NPL Men’s NNSW Rescheduled Round Review: Weston’s finals hopes dented as Azzurri slip up

August 1st, 2022

 James Paras

Sproule Sports Focus

Match of the Round
Weston Workers FC 1-2 Edgeworth FC

Edgeworth overcame a gutsy 10-man Weston 2-1 on Sunday afternoon to significantly dent the Bears’ finals hopes.

A victory was a must for Weston and Edgeworth in their rescheduled round four clash at Rockwell Automation Park if they wanted to keep themselves in finals contention, especially after fifth-placed Newcastle Olympic took all three points the day before.

Weston had faltered in consecutive matches after putting together a five-game winning streak and were looking to erase their 5-0 drubbing at the hands of Cooks Hill midweek, while Edgeworth were looking to steady the ship after a 3-0 loss to Olympic last weekend.

Weston were struck with a double-blow in the 42nd minute when they lost centre-back pairing Zac Sneddon and Nathan Morris.

Morris was shown a straight red card for a foul on Edgeworth’s Will Bower who had broken away and was through on goal.

Before the resulting free kick could be taken, Sneddon succumbed to illness and had to be substituted.

Weston were able to see away Edgeworth for the remainder of the first half but it did not take the Eagles long to capitalise in the second half.

Edgeworth’s Sascha Montefiore was the man to break the deadlock a minute into the second half as he got his head to a lofted cross from Bower and beat Weston keeper Stuart Plant at his near post.

A goal down and a man down, Weston persisted but they had no answer when Bower stepped up to the spot to convert after being fouled in the penalty area in the 80th minute.

Edgeworth had a 2-0 lead but hopes of a comeback for the home side were ignited when winger Moustafa Mohammad was fouled in the penalty area and he has given his opportunity to convert from the spot.

Mohammad converted with a strong penalty that found the top corner to make it 2-1 and Weston had all the running heading into the final five minutes.

Calls for an Edgeworth handball were waved away in the dying seconds as Weston sunk to their third straight defeat. Weston coach Anthony Richards said he was extremely proud of his side’s effort despite the loss.

“It was a difficult game for our boys today,” Richards said.

“There were fouls that were given and some that weren’t… but I am so proud of their attitude and effort they played with today. We had [Nathan Morris] sent off early which required a re-shuffle and at the same time, we lost our other centre-back [Zac Sneddon]. So to play in those circumstances I think we did really well.

“I think we should have got something out of that game. Second half we were a player down but I thought we had the better of the opportunities. At the end there was a strong shout for a handball but [it wasn’t to be].”

Edgeworth coach Peter McGuiness said he was glad to come away with three points in a hard-fought fixture.

“It was an important win and a more important three points,” McGuiness said.

“It keeps us in touch with a very congested table. It wasn’t the best spectacle but I was just happy to get the win. I thought Weston dug deep in the second half and pushed right until the end.

“Liam Wilson was good for us after being out for a while against his former club as well”.

Charlestown Azzurri 0-1 Newcastle Olympic

There was another twist in this year’s race for the finals as Newcastle Olympic delivered leaders Charlestown Azzurri their second loss in three games on Saturday.

The 1-0 victory at Lisle Carr Oval was Olympic’s fifth in six matches and saw them solidify their place in the top-five for another week, while Azzurri missed the chance to go six points clear at the top of the table with the loss.

Olympic could have been forgiven for having one eye on their Australia Cup round of 32 fixture on Tuesday where they will face A-League Men’s side Melbourne City.

Regardless of their impending knockout fixture, coach Joel Griffiths named a full-strength line up to face Charlestown Azzurri for the rescheduled round 14 clash.

The first half was a stalemate with Olympic and Azzurri doing little to worry their opponents’ defensive line.

The breakthrough seemed destined to belong to Olympic maestro Jared Muller when his side was awarded a free kick in a dangerous position and he stood ominously over the ball.

While Muller’s shot did not clear the wall, the ball fell fortuitously to Kent Harrison’s feet, who was able to slot home to make it 1-0 just before 70 minutes.

Azzurri’s Jackson Frendo was shown a second yellow card in the 88th minute which could have been symbolic of the home side’s frustration, leaving their hopes of a late equaliser hanging by a thread.

Olympic held on to collect all three points seeing them move to 27 competition points and remain fifth, one step away from the logjam of teams in the middle of the table.

Cooks Hill United 1-2 Valentine FC

Valentine kept themselves in the finals hunt as they secured their fourth consecutive win downing Cooks Hill United 2-1 on Saturday afternoon.

Valentine came into the match against Cooks Hill full of running after successfully dispatching reigning premiers Lambton Jaffas for the second time in as many weeks. The hosts were also in high spirits after thrashing Weston 5-0 midweek.

Cooks Hill drew first blood in the rescheduled round 10 fixture at Fearnley Dawes Athletics Track, as a corner from the hosts caused problems at the back for Valentine.

The referee deemed the ball crossed the line during the chaos after a goalline scramble, much to the disdain of the visitors.

But Valentine did not have to wait long to cancel Cooks Hill’s lead as Tyrone Mulder found Ryan Clarke on the breakaway to level the scores just before the half-hour mark, making the scores 1-1 going into half-time.

The match was hotly contested in the second half but Cooks Hill’s assignment was about to get all the more difficult as their talisman Sam Webb was shown his second yellow card of the afternoon, leaving Cooks Hill with 10 men for the last 28 minutes of the match.

Valentine thought they had immediately found the lead after Webb was given his marching orders but Mulder’s header was ruled out by the referee.

But Valentine found their breakthrough six minutes from full-time as Nick Martinelli found the back of the net after a header from Mulder collected the crossbar, giving Valentine a 2-1 advantage.

Valentine held on to take all three points and keep themselves well and truly in the finals hunt. Coach Adam Hughes said it was an important win in the context of their season.

“I think both sides looked fatigued in the game itself today,” Hughes said.

“We conceded in the first half. It was probably a bit of a mistake on our side of things but I thought the reaction and desire, the way we came back into the game, was fantastic. Our players gave everything they could.

“As momentum builds, especially with the schedule we have coming up, it’s good to get that rhythm. The momentum keeps building and structures are in place and players are familiar with them now, so it’s a matter of how do we recover and prepare with analysis of opposition with quick turnarounds now.”

Lake Macquarie City 0-7 Lambton Jaffas

Lambton Jaffas showed no mercy as they put seven past Lake Macquarie to hand Lakes their 12th loss of the season on Sunday.

Jaffas came into the rescheduled round six match at Macquarie Field following a loss to Valentine midweek and were looking to get their premiership tilt back on track in a big way. While Lakes were looking to snap a 10-game losing streak.

Jaffas were handed a dream start after Kale Bradbery was fouled in the penalty area just after seven minutes, with Bradbery making no mistake from the spot to give the Jaffas the lead.

Ben Hay struck less than five minutes later before star winger James Virgili joined Bradbury in securing a brace before half-time to give the Jaffas a commanding 5-0 lead.

Lakes emerged in the second half with the seemingly insurmountable task of turning the tide but it was to be the reigning premiers’ day as they cruised home to erase a difficult fortnight of results.

Lakes stemmed the constant flow of goals initially in the second half but Bradbery completed his hat-trick as he made it 6-0 in the 75th minute with a clever finish.

Tommy Waller added his name to the scoresheet in the 79th minute as he found himself alone in the penalty area following an onslaught from the Jaffas. The match ended 7-0 in favour of the visitors, handing Lakes their heaviest defeat this season.

Jaffas coach Shane Pryce said he challenged his side in the lead up to the game and he was impressed with their response.

“It was disappointing to get two losses in three games,” Pryce said.

“I put the challenge out to the boys to say, what are we trying to achieve here? And that was the response I got and I am proud of their effort and of that response. We had a bit of a heart-to-heart as coaches and players about expectations that weren’t met in our last match and they ticked all the boxes this week.

“It was a good team effort from the boys. The calibre of Kale Bradbery, James Virgili and Ben Hay stepped up to the mark today but everyone contributed. For Bradbery to get those goals today and get into those positions, it was a lot better than it has been in recent weeks.”

Adamstown Rosebud 0-4 Broadmeadow Magic

A determined performance from Broadmeadow saw them have too much firepower for Adamstown Rosebud as Magic ran out 4-0 winners on Sunday.

Magic came into the rescheduled round 17 match at Adamstown Oval with renewed focus after being eliminated from the Australia Cup in their last outing, while Rosebud came into the match still searching for their maiden win of the season.

But Rosebud were immediately on the back foot as Magic striker Jacob Dowse was pulled down in the penalty area in the opening minute of play and he made no mistake from the spot to give Magic the lead.

Magic threatened with every touch and Jayden Stewardson was unlucky not to double the visitors’ advantage just before the 20 minute mark but he was denied by the post.

Despite the slew of chances for Magic, Rosebud’s defence held firm and they were able to contain Damian Zane’s men to go into half-time just one goal behind.

Magic kept the pressure on in the second half but they did not resume the scoring until the 67th minute when Jordan Jackson rose above the pack to nod home to make it 2-0.

The flood gates opened for the visitors following Baker’s goal as captain Jeremy Wilson added his name to the scoresheet just minutes later, followed by a stunning solo effort from Bailey Wells as he sent the goalkeeper the wrong way with a lovely bit of skill to make it 4-0.

Rosebud were valiant in their efforts before the flurry of Magic goals late in the second half but it was not enough to prevent their 14th loss of the campaign.

Related Topics:
NPL Men's NNSW Rescheduled Round Review

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