Match of the Round
Broadmeadow Magic 1 (J. Virgili 55’) def. by Edgeworth Eagles 6 (Evans 4’, Rose 61’, Bower 64’, Smith 83’, 86’, 89’)
Sunday 9 March, 2:30 pm, Magic Park
It had all the elements to be a tight, edge-of-your-seat first round encounter as Broadmeadow hosted Edgeworth in a National Premier Leagues (NPL) Northern NSW (NNSW) Grand Final rematch, but incredibly, the score-line finished anything but close as the Eagles got their revenge through a late Oliver Smith debut hat-trick sealing a huge first win.
It didn’t take long for the Eagles to get the ball rolling for 2019, and it was their captain and fearless leader Josh Evans who managed to jump onto the end of a corner and give his side the early lead.
The rest of the first half experienced a rather cagey affair as neither side could get on top of one another, but moments in the second half, a sleek piece of individual brilliance from former Newcastle Jet James Virgili equalled the score-line. Virgili received a nice pass into the box from his brother, Luke, and after some quick feet and touches, managed to make enough room for himself to bend it into the top right corner.
Magic possessed the momentum and came so close to taking the lead when Kale Bradbery whipped in a shot from distance that took a diving Josh Low to stop it. As they so often do though, Damian Zane’s side were able to muster their way back in front following an incredible volleyed shot from experienced man Josh Rose, that will certainly be looked back on at the end of season highlights.
Rose wasn’t finished there though, as mere moments later he was setting up a goal for Will Bower with a searching low pass into the box. Bower took one touch to put himself into a defensive hole, and with his next touch, buried it past Broadmeadow goalkeeper Paul Bitz.
With control of the game, the Eagles piled on the pressure and turned what was once a tight affair, into demolition and they did it through their new star striker.
Smith made the most of three chances at the end of the game to nab the first hat-trick of the 2019 NPL season and the three points in exuberant fashion.
Zane was extremely pleased with the performance of his new star forward, but also made it clear it was a brilliant all-round team effort.
“I was really happy with the way we played,” Zane said.
“I thought in the first half we were fantastic…I thought we were pretty fluid especially with our new target man and a new-look strike force. I can’t really fault anyone for their performance, it was just an all-round good performance.
“I thought it might be a game where the goals wouldn’t come Ollie’s [Smith] way, but I knew he was going to be an integral part of our game plan, and in the end, because of the way he played, he got rewarded.
“The way we ran out the game was another big plus for us. I’m ecstatic really, and the boys deserve it for the effort they’ve put in.”
After losing defenders David Ifield, and captain Josh Piddington to injury at a vital moment of the game, Ruben Zadkovich said that although it was unlucky and untimely, he felt his side deserved to lose.
“We kind of got what we deserved in the end. It just blew out,” Zadkovich said.
“We just had a little period that was like Murphy’s Law – anything that could go against us, did.
“We were kind of on top at about the 60-minute mark when it was 1-1, and I was looking to introduce Kristian [Brymora] and while we were doing that, Joshy Rose scored an absolute bomb and then within five minutes they scored another goal and we also had injuries and changes to our defence…the timing of everything just went against us.
“Both the injuries to Davey Ifield and Piddo [Piddington] look to be really serious…we kind of got found out a little bit with not enough defensive players there and it was just magnified by the fact that we played poorly.”
Charlestown City Blues 1 (Gabriel OG 56’) def. by Newcastle Jets Youth 3 (Thurgate 21’, Petratos 32’, Hayes 49’)
Thursday 6 March, 7:45 pm, Lisle Carr Oval
The first match of the NPL NNSW 2019 season started with a bang as Charlestown City and Jets Youth played out an excitement-filled Thursday night fixture which saw the Jets run out in a rather dominant display.
The Blues looked as if they’d be first to score Scott Smith, but after he wasn’t able to take advantage, it was instead a man who’s featured multiple times throughout the Hyundai A-League season for the Newcastle Jets senior side Angus Thurgate, who opened the league’s scoring after clinically tucked away a counter-attacking chance following a Pat Langlois through ball.
Not long after, it looked inevitable that Charlestown would equalise through Cal Lewis when his shot cannoned into the woodwork and eventually fell to Kane Goodchild close to goal, however his shot was incredibly stopped by a diving Noah James.
Down the other end though, the young Jets continued to take the most of their chances as Maki Petratos slotted home a crossed ball to give them a 2-0 lead at halftime before captain Kieran Hayes looked to seal the win with a goal early in the second half.
Charlestown were gifted a slither of hope halfway through the second half after Callum Gabriel pulled off a disastrous own goal from almost 30 yards from goal, but luckily for him, his team were able to hold on and collect the three points to kick-start their season.
That win marks the first time that the Jets Youth have a Round 1 match since 2014, and successfully plants them inside the top four.
Weston Bears 1 (Wilson 7’) def. by Hamilton Olympic 2 (Kawachi 40’, Pettit 67’ PEN)
Friday 7 March, 7:45 pm, Rockwell Automation Park
In lead-up to the season, the Weston Bears made their intentions clear that in 2019, they wanted to return to the finals, however, their season got off on the wrong foot at home, after they surrendered an early lead at the hands of fellow finals-contenders, Hamilton Olympic.
Making his debut in the league, Liam Wilson got his career at the Bears off to a brilliant start after being the quickest to latch onto a Jason Tjien-Fooh shot which was initially saved by Tyler Warren in goal.
Hamilton looked to struggle to create any strong opportunities at goal, but just minutes before half-time were able to catch the Bears napping with a quick free-kick. Cody Lucas knocked through a picture-perfect long-ball to new Japanese signing Shinichi Kawachi, who coolly took one touch before burying it past Tristian Esquilant.
The second half proceeded to be a back-and-forth contest but the breakthrough finally came however under rather controversial circumstances. After Kawachi missed a golden 1-on-1 opportunity in front of goal, the ball spilled out wide and in a contested pursuit for the ball, the referee deemed Weston defender Zac Sneddon, to have illegally infringed Rhys Cooper inside the box, receiving a yellow card and a penalty against him in the process.
Up stepped veteran Scott Pettit who easily buried the penalty home, giving his side the lead and the eventual victory.
Olympic’s victory now means that they’ve now won the last 10 matches between them and the Bears and puts them in the top four after Round 1.
Adamstown Rosebud 1 (Russell OG 8’) def. by Valentine Phoenix 2 (Willard 10’, 18’)
Saturday 8 March, 5:30 pm, Adamstown Oval
They may have only been able to muster two victories all last season, but Valentine has already entered the winners’ circle for 2019 after narrowly defeating Adamstown away from home thanks to a Luke Willard double in their first match of the season.
The match certainly didn’t begin in the Phoenix’s favour though after disaster struck in the opening minutes when Valentine defender Riley Russell attempted to clear a Matt Sokoulsky cross in the box but instead tucked away into his own net.
Luckily for his sake though, his side weren’t behind for long at all as Luke Willard pounced onto a Rosebud defensive error knocking the ball into the bottom corner from outside the box with his first touch.
Goalkeeper Perry Budden proved to be the other star of the show for Valentine though, and there was no better example of that when he made a tremendous double save on the edge of the box to keep his side level.
Moments later, Willard again popped up for his side, this time from close range. New signing Ben Hay launched a shot from distance and after hitting the upright, it fell for Brenton Olzomer who nicely flicked it behind to a waiting Willard and he made no mistakes.
Chasing the lead, Adamstown looked to begin lumping on the pressure after altering their structure and formation and despite keeping Budden busy in goal, they weren’t able to find a way past him resulting in their first loss of the year.
Valentine co-coach Sam Griffin praised his team’s defence for their efforts in keeping Adamstown at bay in the final third of the game, particularly his two men up front, Willard and Olzomer.
“It was outstanding [the team’s defence]. It’s something we’ve really tried to get the guys to buy into, that defensive mindset,” Griffin said.
“To hold on like that, and to see everyone come off having given everything in the tank, it was the right reward for the amount they put in.
“To be able to come away and finish off the game, after being guilty of that in the past, it was outstanding.
“I do think the way the front two defended from the front made a big difference to the team mentality. We were much more on the front foot especially early on.”
After coming back from a goal down early on, Griffin admitted that there was a sense of rejuvenation across the squad compared to last season and an air of confidence to be able to bounce back from challenges.
“There is a fair bit of confidence in the group. They do know they have the ability to come from behind,” Griffin said.
“It says a lot about the character of the guys.”
Lambton Jaffas 5 (Kantarovski 31’, Parris 38’, Sessions 40’, Remington 76’, Sefo 90’) def. Lake Macquarie City Roosters 1 (Okeno 71’)
Saturday 8 March, 5:30 pm, Arthur Edden Oval
The Jaffas have experienced a lot of change over the off-season, but there were no signs of relapse as they entered the 2019 season with a dominant victory over Lake Macquarie City.
The drizzly weather looked to make it a defender’s nightmare and that was proving to be true as Lakes struggled to keep Lambton at bay with only some great saves from keeper Stuart Plant keeping them in the game over the first third of the match.
Finally, the Roosters’ defence buckled, and the floodgates opened as the Jaffas were able to incredibly score three goals in just eight minutes to turn the match completely in their favour.
Midfielder Michael Kantarovski was the first to jump onto the scoresheet following a nicely headed goal, before young man Finn Parris somehow squeezed in a goal past Plant from close to the by-line, and then Michael Sessions also finished off a searching cross.
Lakes needed to turn the game in their favour quickly in the second half and had a golden opportunity early on through Mitch Hunter however his shot, as well as the follow-up chance, were both terrifically saved by veteran goalkeeper Brad Swancott.
The Roosters eventually cracked through Lambton’s defence when Morgan Okeno found the back of the net, however that spark of hope was quickly put out by a great Luke Remington chipped goal before the icing was put on the cake by Isaac Sefo just before stoppage time.
After having such a strong showing in the Ampcontrol Heritage Cup, this weekend’s result will be one that Lake Macquarie City and coach Nick Webb will be extremely disappointed in.