NPL Men’s NNSW Round Four Review: Azzurri upset Jaffas to open gap at the top

March 28th, 2022

 James Paras

 Sproule Sports Focus

Broadmeadow Magic 4-1 Cooks Hill United

Broadmeadow Magic finally opened their account for the season with a resounding 4-1 win over Cooks Hill United on Sunday.

With most of round four’s matches postponed due to the inclement weather, Broadmeadow would have been eager for their clash against Cooks Hill at Magic Park to go ahead as they tried to put the disappointment of two late losses to start their season behind them.

Magic grabbed the early ascendency with Sam Donnellan striking the initial blow just before the half-hour mark, scoring with a fantastic header that beat Cooks Hill goalkeeper Lachlan Watson at his far post from a corner.

But the visitors persisted and found the equaliser just before half-time through Daniel Yaxley who had looked the most likely for Cooks Hill during the first half as he tapped home a loose ball in the penalty area to level the score.

Yaxley’s strike was significant in more ways than just the scoreboard, with the goal Cooks Hill’s first in the top flight of northern NSW football.

It was early in the second half when Magic flexed their muscle, retaking the lead through Damon Green who added a second goal to his season tally. Green was unmarked in the penalty area and smashed home a simple goal in the end.

Jacob Dowse came off the bench for goal-scorer Green and made his presence felt immediately by drawing a penalty in the 65th minute that he calmly slotted in the bottom left-hand corner to make the score 3-1.

Dowse would then turn provider less than 10 minutes later, squaring up play after a strong run down the touchline, laying it off to an unmarked Bailey Wells to make it 4-1.

Cooks Hill showed defensive resolve not to concede more as Broadmeadow continued to turn up the pressure. But the three second half goals were enough to seal the three points for Magic’s first victory of the campaign.

Magic will now turn their attention to heavyweights Edgeworth at Magic Park on Sunday, while Cooks Hill welcome strong starters Charlestown Azzurri to No.2 Sportsground on Thursday.

Charlestown Azzurri 3-1 Lambton Jaffas

Charlestown Azzurri announced themselves as a major threat in this year’s competition after they defeated reigning premiers Lambton Jaffas 3-1 on Sunday.

The match was moved to Gateshead’s Allen Davis Field because Charlestown’s Lisle Carr Oval pitch was deemed unsafe for play following recently completed drainage works.

Azzurri would have been full of confidence heading into the clash with the Jaffas after knocking over Newcastle Olympic 3-1 last weekend, while Lambton started their campaign with a victory over Broadmeadow Magic.

Azzurri enjoyed the perfect start as they struck in the opening 10 minutes through Riley Smith, who pounced on a wicked deflection that landed perfectly at his feet in the middle of the penalty area for him to tap home past Lambton goalkeeper Ben Kennedy.

The match would be an arm wrestle until half-time with both sides having chances to capitalise but Azzurri hung onto the lead at the break.

Jaffas had their fair share of possession after the resumption of play, with the premiers awarded 13 corners for the match and having nine shots on target compared to Azzurri’s four.

But Azzurri would double their lead in the 57th minute as Jacob Melling whipped in a cross that skimmed off Nigel Boogaard’s head, beating Kennedy and finding the bottom right-hand corner to take a 2-0 lead.

Just five minutes later Azzurri scored again with a fantastic counterattack seeing the ball shift from side to side before Melling beautifully laid off a ball at the top of the Jaffas penalty area for Regan Lundy to calmly slot home their third of the afternoon.

Hopes of a comeback from the Jaffas would come in the 72nd minute when they finally found a way through the Azzurri defence, as Reece Papas launched himself with a diving header on the end of a deep cross to pull a goal back.

But Azzurri would close out the game and take all three points with Charlestown coach Graham Law saying the victory was a culmination of hard work at training and a game plan they devised through the week.

“Through the week I challenged the boys to play differently. For them to deliver on it and the way they did it I’m just super proud of them,” Law said.

“It’s good to see that we have that flexibility. We have shown in the last couple of weeks, particularly against Newcastle Olympic, that we are able to show that if teams want to battle with us, we can do it.

“We worked on some things during the week and that third goal highlighted the outcomes that we were trying to achieve and it absolutely encompassed how we set up to play today.

“It was an incredibly hard game and it was a really fast-paced, high-quality game that the Jaffas bring. And even at 3-0 my guard was up because I know the quality that the Jaffas have.”

With the weekend’s wet weather forcing the postponement of three fixtures in the round, Law made special mention of his club staff and committee for their help in ensuring the clash went ahead.

“We couldn’t play at our home ground so the club moved heaven and earth to get the game on,” Law said.

“The committee for managing to get the game on, they deserve big credit.”

The matches between Weston Workers FC and Edgeworth FC, Maitland FC and Adamstown Rosebud and the match of the round between Valentine FC and Lake Macquarie City were all postponed due to wet weather.

Newcastle Olympic had the bye.

Related Topics:
NPL Men's NNSW Round Four Review

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