Match of the Round
Charlestown City Blues (6th) vs. Maitland FC (10th)
Sunday 14 April, 2:30 pm, Lisle Carr Oval
Both Charlestown City and Maitland were hopeful of playing finals football this season but unfortunately them, it’s been a rather staggered start for various reasons.
After losing their first match of the season, the Blues looked to have regained their form with two good wins over Edgeworth and Lake Macquarie but went down last week in a disappointing showing against Adamstown, however, their opponents this week are still yet to win a match.
Albeit, Maitland have only played two matches and have struggled to actually get any game time and their match fitness looked to be a burden in the last third of the game when facing Broadmeadow last week.
Joel Wood picked up his first goal for the Magpies last week and needs to continue that form as does young defender Tom Davies who managed to work his way into the NPL Northern NSW Team of the Week.
For Charlestown, their diverse style of play and formation has often seen them susceptible to counter-attacking football. Multiple of their conceded goals have come from mistakes in the midfield and at the back, therefore, leadership players such as Matt Tull and Pete McPherson will need to take further control to assure that doesn’t happen.
In last year’s fixture at Lisle Carr Oval, Maitland went down to Charlestown 3-1, but in their seven other NPL NNSW matches, they’ve not lost to the Blues.
Coach of Charlestown David Tanchevski said that he was confident they would improve on the mistakes made against the Rosebuds and admitted they need to.
“You know what to expect from Maitland. They’re hardworking, they’re physical and they’re pretty strong all over the park,” Tanchevski said.
“We didn’t match their [Adamstown] intensity or enthusiasm in the first 15 minutes.
“Our distribution when playing out from the back probably needs to be something we tighten up on especially when playing three at the back.
“I think Maitland are just flying under the radar…they’ll be straight back up into the top four once they get a few games under their belt.
“We know you’ve got to be on your game when you verse Maitland because they can hurt you pretty badly otherwise. We’re expecting another tough game.”
Valentine Phoenix (7th) vs. Lambton Jaffas (1st)
Saturday 13 April, 2:30 pm, CB Complex
Even though six places separate Valentine and Lambton on the ladder, they’re both entering this match still undefeated, however, the Jaffas have played two more matches than their opponents.
The hosts pulled off a stunning late, stoppage time comeback against Weston last weekend to gain a point but prior to that hadn’t taken the field in almost a month, while Lambton, who are still the current league leaders, have enjoyed a week off with the bye.
The Phoenix have won three of their last five matches when facing the Jaffas, but last year weren’t able to even score a goal in either of their matches.
Lambton’s defence has still remained strong in 2019, but their attack was being their primary weapon having scored 10 goals in their three games which includes eight different goal-scorers.
They’ll also be squaring off with their former teammate in Ben Hay as well as Jacob Bailey who trained and was thought to have signed with the Jaffas until late pre-season.
Valentine co-coach Sam Griffin was cautious of the tough task ahead of them this weekend and of the areas they need to improve in after returning to the field for the first time in a long time last week.
“Yay…coming up against Lambton fresh off a bye, that’s what everyone looks forward to,” Griffin joked.
“I don’t think we recognised how much [not playing] would affect us going into the Weston game just because everyone was buzzing so much.
“I think it showed that because we were a bit less fluent after not playing many games, it will probably mean that we do have to adjust a bit and just accept that some things will have to be a bit grubbier and not as refined just as long as it’s effective.”
Hamilton Olympic (8th) vs. Lake Macquarie City Roosters (11th)
Saturday 13 April, 6:30 pm, Darling Street Oval
It’s been a tough start to 2019 for Lake Macquarie as they are still yet to collect a point this season, while results have also not really been going Hamilton’s way, despite the fact they’ve looked strong in their matches.
Last week saw Olympic edged out in a close one to the defending premiers Edgeworth, and it was the same story when they lost to Broadmeadow and drew with Lambton. This weekend’s match will be considered a crucial one as they need to start turning their promising football into points to keep in touch with the top four.
For Lakes though, they need any points they can get – plain and simple. They went down by large margins in their first two matches but bounced back by putting in a sound performance against Jets Youth last weekend, however, no goals came.
The Roosters had strong hopes of being a dark horse this season, and if they begin to notch some points up on the board, a sense confidence and form could soon be established right across the young squad.
Possessing one of the better defensive records in the league, Hamilton need to start lightening the load for their backline by knocking in some goals as they’ve only been able to score from either the penalty spot or from Shinichi Kawachi’s boot who’s grabbed two goals so far this year.
Last season Olympic were able to defeat Lakes in both games which were rather high-scoring too, 4-3 and 3-2, so on-lookers this weekend may be lucky enough to be treated to a flurry of goals.
Edgeworth Eagles (2nd) vs. Adamstown Rosebud (9th)
Saturday 13 April, 7:30 pm, Jack McLaughlan Oval
It’s a contest that features the two most successful clubs in the region and although neither coach or club will be entirely focused on it right now, there’s a possibility that this Adamstown’s side can help stop Edgeworth from breaking their records this year.
After finally winning their first match of the season last weekend, Rosebud’s coach Shane Cansdell-Sherriff will be fixed on harnessing that momentum to push on further up the table.
Midfielder Matt Sokoulsky has been a consistent stand-out for the club this year and was rewarded with a spot in the NPL NNSW Team of the Week for Round 4 as were his teammates Chris Berlin and Oliver Davies.
Edgeworth also featured a member in Will Bower, as well as veteran Josh Rose who has been steady and reliable for the Eagles so far this season.
In 2018, Adamstown pulled off a big 1-0 upset over Edgeworth and it’s been the only time they’ve defeated the club since July 2015. But coach Shane Cansdell-Sherriff was confident his team could once again pull off an upset and build off the back of their first victory last week.
“The boys are in a better mindset and a positive frame of mind given the result we had,” Cansdell-Sherriff said.
“We’ve talked about it though and we won’t be complacent about what’s in front of us. Edgy is a great side and their going to be a tough task.
“We beat them at home last year and gave them a good run for their money at our home. We know what it takes, we know it’s possible, it’s just a matter of again showing up with the right mentality to get the job done.
“One goal conceded against Charlestown is good…it’s a step in the right direction but the hard work hasn’t finished. Our aim is clean sheets, that’s the target we’ve got to set ourselves.”
Newcastle Jets Youth (3rd) vs. Weston Bears (4th)
Sunday 14 April, 2:30 pm, Rockwell Automation Park
The Jets Youth have been on a roll to begin this season, having won two and drawn one but this weekend they travel to Bear Park to face a Weston team who have also started 2019 well.
The Bears looked to have secured all three points last weekend against Valentine but conceded a shocking last second goal to drop two points that would have seen them move to the top of the table, while the young Jets managed to grind out a 1-0 win over bottom-placed Lakes.
The history between these two has seen mixed, but tight results which includes three draws in the past three years and an aggregate score of 12-9 in favour of the Jets.
Young, promising goalkeeper Noah James has been in terrific form to begin the year earning himself a spot in all three of the NPL NNSW Team of the Weeks and has regularly proved the difference between the Jets and their opponents.
For the Bears, new Dutch man Jason Tjien-Fooh has accustomed well to the league, but he and his fellow strike-force will need to be more clinical in front of goal if they want to establish themselves as a top four team.
Jets’ Maki Petratos made a second appearance in the Team of the Week side and has been rather deadly in both scoring and creating goals as has Mat Barkho and Jack Simmons.
Weston’s defence will need to pay close attention to them, especially on the counter in transition, if they want to give their home-crowd something to cheer about and potentially move into a commanding position on the table.