Competitions

Australia Cup Sixth Preliminary Round Review: NPL Men’s NNSW clubs reach final four

June 15th, 2022

 James Paras

Valentine Sports Photography


Newcastle Olympic 2-0 Lake Macquarie City

Two first half goals were enough to see Newcastle Olympic dispatch Lake Macquarie City at Darling Street on Saturday.

Olympic came into the match as strong favourites given recent form but the hosts would have been acutely reminded of their round five loss in the NPL Men’s NNSW competition to Keelan Hamilton’s men.

Olympic started with all the running, controlling possession and asking plenty of questions of Lakes’ second-string goalkeeper Isaac Nyman. But he would not have an answer for Jarrod Dodds when he latched onto a low cross from Olympic captain Rhys Cooper to open the scoring in the 15th minute.

Lake Macquarie came into the Australia Cup match on a four-game slide in the NPL Men’s NNSW competition and they did themselves no favours in the first half with misplaced passes giving the likes of Jared Muller and Musa Kamara opportunities to attack.

It was Muller who doubled Olympic’s advantage just five minutes before the break as the striker danced his way into Lakes’ penalty area, beating two defenders and tucking his shot into the bottom left corner to secure his 11th goal across all competitions this season.

The half-time whistle gave Hamilton a chance to rally his troops and they returned with new vigour in the second half as the home side started to make uncharacteristic mistakes that left the door open for the visitors.

Lakes’ best chance came in the 58th minute as Olympic clumsily gave away a throw-in deep in their territory. Jordan Harris let rip a lashing shot that dipped dangerously close to the goals just sailed over the crossbar.

But Olympic were able to regain control of the match and close out proceedings, the only blemish on the day was forward Kamara limping off in the last quarter of the match.

The victory sends Olympic into the Australia Cup seventh preliminary round where they will face Cooks Hill United with the winner progressing to the national round of 32.

Lakes coach Keelan Hamilton said he was proud of his squad’s efforts despite the result, noting illness and injury had played a role in the tough results in the last month.

“I’m really proud of our group. We are going through a tough time at the moment,” Hamilton said.

“[Our team has] injury, illness and some bereavement that has happened within the group as well. We had seven players unavailable today but the players that played today gave a really good account of themselves.

“[Goalkeeper] Blaire Ryan was away for the match but Issac Nyman came in and did a fantastic job. Ryan Woods has the flu, Carter Smith has an abductor strain and Daniel Minors was away this weekend. Abdalla Okla still has a quad strain and Riley Tydd has a nasty twisted ankle, so we are close to barebones.”

Lake Macquarie City are now eliminated from the Australia Cup and will turn their attention to their round 15 NPL Men’s NNSW clash against Valentine FC, while Newcastle Olympic will enjoy the NPLM bye.


Maitland FC 5-1 Weston Workers FC

Maitland Magpies overcame a diligent first half performance from rivals Weston progressing to the Australia Cup seventh preliminary round with a 5-1 victory on Saturday.

The Australia Cup clash was shaped as a special edition of the El Clasicoal rivalry, with the last meeting seeing Maitland escape with three points with a 2-1 victory in round six of the NPL Men’s NNSW competition.

The Bears had advanced to round six of the Australia Cup after edging out Edgeworth in a thriller at Jack McLaughlan Oval, while Maitland dismantled an under-strength Lambton Jaffas side 6-0.

The Magpies would have also been aiming to emulate their red-hot form in the NPLM that has seen them win four on the trot, while Weston seemingly had a hill to climb if they hoped to topple the hosts after a tough month of results in the league that has yielded two draws and two losses.

Weston began the match with the strong breeze at their backs at Cooks Square Park, proving an advantage almost immediately as Cooper Buswell opened the visitors’ account with a header from a corner in the fifth minute.

With the goal advantage Weston controlled the early proceedings but momentum would swing towards Maitland when Braedyn Crowley was brought down in the penalty area in the 42nd minute, with strike partner James Thompson stepping forward to convert successfully.

With the scores locked at 1-1 heading into the break, the Magpies emerged in the second half with the strong winds now at their back.

The Magpies began tightening the screws on their opponents almost immediately in the second half but did not find their breakthrough until the 60th minute.

Maitland’s Joel Clissold secured the lead for his side as he found the back of the net with a 30-metre cross-shot, giving the Magpies a 2-1 advantage.

Sean Pratt then made it 3-1 with a driving shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the penalty area, putting the Magpies firmly in the driver’s seat for the remainder of the match.

Crowley secured a late brace to well and truly put the result to bed, bringing his side one step closer to the national round of 32.

Maitland coach Michael Bolch commended his strike duo of Crowley and Thompson after the match and said it was always an enjoyable victory against rivals Weston.

“It’s always sweet [to win against Weston],” Bolch said.

“They’re always tight tussles and there’s a lot of feeling amongst [the players] and to take one step closer to the round of 32, it was a great day to get a scoreline like that against them.

“We have played, including the Australia Cup matches, 13 games this year. James Thompson has scored 13 goals and Braedyn Crowley has scored 21, so it’s very hard to contain the two of them up front.”

Weston assistant coach Anthony Richards said his side were not able to compete with Maitland’s performance in the second half.

“With the wind in their backs [Maitland] was just too dominant in the second half,” Richards said.

“Braedyn Crowley and James Thompson were dangerous and their defence of Will McFarlane and Zac Thomas was rock strong. So it wasn’t our day, unfortunately.

“We just couldn’t go with them in the second half and we are disappointed with ourselves, to be honest. Luck didn’t have much to do with it today, we just weren’t good enough.”

Maitland’s victory sets up a mouth-watering seventh preliminary round clash against Broadmeadow Magic with the winner to progress to the national round of 32.


Cooks Hill United 4-0 Coffs Coast Tigers FC

Cooks Hill United overcame a second half red card to defender Tom Smart to down Coffs Coast Tigers 4-0 on Saturday.

Cooks Hill continued their scintillating form in front of goals over the last month as they secured progression to face Newcastle Olympic in the seventh preliminary round of the Australia Cup.

Coffs Coast would have considered themselves a chance of an upset coming into the clash, especially after demolishing round five opponents Oxley Vale Attunga 9-2.

While Cooks Hill secured their progression after a tightly contested 2-1 victory against Northern League One side New Lambton FC.

First half goals to Jacob Pepper, Josh Benson and Daniel Yaxley at Fearnley Dawes Athletics Field saw the hosts cruise to a three-goal advantage at half-time. But when Smart was shown a straight red card for a foul that was deemed to have denied the visitors a goal-scoring opportunity, Cooks Hill had cause for concern.

Coffs Coast were unable to capitalise on the 10-men Cooks Hill side, with Lachlan Pasquale adding his name to the scoresheet for the hosts to make it 4-0.

The victory sees Cooks Hill advance to seventh preliminary round of the Australia Cup, where they will face Newcastle Olympic for a place in the national round of 32.


Coffs City United 1-3 Broadmeadow Magic

Broadmeadow Magic proved too strong for Coffs City United with a Jayden Stewardson hat-trick sinking the gallant hosts.

Broadmeadow Magic arrived at their sixth preliminary round following their 3-1 victory over Valentine FC, while Coffs City downed the Port Macquarie Saints 4-1 to progress.

Hitting the road north to Coffs Harbour, Magic would have been quietly confident heading into the match following their outstanding form in the NPL Men’s NNSW, with Damian Zane’s men on a nine-game unbeaten streak.

The cold night did not deter the precocial crowd but Stewardson’s goal seconds after the game commenced would have silenced a few as he gave the visitors a 1-0 advantage.

The Lions were not without their chances but Magic striker Jacob Dowse was making himself known to the home crowd with a string of opportunities but the scores remained 1-0 heading into the break.

Stewardson was again on the scene to follow up a blocked Dowse shot, capitalising from close range to give Magic a two-goal advantage.

Stewardson stunningly completed his hat-trick when the crafty number nine collected the ball with his back to goal on the edge of the penalty area, quickly spinning to hit his shot and finding the right corner to give Magic a 3-0 lead.

The Lions pegged one back through Marty Kelleher but it was not enough to displace Magic who closed out the match 3-1 to seal their progression to the Australia Cup’s seventh preliminary round.

Magic coach Damian Zane told NBN that Coffs City United did not make it easy for them and commended their efforts.

“I thought Coffs was fantastic,” Zane said.

“I have coached against A-League teams so I know what it is to be the underdog and [Coffs City United) really took it to us tonight. They can be really proud of their effort.”

Magic’s progression sets up a match that will generate plenty of interest, as they meet fellow NPL Men’s NNSW heavyweights Maitland in the seventh preliminary round of the Australia Cup.

Related Topics:
Australia Cup Sixth Preliminary Round Review

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