Match of the Round
Newcastle Olympic v Edgeworth FC
Darling Street Oval, Sunday 2pm
Newcastle Olympic will be desperate to stay in touch with the top five when they host Edgeworth on Sunday.
Olympic were big winners against Cooks Hill last weekend, slotting four goals to see them move to 21 competition points. But Olympic remain seventh on the table and two points adrift of fifth-placed Weston.
It could prove to be a season-defining week for Joel Griffiths’ men as they prepare to take on an Edgeworth side that have also enjoyed three victories in their last four matches, seeing them sit just one point out of the top five.
Edgeworth took the maximum points available to them in their two matches last week. The Eagles handed Charlestown Azzurri their first defeat of the season with a resounding 4-2 victory before dismantling Lake Macquarie 4-1 at the weekend.
The consecutive victories see Peter McGuiness’s men shape as a dark horse heading into the pointy end of the season and they will now look to do the double over Olympic after coming away with a 2-0 victory in their earlier meeting this season.
Veteran striker Jeremy Brockie was a notable absence for Edgeworth last week but will be back in the starting side for the clash at Darling Street Oval.
McGuiness said the match could play a huge role in who make the finals.
“We have played some good football of late and we have been rewarded,” McGuiness said.
“Competition points are pretty critical at the moment. The table is very congested. This weekend is an important game, it will be an advantage to come away with the victory. There are four teams who are competing for one spot really. Us, Valentine, Olympic and Weston.
“We have everyone on deck, no suspensions or injuries and there will be a couple of boys who will get some game time in the reserves against Charlestown Azzurri [mid week], so we are at full strength.”
Lambton Jaffas v Cooks Hill United
Arthur Edden Oval, Saturday 2pm
Lambton Jaffas will look to continue their premiership push when they host Cooks Hill United on Saturday.
Lambton bounced back from their late defeat to Valentine last weekend with a comfortable 2-0 win over Lake Macquarie City in their rescheduled round 17 match at Blacksmiths Oval on Wednesday night.
Goals from James Virgili either side of half-time secured the result for Lambton, with the Jaffas now level on 26 points with third-placed Broadmeadow and only three points behind leaders Charlestown Azzurri and Maitland FC.
Lambton still hold two matches in hand on the three teams above them, keeping them in a strong position to win back to back premierships.
Jaffas though could be without veteran centre-back Josh Piddington for the rest of the season after a freak accident in last week’s win over Broadmeadow Magic that saw him sustain a facial fracture.
Cooks Hill on the other hand have seen their positive mid-season form slip away as they suffered a 4-1 loss to Newcastle Olympic at the weekend, seeing them stretch their winless run to four matches.
Cooks Hill will be buoyed by their performances against sides at the top of the table, with Dave Tanchevski’s men no strangers to taking it to the heavyweights in what is their first season in top flight NPL Men’s NNSW competition.
Cooks Hill have jagged draws from first-placed Charlestown Azzurri twice this season and also pushed the Jaffas all the way to the end in their round 10 meeting, with a strike from Lambton’s Mitch Rooke all that separated them.
Lake Macquarie City v Adamstown Rosebud
Macquarie Field, Sunday 2pm
Lake Macquarie will be determined to make Sunday the circuit breaker as they look for their first win in more than two months against Adamstown Rosebud.
Lake Macquarie were again valiant last weekend against Edgeworth but in the end were out-gunned by the sixth-placed Eagles. Keelan Hamilton’s side remain winless in their last seven matches.
The Roosters’ last victory came against Adamstown Rosebud when they met in round 10. The 2-1 victory could have catapulted them into the rest of the season but instead, Hamilton’s men were struck down with a litany of injuries that cruelled their campaign.
Adamstown Rosebud are the only team lower on the table than Lake Macquarie and comes into this weekend rooted to the bottom of the table and still searching for their maiden win of the season.
Rosebud have also been valiant in periods this season and their position on the table does not reflect the close matches they have been in, with Dave Rosewarne’s men being defeated by one goal on seven different occasions.
Charlestown Azzurri v Weston Workers FC
Lisle Carr Oval, Sunday 2.30pm
Charlestown Azzurri coach Graham Law says his players are smarting after their loss last week as they prepare to host in form Weston Workers on Sunday.
Azzurri suffered their first slip up of the season last Wednesday, as their time as the only unbeaten side left in the competition was ended by an impressive Edgeworth side 4-2.
The loss did not prove to be costly for the table-toppers as Broadmeadow Magic and Lambton Jaffas also suffered defeats in their last fixture to preserve Azzurri’s hold on first place.
Charlestown Azzurri will be without Callum Bower for the clash after he received a red card in their mid-week loss to Edgeworth last week.
While Weston Workers have cemented themselves as the form side of the competition after they defeated Broadmeadow Magic 1-0 last weekend, stretching their streak of victories to four in a row.
Weston have rocketed up the table and Anthony Richards’ men could again bolster their premiership credentials with a victory this weekend, after already disposing of heavyweights Maitland and Magic.
Law said his side’s win-streak had to come to an end eventually and Azzurri would look to quickly put that behind them against Weston at Lisle Carr Oval.
“It’s a tight competition this year,” Law said.
“Weston are the form side at the moment. They will have their tails up but I imagine my boys will be smarting after losing to Edgeworth and we have had to sit on that [after not playing last weekend].
“We were pretty upbeat after that loss last weekend. We were unbeaten all season and I think five games of last season had to come to an end at some stage but now it’s up to us to start another [winning streak].”
Richards said Weston were not afraid of the teams at the top of the table.
“We are going to have to go again against Charlestown,” Richards said
“Our last two games against Magic and Maitland, both those teams are contenders and earlier on this season we had a draw against the Jaffas. They’re three of the big shots that we have been able to compete against.
“Charlestown is probably the premier side in the competition with all their marquee players they have got like Taylor Regan, Nigel Boogaard and the likes. Our young guys will have to be ready to do it again.”