Match of the Round
Valentine FC v Lake Macquarie City
CB Complex, Sunday 2pm
Valentine player-coach Adam Hughes says healthy competition at training for positions on the pitch will be the key to a successful season as they prepare to take on rivals Lake Macquarie City.
Valentine are looking for big improvement from last year where they finished in last place. The early signs are positive as they scored a dominant 4-1 victory over Adamstown last weekend.
Valentine will want to continue their upwards trajectory at CB Complex on Sunday but will face a new challenge against rivals Lakes who knocked them out of the FFA Cup the last time they met. Their only league meeting last year was a 1-1 stalemate.
Hughes said with a healthy roster and performing players competition for places in the starting XI would be at a premium.
“The selection process [for the team this weekend] has become a bit of a headache but that’s a positive thing,” Hughes said.
“I think we will have a depth of at least 24 players to select from and that creates a good environment at training.
“[Players] will be looking over their shoulder [at training] because they don’t know if they will be playing or not.”
Hughes said Lake Macquarie would be a good test as Valentine look to secure consecutive victories this weekend.
“[Lake Macquarie] are a physical team. They work hard,” Hughes said.
“It will be a similar match to our last one against Adamstown in that they are continuous in the way they run and play.
“But we will have a game plan set up for [Lakes] and hopefully if we can execute we can walk away with the three points.”
Lakes enjoyed the bye last weekend after they opened their campaign with a 1-1 draw against Charlestown Azzurri to begin life under new head coach Keelan Hamilton.
City are likely to be without Michael Bru for at least another week but Hamilton said besides Bru’s omission his squad was healthy after the week off and looked forward to the short trip across the lake.
“Valentine has recruited some highly experienced players and some good young players,” Hamilton said.
“We are expecting a tough match. Every week is going to be difficult in this competition and we are expecting the same against Valentine.
“We just have to be true to ourselves and play our style of football. We have to keep improving our ability to control matches with and without the ball.
“For patches against Charlestown we were able to impose ourselves but that is an area we are looking to improve on
“We will definitely be prepared and ready to go.”
Weston Workers FC v Edgeworth FC
Rockwell Automation Park, Saturday 4pm
Weston will look to build on their strong start to the season when they welcome fierce rivals Edgeworth to Rockwell Automation Park on Saturday.
The Bears were the big winners in round three, putting five goals past Cooks Hill United in what was their opening match of the season.
Weston will aim to improve on their sixth-placed finish last year and start to threaten the competition’s heavyweights. But the Bears face the sizable task of knocking over old foes Edgeworth who have beaten them in their last three meetings.
After their strong first up performance Weston assistant coach Anthony Richards said he welcomed the challenge the Eagles would present and that there was no other game they looked forward to more.
“This is our [rivalry]. It goes back a long way between the two clubs,” Richardson said.
“Edgeworth is a good side and it’s going to be difficult this weekend against them but we are just going to have to be better in everything that we do.
“[We need to] defend better, keep the ball better and our work rate is going to have to be higher. This is a different level of team, Edgeworth now.”
Edgeworth fought hard for their victory in round two, with reigning NPL Men’s NNSW player of the year Jeremy Brockie again proving his worth with a late goal to sink Adamstown.
But the Eagles had no answers for a determined Maitland side as they went down 2-0 to the Magpies at Jack McLaughlan Oval last weekend, with Edgeworth looking for a quick return to winning ways against Weston.
Maitland FC v Adamstown Rosebud
Cooks Square Park, Saturday 5pm
Adamstown Rosebud coach Dave Rosewarne says his team will aim to frustrate a dangerous Maitland side when they meet on Saturday.
After a gutsy season opening performance against Edgeworth that saw them go down to a late Jeremy Brockie goal, Rosebud were overpowered by a rejuvenated Valentine side last weekend losing 4-1.
It will not get any easier for the young Adamstown side as they prepare to travel to Cooks Square Park to face Maitland after the Magpies dispatched them in both their meetings last season and are fresh from a dominant victory over Edgeworth last weekend.
Rosebud are expected to welcome back Ewan Von Essen and Narveen Richardson from illness but are likely to still be missing Denis Fajkovic, Dane Lawther and Drew Grierson through injury.
Rosebud coach Dave Rosewarne said that while the Magpies posed a threat all around the pitch Adamstown would aim to limit their goal-scoring opportunities.
“[Maitland] play a very good style of football when they are on,” Rosewarne said.
“They have strength all over the park and they will punish any errors that we make in key areas of the park with the quality that they have.
“We have just got to stay in the game for as long as we can and try and frustrate them out of the match as much as we can.
“That’s the biggest thing for our boys. They are a young squad and the longer we stay in games the more frustrated [opponents] get.
“We have to be on our game and be disciplined to be able to compete for the 90 minutes.”
Maitland will be aiming for back-to-back victories after taking all three points from the Eagles thanks to a stunning Tye Cousins volley and a Braedyn Crowley effort which saw the Magpies striker open his account for the season.
Broadmeadow Magic v Cooks Hill United
Magic Park, Sunday 2pm
Cooks Hill United coach Dave Tanchevski says his side is ready to dig deep against Broadmeadow Magic as they look to bounce back from a disappointing loss last week.
Cooks Hill will arrive at Magic Park with the sole purpose of collecting all three points after a heavy 5-0 loss to Weston last weekend.
A tough opening two rounds have left Cooks Hill and Magic winless and it will only get harder for Cooks Hill who will again be without Riley McNaughton.
Sunday will be the first meeting between Magic and Cooks Hill and Tanchevski said his side would be wary of a talented Broadmeadow outfit.
“I think Magic has been desperately unlucky [in the opening two rounds],” Tanchevski said.
“I’ve watched the games and I think they have played some really good football and just been on the wrong side of the result.
“It’s obviously building for them. I think they will be one of the better sides in the competition.
“We just need to get our heads up [after last week’s loss to Weston] and not feel sorry for ourselves.
“We had a really strong performance against Maitland and then we had a really weak performance against Weston. So we just need to get that consistency.”
Broadmeadow will be expecting the return of Ryan Ensor and Tom Parkes but the fitness of Jake Harris, who picked up a knock last weekend, will be decided later in the week.
Magic will be desperate to steady the ship after suffering consecutive narrow defeats to Newcastle Olympic and Lambton. Coach Damian Zane said while his side had not been far off in recent weeks they would need to improve to get the win against Cooks Hill.
“It’s probably a terrible time to play Cooks Hill. I thought they were really good in round one [against Maitland],” Zane said.
“It probably wasn’t their best day at the office against Weston but they are going to want to turn it around so we aren’t going to expect a similar result. It’s going to be a tough game.
“I think the front third is the key for us. We are creating chances and getting to good areas but probably not executing from there.”
Charlestown Azzurri v Lambton Jaffas
Allen Davis Field, Sunday 3.30pm
Lambton Jaffas coach Shane Pryce says his side are warming into the new campaign nicely as they prepare for just their second match of the season against Charlestown Azzurri on Sunday.
The match has been moved to Gateshead’s Allen Davis Field because Charlestown’s Lisle Carr Oval pitch was deemed unsafe for play following recently completed drainage works.
Jaffas had a delayed start to the campaign after round one was postponed along with their round two clash with Weston. But Lambton proved they will again be one of the sides to beat after a gutsy win against Broadmeadow Magic last weekend.
The reigning premiers looked dangerous in their opening clash, with two of their new signings getting on the score sheet as Mitch Rooke and James Virgili sealed the victory against their former club.
Jaffas were convincing winners when they met Azzurri last season, asserting dominance in their premiership season with a 6-0 victory. But Pryce said he was not expecting a similar score this time around.
“The quality that Azzurri have brought in they are certainly a different side from last year,” Pryce said.
“I think they are a very tough opponent. They have good strikers, good defence and they have bolstered their midfield with the likes of [Jacob Melling].
“It’s a tough test and it has always been a battle between us in the last few years so I wouldn’t expect anything different.”
Pryce also said his squad was in good shape after their win over Magic but still had work to do before they hit their peak on the field.
“We are just into our second game now and we have got to focus on getting our player combinations right,” Pryce said.
“We are still four or five weeks away before I know where we are as a team.”
Charlestown have also enjoyed a positive start to the season.
After an opening-round draw against Lake Macquarie City in a match they dominated, Graham Law’s men took all three points against Newcastle Olympic last weekend with striker Riley Smith proving a handful for defences with his two-goal performance.