Match of the Round
Lake Macquarie City v Weston Workers FC
Macquarie Field, Sunday 2pm
Lake Macquarie City will look for their third win of the season when they welcome Weston on Sunday.
Lake Macquarie have had mixed results so far in their campaign, with Keelan Hamilton’s side collecting two wins from their five matches that see them in eighth place on the table.
Lakes have particularly been affected by the spate of washouts across the competition with City only playing five fixtures so far this season. But they will be full of confidence heading into this weekend after a 2-1 victory over Adamstown Rosebud in the Australia Cup fifth preliminary round on Wednesday night.
Weston will be looking to hit their straps sooner rather than later, with Leo Bertos’ men showing plenty of promise in stages during the early part of the season to be sixth on the table with three wins and three losses.
Weston bolstered their squad with international arrivals Moustafa Mohammad and Michael McGlinchey but are another side that has fallen victim to the persistent rainfall, with the Bears only playing six fixtures so far this season.
Both sides grabbed wins from the two times they met last season but Weston will not be bothered by the travel away, with the Bears leaving 2-1 winners the last time they met at Macquarie Field.
Lakes coach Keelan Hamilton spoke after his side’s Australia Cup triumph, commending Lakes’ come from behind effort and said their attention would now turn to the Bears this weekend.
“We improved in our second half [against Adamstown] and got on top,” Hamilton said.
“Adamstown led for most of the match but we equalised with 15 to go and got our winner late through [John] Majurovski.
“Weston is a well-coached, organised side, so we know it will be another tough fixture.”
Weston will also be buoyed by their cup exploits, with the Bears eliminating Edgeworth 3-2 after extra time in the fifth preliminary round on Wednesday night.
Adamstown Rosebud v Lambton Jaffas
Adamstown Oval, Saturday 2pm
Adamstown Rosebud will look to break an eight-game losing streak when they welcome reigning premiers Lambton Jaffas to Adamstown Oval on Saturday.
Adamstown are yet to collect a point so far this campaign and are anchored to the bottom of the table after eight matches played.
Rosebud looked to have turned a corner after promising performances against Charlestown Azzurri and Lake Macquarie despite being beaten 2-1 in both matches but will be determined to finally break their duck for this season against a Jaffas side that have struggled for consistent fixtures due to the weather.
The Jaffas have only managed to take the field on five occasions so far this season, making it difficult for Shane Pryce’s men to build any real momentum in the competition so far. Despite this, the premiers sit in fifth spot on the table with three wins, one loss and a draw.
There are expected to be a few changes to the Jaffas due to the short turnaround from their Australia Cup fifth preliminary round match against Maitland on Wednesday night and injury, with Pryce saying Luke Remington, Kale Bradbury and Andrew Pawiak were unlikely to face Rosebud.
Pryce said he had plenty of respect for their young opponents despite their struggles this year, particularly highlighting Rosebud’s strong coaching team.
“I think Adamstown is well coached, don’t get me wrong about that,” Pryce said.
“I’ve known of [Dave Rosewarne] for a while because he has been an assistant with the Jaffas before. So there is respect for their coach and their squad even though they haven’t had a win.
“There’s a lot of players that have gone through the Jets system at some stage and they’re young so they will be hungry. They are going to have energy and they won’t want to give in no matter what the situation of the game is. Their youthful exuberance probably makes up for what they don’t have in experience.”
Adamstown and Lambton were both eliminated from the Australia Cup on Wednesday night. Rosebud lost their fifth preliminary round match 2-1 to Lake Macquarie City, while a much-changed Lambton side went down 6-0 to Maitland.
Maitland FC v Newcastle Olympic
Cooks Square Park, Saturday 4.30pm
Newcastle Olympic coach Joel Griffiths says his side is full of confidence after knocking over Charlestown Azzurri in their Australia Cup fifth preliminary round match on Tuesday night.
Olympic ran out 3-0 winners over Charlestown Azzurri, handing Graham Law’s men their first defeat in any competition this year. The win followed Olympic’s big win over Adamstown at the weekend, putting five past the struggling Rosebud side in the first half before eventually winning 6-1.
Last round’s win sees Griffiths’ side move into the top four but Olympic will be looking for consecutive victories for the first time this campaign when they meet Maitland on Saturday.
Third-placed Maitland on the other hand will look to close the gap at the top of the table with consecutive victories when they welcome the visitors to Cooks Square Park.
Maitland is within striking distance of leaders Charlestown Azzurri and Broadmeadow Magic, and a victory this weekend can see them reduce the gap further.
Maitland’s match against Lake Macquarie was a washout last weekend but the Magpies appear to be gathering steam to mount another serious challenge for the premiership, particularly after sharing the points with table-toppers Charlestown Azzurri in round eight.
Griffiths said he was ecstatic with how Olympic were progressing through the season so far and said after defeating Charlestown his side was ready to keep the momentum going into their match against the Magpies.
“Maitland is always a tough task,” Griffiths said.
“They probably have three players that would walk into any team. James Thompson, Braedyn Crowley and Zac Thomas, I would love to have those players in my team. But straight away I know we are up for it.
“[Maitland] is a very clever [team], very smart [with] very clinical players. So we know it is going to be another challenge for us but we are a team that looks forward to these challenges. I think in the pre-season they got the better of us but we are a totally different team now.”
Griffiths also made mention of the recruits in his team, saying that there was no greater joy in his coaching career than watching players develop through the lower grades and making their debut with Newcastle Olympic.
“The thing that I love about my job is bringing players through. Our average age across the side would be very low, our oldest player on the pitch is 26 or 27 and my side is willing to learn whereas you go through other teams and their average age would be about 28-years-old,” Griffiths said.
“It shows that the club is going in the right direction and we aren’t poaching these players, we are bringing them through.”
Valentine FC v Charlestown Azzurri
CB Complex, Sunday 2pm
Valentine will be hoping to get their season back on track by claiming the competition’s biggest scalp when they host Charlestown Azzurri on Sunday.
Valentine is on a three-game slide after beginning the season with back-to-back wins but like Lambton, the Adam Hughes-coached side has struggled for consistent matches due to the weather, having only played five fixtures so far.
After back-to-back fixtures against heavyweights Broadmeadow Magic and Maitland, it does not get any easier for last year’s wooden spooners, as they now welcome the only unbeaten side in the league in Charlestown Azzurri.
Azzurri have fast cemented themselves as a real contender this season and have almost equalled their total wins of last season already this year, with five wins from their opening nine matches.
Azzurri suffered their first defeat of the season, albeit in the Australia Cup fifth preliminary round against Newcastle Olympic on Tuesday night, going down 3-0.
Despite their strong start to the season, Charlestown will want to start collecting three points regularly, with Graham Law’s men playing out three draws in their last five matches and nearest rivals Broadmeadow Magic quickly narrowing the gap at the top of the table.
Speaking after their match against Broadmeadow Magic at the weekend, Law said it was difficult to think too far ahead with matches coming thick and fast because of the recent postponements.
“We have played almost every game this season,” Law said.
“We have no catch up games. I don’t know how other clubs are going to deal with this. I am even struggling to keep up [with the schedule].”
Edgeworth FC v Cooks Hill United
Jack McLaughlan Oval, Sunday 2.30pm
Edgeworth assistant coach Gary Wilson says the Eagles will not dwell on being knocked out of the Australia Cup and now have full focus on the league beginning with Cooks Hill United on Sunday.
Edgeworth will be aiming to make it three wins in a row when they welcome Cooks Hill to Jack McLaughlan Oval. The Eagles steadied the ship after a challenging period to start the season, with the Eagles only picking up three points from their opening four rounds.
The Eagles have since picked up wins against Lake Macquarie and Newcastle Olympic, with players like Jeremy Brockie and captain Pat Wheeler starting to show their class for the side and both being a catalyst to bring Peter McGuiness’s side back to the fore.
Cooks Hill have had a tough introduction to NPL Men’s NNSW but after narrowly going down to Lambton Jaffas 1-0 and then sharing the points with table-toppers Charlestown Azzurri in their last two matches, the visitors will be confident their first victory is just around the corner.
Dave Tanchevski’s men have lost few admirers despite their early form leaving them in 10th place on the table, as Cooks Hill have played every team that is in the top six heading into this weekend’s round of matches in their opening six games.
A 3-2 loss to rivals Weston Bears in the Australia Cup means Edgeworth have been knocked out of the competition. But Wilson said his side was healthy for this weekend’s clash and they will use the disappointment of the loss to motivate them.
“We have come through unscathed from the Australia Cup match against Weston,” Wilson said.
“But we will be fatigued. It was a torrid match and the ground is still a bit wet and soft. It was a real battle of a game [against Weston], so we will do recovery on Thursday and a light session on Saturday and then plan for Cooks Hill.
“Cooks Hill seem to be improving every week. They were unlucky not to beat Azzurri recently. They are obviously slowly starting to get it together, so we will be mindful of that.
“We can just concentrate on the league now. We will use the disappointment [of being knocked out of the Australia Cup] to focus on the league.”
Broadmeadow Magic have the bye