Match of the Round
Hamilton Olympic v Edgeworth Eagles
Saturday 21st April, 6 pm at Darling Street Oval
These are two sides who have pushed each other right to the limit in past NPL NNSW season’s.
Edgeworth and Hamilton even contested a grand final as recently as 2015 and only three points separated the pair at the conclusion of last season.
It’s under rather different circumstances that these two meet on Saturday night. Hamilton is at the wrong end of the ladder with only one win from four matches, while Edgeworth sits third with three wins.
The home side comes into this match off the back of a disappointing defeat to Jets Youth. The 2-1 loss is their second of the campaign and follows the bye in round four.
It was a match in which they created a plethora of chances but failed to execute on all but one occasion. If things improve this weekend, they may be good for a result.
Hamilton has played three of their four matches at home this season, and are yet to win. If they fail to get a win on Saturday night, it will mean they won’t have won in their past eight 6 pm kick-offs at Darling Street Oval.
They missed experienced duo Stuart Musalik and Jacob Bailey last due to injury, and Musalik remains out this weekend again. Bailey is a chance to play from the bench, while Jed Hornery will also miss out.
Edgeworth managed a better result last weekend; a 4-1 win over Weston sent them up the table into second place, and they’ll be keen to stay into this nice little patch of form they’ve worked themselves into.
After a loss to Lambton and the bye in the opening two rounds, Edgeworth has won their last three and conceded only three goals on the way.
Jamie Byrnes looks an inspired pick-up just four games into the Eagles campaign, with four goals to his name. His output this weekend may be the difference.
What the coaches said:
Peter McGuinness (Hamilton)
“We’re playing the best team, best quality club of the last four or five years and it’ll be tough but we haven’t been far away from winning and it’s just a matter of taking opportunities, and if we can do that and be tight at our end then I think we have a chance but we’re expecting a pretty tough game.
“Unfortunately for us, what we’ve done is the goals we’ve conceded have been very defendable and the goals that we haven’t scored have been well-created passages of plays where we haven’t finished things at the business end, and I look at the weekend’s game (against Jets Youth) and if we take one of the six or seven chances we created in the first fifteen to twenty minutes the game’s completely different.”
Newcastle Jets Youth v Maitland Magpies
Saturday 21st April, 2:30 pm at Cooks Square Park
It’s safe to say Jets Youth didn’t fare especially well against the Magpies last season.
They lost both games at Cooks Square Park, going down 10-3 on aggregate across the two matches. The second was a 6-1 flogging in round 14.
Some time has passed since their last encounter, however, and given Jets Youth are in some good form, they may a potential upset for Maitland.
The bye for the Magpies last weekend came at a good time, as they were dealt a series of injury blows last time out against Valentine.
Ryan Clarke went down during the warm-up, Matt Thompson and Matt Comerford struggled through the 1-all draw with injury while Mat Swan came off with a groin injury.
The bye will have given Maitland time for some much needed R&R and given they currently sit inside the top four, a good result this weekend will be key to ensuring they can kickstart some momentum.
Fast football is the hallmark of Jets Youth’s game and it was played to devastating effect last Saturday night as they overcame Hamilton 2-1.
Cai Tipaldo and Jack Simmons were perhaps the standouts in what was a good all-around team performance, and the two men up front will be key once again this weekend.
The week off for the senior squad won’t see the inclusion of the likes of Angus Thurgate and Kosta Petratos due to an intra-club trial on Friday. Centre-half Tom Beecham is set to miss around four weeks with injury.
What the coaches said:
Lawrie McKinna (Jets Youth)
“We need to keep up the quality of the play which we showed against Hamilton, and we know these teams are more experienced than us but we’ll show them that respect, we’re not just going to bomb on, we’re going to be cautious and the big thing about us this year is being ruthless.
“That’s in defence, that’s in taking chances and in the past I think we’ve overplayed things so we want to play to win games.”
Valentine Phoenix v Lambton Jaffas
Sunday 22nd April, 2:30 pm at CB Complex
Round five brought disappointing results for each of these sides, but for vastly different reasons.
Valentine went down 6-1 to in the Macquarie derby thanks to a first-half demolition derby from Lakes last weekend.
Lambton went into their Saturday clash with Adamstown as heavy favourites, but drew 1-all and missed their chance to go within two points of first place.
Despite their grand final heroics last season, Jaffas actually went down to Valentine on both occasions the two sides met in the league in 2017.
It’s only early doors, but Phoenix currently sits second last on the ladder with only two points from their four games so far.
Crucially, they’re without a win so far and it will require a huge effort if Lambton is to be overcome.
The return of Zac Sneddon, who played 45 minutes last weekend will be of some comfort to Darren Sills’ who’s without first-choice goalkeeper Scott Carter for the second week running.
Lambton’s slip up against Adamstown at the weekend meant they maintained their place at outright third on the ladder. The chance to go within two points of Charlestown was there for the taking, but Lambton couldn’t finish Rosebud off.
Likely a blip on the radar rather than indicative of any larger issues at Lambton, who will need to be much more clinical this weekend if three points against Valentine are to be forthcoming.
Jobe Wheelhouse playing his first minutes of the season last weekend will be a massive boost for a side already chock full of quality midfielders. Expect that competition for places to bring out the best in Lambton.
What the coaches said:
Darren Sills (Valentine)
“This weekend we’ve got to turn up at the races for a start, we’ve got to be better at all aspects of football than we were last weekend and that comes from the training paddock, trained okay Tuesday night and we have no excuses for last week other than we trained poorly and that played out on the park.
“We need to improve everywhere… attitude, Lakes caned us and they played very well, but we were so poor, the poorest I’ve been associated with at the club, at the end of the day they (the players) know where they went wrong… big game against the champions and you’ve got to get up for that.”
Charlestown City Blues v Weston Bears
Sunday 22nd April, 2:30 pm at Lisle Carr Oval
Last season was a dreary one for Weston with the exception of their solitary win in the league – a 3-0 drubbing of Charlestown in round ten.
Things couldn’t be more different nearly twelve months on though. Charlestown sits top of the table, stinging after their first loss of the season while Weston is in the midst of the mid-table logjam.
Experience at the back is something both sides have injected this season, with Ljubo Milicevic at Charlestown while Nathan Morris and Kew Jaliens are at Weston. The latter is yet to play, however.
Charlestown’s experience at the back wasn’t enough to take anything away from Magic Park last weekend, but results elsewhere mean they maintained their three-point buffer at the top of the table.
Sunday was the first time Charlestown has failed to score this season, but they won’t be dwelling on it.
Former Cooks Hill man Cal Lewis has started in place of the injured Kane Goodchild two weeks running, and will be hoping to score his maiden Blues goal his weekend.
Scott Smith was one player who struggled with last weekend’s loss to Magic, with coach David Tanchevski revealing he was vomiting pre-match. His return to full fitness may spell trouble for the Bears.
Things at the other end are tight, Charlestown conceding only five goals which is the equal competition best. Only one clean sheet from five may give Weston confidence, though.
Three set-pieces brought the Bears undone last week and blew the scoreline out to one which perhaps didn’t reflect the otherwise good defensive job they’ve done this season.
Despite their rather compact approach though, Weston has conceded four goals twice this year in only five outings. Things will need to be tight if they’re to keep out Charlestown.
Jordan Jackson is unlikely to slot into that defence this weekend due to injury, while Kew Jaliens remains sidelined indefinitely.
Goals scored are perhaps the biggest improvement in Weston’s side so far this campaign. They’ve scored in their last five matches – a feat they didn’t achieve once last season.
What the coaches said:
David Tanchevski (Charlestown):
“Weston are a dangerous team, they beat Magic and Maitland struggled to beat them, they had a lead against Edgeworth so we know we’re in for a tough game but for us it’s just more and more of the same, we’ve just got to make sure we’re switched on from the start.
“We’ve been pretty solid in defence, so hopefully this weekend we can take our chances… we probably create enough chances in both games, last weekend was probably the first we didn’t create enough to win, so we’ll just work on the same things. Scott Smith back to full fitness this week, so him and Cal (Lewis) playing together hopefully can bring a few opportunities.”
Steve Piggott (Weston):
“The big thing for us is trying to find a little bit of consistency each week… last weekend was controlled the first half of the match and then fell away, so it was chalk and cheese compared to the weekend before against Magic. If we turn up for a change, it’s like we weren’t at the races last week, so if we’ll try to get a bit of that energy and intensity that we had against Magic and see how we go.
“Set pieces haven’t been a thing which have hurt us in the past but they certainly hurt us last weekend, people facing the wrong way and not tracking their runners, body shape, there’s a lot of things that went wrong and we’ve addressed it and we’ll go through in on Friday and look at all those things.”
Adamstown Rosebud v Broadmeadow Magic
Sunday 22nd April, 2:30 pm at Adamstown Oval
So close to being giant-killers last week, Adamstown will be looking to go one better against a Magic side back on the up.
1-all at Lambton last weekend was perhaps Adamstown’s best result of a dour year so far.
At Magic Park, Broadmeadow managed their first win since round one and did it the hard way against a resilient Charlestown side.
It was perhaps the most unlikely of points for Adamstown last weekend, who was widely expected to lose against Lambton on Saturday.
Connor Heydon scored his second goal of the year to help his side to a draw, and it’s more of the same Adamstown need this weekend. With only four goals from five games so far this year, they have the lowest output of any side in the league.
Worryingly, things at the other end are just as bad with 17 goals having gone through in five matches. Even if the nine from Maitland is taken out of the equation, Rosebud has still leaked goals at an average of two a game.
One player who will be fired up against his former club is Adamstown captain Ben Higgins, who made the switch in the off-season. Magic keeper Paul Bitz went in the opposite direction and will hope he can make it three clean sheets on Sunday.
Broadmeadow will be without Shane Paul this weekend, who was sent off for a second bookable offence late in last weekend’s win.
One of the most potent attacks in the league on paper, Magic will be confident of goals this weekend despite scoring only once per game in their past two.
They boast the league-leading goal scorer in James Virgili but will hope they can get the likes of Kale Bradbury and John Majurovski firing again this weekend. The latter scored the winner early against Charlestown last Sunday.