Match of the Round
Broadmeadow Magic FC v Newcastle Olympic FC
Magic Park, Sunday 2pm
A fresh-faced Broadmeadow Magic host bitter rivals Newcastle Olympic on Sunday in the latest instalment of their fierce derby.
Broadmeadow welcome Olympic to Magic Park for both clubs’ first game of the season after all round one fixtures were washed out last weekend
Magic coach Damian Zane will look to youth to remain competitive having finished fourth last season after seeing a host of players leave the club over the summer.
James and Luke Virgili, Matt Hoole and Mitch Rooke have all left Broadmeadow to join premiers Lambton while Magic have welcomed Damon Green (Edgeworth), Aaron Oppedisano (Charlestown Azzurri) and Bailey Wells (Newcastle Jets Youth).
But despite the trio’s acquisition, it is hard to ignore the loss of quality and experience.
Magic striker Jacob Dowse is one player Zane could look to as the club enters a new era.
Dowse, 21, said despite the host of new faces Broadmeadow were still in a strong position to continue to challenge for titles, with the derby against Olympic a challenge like no other but one Magic welcomed.
“Obviously [I’m] super excited for the first game of the season and even more excited that it is now a derby first up,” Dowse said.
“The lads will be ready to go and we are all keen to send out a warning to the rest of the competition.
“Whenever we play Olympic it’s always a hard-fought game and with it being the first game of the year both of us will be wanting to get off to a good start.
“This game always means a lot to the supporters, committee and players so it is important we go out there, make them proud and get a result. It will be some boys’ first derby game so it will be exciting for those lads and we will make sure those boys are ready to go for a massive game.”
With Magic doing the double over Olympic last season, Olympic will be determined to turn the result in their favour to get their season off to a strong start.
Newcastle Olympic coach Joel Griffiths said he was not letting a tough pre-season with COVID-19 deter him and his side for their season opener.
Newcastle Olympic were active in the player market over the off-season, welcoming former Central Coast Mariners goalkeeper Adam Pearce, Marcus Duncan from Weston, Jarrod Dodds (Hills United) and striker Chan Yelchan (Southern Districts Raiders) to their squad.
After finishing seventh in his first season as head coach, Griffiths is keen to start his second year at the helm with a victory on Sunday.
Reece Cooper, Jed Hornery and top scorer Jared Muller are under injury clouds but Griffiths insisted if Olympic are without players for the season opener, the rest of the side would be more than capable to fill their shoes.
“I’ve learned not to dwell on it,” Griffiths said.
“We have got a lot of boys coming through and I just really want to hone in on them and try to get them up to speed as quickly as possible.”
Cooks Hill United v Maitland FC
No.2 Sportsground, Friday 8pm
After having their inaugural match in the NPL Men’s NNSW postponed due to the inclement weather, Cooks Hill United will mark their entry into the top flight of northern NSW football when they face Maitland FC on Friday.
Cooks Hill coach David Tanchevski said it was an exciting time for the club and good recognition for his players who have been playing in the HIT106.9 Northern League One competition for the majority of their careers with Cooks Hill.
Tanchevski has some familiar faces in his squad this year from his time at the helm of Lambton with Riley McNaughton, Tommy Smart and Kevin Davison all part of Cooks Hill’s inaugural NPL season.
Also joining the squad is Jon Griffiths (Broadmeadow), Patrick Bond (Jets Youth), Adam Sherratt (Jets Youth) and Jacob Pepper.
Pepper in particular will bring a wealth of experience to the club, with the 29-year-old having played almost 150 games in the Isuzu Ute A-League Men with Newcastle Jets, Brisbane Roar and Western Sydney Wanderers.
Tanchevski said the recent wet weather and COVID-19 restrictions had made pre-season and preparation for Friday’s match difficult.
“It’s definitely been the most disruptive pre-season with COVID and rain that I have experienced,” Tanchevski said.
“We had good momentum with fitness and performances during pre-season coming into last week’s match but I feel like we are a little underdone now with training restrictions over the last couple of weeks.”
Maitland on the other hand will be determined to get their season off to a winning start after finishing one point behind premiers Lambton last year, with the season being cut short due to COVID restrictions.
Maitland have welcomed back Braedyn Crowley in a huge boost for the club, with the 25-year-old scoring 17 goals in his first stint with the Magpies in 2020. Joel Clissold (New Zealand) and McFarlane are two other players assistant coach Nick Webb named as additions to the squad.
Webb highlighted the disappointment of the shortened season last year but also how it had galvanised his team to go all the way this campaign.
“It was tough, very tough to take last year,” Webb said.
“We were sort of just building up to the end of the year and the boys are now very much focused on, I suppose redemption isn’t the right word, but having the opportunity to finish the season and hopefully finish in that top-level again.”
Adamstown Rosebud FC v Edgeworth FC
Adamstown Oval, Saturday 4pm
Adamstown Rosebud will be out to put a disappointing 2021 campaign behind them when they face heavyweights Edgeworth on Saturday afternoon.
Adamstown coach Dave Rosewarne is in his second year at the club and will be looking to climb away from the bottom of the table after finishing ninth last season.
Rosebud have retained much of their youthful squad for this year’s campaign while adding former Newcastle Jets academy defenders Narveen Richardson and Ryan Rooke (Broadmeadow) to their squad. Adamstown have also welcomed Ewan Von Essen (Jets academy) and Anthony Wood (Jaffas) back to the squad.
Edgeworth will be out to show the sudden departure of coach Michael Bridges will not be a distraction as they look to emulate their 2020 premiership-championship double season under new coach Peter McGuiness.
Edgeworth have retained the services of reigning competition golden boot Jeremy Brockie for another season, with the 2021 NPL Men’s NNSW Player of the Year scoring 15 goals in his maiden season with the club.
The Eagles have also secured the services of Liam Wilson (Weston), Tao Grieves and Jets youth goalkeepers James Shanahan and Ben Conway.
Edgeworth won 3-0 in their only meeting with Adamstown last season.
Weston Workers FC v Lambton Jaffas FC
Rockwell Automation Park, Saturday 4.30pm
Weston Workers will host reigning premiers Lambton Jaffas for their opening clash of the season on Saturday.
With COVID-19 cutting short a thrilling finals race last year, the Jaffas were awarded the premiership with the season abandoned.
Lambton have since bolstered their premiership-winning squad with a quartet of signings from fellow heavyweights Broadmeadow Magic, with James and Luke Virgili, Matt Hoole and Mitch Rooke all joining the squad. While Will Macfarlane (Maitland), Anthony Wood (Adamstown) and Riley McNaughton (Cooks Hill United) have departed.
The Jaffas beat Weston convincingly twice last season, including a 7-1 hammering at Bear Park in the opening round.
Weston will look to prove they have what it takes and continue their rise to the top half of the table after finishing sixth last season.
Bears coach Leo Bertos has landed the services of Dutch striker Moustafa Mohammad for the upcoming season. The Bears also completed the recent acquisition of fellow overseas import Michael McGlinchey who has more than 200 games of Isuzu Ute A-League Men experience with Central Coast and Wellington.
Although McGlinchey is not expected to arrive in Australia until the start of April, Weston will be confident of achieving a spot in the finals after being on the cusp last season.
Lake Macquarie City FC v Charlestown Azzuri FC
Macquarie Field, Sunday 4.30pm
Round two will conclude with Lake Macquarie City hosting Charlestown Azzuri at Macquarie Field on Sunday afternoon.
Lake Macquarie City will be keen to start their 110th-anniversary celebrations on the right note, with newly appointed head coach Keelan Hamilton hoping to steady the ship after the club’s disappointing campaign last year.
Hamilton said it had been a smooth transition into the head coaching role with his side ready to hit the ground running, starting against Charlestown.
Carter Smith, Campbell Ross and veteran striker John Majurovski are some of the players who have remained with the club for another season, with goalkeeper Blaire Ryan (Central Coast Mariners Youth), Luke Callan (Broadmeadow Magic), Daniel Minors, Brendan Cashmore (Tuggeranong United) and Ryan Woods (North-West Sydney Spirit) also brought on board for the new season.
Hamilton said his side were in good shape despite the hurdles the last few weeks have presented.
“We are looking forward to getting started this weekend,” Hamilton said.
“Like everyone, it’s been a bit stop-start and frustrating with the weather but we are keen to get underway and put on a good performance.
“Our squad is in a good space with only Michael Bru unavailable.
“We’re expecting a tough match. Charlestown has added some quality and experience to what was already a strong squad so we will have to be at our best.”
Charlestown Azzuri have finished in the top half of the table for the last two years under coach Graham Law, who said his squad could continue that trend and also challenge for the title.
Law also noted that his club had made a change in the way they approach their pre-season training this season with Azzurri now meeting three times a week, leaving him confident in his squad ahead of the season opener.
“We have had probably a big change with personnel. Some real long-standing players in Kane Goodchild and Scott Smith have retired and Rene Ferguson is looking like he may have retired now,” Law said.
Charlestown Azzuri have also been bolstered by the signing of former Newcastle Jets captain Nigel Boogaard, with the 35-year-old boasting more than 200 games of experience in his time in the Isuzu Ute A-League Men.
“To be able to work with him now, the biggest compliment I could say for Nigel is in the football circles I have never heard anyone with something not good to say about him,” Law said.
“He’s been a really good influence at the club.”