NPL Men’s NNSW Round Five Preview: Eagles back to full strength for Magic clash

March 31st, 2022

 James Paras

 Sproule Sports Focus

Match of the Round
Cooks Hill United v Charlestown Azzurri FC
No.2 Sportsground, Thursday 8pm

Match postponed due to unplayable surface following wet weather.

Maitland FC v Valentine FC
Cooks Square Park, Saturday 2pm

Maitland FC coach Michael Bolch says his side will continue to improve as the Magpies host Valentine FC for their first home match of the campaign on Saturday.

Maitland were kept scoreless in their opening round clash against Cooks Hill but they quickly reasserted themselves as a powerhouse in this year’s competition with a 2-0 win over Edgeworth in round three.

Maitland have been among the premiership threats in recent seasons and after welcoming back two-time leading NPL Men’s NNSW top goal scorer Braedyn Crowley to the fold, it is hard to argue that they will not be pushing for silverware again, particularly after the heartbreak of falling one point short of the premiership to Lambton last season.

Valentine on the other hand have started their season brightly and seem to have put the disappointment of last year behind them after their season-opening dismantling of Adamstown Rosebud.

Valentine have brought in a host of talent during the off-season and also feature many former Maitland players that will be sure to add some spice to their encounter, with Matt Thompson, Ryan Clarke, Nick Cowburn, Dean Heffernan, Liam Thornton and Carl Thornton all previously spending time with the Magpies.

Valentine will be aiming for their first win in the fixture since 2017.

Bolch said although it had been a turbulent start to the season given the inclement weather, his side had already shown improvement across their opening two matches.

“I’m expecting a really tough game this weekend,” Bolch said.

“They will be fired up and [Valentine player-coach Adam Hughes] has done really well with the squad over the last couple of years.

“I thought we were a little bit flat in our opening match against Cooks Hill, slow-moving the ball and our energy wasn’t what it usually is but I think we turned that around against Edgeworth.

“Our ball movement [has improved], our defensive structure looked good and we looked like we had more time with the ball. The first round we looked like no one was on the same wavelength.

“Our movement in the front third was really good and defensively we haven’t conceded a goal yet so we are doing really well there.

“The boys are really looking forward [to playing at home] and the ground looks like a picture right now.”

Adamstown Rosebud v Weston Workers FC
Adamstown Oval, Saturday 4pm

Weston will look to build on what was an impressive opening performance when they travel to face Adamstown Rosebud on Saturday afternoon.

Weston have only played one match so far this season but were convincing in their maiden performance of the campaign as they put five goals past Cooks Hill United.

Adamstown were gallant in defeat in their opening clash against Edgeworth and would count themselves unlucky not to jag a victory if not for Jeremy Brockie snatching all three points late on for the Eagles.

But Rosebud will be hoping for a big improvement when they come up against Weston this weekend after being beaten 4-1 by a rejuvenated Valentine side in round three.

The points were shared the last time these sides met in 2021 but Weston were 2-0 winners in their earlier meeting during the season.

Speaking earlier this month on the qualities his young side have to offer, Rosebud coach Dave Rosewarne said it was about hanging on in matches and fighting for the result that will set his team up for success.

“We are a young squad,” Rosewarne said

“Staying in games and frustrating opposition is a key thing for us. Last year we went through a lot of games where we were very good but we would concede a soft goal after 20 minutes.

“That would just change the game [conceding early] but if we can work on holding out teams for 70 to 80 minutes they can start having to change [the way they play] to try and get a result.

“We have to be on our game and mentally disciplined.”

Broadmeadow Magic v Edgeworth FC
Magic Park, Saturday 5.30pm

Edgeworth coach Peter McGuiness says he has a full complement of players for selection for the first time this season as they prepare for their clash against Broadmeadow Magic at Magic Park on Saturday night.

The Eagles ground out a gutsy win in their opening clash of the season against a spirited Rosebud outfit, with veteran striker Jeremy Brockie salvaging the three points late in the match. But it was not their night when they went down 2-0 to Maitland in a hard-fought round three contest.

Edgeworth had been hit hard by illness and injury in the opening weeks of the season but in positive news for the club McGuiness confirmed Tyson Jackson, Sam Maxwell, Jackson Pereira, Dylan Holz and captain Pat Wheeler were all fit and in contention for a starting spot.

Broadmeadow seemed to have found their groove in stages of last week’s match with strikers Damon Green and Jacob Dowse beginning to show their class as Magic look to prove they are still among the threats for the premiership, even after the large overhaul of their playing roster in the off-season.

Magic got the better of the Eagles when they met last year but with a refreshed roster and some early mixed results, they will be more than eager to secure consecutive victories after a tough start to the season.

Magic returned to winning ways last weekend, playing in one of just two matches due to wet weather, flexing their muscle with a comprehensive 4-1 victory over Cooks Hill on home soil to open their account for the season.

With a fully fit squad and their illness and injury problems hopefully in the rear-view mirror, McGuiness said he was excited for the challenge that Broadmeadow will bring this weekend.

“Our boys are chomping at the bit to get out there and play,” McGuiness said.

“We have got a number of players coming back into contention now after illness and injury, which will hopefully give us a bit more versatility and depth within our squad.

“They’re a new look Magic side to what they have had in the past but they played some good football [against Cooks Hill) and they are young across the park with enthusiastic players.

‘[Magic] will be tough. They were close against Lambton and just beaten at the death by Olympic and I thought they probably deserved to win that match.”

Newcastle Olympic v Lake Macquarie City
Darling Street Oval, Sunday 2pm

Newcastle Olympic will be aiming to get back in the winner’s circle when they welcome Lake Macquarie City to Darling Street on Sunday afternoon.

Newcastle Olympic started their campaign on a high, snatching all three points from rivals Broadmeadow Magic in the dying seconds to give them the best possible start for the season.

But Olympic returned to earth with a thud in their next fixture, falling to a lethal Charlestown Azzurri side that ran away 3-1 victors.

Both sides had their fixtures washed out last round, with Lake Macquarie only having played their second-round clash against Charlestown Azzurri so far this season, where they stole a point late to end the match 1-1.

History is not with City for the clash with Olympic winning both their fixtures last season, with looking to continue that trend after going down in their maiden match on home soil in round three.

Lakes coach Keelan Hamilton said after a disruptive few weeks due to the weather he had focused on keeping his team fit, with his side ready to get out on the pitch.

“To be honest we are just hoping to get a game,” Hamilton said.

“We were well prepared last week and looking forward to playing but obviously the weather has intervened there but the big focus for us [this weekend] is just getting out on the park and playing another game.

“We have found some alternative training methods. We have used the gym a few times and we have some space on the ground we can use when it’s wet. It’s not perfect but we have been able to keep some momentum.

“We just have to impose ourselves on the match. We have been pretty focused on ourselves and trying to build our identity.

“But if we do the right things, play our football and perform to our level then I think we can be successful.”

Lambton Jaffas have the bye.

Related Topics:
NPL Men's NNSW Round Five Preview

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