Match of the Round
Newcastle Olympic v Broadmeadow Magic
Darling Street Oval, Sunday 2pm
Broadmeadow Magic coach Damian Zane says losing to rivals Newcastle Olympic in their season-opening derby clash could have been the catalyst to set up their stellar performances since.
This weekend’s match of the round sees Magic looking to return the favour against Olympic after going down in the final seconds of their round two meeting courtesy of a Jared Muller free kick from Jared Muller which saw Olympic leave Magic Park with all three points.
Since then Magic have rocketed up the table, overcoming a difficult opening fortnight to win seven of their last eight matches seeing them to the top of the table on 22 points, three clear of Charlestown Azzurri.
Magic took the outright competition lead with a 3-0 victory over Weston on Wednesday night as the teams played out the final 44 minutes of their round eight match which had been abandoned due to a serious injury to Weston goalkeeper Stuart Plant.
Magic also confirmed the signing of experienced goalkeeper Ben McNamara during the week, with the 33-year-old brought in to fill the void left by injured first choice Nate Cavaliere, who is expected to miss the rest of the season.
Newcastle Olympic will be sure to draw inspiration from their performance in round two when they downed Broadmeadow in their own backyard but Joel Griffiths’ side are a considerably different side than the one that took the field that day.
Joey Langlois and Musa Kamara are just two new faces that have seen regular time on the pitch, while fellow new arrival Malik Thom will be missing for this weekend’s derby after picking up a red card against Weston last round, likewise coach Griffiths.
Despite sitting fifth on the table Newcastle Olympic will want to start stringing together consistent results after only recording a sole victory in their last five matches with their most recent result a gutsy 2-2 draw against Weston with 10 men.
Griffiths said he expected a Magic side full of confidence this weekend but he had full faith in his side taking all three points again.
“I’m expecting a more confident Magic team,” Griffiths said.
“I think they were just getting their bearings [when we first met] but in saying that I think we are a lot different as well. I still think we are the best team in the competition, regardless of the table.
“The problem we have [is] we just need to finish goals. The moments we have had in matches we haven’t taken but to even get a point at Weston [last weekend] when it was against us, it shows resilience from my young team.
“Magic is a very good team and they have got a lot of good players. It’s like the Jets Youth team in a way and they will be well drilled and well coached. [Damian Zane] has done well and he will be happy with where his side is at the moment.”
Zane said he did not think his side carried any scars from their earlier defeat against Olympic and that the two sides looked very different heading into the latest instalment of their derby.
“At the time it hurt. I didn’t think we deserved to lose [in round two],” Zane said.
“In the end sometimes things happen for a reason and we were playing well but maybe [that loss] caused us to fine tune a few things and since then we have been doing quite well. It’s a derby game, it’s always going to be important.
“[Olympic] are very different now and in some ways we are too. It will be a good game. Olympic have been playing quite well and hopefully we can get the three points.”
Lambton Jaffas v Weston Workers FC
Arthur Edden Oval, Saturday 2pm
Lambton will be crossing their fingers for sunshine as they host Weston on Saturday.
Jaffas were again postponed at Maitland last round, making it the second time a meeting with Maitland has been postponed this season. It leaves Shane Pryce’s men with just five matches played heading into this weekend’s clash with Weston.
Despite the reigning premiers playing the fewest games of any side of the competition so far they have collected 13 competition points from their six clashes.
Jaffas outlasted Adamstown Rosebud 2-1 in their rescheduled round 11 match at Adamstown Oval on Wednesday night to climb back to fourth on the table.
Weston have had mixed results from their opening seven matches but are three points behind the Jaffas after picking up a draw against Newcastle Olympic 2-2 last weekend and falling 3-0 to Broadmeadow in their rescheduled round eight match on Wednesday night.
Leo Bertos’ men have not had a problem creating chances in their matches and they will be disappointed to not come away with the three points against a 10-man Olympic side last weekend.
Weston will not have to look far for motivation coming into the clash, with the Jaffas leaving it late but ultimately taking all three points in their round two meeting earlier this season.
Weston assistant coach Anthony Richards said he was thankful his side had consistent time on the pitch following the spate of washouts across the league.
“I think we are lucky to be playing a bit of consistent football,” Richards said.
“I think [Jaffas] are struggling to even get a game after being called off again last weekend. So those guys will be frustrated. But they have some of the best players in the competition, without a doubt.
“[Jaffas] just need to get a couple of games together and then they will be flying. Any side that has Josh Piddington in it, you know they are a winning side. It will be a tough game for us.”
Lambton will be without veteran A-League goalkeeper Ben Kennedy through unavailability.
Maitland FC v Cooks Hill United
Cooks Square Park, Saturday 2pm
Maitland will look to halt a resurgent Cooks Hill United side when they meet at Cooks Square Park on Saturday.
Maitland were in red-hot form heading into their meeting with premiers Lambton last weekend but for the clash to be the only round 12 match postponed due to wet weather.
Securing all three points will be a priority for Michael Bolch’s men this weekend as they sit five points behind table-toppers Broadmeadow Magic.
Maitland will be wary of a rejuvenated Cooks Hill United side that is brimming with confidence after securing back-to-back wins last week that saw them move to seven competition points.
Cooks Hill have broken the shackles after a tough introduction to top-flight NPL Men’s NNSW football, grabbing their maiden win of the season with a resounding 5-0 victory against Lake Macquarie City last Wednesday before backing it up with a victory over Adamstown Rosebud 4-3 last Saturday.
Cooks Hill also advanced to the sixth preliminary round of the Australia Cup on Wednesday night as they left it late to down former HIT 106.9 Northern League One rivals New Lambton 2-1.
Things have started to click for Dave Tanchevski’s men. Tanchevski said he had plenty of faith in his emerging side with a few key changes starting to pay dividends.
“We had a tough first four weeks in the competition,” Tanchevski said.
“We were probably really lacking front third players so we signed Sam Webb and Josh Benson and they have both been really important as well as Bailey Newton progressing. It’s been a combination of all of that.
“I made a couple of changes in the midfield as well, moved Riley McNaughton from right-back into centre midfield and he has been winning a lot of ball for us. That allows Jacob Pepper to get a lot more ball as well.”
Edgeworth FC v Adamstown Rosebud
Jack McLaughlan Oval, Sunday 2pm
Edgeworth will look to hit back in style when they welcome an Adamstown Rosebud side searching for their first win of the season on Sunday.
The Eagles went down against a resilient Valentine team, despite gaining the home ground advantage with a late venue change last weekend, handing Peter McGuiness’s men their fourth defeat of the campaign.
Edgeworth looked to have steadied the ship after a tough opening month of competition which yielded just the sole victory, that victory coming against this weekend’s opponents courtesy of a late Jeremy Brockie strike to steal the result 1-0 in round two.
Rosebud were again competitive on the weekend against Cooks Hill despite being defeated but Dave Rosewarne’s men will be determined to collect their first competition points of the season against the Eagles after losing nine straight heading into this weekend.
Rosewarne said while it has been a difficult period for the club there were signs that the tide will turn in their favour sooner rather than later.
“The boys are frustrated about the results at the moment,” Rosewarne said.
“But they are young enough that they don’t hold onto it for too long. The attitude and the application are still fantastic at training, although training has been difficult [due to the weather].
“For us being a young squad and inexperienced squad we need to train more often to work on the things that other teams with experience already have. Other than that, it was frustrating on the weekend [against Cooks Hill]. We created chances, we just couldn’t get across the line.
“Edgeworth has players in there that can get them through the game. I watched them against Valentine and they had their opportunities but they just couldn’t put it in the back of the net.”
McGuiness said he would not underestimate the young Rosebud side.
“Looking forward to the game against Adamstown,” McGuiness said.
“We are expecting the same as we saw in the first round, which was a well-organised team of young players and we are determined to bounce back after the disappointment of last weekend.”
Adamstown will also need to bounce back from their 2-1 defeat to Lambton in their rescheduled round 11 match on Wednesday night.
Charlestown Azzurri v Lake Macquarie City
Lisle Carr Oval, Sunday 2.30pm
Charlestown Azzurri will look to get back in the winner’s circle when they host Lake Macquarie City on Sunday.
Graham Law’s men have collected 19 points and are the only side unbeaten so far this season but Azzurri have also recorded three draws in their last five results.
Azzurri’s recent results have allowed Broadmeadow Magic to nab the top spot on the table heading into this weekend but Charlestown will be determined to take their mantel at the top again by collecting all three points this weekend.
Law confirmed throughout the week the club were in advanced talks to bring former Newcastle Jets defender Taylor Regan and veteran Rene Ferguson to the club. Both are yet to be officially rubber stamped and in the event they do join Azzurri, they will not be available until the next transfer window at the end of the month.
Lakes have been up against it results wise as of late, collecting heavy defeats in their mid-week game against Cooks Hill last weekend and then their round 12 match against Broadmeadow Magic, seeing them slip to 10th on the table.
But Lakes will be buoyed by their round two performance against Azzurri, where they managed to salvage a point in their opening match of the season courtesy of a late penalty.
Law said while the imminent arrivals were a boost for Azzurri he was fully focused on this weekend and is expecting a big performance from his side after a fortnight away from the pitch.
“Respectfully to Regan and Ferguson, they aren’t in my thoughts just yet,” Law said.
“They can’t play for about four or five games, so respectfully for them, my concentration is fully on the players that are available for me to pick now. It’s great to get Taylor Regan on board, he’s a local boy and already he is adding to the side with his experience.
“I am expecting a big performance this Sunday. I am expecting the boys to be raring to go and there is an element of pressure for them to perform. Our last game against Lakes was a tough track but now we have gotten used to that.
“I thought Lakes were competitive against Broadmeadow. It just blew out at the end there and I thought Lakes performed pretty well in that game but in football it can go like that and you have to be wary of those teams that aren’t getting the rub of the green.”