Match of the Round
Maitland FC v Lambton Jaffas
Cooks Square Park, Saturday 3pm
Maitland assistant coach Nick Webb says his side have not forgotten the disappointment of missing out on last year’s premiership to Lambton as they prepare for this weekend’s match of the round.
Maitland and Lambton were scheduled to face off in the final game of the regular season last year before the competition was abandoned due to COVID-19. The premiership would subsequently be awarded to Lambton Jaffas who were first on the table, one point ahead of the Magpies.
The much-anticipated clash was originally slated to be the jewel of the opening round of this NPL Men’s NNSW season but both sides were forced to wait for the showdown with the round postponed.
Maitland have already proven to be a force to be reckoned with once more this season, with Michael Bolch’s side second on the table, fresh from a 4-2 victory over Newcastle Olympic in the only game to go ahead last weekend.
Jaffas on the other hand have struggled for regular game time, with Shane Pryce’s men playing just five fixtures so far this season. But they still occupy fifth on the table with their last fixture being a gritty 1-0 victory over Cooks Hill in round nine.
The Jaffas were handed a heavy defeat at the hands of the Magpies to exit the Australia Cup last week. The Jaffas were on the wrong end of a 6-0 score, which saw Maitland progress to the sixth preliminary round and Lambton eliminated.
Magpies assistant coach Nick Webb said he knew the Jaffas would be a different side this weekend from the one they defeated last week and his players have plenty of motivation for the clash.
“We are looking forward to taking [Lambton] on. They will be a much different side I’m sure,” Webb said.
“At the end of the day, they were almost at full strength [in the Australia Cup match] but we played our best football and it showed how good we could be and it’s good for our players to see that. Anytime you beat a team like the Jaffas 6-0 it’s a massive result.
“Our players were burning last year, not being able to play them in that last game. We were running into some great form at that time but we can’t go back in time. It was one of those opportunities missed in our opinion but now this year, it sits in front of us.”
Jaffas coach Shane Pryce said the Magpies were the form team of the competition and his side will have to forget their Australia Cup drubbing quickly to properly prepare for this weekend’s clash.
“We played the form side of the competition [in the Australia Cup],” Pryce said.
“It’s a quick back up and we haven’t exactly had a chance to put that result behind us yet because we haven’t played again. We have to respond this weekend against like I said, the form team of the competition.
“We have a couple of ins for the match because we had a few reserve grade players in our squad. It’s more about just needing to compete a bit better. In all of [Maitland’s] games, they have been dominating the opposition, not only with good football but with intensity. Their pressure on the ball has been pretty impressive.
“Back into the team we have Luke Remington and Andy Pawiak coming back into the squad.”
Adamstown Rosebud v Cooks Hill United
Adamstown Oval, Saturday 2pm
Adamstown Rosebud will be determined to take their first points of the season when they welcome Cooks Hill United to Adamstown Oval on Saturday afternoon.
Both sides will come into this weekend’s match with the sole intention of finally breaking their duck for the season, with the two bottom-placed sides having yet to taste victory.
The 11th placed Rosebud have struggled to settle into the season thus far but Dave Rosewarne’s men have been competitive on more than one occasion, with the young side going down narrowly to the likes of Charlestown Azzurri, Weston and Lake Macquarie recently.
Cooks Hill have begun to show promise after a baptism by fire into top-flight NPL Men’s NNSW, with Dave Tanchevski’s men pushing title threats Lambton Jaffas and Charlestown Azzurri in their meetings, securing a draw in the latter as their most recent performance.
Both sides have struggled to convert in front of goals so far this season, scoring just four goals. But Cooks Hill will be confident they have found their groove after a three-goal haul against Charlestown Azzurri in a rescheduled mid-week game two weeks ago.
Adamstown Rosebud also announced through the week that their first and reserve grade players will take part in The Push Up Challenge to help raise awareness about local suicide prevention.
Three teams will compete in the challenge to reach 3,139 push-ups over 24 days, with all funds raised to be donated to Lifeline Hunter.
Weston Workers FC v Newcastle Olympic
Rockwell Automation Park, Saturday 2.30pm
Weston assistant coach Anthony Richards says he recognises Newcastle Olympic’s results have not been consistent but they still pose a significant attacking threat when they meet on Saturday afternoon
Olympic remain fourth on the table despite their defeat at the weekend but the Joel Griffiths-coached side will be looking to make amends after going down in the tightly contested affair against Maitland.
Maitland were on the quick back up from a convincing win in the Australia Cup against the Jaffas through the week, with Olympic in control for large periods of their clash against the Magpies. But Olympic were left to lament the defensive lapses that led to Maitland running away 4-2 winners.
Weston on the other hand are fresh from a thrilling fifth preliminary round progression in the Australia Cup against Edgeworth last week but they have not played a league game since their 3-2 defeat to Charlestown Azzurri in round nine.
The sixth-placed Bears have toiled away in the early parts of the season but Leo Bertos’ men will be looking to leapfrog their opponents on the table with what would be their fourth victory of the campaign, which could see them go as high as third on the table.
Weston were slated for their rescheduled game against Broadmeadow Magic mid-week but the shortened 44-minute clash was postponed due to wet weather.
Richards says his side were carrying a few injuries heading into the match.
“I know [Olympic] have been up-and-down but they have some really good players,” Richards said.
“[Olympic] are really strong through the middle of the ground. Marcus Duncan does well for them. Their new players are doing quite well also, they also have probably one of the best goalkeepers in the competition [in Adam Pearce].
“Cooper Buswell is carrying a knock and Zac Sneddon is carrying an injury. Paul [Sichalwe] our midfielder is also carrying an injury as well, so we have a few [injuries] but we will still back ourselves to get a result… against Olympic.
“[Olympic] are a tough side to play and they always have been, so it’s going to be a good test for us.”
Valentine FC v Edgeworth FC
CB Complex, Sunday 2pm
Valentine coach Adam Hughes says he is hopeful his club can find an alternative solution in the likely event of CB Complex again being untenable for their upcoming match against Edgeworth this weekend.
Valentine will be eager just to be able to step on the pitch with the side only playing five matches so far this season due to the torrential rain, with Edgeworth only playing one more fixture.
The hosts will be aiming to stop the rot after losing three in a row. Valentine initially showed promise in their first two matches of the season which saw them win back-to-back matches but now languish in ninth on the table.
The Eagles have started to find their feet after a tough opening month of competition, with Peter McGuiness’s men now looking to make it three consecutive wins and keep in touch with the top of the table, as they sit 10 points behind leaders Charlestown Azzurri.
McGuiness said it may have taken some time to find their rhythm this season but he was confident they have found the right balance with a host of new faces in the team.
“It’s hard to get into any rhythm [with the weather],” McGuiness said.
“The squad is looking bigger than what it has. We have players returning from injury. Sam Maxwell is back but Dylan Holz is probably still a couple of weeks away, Jackson Pereira is back on board. We have a bit more depth and competition to get in the starting 11 now.
“There are new combinations and players that have come into the group [since the start of the season]. If you look at our roster, it’s nothing like the roster they have had in the past in regards to names.”
Hughes highlighted that the recent weather had made it extremely difficult for his side to prepare and play matches but also added his side would be ready to take on the might of a rejuvenated Edgeworth side, no matter where it is played.
“[Edgeworth] is a team that I see has come into some good form now,” Hughes said.
“Peter has done a good job with the team so far and I think with each week that progresses they are getting better and better.
“It has been difficult [preparing for matches]. It’s been fairly muddy wherever we train and we have had to go between facilities but the positive environment we have [in the team] is very good and the players are driving it themselves with team culture.
“In regards to the CB Complex… we need to sit down and find a solution but it’s not just for us in first grade, it’s for all the kids that play in the community and the youth sides.
“Some clubs have been more fortunate than others to get on but I think we are going to have to sit as a collective group of everyone involved [and come up with an alternative].”
Broadmeadow Magic v Lake Macquarie City
Magic Park, Sunday 4.30pm
Broadmeadow Magic will be hoping to pick up where they left off as they return from the bye looking to secure their fifth win in six matches against Lake Macquarie City.
Magic have asserted themselves as title contenders since losing the first two matches of their campaign, winning their next four games before sharing the points with table-toppers Charlestown Azzurri in round 10.
But Magic will have to continue their campaign without first-choice goalkeeper Nate Cavaliere, with their senior shot stopper ruled out for the rest of the season due to injury. Back up goalkeeper Zac Bowling will also be unavailable for the next month due to injury.
Magic’s abandoned round eight match with Weston was postponed mid-week to next Wednesday night due to wet weather, with the two sides slated to play the final 45 minutes of their clash following an injury to Weston goalkeeper Stuart Plant.
Lake Macquarie are eighth on the table and will be looking for their biggest scalp of the year when they travel to Magic Park.
The Keelan Hamilton-coached side will also be looking to secure what would be consecutive wins for the first time this season.