Competitions

NPL Men’s NNSW Round Six Preview: Eagles aim to bounce back against Azzurri

April 7th, 2022

 James Paras

 Sproule Sports Focus


Match of the Round
Charlestown Azzurri v Edgeworth FC
Allen Davis Field, Sunday 2.30pm

Edgeworth assistant coach Gary Wilson says while he is disappointed with their result against Broadmeadow last weekend, the Eagles have the quality to take all three points against an impressive Charlestown Azzurri side.

Edgeworth began their season with a spirited victory against Adamstown but have lost consecutive matches since, going down in a hard-fought contest at home against Maitland before coming up against a clinical Magic side that defeated them 3-1 last weekend.

Despite the recent results, it is hard to deny the quality of the players returning to the Eagles line up with regulars Pat Wheeler, Sam Maxwell and Tyson Jackson playing their first match of the season last weekend.

Wilson said it was about hard work this week at training and they would be ready to go come Sunday afternoon.

“I watched Charlestown Azzurri at the weekend and they’re a good squad,” Wilson said.

“I think everyone is on an even keel with squads about town this season but [Charlestown Azzurri] have started well. They look sharp and they construct their goals really well and not to mention adding [Nigel Boogaard] to the backline.

“[Azzurri] will be itching to play and we are wary of how well they are playing but on our day we are as good as anyone. And if we start to get it right we will start to accumulate points and we have to start that this weekend.”

Charlestown Azzurri have started the season in strong form, with Graham Law’s side sitting atop the table on seven points after their season-opening draw against Lake Macquarie and wins over Newcastle Olympic and reigning premiers Lambton.

Edgeworth got the better of the Azzurri in both their meetings last year but Charlestown have already shown they are a stronger team this year with the addition of former Newcastle Jets captain Nigel Boogaard and another former A-League player Jacob Melling joining the club.

Azzurri will also be strengthened by the return of Matt Tull for this weekend’s clash but will have to do without Dean Pettit who is unavailable.

Law said although his side like many others will have to deal with a quick turnaround between matches to catch up on the postponements, Azzurri were ready for the challenge and excited to get back on the park against Edgeworth on Sunday.

“It’s hard to judge Edgeworth. They have only played three games like us,” Law said.

“The match Edgeworth played against Magic, there were moments that if they went the other way, we could have been looking at a different scoreline so we are wary them.

“We take no team lightly and especially the Eagles given their history over recent years but history is history as I always tell my boys and we have to look forward to seeing if we can challenge these teams.

“If we want to succeed this year, we need to take points off teams like Edgeworth.”


Weston Workers FC v Maitland FC
Rockwell Automation Park, Saturday 3pm

Weston Bears assistant coach Anthony Richards says his side is itching to get on the field as the Bears prepare to do battle with Maitland on Saturday.

Weston were big winners in their season opener against Cooks Hill but have yet to step on the pitch since their round three clash due to the poor weather conditions, leaving them alongside Lake Macquarie as the only teams to have played the sole match so far this season.

Maitland on the other hand downed Edgeworth after being held scoreless in their opening match against Cooks Hill United and also had a catch-up match on Tuesday against Adamstown, putting the young side to the sword with a strong performance, running out convincing 6-0 winners.

Braedyn Crowley added five goals to his tally in the win against Rosebud, with the lethal forward rocketing to the top of the leading goal scorer charts. It was also the Magpies third clean sheet of the season, with Michael Bolch’s side yet to concede a goal.

The Bears got the better of the Magpies in their first meeting last season but Maitland would hit back in the reverse fixture as they ran out convincing winners 4-1. But both sides have welcomed firepower to their squads since last year with Crowley the notable inclusion for Maitland.

Richards said the tumultuous start to the competition had left his side desperate to get on the pitch and could think of no better way to do that than against heavy hitters Maitland.

“Maitland is a very good team and have signed well,” Richards said.

“[Maitland] is a handy side, pretty mobile and it will be one of our tough games for this year. They are a hardworking team [with players like] James Thompson who is fantastic, so they will be very well organised.

“[The postponements] have been frustrating. We are really keen and excited to get playing some games but the next month we will be playing Sunday, Wednesday (to catch up on games) and an Australian Cup game, it will be a busy period for the club.

“We are just looking forward to getting on the pitch. We would take a game at Coles car park at this rate. We just need a venue.”


Broadmeadow Magic v Adamstown Rosebud
Magic Park, Sunday 2pm

Broadmeadow Magic coach Damian Zane says his squad is starting to find their rhythm as they look to make it three wins on the trot against Adamstown Rosebud on Sunday.

Magic opened their season with two tight losses to Newcastle Olympic and Lambton Jaffas but have since dispatched Cooks Hill and Edgeworth to move into second place on the table.

Magic have been fortunate to be the only side to play both their scheduled matches in the last fortnight due to the horrendous weather conditions.

Adamstown Rosebud also had their match postponed last weekend but did have a catchup game on Tuesday against a Braedyn Crowley inspired Maitland FC side that ran out convincing winners.

The 6-0 trouncing from a ruthless Maitland side will leave Rosebud even more desperate to climb off the bottom of the table, compounding their back-to-back losses to begin the season against Edgeworth and Valentine.

But Magic will be sure not to underestimate their opponents despite defeating Rosebud 3-0 in their first meeting last year, with Rosebud grinding out a gritty 1-1 draw in the reverse fixture.

Zane said he felt his side had turned a corner since their tough opening to the season and would not be taking their match against Rosebud for granted. But with players like Jacob Dowse finding their form in front of goals the sky was the limit.

“We had some tough games with Adamstown last year,” Zane said.

“[Adamstown] is a very youthful and energetic squad and the longer they stay in a game, like most young sides, the more confidence they grow.

“[Adamstown] are quite a decent side. They have a few good players on their side like [Anthony Wood], I think he is a dangerous player.

“[Jacob Dowse] is doing very well. He has worked hard after a few setbacks and he was very patient. We could see the progress he had made during the trials this year and even with three goals already this season, he would be disappointed he doesn’t have more and I think there will be more to come for him.

“We won’t be taking anyone easy. We have had a good start to the year and I think performance-wise we probably deserve more points than we have currently, so we want to focus on taking all the points from now on.”


Valentine FC v Newcastle Olympic
CB Complex, Sunday 2pm

Valentine player-coach Adam Hughes says he has a full complement of players to choose from as they prepare for their clash against Newcastle Olympic this weekend.

Valentine along with Weston are the only sides to have played just the sole fixture so far this season but the match was an impressive 4-1 victory over Adamstown that showed the side has left the disappointment of 2021 behind them.

Conversely, Newcastle Olympic have had mixed results to start their campaign. Joel Griffiths’ side started their season with a rousing last-minute win against Broadmeadow Magic but have since slumped to consecutive losses to Charlestown and Lake Macquarie.

Olympic will be confident heading into the fixture and were victorious in their only meeting last year 1-0,but some new faces for both teams will be sure to add some quality to the clash.

Nick Cowburn and Dean Heffernan have joined the refreshed Valentine roster, while Newcastle Olympic’s Chan Yelchan has been a player that has turned heads despite the recent run of defeats.

Hughes said his side had good depth in positions heading into a busy playing schedule and was wary of an Olympic side ready to hit back after tasting defeat during the week.

“[Newcastle Olympic] is a decent team,” Hughes said.

“I saw their match [against Lake Macquarie] and there were some good moments there but they are similar to us with the lack of football in the rainy period.

“You can see there were a few moments during the match that would have been different if there were some consistency with matches played but we are all in the same boat.

“All-in-all we need to be prepared for Olympic.”


Lake Macquarie City v Lambton Jaffas
Macquarie Field, Sunday 2pm

Lambton Jaffas coach Shane Pryce says the potentially busy upcoming schedule has its positives for his side as they prepare to take on Lake Macquarie City on Sunday afternoon.

The Jaffas began their title defence in strong fashion with a come from behind victory against Broadmeadow Magic but were humbled against a classy Charlestown Azzurri side in round four.

Lambton and Lake Macquarie have only two games under their belt in the early exchanges of the season but Lakes will be buoyed by their gutsy midweek victory against Newcastle Olympic, with Dylan Burston slotting home an 87th-minute penalty.

Lakes have shown plenty of resolve thus far, with City finding a late equaliser to share the points with Azzurri in their season opener before downing Newcastle Olympic in their heated clash through the week.

Lake Macquarie head coach Keelan Hamilton said decisions on who will be available for the Lambton game will be made later in the week, with Burston in particular needing stitches in his cheek after a challenge gone wrong in the game against Newcastle Olympic.

Pryce said his side would be missing a few players this weekend and it would be a test of their depth in the coming weeks as postponed matches begin to be rescheduled.

“Luke Remington and Nathan Verity will be unavailable,” Pryce said.

“We came out of the Charlestown game with a couple of injuries but not playing for a while it feels like we are restarting again.

“I’m very impressed by Lake Macquarie. They are very mobile and organised with a good coach. It was a good draw they had against Charlestown and they are a way better team than they were last year, so it will be a bit of a dangerous game for us.

“If we don’t turn up and play, any team in this competition can knock you over so we need to be full of enthusiasm and give it a red hot crack.”

Jaffas will also have to contend with an Australia Cup fixture on Thursday night but Pryce says despite the tight turnaround, he intended to put a strong squad out to face South Cardiff in the cup.

“Every team is in the same boat. We haven’t got big rosters so my thought is, we haven’t played for a while so we need to put a decent side on the park to get some minutes,” Pryce said.

“But having another game [against Lakes] on the weekend will mean some man management will have to come into it as well.”


Cooks Hill United have the bye

Related Topics:
NPL Men's NNSW Round Six Preview

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