Match of the Round
Weston Workers FC v Edgeworth FC
Rockwell Automation Park, Sunday 2.30pm
Weston Workers coach Anthony Richards says his side will be looking to draw on home ground advantage when they meet Edgeworth on Sunday.
The sixth-placed Bears host the seventh-placed Eagles in their rescheduled round four match as the highlight of a weekend which features rescheduled matches from five different rounds.
Weston were the in-form team of the competition until their loss to Charlestown Azzurri last weekend, with Anthony Richards’ men picking up four wins in a row prior.
Weston picked up victories against heavyweights Maitland and Broadmeadow Magic during their purple patch, seeing them move to 23 competition points and begin to stake their claims for a spot in this year’s finals series.
But the loss to Azzurri and a 5-0 thrashing at home to Cooks Hill United in their rescheduled round 14 match on Wednesday night has brought the Bears back to the pack in terms of hunting down fifth place.
The Bears will also be without Tommy Duggan for the rest of the season after he departed for the US for a footballing opportunity but Weston are expected to welcome back defender Zac Sneddon this weekend.
With every competition point being so important heading into the pointy end of the season, Richards said the match would be like a grand final.
“We had a lot of trouble with Edgeworth’s ex-A-League stars last time we met,” Richards said.
“Jeremy Brockie and Josh Rose caused us no end of pain the last time we met. It is a battle for that fifth spot at the moment so it’s like a grand final for us this weekend.
“Luckily we have Michael McGlinchey who is back playing regularly for us now and Stuart Plant is back at goalkeeper.”
Edgeworth will be looking to hit back in style after they came undone at the hands of Newcastle Olympic last weekend.
The loss saw the Eagles return to earth with a thud after delivering Charlestown Azzurri their first loss of the season just days before.
Edgeworth collected the three points against Weston in their last meeting in round 15 but they will be wary of a team that is eager to take back fifth spot on the table.
Cooks Hill United v Valentine FC
Fearnley Dawes Athletics Field, Saturday 2.30pm
Cooks Hill United will aim to collect their third win of the season when they host Valentine on Saturday.
Cooks Hill have proved to be a thorn in the side for most of the teams they have met this season and Dave Tanchevski’s men will be looking to continue that trend.
Cooks Hill are ninth on the table heading into their clash against Valentine meaning a finals berth seems highly unlikely considering the 10-point gap between them and eighth-placed Valentine.
But Cooks Hill will be buoyed by their 5-0 thrashing of Weston on Wednesday night.
Valentine will be treating every match like a grand final as they jostle for fifth place alongside Edgeworth, Weston and Newcastle Olympic.
Valentine will also be buzzing from their 1-0 win over Lambton Jaffas in their rescheduled round eight match on Wednesday night.
The win kept Valentine’s finals hopes alive, with Adam Hughes’ side holding two matches in hand on the others in the chasing pack.
Charlestown Azzurri v Newcastle Olympic
Lisle Carr Oval, Saturday 2pm
Charlestown Azzurri could extend their lead to six points at the top of the table with victory against Newcastle Olympic on Saturday.
Azzurri reasserted themselves as the dominant force in this year’s competition with a resounding 3-0 win against the in-form Weston Bears last weekend.
It was a return to form for Azzurri following their first defeat of the season when they went down 4-2 to Edgeworth. But the defeat was not enough to see them lose their spot at the top of the perch.
They backed up the win over Weston with a last-gasp Nigel Boogaard equaliser securing them a 1-1 draw against Maitland in their rescheduled round 19 match on Wednesday night. The result maintained Azzurri’s three point lead over the Magpies at the top of the table.
Advantage fell back towards Newcastle Olympic in the race for a spot in the top five following their dominant second half performance against fellow finals hopefuls Edgeworth last weekend.
Olympic have secured four victories from their last five outings to move into fifth spot on the table but still face stiff opposition from Weston Workers and Edgeworth who remain within striking distance heading into this weekend.
Azzurri prevailed 3-1 winners over Olympic, with Olympic having since welcomed Joey Langlois and Malik Thom to their squad.
Charlestown Azzurri coach Graham Law says he was more focused on their clash against Maitland before taking on Newcastle Olympic in their rescheduled round 14 match on Saturday.
“Olympic is clearly playing well but I haven’t given them much thought,” Law said.
“We know the importance of this week, starting with Weston last week it put us in a good position [at the top of the table].
“But honestly it’s about taking it one game at a time. We feel fortunate that we have rotated our players coming into this weekend.”
Adamstown Rosebud v Broadmeadow Magic
Adamstown Oval, Sunday 2.30pm
Adamstown Rosebud will look to break their duck spectacularly when they meet Broadmeadow Magic on Sunday.
Rosebud remains winless collecting just two competition points so far this season courtesy of two draws.
Despite their horror run of results for this season, Rosebud have been competitive for a lot of their matches but they will have to do better than their last meeting against Broadmeadow Magic where they were handed a 6-0 hiding in round six.
Broadmeadow Magic had their round 20 match against Valentine deferred after travelling to Melbourne to face Bentleigh Greens in their Australia Cup round of 32 match last Thursday.
Magic were valiant but ended up going down 2-1 in extra-time to eliminate them from the competition.
Magic will now turn their full attention to the NPL Men’s NNSW competition and remain in the thick of it at the top of the table, with Damian Zane’s men sitting third heading into the rescheduled round 17 clash.
Despite losing consecutive matches to Weston Workers and then Lambton Jaffas, Magic remain contenders for the title and victory this weekend could see them move to second place on the table at the expense of Maitland who are not in action.
Lake Macquarie City v Lambton Jaffas
Macquarie Field, Sunday 2pm
Lambton will look to fix their inconsistent run of form when they travel to Macquarie Field to face Lake Macquarie City on Sunday.
Jaffas fell 1-0 to Valentine in their rescheduled round eight clash on Wednesday night, the second time Lambton have fallen to Valentine in a fortnight.
Lambton face a busier upcoming schedule than most, with Jaffas still having played three games fewer than leaders Charlestown.
It looks like Jaffas will be without stalwart Josh Piddington for the remainder of the season after he was left needing surgery after a freak accident in their match against Broadmeadow Magic a fortnight ago. It also looks like Mitch Rooke will be missing due to a hamstring complaint.
The gap between fourth and fifth place on the table has narrowed substantially in recent weeks, meaning the Jaffas will be determined to grab all three points against Lakes as teams like Weston Bears and Newcastle Olympic can leapfrog them with favourable results this weekend.
Jaffas prevailed in their last meeting with Lakes but they did not have it all their own way, with a James Virgili quick-fire double all that separated the sides in round 17.
Jaffas coach Shane Pryce said his side had aimed for two victories this week but it was important to take it one fixture at a time.
“The table is starting to take shape quite quickly with all these catch-up games,” Pryce said.
“Six points will be great this week but we will worry about each game as it comes. We played Lakes not too long ago and it wasn’t a walkover by any sense of the word,
“I think they had a draw with Charlestown Azzurri in the first round, so you have to be on your game.”
Lakes will be looking to stop the rot emphatically in the rescheduled round six clash as they look to grab their first victory in two months at the expense of the reigning premiers.
Lakes have been competitive in their outings this year but Keelan Hamilton’s men are now staring down the barrel of 10 consecutive defeats this weekend.
Lakes are expected to welcome back some much-needed reinforcements for this weekend’s clash, with Riley Tydd and Mitchell Callinan looking likely to make their returns from injury.
Lakes may not feature in this year’s final series but Hamilton said it was important to finish the season with some wins.
“We played Jaffas last Wednesday and I thought we did okay,” Hamilton said.
“I thought our first half was quite good, we put them under pressure and created some moments that I thought we were unlucky not to score. Unfortunately we made some errors that led to goals but overall I thought it was an improved performance.
“It’s important to break our losing streak and finish this season strongly. We need to finish the season with a bit more confidence. I think we have gone through a tough period with a lot of things out of our control. We have only played back-to-back weekend matches three times this season, it has been hard to get any momentum.”