NPL Men’s NNSW Round 17 preview: Olympic look to keep riding wave against Valentine

June 30th, 2022

 James Paras

Sproule Sports Focus

Match of the Round
Newcastle Olympic v Valentine FC
Darling Street Oval, Sunday 2pm

Newcastle Olympic will look to use the exciting energy around the club following its sensational Australia Cup draw when they host Valentine on Sunday.

It was a big week for Newcastle Olympic last week as Joel Griffiths’ side not only secured their progression to the Australia Cup’s national round of 32 with a 3-0 victory over Cooks Hill but they also scored a come-from-behind victory against Lake Macquarie to keep them well and truly in the hunt for a finals berth.

It got better on Wednesday night with Olympic drawn at home to A-League Men’s powerhouse Melbourne City in the Australia Cup national round of 32.

Jared Muller and mid-season signing Joey Langlois have been shining lights for Olympic of late, with the pair each contributing three goals to the last six scored against Cooks Hill midweek and then Lakes at the weekend.

This weekend’s match between the sides will be the second time Valentine and Olympic have met in just a matter of days, with Olympic winning the rescheduled round six match between the pair 2-0 on Wednesday night.

The win was another step towards the finals for Olympic as the climbed above Edgeworth to fifth.

Valentine were valiant against Maitland last weekend, leading the match twice but were not able to get the job done in the second half when the Magpies tightened the screws to secure a 3-2 victory.

The loss saw Valentine sink to eighth on the table, with Weston and Newcastle Olympic leapfrogging Adam Hughes’ men after picking up wins last weekend.

Adamstown Rosebud v Broadmeadow Magic
Adamstown Oval, Saturday 2pm

Broadmeadow coach Damian Zane says he will not be taking last-placed Adamstown Rosebud lightly as first place meets last to kick off Indigenous Round on Saturday.

It has been a difficult period for Rosebud, with the young side failing to register a victory after 13 matches played. Most recently Rosebud suffered a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Weston Workers last weekend.

Rosebud have been close on occasion to collecting their first win of the campaign but remain rooted to the bottom of the table with two competition points from two draws against Edgeworth and Valentine.

Magic are flying at the opposite end of the table after they moved to first place on goal difference after a spirited 2-1 victory over Edgeworth last the weekend.

Going top of the table capped off a massive week for the club, as Magic also secured their progression to the national round of 32 of the Australia Cup with a last-gasp win against Maitland.

Broadmeadow were drawn away to NPL Victoria side Bentleigh Greens in the Australia Cup national round of 32 on Wednesday night.

Magic have also welcomed goalkeeper Ben McNamara to their squad who will take the place of injured keeper Nate Cavaliere.

Magic came away big winners in their last meeting against Rosebud, putting six goals past them at Magic Park in round six.

Zane said Adamstown Rosebud gave his side headaches around this time of the year last season and they would be out to make sure that does not repeat this weekend.

“Adamstown was the first step to wrecking our aspirations [of the premiership] last year,” Zane said.

“For the boys that will be fresh in their minds, I’m sure. I’m a coach that gives everyone [equal respect]. Adamstown has some really good young players and some dangerous ones.  If you don’t respect people in football I believe there is karma that comes back to bite you.

“Our team will totally respect Adamstown and it will be a tough game. At this stage with the conditions everyone is playing in, you really just care about the three points because every win is massive right now. I expect a quick tough game because they are young and so are we. It should be exciting.”

Lambton Jaffas v Lake Macquarie City
Arthur Edden Oval, Saturday 2pm

Lake Macquarie coach Keelan Hamilton says his side is on the right path as they prepare to take on reigning premiers Lambton Jaffas on Saturday.

Lambton comes into this weekend’s clash having played the least amount matches of any side with nine. The Jaffas’ round 14 clash against Charlestown Azzurri was abandoned mid-way due to the weather, adding another fixture to their hectic upcoming catch-up game schedule.

Despite the lack of the regular games, the reigning premiers still sit comfortably in fourth on the table, having lost just the one match so far this season.

But they will have to back up from their mid-week heroics after downing Maitland 3-1 in their rescheduled round 12 match on Wednesday night.

Shane Pryce’s men will at least be fresh after enjoying the bye last weekend and will come into their match against Lakes gunning for three points as they sit six points behind leaders Magic, Azzurri and Maitland, with all three teams on 26 points. But Lambton have three matches in hand and will have their sights set on back to back premierships.

Lake Macquarie have slowly watched their season slip away after falling to their sixth consecutive defeat last weekend and now firmly sit 10th on the table.

Lakes have been valiant and some would say even unlucky as of late. Hamilton’s men pushed Valentine to the death a fortnight ago before a late goal stole the result from them and held a commanding 2-0 lead over Newcastle Olympic last weekend before being run down to lose 3-2.

Lakes made it seven defeats in a row in their rescheduled round 11 match against Weston on Wednesday night going down 5-2.

City are also expected to be without captain Michael Bru due to injury but in good news, Campbell Ross is nearing his return from injury and will be in contention for selection this weekend.

Hamilton said it had been a tough season for Lakes and they have adjusted their expectations, also recognising the difficult position his opponents are in due to their heavy backlog of games.

“Jaffas are another big challenge for us,” Hamilton said.

“The reality is we probably aren’t in a premiership window or challenging for the premiership. It’s about building an identity for our football club moving forward and I think we are doing that to a degree. We want to improve results and Jaffas will be another chance for us to do that.

“[The washouts have affected our season] and I know Lambton still has problems with washouts. Having been through that, I know it really broke a bit of momentum. After five games we had two wins, a draw and two losses and then we had lots of washouts and injuries hit us in that period.”

Maitland FC v Weston Workers FC
Cooks Square Park, Saturday 2pm

Maitland will look to down rivals Weston Workers for the third time this year when they meet at Cooks Square Park for the latest instalment of El Clasicoal on Saturday.

It will be the third time the rivals have met this year with Maitland winning the round six fixture against Weston 2-1. The Magpies were also responsible for Weston’s exit from the Australia Cup, downing the Bears 5-1 with a late flurry of goals in what had been an even contest.

Maitland were flying high after securing their fifth win on the trot against Valentine last weekend but Michael Bolch’s men did not have it all their way, having to come from behind twice to come away with the three points.

Last weekend’s win put Maitland on equal points with Broadmeadow Magic and Charlestown Azzurri on 26 but the Magpies missed the chance to go clear at the top after they were outclassed 3-1 by Lambton Jaffas in their rescheduled round 12 match on Wednesday night.

Weston got their season back on track with a good win against Adamstown Rosebud last weekend, their first victory in more than a month.

The Bears made it back to back wins on Wednesday night as they downed Lake Macquarie City 5-2 to climb to sixth on the table and within touching distance of a top five place.

Weston took off Cooper Sargent for precautionary reasons in their victory against Adamstown Rosebud last weekend but they expect him to be ready for this weekend and they will welcome back Zac Sneddon from suspension.

There were no injury concerns for Maitland ahead of the Lambton match.

Maitland assistant coach Gav Wolfe said his side always looked forward to their fixtures against their rivals Weston.

“Local derbies are always tough,” Wolfe said.

“Weston is always a difficult opposition for us to get over but from a motivational perspective, we have the minor premiership within our reach particularly after Charlestown gave up a couple of points [against Cooks Hill last weekend].

“So if we can win our games in hand, we can go three points ahead in the competition. We don’t need any more motivation than that.”

Anthony Richards has taken over as Weston head coach following the departure of Leo Bertos this week and said his side would come into this weekend looking to erase the memory of their poor result against their rivals in the Australia Cup.

“We had a really good first half against [Maitland] last time we played,” Richards said.

“We created a lot of chances and we probably could have been a couple [of goals] up but then we gave away a soft penalty just before half-time to make it 1-1 and then [Maitland] ran away with it.

“There were parts in that game where we were really good so we will take confidence out of that but, to be honest, we were embarrassed that day. We will definitely be looking to right some wrongs this weekend.”

Edgeworth FC v Charlestown Azzurri
Jack McLaughlan Oval, Sunday 2pm

Edgeworth coach Peter McGuiness says this weekend is a grand final for them as they look to keep touch with the top five against unbeaten Charlestown Azzurri.

Edgeworth were gallant in their defeat to Broadmeadow Magic last weekend. Despite going down 2-1, the Eagles had chances to knock the now table-toppers off their perch and McGuiness will see it as another positive step towards featuring in the finals this season.

Edgeworth fell to seventh on the table after midweek wins for Newcastle Olympic and Weston.

Edgeworth announced throughout the week the departure of first-choice goalkeeper Josh Low who is headed to Victoria to join NPL 2 club Werribee City. But the Eagles have acted quickly following the news and welcomed back South African keeper Shayne Van As.

Edgeworth have also welcomed former Jets youth player Kieran Hayes to their squad.

Charlestown Azzurri remain the only undefeated side in this year’s competition but have surrendered their lead at the top of the table after playing out three draws in their last five outings, their most recent result a 1-1 stalemate against Cooks Hill United.

Azzurri will also welcome two huge signings in this transfer window who will be available for selection this weekend. Former Jets defender Taylor Regan and 2020 Graham Jennings Medal recipient Rene Ferguson join the squad to further boost their premiership credentials.

Azzurri and Edgeworth’s meeting in round six resulted in a dominant display from Graham Law’s men as they smashed six past the 10-men Eagles to hand them a 6-2 defeat.

McGuiness said Edgeworth must start collecting three points regularly if they want to feature in this year’s finals series.

“Charlestown is a really organised, strong and physical team,” McGuiness said.

“Azzurri is organised well at the back with Nigel Boogaard there and they can play some decent football. I can only see them being stronger with Taylor Regan coming in so I think we just need to compete physically with them and give ourselves a good crack at them.

“This weekend is a grand final for us to be honest. There is ourselves, Olympic, Weston and Valentine all in the hunt for that fifth spot. All these games now, especially the next two to three weeks, are critical for us to try and get [a finals spot].”

Cooks Hill United have the bye

Related Topics:
Indigenous Round NPL Men's NNSW Round 17 Preview

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