Match of the Round
Maitland Magpies v Hamilton Olympic
Sunday 29th April, 2:30 pm at Cooks Square Park
This Sunday will mark the first time that Maitland coach Michael Bolch has faced Hamilton from the opposition dugout since the 2009 grand final.
He and the rest of the Maitland squad will be looking to keep their place in the top four as the current Hamilton contingent battle to work themselves into the winner’s circle.
The points were shared the last time these two sides met, a 2-all draw in June last year. In fact, Maitland hasn’t beat Hamilton at home since the former was promoted to the NPL NNSW back in 2015.
Bolch’s side has taken seven points from an available nine in their last three outings, and last weekend’s assignment was one of their slimmest victories this season.
The 1-0 win in the final stages of the match was a hard-fought victory and means Maitland has now won three of their four home games this season. They’ll be without Josh Dutton-Black for this one, who is away at a wedding this weekend.
Their defence is one of the best in the league, with six goals conceded in five matches so far tied second only to Charlestown who has conceded the same amount but played one game more.
Results and performances just don’t seem to be aligning themselves for Hamilton so far this season, who put in another solid showing against Edgeworth last weekend but came away with nothing to show for it.
Olympic’s third loss of the campaign means they currently sit in ninth place on four points, and this weekend’s opposition boasts one of the most experienced squads in the competition.
What may provide Peter McGuinness’ men with a small boost is their solitary win came from their only match on the road so far this season. Three points on Sunday could shoot them right up the table.
What the coaches said:
Michael Bolch (Maitland)
“We’ve got to concentrate on our game and what we’re doing well, Hamilton have been playing good football and have some dangers in the front third with the likes of Rhys Cooper and Simon Mooney so we need to be on our toes.”
“There’s been a couple of games now, where there have been opportunities for us to score more goals and we haven’t but having said that Noah James (Jets Youth goalkeeper) was the difference last weekend, it wasn’t like we were missing the target, he was very good last weekend.”
“It’s just another game, I had eight good years at Olympic and now it’s a new venture and I’m concentrating on Maitland now.”
The commemorations for Anzac Day continue this weekend for the Match of the Round. Maitland Football Club will be holding a traditional ceremony to show their respects to our soldiers prior to kick off.
Weston Bears v Adamstown Rosebud
Saturday 28th April, 2:30 pm at Rockwell Automation Park
There were losses for each of these sides last weekend against some of the league’s best, and that may set the stage for an open match this weekend.
The last time the pair faced off was in the Heritage Cup final the weekend before the league kicked off, and it was Weston who prevailed on penalties in what was a scoreless draw after regular time.
In the league, it was Rosebud who had the better of the results last season with a win and a draw against Weston.
The Bears battled hard last weekend but were ultimately unable to take points away from a Charlestown side which finished with ten men.
Their general play was encouraging, which perhaps would make the fact their two goals came from two mistakes in defence all the more frustrating.
Nathan Morris was a notable absentee for Weston due to work commitments but returns this weekend. Jett White, who set up Weston’s goal last weekend, has returned to Edgeworth after his six-week loan concluded.
Rosebud’s defensive woes continued last weekend as they collapsed late and let the score-line blow out to 4-0, albeit to an impressive Magic offence.
21 goals have gone through Adamstown in just six games so far this season, with 13 of those in the second half and four as a result of conceded penalties.
It’s a slew of defensive holes which won’t make happy reading for Rosebud coach Shane Cansdell-Sherriff, who will be on the hunt for his first clean sheet and win of the season.
Broadmeadow Magic v Valentine Phoenix
Saturday 28th April, 2:30 pm at Magic Park
The Magic machine will look to roll on when they host Valentine this weekend, who come into this one hoping to build on some solid form.
There were two wins from two for Magic in the league last season, with a 3-2 victory early on backed up by a 3-1 away win in round 14 in the midst of that glorious run at the back end of last season.
An FFA Cup win was squeezed in between those victories for Magic also, who haven’t lost at home to Phoenix since 2010.
Injuries to James Virgili and Jeremy Wilson in last weekend’s outing will be of concern, with Virgili set to miss this weekend while Wilson looks set to be the third player on the long-term injury list for Magic.
That outing, a 4-0 win over Adamstown was a show of clinical finishing and a desire to see out the full ninety minutes rather than take a foot off the pedal after sixty minutes and a two-goal lead.
From three games at Magic Park this season, Broadmeadow has won one, drawn one and lost one. They’ll be hoping they can string two wins in a row at home together, and look to turn their home ground into something of a fortress.
Last weekend’s scoreless draw with Lambton was the first match of the season to end in such a manner and is a testament to the way Valentine bounced back from defeat to Lakes the previous week.
That defensive mindset may need to carry on this weekend, given Broadmeadow is the most proficient team in attack and come into this one on the back of a four-goal victory.
If Phoenix does set up to play the match on the back foot, then they’ll have to be clinical in the front third. Joel Wood missed a golden opportunity at the back end of last weekend’s match, the likes of which Valentine need to bury in order to get the three points.
What the coaches said:
Sam Griffin (Valentine assistant)
“The approach has to be similar to the Lambton match, we achieved what we needed to last week by bouncing back and getting a clean sheet which is obviously ideal, but we have to at some stage go on the front foot a bit more… a clean sheet is a priority, but we have to show some more intent.”
“We know we’ll get some opportunities, no one goes the whole game without getting any, it’s just being clinical and taking the chances that will come to us. Broadmeadow is a very attacking side, they will commit numbers forward and hopefully, they’ll leave themselves a bit skinny at some stage, especially if we can build the pressure and keep them scoreless for long periods of the game.”
Edgeworth Eagles v Charlestown City Blues
Sunday 29th April, 2:30 pm at Jack McLaughlan Oval
The perennial premiers host the contenders this weekend, as Charlestown hope to push their lead at the top out even further.
Two wins from two attempts for Edgeworth in clashes against these two sides helped extend their winning run to six matches on the trot against Charlestown.
In fact, Charlestown hasn’t managed a win at Jack McLaughlan Oval since their promotion to the top flight back in 2012. The last time they won over Edgeworth at all was in August 2014.
Traditionally one of the best defensive sides in the competition under boss Damien Zane, Edgeworth has let in nine goals in their five matches so far this season – the worst record of sides currently in the top four.
At the other end, however, things do look good for Edgeworth who come into this match off the back of a last-gasp 3-2 win over Hamilton. Daniel McBreen chipped in with his first two of the season in that one, and the Eagles have scored 14 goals from five matches so far.
Aaron McLoughlin, Daniel McBreen and Dylan Holz have returned to full fitness and will play likely play a part this weekend. Aaron Oppedisano will make his way back through the under 20s as he continues his recovery from a broken nose.
From Edgeworth’s two games at home this year, they’ve only let in a solitary goal. They’ll face a big test against a strong Charlestown squad, who may welcome back a former Golden Boot winner this weekend.
That man, Kane Goodchild, is set to at least grace the bench this weekend after spending the past three weeks out with a torn hamstring.
His inclusion may spur on his side to be more clinical in the final third. Charlestown has scored at a rate of nearly two goals a game this season, but have the lowest output of sides currently in the top five.
The Blues will be without Masaya Sakamoto this weekend, after his straight red card for kicking out at a Weston player in last weekend’s 2-1 win.
What the coaches said:
Damien Zane (Edgeworth)
“It’s a big match in the sense that it’s currently first v second, but we won’t be treating it any bigger than the grand final rematch, or the rivalries with Broadmeadow and Hamilton. It is a chance to put a big of a gap on teams in the race for the semis which is our first goal for the year.”
“To be honest, four wins out of five is something we didn’t expect, we thought the last two weeks were massive games to get ahead of the pack to a degree but now we’re not playing under too much pressure… we’re at the point where the boys are pretty relaxed, and it’s a massive opportunity to make a statement.”
Lake Macquarie City v Newcastle Jets Youth
Sunday 29th April, 2:30 pm at Macquarie Field
Fresh off the bye, Lakes will look to kick on with things after their drubbing of Valentine the last time they played.
For Jets Youth, they still have the chance to jump into the top four if they can get themselves back into the winner’s circle.
A 5-0 Jets Youth battering was the score last time these two sides met in round 20 last season, which coincided with Lawrie McKinna and Labinot Haliti’s first game in charge.
An incident away from the pitch has left Lakes a defender down after Cameron Holzheimer was the victim of a one-punch attack which has left him with a fractured skull.
The frightening situation, described by coach Nick Webb as ‘touch-and-go’ in the Newcastle Herald this week, is far from ideal for a side which is looking to build some momentum after a 6-1 defeat of Valentine in their last outing.
Sandwiched in between that match and this weekend was the bye for Lakes, who will be looking for their second clean sheet at home this season on Sunday.
Clean sheets are at something of a premium for Jets Youth also, who haven’t managed to keep one – only a late Alex Read goal condemned them to a 1-0 defeat.
By all accounts last weekend’s result was so slim thanks largely to the work of Noah James in the Jets’ goal, the custodian making a number of key saves to ensure his side still had a shot right until the end.
The defeat was only the Jets’ second so far this season, and they currently sit sixth on the ladder. A victory here today could theoretically take them as high as third, but with goal difference factored in it’d more likely to help them keep pace with the four.
What the coaches said:
Nick Webb (Lakes)
“We’ll play to our strengths and our systems, look to create chances and score goals, we’ve done quite well over the last couple of games so hopefully they bye doesn’t hurt us and we can continue that. We lightened the load the first week off, had a bit of a run last Saturday, and we’ve been back into this week.”
“We’re always working on structures of other teams, but as much as we watch the other team and know their strengths and weaknesses, we’ll also play to our strengths, we’ll set up to stop them playing as much and look to play on the counter-attack like we do.”
“Cameron (Holzheimer) is showing signs of improvement, but is still in ICU and it’s a very scary proposition for him and his family… not the best of weeks for his family, and he’s our only one missing this weekend, which is big because he’s one of our better players but I’m sure the boys will come together and do well for him.”