NPL Men’s NNSW Round 21 Preview: Magic, Azzurri in title battle with Jaffas lurking

August 4th, 2022

 James Paras

Sproule Sports Focus

Match of the Round
Broadmeadow Magic v Charlestown Azzurri
Magic Park, Sunday 2pm

Broadmeadow Magic and Charlestown Azzurri could deal each other a fatal blow when they meet at Magic Park on Sunday.

Second-placed Broadmeadow host leaders Charlestown looking to climb to the top of the table at Azzurri’s expense, with Magic one point behind Charlestown having played a game less.

While Azzurri will be desperate to win to maintain their place at the summit, the issue for both sides could be if they play out a draw. Reigning premiers Lambton, who have two games in hand on Charlestown and one game in hand on Broadmeadow, are level on points with Magic and could overtake them both should they beat Edgeworth on Sunday.

Broadmeadow returned to league action following their elimination from the Australia Cup with a bang last weekend, cruising past Adamstown Rosebud 4-0.

Magic also prevailed in their rescheduled round 20 match against Valentine on Wednesday night, winning 2-0.

Broadmeadow will now turn their attention to mounting a serious challenge for this year’s premiership, a season that has seen them amass 10 victories and concede the second fewest number of goals.

Magic also announced throughout the week that star striker Jacob Dowse will likely be missing for the remainder of the season after he left for an opportunity with A-League Men’s club Perth Glory.

Charlestown Azzurri were handed their second loss in their last four outings after falling to a determined Newcastle Olympic outfit last weekend.

Azzurri have arguably been the benchmark this season but they remain hotly pursued by challengers Maitland, Lambton and Broadmeadow, further showcasing the tightness of this year’s competition.

Magic coach Damian Zane played down the impact of Dowse’s departure and said he had full faith that his squad could make up for his absence, starting this weekend.

“I know Charlestown has had a couple of results go against them but they are going to be tough,” Zane said.

“Charlestown is probably one of the better teams in the competition and like every team, they have had a bit of a dry spell. On any given day, however, [Charlestown] is the team to beat.

“[With Dowse’s departure], the club and I are aligned in the fact that we want our players to make that next jump [to the A-League Men’s]. Does it hurt us? It does to be honest but to see a player make that jump up and for young kids to see that it is possible, you don’t want to feel anything other than pride.

“I have always said this, for every name player there is a player waiting to make his name. We have a few young guys that have done well for us and we have plenty of players. You look at our attacking stocks and yes we have lost a very good striker but we have really good attackers. I don’t think it will be a problem.”

Magic and Azzurri played out a 1-1 draw when they met in a fiery round 10 clash that featured 11 bookings.

Adamstown Rosebud v Newcastle Olympic
Adamstown Oval, Saturday 2pm

Adamstown Rosebud will look to deal Newcastle Olympic’s final chances a significant blow when they meet on Saturday.

Rosebud were gallant but could not match Broadmeadow’s firepower last weekend, with Dave Rosewarnes’s men losing their 14th match of the campaign

But Adamstown finally ended their horror run of results when they downed Lake Macquarie City 1-0 thanks to Kyle Munns’ 40th minute winner in their rescheduled round 20 match on Wednesday night.

Their first win of the season gives Adamstown hope they could avoid a last-placed finish as they moved to five competition points, just two points behind Lakes.

Olympic have all the momentum coming into the fixture after securing their third consecutive win against table-toppers Charlestown Azzurri last weekend. The victory saw Joel Griffiths’ men hold onto fifth spot on the table.

Olympic will be well aware of the importance of continuing to collect three points as the race for a place in the finals heats up. Olympic are on 27 points but are followed closely by Edgeworth and Valentine on 25.

It was also an exciting week for Newcastle Olympic following their Australia Cup round of 32 match against Melbourne City on Tuesday night. Olympic were valiant but went down 1-0 to the two-time reigning A-League Men’s premiers at No.2 Sportsground.

Valentine FC v Cooks Hill United
CB Complex, Sunday 2pm

Valentine will look to keep their finals chances alive when they face Cooks Hill United for the second time in as many weeks on Sunday.

Valentine have rocketed into finals calculations following their winning run and most recently disposed of Cooks Hill United 2-1 in their rescheduled round 10 fixture last weekend.

Valentine are faced with stiff competition to secure a spot in the top five from the likes of Edgeworth and Newcastle Olympic, with all three sides enjoying victories last weekend to keep their finals dreams alive.

Valentine’s five-game winning streak was brought to an end on Wednesday night, as they fell to Broadmeadow Magic 2-0.

Cooks Hill have proved to be a thorn in the side of most opponents they have come up against. Dave Tanchevski’s men dismantled Weston 5-0 last week before their narrow defeat to Valentine.

Cooks Hill have shown flashes of brilliance through the season and have slowly started to find their feet in their first season in the NPL Men’s NNSW competition. But they had no answer for Lambton Jaffas with the reigning premiers winning their rescheduled round 20 match 4-1 on Wednesday night.

Cooks Hill are ninth heading into this weekend and although playing finals is unlikely, they will take plenty away from recent performances which saw them score six goals in two outings.

Tanchevski said his side did not need to change too much from last weekend’s performance against Valentine

“It’s disappointing Sam Webb got sent off last weekend, because I felt like we were the better team,” Tanchevski said.

“We probably had the better of the chances for the first three quarters of the game until Sam Webb got sent off. Even with 10 men, Jacob Pepper missed an open goal to go up 2-1 and that was probably our chance to win the game. It was a tight game and it was a tough one to take because we felt like we were the better team.

“It will be a good, tough game again. I don’t think we need to change much. I was pretty happy with the performance from the guys after beating Weston 5-0 through the week and then going up early against Valentine.

“Unfortunately we switched off for a moment which led to the goal from Ryan Clarke. I don’t think we need to change too much.”

Edgeworth FC v Lambton Jaffas
Jack McLaughlan Oval, Sunday 2.30pm

Edgeworth will look to keep their finals hopes alive when they host Lambton on Sunday.

Edgeworth kept themselves in the hunt for a spot in the top five with a gritty 2-1 win against Weston at the weekend, leaving them two points shy of fifth-placed Newcastle Olympic.

The log jam of teams in the middle of the table makes every clash a must-win, as Edgeworth have Valentine sitting level with them on points. Weston also remain an outside chance in eighth two points further back.

Lambton Jaffas responded brilliantly following a mixed month of results as they handed Lake Macquarie City a 7-0 thrashing last weekend before downing Cooks Hill 4-1 on Wednesday night.

Lambton now have back-to-back premierships in their sights. The Jaffas are one point behind leaders Charlestown with two matches in hand and could even take top spot this weekend with Azzurri taking on second-placed Broadmeadow.

Lambton ran out convincing winners when they met Edgeworth in round 10, with the Jaffas putting three past the Eagles at Arthur Edden Oval.

Edgeworth coach Peter McGuiness said Lambton would pose a massive challenge for the Eagles but coming away with three points would be vital for their finals chances.

“Another big game this weekend against Lambton,” McGuiness said.

“With the competition so tight there is pressure on every team to get something out of their matches. Lambton is a side full of talented players, many of which I have worked with before.

“We are under no illusions that they will be tough opposition, especially after their big win last weekend, combined with the fact that they are also vying for the premiership. Having said that, we will prepare well and look to get it tactically right and go for it.”

Maitland FC v Lake Macquarie City
Cooks Square Park, Sunday 3pm

Maitland will look to close the gap on first-placed Charlestown Azzurri when they host Lake Macquarie City on Sunday.

The Magpies enjoyed the bye last weekend as they prepare to mount their charge for the premiership with Michael Bolch’s side slipping to fourth on the table.

Maitland have again been a strong force in this year’s competition but will be looking to improve following a tough month of results that yielded just a single victory coming into this weekend.

The Magpies will be without centreback Zach Thomas for the clash after he was handed a two-match suspension following their 1-1 draw against Charlestown Azzurri in last outing. Adam Blunden is expected to step into the role.

It does not get any easier for Lake Macquarie following their 7-0 thrashing at the hands of Lambton Jaffas last the weekend. To make matters worse, Lakes handed Adamstown their first win of the season on Wednesday night with City having now lost 11 matches in a row.

It has been a tough season for Keelan Hamilton’s men, with their last victory coming against last-placed Rosebud in round nine.

Lake Macquarie are also now in danger of finish last after the defeat to Adamstown.

Maitland assistant coach Gav Wolfe said he was full of admiration for his opponents but his side were solely focused on taking home the premiership this season, making every match a must-win.

“There are absolutely not [any easy games],” Wolfe said.

“One of the things I most admire about Lakes and Keelan Hamilton’s style of coaching is he has a young crew there and he wants to play a particular style of football. What you can guarantee is that Lakes will be in the game for 90 minutes and they will try and play that style of football Keelan wants to play.

“If you look at the top five, we all have to play each other so whilst the table is tight, the old cliche says our destiny is in our hands. If we continue to win we could be staring at a minor premiership but if we drop points we could be looking at second or third or even fourth depending on how things go.

“The old footballer in me always looks at the minor premiership and I think the team that takes it this year will certainly earn it.”

Related Topics:
NPL Men's NNSW Round 21 Preview

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