Match of the Round
Charlestown Azzurri v Broadmeadow Magic
Lisle Carr Oval, Sunday 2pm
Broadmeadow coach Damian Zane said while he recognises Magic traditionally struggle at Lisle Carr Oval his young team would be full of confidence heading into their Match of the Round against Charlestown Azzurri on Sunday.
The top of the table clash sees Charlestown, who are yet to lose this season, host a Broadmeadow side on a five-game winning streak.
The match could potentially be high-scoring with Magic and Azzurri leading the competition for goals scored this season, with 22 and 21 respectively.
Magic were unlucky in their first two rounds of the season, going down in close matches against Newcastle Olympic and Lambton Jaffas but Zane did not panic and was confident Broadmeadow were playing good football despite the results.
Charlestown have been near perfect in their opening seven games of their campaign but will have a quick turnaround after playing out a 3-3 draw against Cooks Hill on Wednesday night.
Magic will be confident heading into the clash after doing the double over Azzurri last year, with a 1-0 victory followed by a resounding 5-1 win.
Zane highlighted the importance of rotating his starting squad and said Azzurri would be no easy task on their home soil at Lisle Carr Oval.
“A lot of people disagree with [rotating the squad] but I’ve always done it,” Zane said.
“I think of the human side of it. No player likes sitting on the bench eight weeks in a row. Everyone wants to be a part of the squad but it’s just a fact if you’re playing in a squad that I coach you have to buy in and have a bit of selflessness, which the boys have all bought into.
“Looking at the strength we have on the bench, it enables us to create depth and give an opportunity to players. Sam Donnellan is a great example. He came in and got himself a goal [last week] but then Bailey Wells came off the bench and got a goal also.
“It’s always tough going up to Charlestown, I found that out coming to the club. I expect a tough match, they have some x-factor in guys like Riley Smith and Jacob Melling who have been a good pickup. They have been defending quite well and they are top of the table for a reason.”
Charlestown coach Graham Law said his initial focus had been on Azzurri’s mid-week game with Cooks Hill before turning their attention to Magic.
“Broadmeadow Magic is going to be one of, if not the team to beat,” Law said.
“Just the way they play and how they move the ball about, the pace of it. They demand that the opponent keeps up with them or you will get left to the side but it’s a difficult situation in that how we play [against Cooks Hill on Wednesday night) will affect how we perform on Sunday.
“We had some tough games against Magic last year but I look at Broadmeadow as a completely different team this year. With the patterns they play and the way they set up, I don’t see anything similar from last year. Generally, I would look back on previous games but against this Broadmeadow team, I won’t even look at previous games.”
FIFA listed referee Kate Jacewicz will lead an all-female team of match officials to take charge of the match as part of Female Football Week. This will be the first time an all-female match official team has officiated an NPL Men’s NNSW fixture.
The appointment has been rescheduled from last year’s Female Football Week, when Jacewicz was a late withdrawal after being appointed as reserve VAR for the A-League grand final in Melbourne.
“Kate is a very experienced referee and it will be a great opportunity for young referees from our region to see her in action,” NNSWF Referee Manager Brad Carlin said.
“It is wonderful that a referee of Kate’s calibre will be here to inspire our next generation of female and male referees.”
Assistant Referees Samantha Newell and Lucy Hungerford and Fourth Official Alison Macready will make up the match official crew alongside Jacewicz on Sunday.
Cooks Hill United v Valentine FC
Fearnley Dawes Athletics Field, Saturday 2pm
Cooks Hill United coach Dave Tanchevski says his team is in a transition period but remains hopeful they will start putting wins together starting at home to Valentine on Saturday.
Cooks Hill went painstakingly close to taking points off reigning premiers Lambton Jaffas last weekend before eventually going down 1-0, collecting their fourth straight defeat. They then led 3-1 against Charlestown Azzurri in their rescheduled round five match on Wednesday night before being pegged back to play out a 3-3 draw.
United fielded an inexperienced backline against the Jaffas, highlighted by the arrival of goalkeeper Ryan Furness who made his debut for the club on short notice following the sudden departure of first choice goalkeeper Lachlan Watson.
Cody Carrol and Pat Bond are expected to be missing this weekend, while Tanchevski also confirmed the exit of Kev Davison from the club. But in some positive news, Cooks Hill are expected to welcome back Bailey Newton and Tom Smart.
Valentine are ninth on the table after back-to-back losses and will be looking to turn the corner quickly after being dismantled by a clinical Broadmeadow Magic side 4-1 last weekend.
Early signs had been positive for Valentine after winning their first two matches but extensive early-season postponements have left them with only four matches played so far this season – the fewest in the competition.
Tanchevski said there was a cultural change happening at his club and was confident positive results would follow.
“The one thing I know about the NPL is you have to turn up on the day or any result can happen,” Tanchevski said.
“We didn’t show up against Weston [in round three] and got thumped 5-0 but we showed up against Lambton and had a close game, so we know on our day we can mix it with the best teams.
“We have got some quality in the team that can win games but the main thing we need to work on is our final third. We have only scored one goal so far this season and that’s not enough to win games.
“This is sort of a transition year for the club and we need to bring in a bit of change of culture. A lot of the boys at Cooks Hill came back to play [Northern League One] but couldn’t commit to the hectic training schedule [of the NPL]. We have gone back to three training sessions a week, to try and change the culture a little bit.”
Lambton Jaffas v Edgeworth FC
Arthur Edden Oval, Saturday 4.30pm
Lambton Jaffas coach Shane Pryce Edgeworth would present a challenge like few others in the competition regardless of where they are on the table as the premiers prepare to host the Eagles on Saturday afternoon.
Pryce said after Lambton’s win over Cooks Hill last weekend that his side had struggled to find their best form in the early part of the season. But despite that admission the reigning premiers sit in fourth place on the table with three wins, one draw and a loss.
Lambton are another side that have been hampered by the early season postponements and have struggled to string consecutive fixtures together. The job will not get any easier as they now welcome a revitalised Eagles outfit fresh from back-to-back triumphs.
Edgeworth have broken the shackles since a frustrating start to their campaign that saw them lose three games in a row. But with a timely bye and the welcoming back of some troops to the squad, they now look primed to challenge the premiers and announce themselves as a threat in this year’s competition.
The Eagles will not be daunted by travelling to face the home side, with Peter McGuiness’s men picking up a 2-0 victory the last time the side’s met at Arthur Edden Oval last year.
Pryce said he recognised Edgeworth would not take a backwards step when the sides meet this weekend but his team were ready for the challenge.
“History and their pride says no matter where they are on the table, they will be up for the fight,” Pryce said.
“Us going out there [to Jack McLaughlan Oval] last year, we played really well. We are probably not where we were last year at the moment but it will be a good test for us.
“The reputation of Edgeworth is going to hold them in good stead no matter what their last results have been, so I think it is going to be a big challenge for us and we will see how our players respond.”
Edgeworth assistant coach Gary Wilson said his side would take each game as it comes after a slow start to the season.
“Everyone is fit and we have a lot of players getting close to their top fitness,” Wilson said.
“[We can start] to develop depth and with depth you always have a chance of winning games. We are looking good but it is early days and because we started slow, we have to take every game as it comes and just keep building momentum.
“Lambton have had a tough schedule and they have to play a cup game during the week but we will definitely respect them. They were the premiers last year but we know their players and we will look at the video and come up with a plan.”
Newcastle Olympic v Adamstown Rosebud
Darling Street Oval, Sunday 2pm
Newcastle Olympic coach Joel Griffiths says his side need to focus on their finishing if they are to challenge the top teams which must against Adamstown Rosebud on Sunday.
Newcastle Olympic’s line up is almost unrecognisable from the one that defeated Broadmeadow Magic late on in their season opener but the influx of new players for Griffiths’ side gives reason for fans to be optimistic.
Olympic were able to share points with premiers Lambton last Wednesday with a 1-1 draw and, despite being beaten by Edgeworth last weekend, Olympic created plenty of opportunities that could have seen them grab a result on another day.
Adamstown have been competitive despite their results but Dave Rosewarne’s men will be desperate to break their duck sooner rather than later with Rosebud languishing in last place without a point.
Adamstown will be aiming to convert their opportunities, especially after last week when the points went begging against Lake Macquarie after missing a penalty late in the game that would have levelled the scores.
Griffiths said he was confident with the style of football his side were playing and all they need to focus on was getting the ball into the back of the net.
“The last three games we played, I feel like we dominated but we only got four points from it,” Griffiths said.
“We’re going to have to start getting more clinical in front of goals. I think that’s what is lacking. We create so many chances, almost 10 games worth of chances but we have only scored a couple, so we just have to clean up that.
“Everything else, all the aspects I want from my players is actually really positive. Whether we play Jaffas, Maitland or Adamstown, the way we go about it is exactly the same and this will be no different.”
Lake Macquarie City v Maitland FC
Macquarie Field, Sunday 4pm
Lake Macquarie coach Keelan Hamilton says he welcomes the challenge Maitland will bring when they meet on Sunday.
Lake Macquarie will back up from a come from behind win against Adamstown last round, which saw Lakes climb to eighth with two wins, two losses and a draw.
Maitland on the other hand will be on the quick turnaround from their 4-0 victory over Valentine in their rescheduled round five clash on Wednesday night. But the third-placed Magpies will also be reaping the benefits of the bye last round.
Three goals in the final five minutes helped Maitland see off Valentine, closing the gap to Charlestown and Broadmeadow at the top of the table.
Hamilton said he was aware of the strike power Maitland possess but also that his side knew they would have to beat the best to be the best.
“[Maitland] is a good side, with lots of experience,” Hamilton said.
“They have some real key individual threats, especially in a goal-scoring sense and also some key players in their defensive unit. It will be a really difficult match but any side is a challenge for us.
“We want to be testing ourselves against the best teams in the competition and we don’t want to be just making up the numbers and this is a really good test for us.”