekend but a 90th minute Jarryd Sutherland strike denied them the three points. Instead, they were shared in the 1-1 draw with Hamilton.
Missing key players at various junctures of the season has been something of an issue for Lambton this season, but things might be on the up this weekend with the expected return of Jobe Wheelhouse and Joel Griffiths.
In third place on 34 points, they’re six points ahead of Maitland (28) with just two games to play. Any kind of result for Lambton this weekend guarantees them a spot in the top three, and a likely semi-final against Broadmeadow.
The end isn’t quite as clear for Maitland, who could still slip as low as sixth by the time the season is out. They need a win this weekend to have the best shot at avoiding such a fate.
Things could have looked much easier for the Magpies had they not conceded a late equaliser at home to Lakes last weekend which secured the visitors a 1-1 draw.
That ensured the margin between them in fourth, and Hamilton in sixth remained just one point after Olympic’s draw with Lambton. They may be on the hunt for more goals this weekend, a quest which may be supported by the expected return of speedstar Ryan Clarke.
Edgeworth Eagles v Lake Macquarie City
Sunday 12th August, 2:30pm at Jack McLaughlan Oval
A single point is all it will take for Edgeworth to secure an incredible fourth successive premiership on Sunday afternoon.
What better place to do it than at Jack McLaughlan Oval? However, Lakes have nothing to lose and with the Golden Boot still on the line, will be sure to go for it.
Damien Zane will be hoping his side can edge out a win similar to the one they picked up back in Round 10 over Lakes – a 2-0 win at Macquarie Field.
A win this weekend would secure a premiership which almost no one thought possible at the beginning of the season. Having lost core players from the squad which had won the past three, most wrote them off for the top honour this season.
Instead, Edgeworth has proved everyone wrong. Last weekend they went one step closer with a 1-0 win over Adamstown which came in the final minutes of that clash.
One player who may make his return to first team action this week is Jamie Byrnes. He’s been sidelined with injury, but started and scored two in the under 20s 3-3 draw with Adamstown last weekend.
Six points and 18 goals clear of last place with two games to play, Lakes are guaranteed of avoiding the wooden spoon and that’s thanks to last weekend’s result.
The 1-1 draw with Maitland was a something of a rescue mission, with Mitchell Hunter’s header in the 87th minute of play cancelling out a goal earlier in the second half.
With nothing to lose for Lakes this weekend, the likelihood of a free-flowing and entertaining performance from their end increases. There’s prize of delaying Edgeworth’s near-inevitable inauguration, and the potential for Sam Walker to tie up the Golden Boot.
What the coaches said:
Damien Zane (Edgeworth)
“We approach it like any other week. For us it’s Old Boys Day, and for them it’s always good to spoil the party. Our boys, week in week out, are ready to go so complacency won’t be an issue for us I’m sure. As far as respect goes, we have a lot [for Lakes]. They’ve been doing quite well, I’ve watched them closely and I’ve enjoyed the way they’ve played.
“It’s hard to disagree that Sam Walker is the main threat, look how many goals he’s scored. He’s a clever player, but I’ve been quite impressed with their whole attack. Tom Sparre has plenty of pace and is very effective, Paul Sichalwe has had a great season and I always thought he was a decent player, and Mitch Hunter I rate pretty highly.
“We’re pretty calm and we always have been, it’s a young team and they’re quite good under pressure. The only pressure we ever feel is our own expectation… they’ll be super keen to get it done and to get it done on Old Boys Day would be something special, but they know that just rocking up isn’t going to be good enough. I’m sure Lakes don’t want to be on the field while we’re celebrating a premiership.
“It will be a difficult job but we’re confident in the squad. Will Bower jolted his ankle last weekend so he’ll be out, and Aaron Oppedisano just strained his hamstring so he’ll miss out as well.”
Weston Bears v Newcastle Jets Youth
Sunday 12th August, 2:30pm at Rockwell Automation Park
With just two weeks to go until the NPL Northern NSW season is over, Weston has already done better than they had in the last two seasons combined.
Whether they can stretch that record just that bit further, and do their bit to send Steve Piggott out in style, is the question this weekend.
It was Weston who had the better of the result last time these two met on a chilly Wednesday night out at Rockwell Automation Park – a 2-1 win back in Round 10.
The Bears had the bye last weekend, but before that went down 3-1 to Valentine. It was a disappointing result for Weston, who came into that one off the back of wins over Charlestown and Adamstown.
Currently sat in 8th position on 19 points, they’ve earned more this season than the last two seasons combined (in 2017 they got 7, and in 2016 it was 6). Regardless of their results in the next two matches, this will be their best tally since 2015 when they managed 29.
One area where Weston may focus this weekend is scoring more goals, which is something they haven’t excelled at this season. They’ve scored 26, the third lowest output across the league. Jackson Burston leads their scorers with 7.
It’s been a tough few weeks for Jets Youth, who didn’t win a match against a number of quality opposition over at China’s Weifang Cup.
This was compounded on Tuesday night, when they were routed 5-1 by a ruthless Broadmeadow Magic outfit. Kent Harrison scored their solitary goal from the penalty spot.
Five points off fourth-place Maitland, realistically there’s little hope the Jets will upset that apple cart. A win this weekend would guarantee they finish seventh or higher.
What the coaches said:
Labi Hailiti (Jets Youth)
“Weston has shown all year that they’re a good side, they’ve got some experience and they’ve got an experienced coach who’s been around a while. Our last game against them was a tight one… which could have gone both ways, and we’re expecting a tough Sunday afternoon.
“It should be a good game. We’re coming towards the end of the season so we should be doing better, it will be an interesting game but I’m hoping that both teams will turn up and give a good display.
“We felt okay [after the Broadmeadow defeat], and it’s not an excuse it’s reality but we’d come back from China less than 24 hours before. To play the way we did in the first half, you can’t fault the players and it’s credit to them after being in China for ten days. In the second half it got away, but we’re proud of what the young boys achieved in China. The other night was tough, but they should be proud of what they’ve done.
“If you ask me would I rather us go to a tournament like that and give our boys some experience, I’d say I hope we can do it every time because the experience these boys gained over there, playing against some of the best talent will show you these kids are on the right path. At the moment everyone is fine, we’ll have a few days off but we’ll be fine by Sunday.”
Charlestown has the bye.