Match of the Round
Hamilton Olympic v Broadmeadow Magic
Sunday 20th May, 2:30pm at Darling Street Oval
It’s one of the biggest battles in Northern NSW football given the history between two of the local heavyweights, and this weekend’s clash is especially vital for both sides.
Magic could go top and Hamilton could go within touching distance of the top four with a win, but the history between the two sides won’t offer any clear favourite. In the 27 encounters since 2008, Hamilton has won 13 and Broadmeadow 11.
Hamilton hasn’t enjoyed the best start to the season and currently sit six points off the top four. With two league wins on the trot though, they’re back in form and looking for another scalp on Sunday.
Last Saturday was a tight, gritty 2-1 win over a quality filled Lambton side while Wednesday night they had a 2-0 win in the FFA Cup against fellow NPL side Weston, and their fourth win in as many matches.
If Hamilton can manage to keep a clean sheet this weekend, it may be the difference. They’ve kept just two in all competitions this season, but given Broadmeadow has scored on every outing this season, it may be a big ask.
The back end of last season saw Magic go on a magnificent run of victories and just miss out on a shot at championship glory, and now after six wins on the trot, things are looking up once more out at Magic Park.
Sunday is a chance for Broadmeadow to jump into top spot, given they have a higher goal difference and are just three points behind league leaders Charlestown who has the bye this weekend. That goal difference carries with it some of the best records in the league – they’ve scored the most and conceded the least.
Mitch Oxborrow was the key man on his second debut for Broadmeadow last weekend, and he’ll undoubtedly be so once again on Sunday. It will be interesting to see how Magic change their game, which usually places a lot of importance on their wide men, to adapt to the narrow pitch at Darling Street Oval.
What the coaches said:
Peter McGuinness (Hamilton)
“In patches last night (against Weston) we played quite well, we didn’t execute very well in the front third, we got in a lot of positions to create something and our final delivery wasn’t very good… the intensity was quite good, in the second half we got the goal we probably deserved, got a second late but the performance itself was quite good, happy to get through to the next round.
“Magic are a good side, they’ve got the best for and against and have scored more goals than anyone else in the league, they’ve got a lot of attacking threats, obviously they’re an experienced side with Piddo [Josh Piddington] at the back and Jon Griffiths whose very experienced, Luke Virgili, Mitch Oxborrow back gives them a little more attacking flair too.
“It’s one of the biggest games on the calendar, it’s probably the biggest derby and it has been for a number of years, even back to when I was playing they were always big games, and as a player you wanted to be playing in them because generally a good atmosphere, a good rivalry that isn’t over the top, it’s a sporting rivalry and it adds to the colour of the league.
“Our side isn’t young in age, but we’re young as a group and in how much time we’ve had together and the more time we spend together, playing games and training, developing those combinations and understanding how we want to play, that’s when we’ll get better. I’ve always thought our performances have been good but we’ve just not been smart enough to get points out of games, but that’s been getting better.”
Lake Macquarie City v Edgeworth Eagles
Saturday 19th May, 2:30pm at Macquarie Field
Home hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for Lakes so far this season, who host an Edgeworth side who have lost just the once on the road in 2018.
Losses for both sides last weekend will spur them on to improved performances on Saturday, but Edgeworth will have history on their side: they haven’t lost to Lakes since 2013.
Just one win in their past five matches for Lakes has them sliding slowly down the ladder. Currently in tenth place, the Roosters have lost their last two matches – 2-0 to Maitland on Saturday, and 3-1 to Charlestown in the FFA Cup.
That loss to Maitland was notable for the absence of Lakes mainstays Tom and Sam Walker, who returned in the loss to Charlestown midweek. As always, those two men will be key this weekend – especially Sam, who only just holds onto his spot at the top in the race for the golden boot.
Home form hasn’t been a strong point for Lakes this season. They’ve won just two of their six matches at home, one of those against a weakened Maitland side in the league. They’re one of the leakiest teams too – 21 goals have gone through in eight league matches.
Top of the league and flying high, unbeaten since Round One was Edgeworth this time last week. A shock 1-0 defeat to Adamstown at home knocked them down to fourth place and was followed by a tight 1-0 win over Valentine in the FFA Cup on Wednesday.
Something which may worry Lakes will be the strength of Edgeworth on the road. They’ve lost just once from four matches away from home this season, but are conceding at a rate of slightly more than two a match.
So, will there be goals? It’s tough to tell. Edgeworth is the leakiest of the teams in the top four with 12 goals conceded but have only let through three in their past five matches.
What the coaches said:
Nick Webb (Lakes)
“Our first-half performance against Charlestown (midweek in the FFA Cup) was really poor by our standards, but the second half we did really well and dominated in the second half but just couldn’t put it in the net, one of those games but the first half performance didn’t allow us to push it as far as we wanted to.
“We rested a few players so we’re right for this week, but all on deck… I expect a tough match, Edgy got beat last weekend so they’ll be fired up and ready to go, they’re coached by the best coach in the league for some years now so it’s going to be a tough game all around, but the boys take on every challenge so if we can just stay in the contest I’m confident we can get away with the three points.
“We’ll set up how we always set up, we have a structure and that’s how we play, look to exploit wide areas and that’s what we’ll be looking to do again, try to block up the midfield and stop the ball getting to McBreen who’s still one of the best players in the league at his ripe old age, which is a testament to him.
“The table doesn’t lie, at the end of the day we are equal last and we’ve just got to make sure we’re better every week… we know where we should be, and it’s in our own hands.”
Valentine Phoenix v Adamstown Rosebud
Sunday 20th May, 2:30pm at CB Complex
Back at CB Complex where they won their solitary league match of the season, Valentine desperately needs another three points but have it all to do against a red-hot Adamstown.
Rosebud have beat the league leaders two weeks running now and have lost to Valentine only once in recent history which stretches back to an FFA Cup clash in 2015.
Bottom of the ladder with six points, Valentine need a result. A 2-0 defeat to Charlestown in the second half last weekend was their fourth this year in the league.
Coach Darren Sills chose to rotate the squad on Wednesday night for the FFA Cup clash against Edgeworth, and it nearly paid off. A tight 1-0 defeat thanks to a second-half Dom Bizzarri goal denied them the opportunity to go to the quarter-finals.
The stats don’t make pretty reading for Phoenix – they’ve conceded twice as many goals as they’ve scored and hold the unfortunate record of the second worst goal difference in the division. They’ve snagged a win and a draw from their three matches at home – it’s a tough Adamstown they’ll face on Sunday though.
After going six rounds without a win at the start of the season, Adamstown is now one of the form teams of the competition. Five wins from their past five have propelled them from lingering around the bottom to within five points of the top four.
Two of those wins have been over the league leaders – their last triumph in the league was over Edgeworth, courtesy of a lone Luke Vallone goal in the second half. They overcame Raymond Terrace 3-0 in what shaped as a potentially tricky FFA Cup fixture on Wednesday night.
As the fairly new and fairly young cohort at Adamstown spends more time together, the better they seem to be getting. A red-hot run of form has turned heads around the competition however, with the bye next weekend, getting the three points on Sunday may be their most crucial task yet.
What the coaches said:
Darren Sills (Valentine)
“I’m very happy with how the side did on Wednesday night (in the FFA Cup loss to Edgeworth), we brought in some young guys from the 20s …I can’t fault the effort and the commitment of the lads, they did really, really well last night. We had a couple of chances, they had a couple of chances, it was a good game of footy.
“We had three blokes hit with the flu and one of them, Riley Russell, played a full 90 minutes at left back, and he was so crook… hopefully, he’s on the mend now. Chris Brown comes back hopefully after training on Thursday and plays in the 20s, he’s only played 15 minutes this season and his experience will be invaluable for some of the young blokes.
“Adamstown are on a crest of a wave, they’re going to be very very hard to beat, we have had trouble with them in the last two seasons and they’re similar to us, without being disrespectful they don’t have any out-and-out big names, former A-League stars… they’re a club like us, without a budget of some of the bigger clubs.
“What we have to do then is give some young blokes a go, give some people who are fringe players at other clubs a go, Cansdell-Sherriff has done a good job with them and turned their season around and I hope we can do the same.”
Maitland Magpies v Lambton Jaffas
Sunday 20th May, 2:30pm at Cooks Square Park
Two of the contenders touted by the pundits pre-season, the result at Cooks Square Park on Sunday will have a huge impact on the ladder no matter the winner.
A Jaffas win would close the gap between them and the four to just one point, whereas a Maitland win could potentially stretch it to seven. There’s no big advantage when you look at the history between the two teams – six played since 2015, with two wins for Maitland and three for Jaffas.
A loss to Edgeworth dented their hopes at going top of the ladder at the end of round eight, but given results last weekend a win over Lambton today could see them jump into first place.
All the stats look good for the Magpies so far this season – second-highest scoring side, with the equal second strongest defence in the league. Just the one defeat at home this season will give them confidence ahead of another tough outing on Sunday.
Maitland is the only NPL club playing this weekend which wasn’t involved in midweek FFA Cup action, and this might give them a slight advantage this weekend.
Especially so against a Lambton outfit which is currently struggling for some depth whose task won’t be made any easier on Sunday due to their midweek FFA Cup clash against Northern League One side Cessnock.
The 4-1 win puts them through to the sixth round of the FFA Cup, but coach James Pascoe will have their attention turned firmly back to the league. The season is just ten weeks old, but a loss on Sunday could potentially open up a seven-point gap between Jaffas and the top four.
One player who will be fresh for Sunday’s trip to Maitland is youngster Braedyn Crowley, who was ineligible for Wednesday night’s FFA Cup fixture. Former Jets Youth man Finn Parris has also signed for Lambton and started against Cessnock.
The Round 10 match between Weston and Jets Youth was played on the 9th of May, due to Jets Youth’s involvement in the Hong Kong Soccer Sevens this weekend. Weston won 2-1.
Charlestown has the bye this weekend