NPL Men’s NNSW Round Three Preview: Edgeworth wary of Maitland’s attacking threat

March 17th, 2022

 James Paras

 Sproule Sports Focus

Match of the Round
Edgeworth FC v Maitland FC
Jack McLaughlan Oval, Saturday 7.30pm

Edgeworth coach Peter McGuinness is wary of the threat Maitland’s dangerous front three pose ahead of their clash on Saturday night.

The Eagles welcome the Magpies to Jack McLaughlan Oval having won their opening match of the season, leaving it late to down Adamstown Rosebud last weekend.

Edgeworth will have a tougher time against last season’s runners-up in this weekend’s Match of the Round, with the pair having headlined some of the league’s biggest fixtures in recent years.

The Eagles and Maitland met in the 2019 and 2020 grand finals when Edgeworth won successive championships at the Magpies’ expense.

Edgeworth will again be without Pat Wheeler through injury, with Sam Maxwell also unavailable after picking up a knock against Adamstown.

Illness has also affected the Eagles’ squad but they still boast plenty of firepower including veteran striker Jeremy Brockie, with the reigning Graham Jennings Medal winner opening his account for 2022 with his late winner last weekend.

But the Eagles also have plenty of youth to call on. Cal Thorley, Nelson King and 16-year-old Sam Jones have earned opportunities already this season, a good sign for Edgeworth’s future.

Maitland will provide a stern test with McGuiness believing the Magpies will pose a unique challenge for his side.

“[Maitland’s] roster is pretty good. They are solid all over the park and they are potent in the front third,” McGuiness said.

“With Braedyn [Crowley] and [James] Thompson, also [Sean] Pratt who sits in behind them and does quite well I think we need to be on top of our game.

“[We need to] be focused and put some pressure on them when they are in possession and that will help us try and get a result.”

Maitland will be determined to join the winner’s circle after being unable to break down a 10-man Cooks Hill United in their opening round.

Maitland have been strengthened by the return of two-time NPL Men’s NNSW top goal scorer Braedyn Crowley. Although he was unable to get off the mark last week, Crowley will provide a threat whenever he steps on the pitch with his last stint at Maitland yielding 17 goals during the COVID-shortened 2020 season

Magpies interim coach Nick Webb said his side was in good health and, while they had room for improvement, he had confidence they could get the job done against Edgeworth.

“It’s just about moving the ball quicker and finishing off our chances,” Webb said.

“Structurally we were good [against Cooks Hill] and we will have a few days on the training pitch this week to fine tune some more areas.

“Other than that we will be raring to go for Edgeworth. They are obviously well instructed under [Peter] McGuiness and they have some quality in their team.

“It certainly won’t be a pushover or anything like that. It’s going to be a very tight tussle like it always is against them.”

Maitland won the first meeting between the sides 1-0 at Jack McLaughlan Oval last season before Edgeworth won the reverse fixture 4-2 at Cooks Square Park.

Cooks Hill United v Weston Workers FC
No.2 Sportsground, Saturday 2pm

Weston will finally get on the pitch when they travel to No.2 Sportsground to take on newly promoted Cooks Hill United on Saturday.

The Bears saw their round two clash with reigning premiers Lambton postponed last weekend following the blanket postponement of round one due to wet weather.

Leo Bertos’ side have acquired the services of Dutch striker Moustafa Mohammad along with overseas import Michael McGlinchey, who has more than 200 games of A-League experience with Central Coast and Wellington. Though McGlinchey is not expected to feature until next month.

Weston assistant coach Anthony Richards said his side was ready to get back on the pitch following a long off-season but Cooks Hill would be a difficult task for the Bears’ belated opening match.

“[Our first two games being postponed] slowed us up a little bit but we will make that up with excitement levels,” Richards said.

“[The players] have worked pretty hard in the off-season so they can’t wait for Saturday. It’s like Christmas day for us.

“When [Cooks Hill] have players like Jon Griffths, Tommy Smart and Jacob Pepper in your team, those guys are gutsy, hard players. So I expect nothing other than that performance from them [against Maitland last week].

“They’re well coached and they have some good players in there. So it’s a tough first game, to be honest.”

Cooks Hill will be out to go one better against the Bears on Saturday after playing out a gritty goalless draw against Maitland in their maiden top flight match last weekend.

Cooks Hill are expected to be without Riley McNaughton and there are doubts over Adam Sherratt who is battling a hamstring injury.

But Cooks Hill did receive some good news during the week with Tommy Smart’s one-game suspension overturned following a review by the Obvious Error Panel, leaving him free to play after he was sent off in the first half of their clash with Maitland.

Cooks Hill are also expected to welcome back midfielder Cody Carroll.

Adamstown Rosebud v Valentine FC
Adamstown Oval, Saturday 4pm

Adamstown Rosebud will be out to back up their promising performance against Edgeworth when they host Valentine FC on Saturday.

Like Weston and Lambton this will be Valentine’s first match of the season following the round one wash out and a round two bye.

Valentine have been active in the player market after finishing last in 2021, welcoming a host of new players including former Socceroo Dean Heffernan, former Newcastle Jets player Nick Cowburn and a raft of players with NPL experience.

Carl Thornton and Ryan Clarke have joined from Maitland, with former Weston and Maitland defender Liam Thornton arrives from HIT 106.9 Northern League One club Thornton FC.

Valentine have also welcomed Jets youth products Jye Bailey, Nicholas Martinelli, Ethan Byrnes and goalkeeper Brodie Volkienne in a bid to improve on their disappointing 2021 campaign which produced just one win and four draws from 16 matches.

Valentine player-coach Adam Hughes said he was confident in his side after their recruitment drive and would be ready for a youthful Adamstown.

“We have got a bigger squad this year,” Hughes said

“[The bigger squad] is going to help us get through moments like COVID-19 or injuries and I think the depth of the squad is different to what we had last year

“I thought Adamstown did well [against Edgeworth]. They’re young, they’re enthusiastic and they work hard together.

“[Adamstown] made it very difficult for Edgeworth so it’s one of those games where they are tough to play against so we will have to turn up and be on our game because they have got the enthusiasm to push you to the last minute of the match.”

Adamstown coach Dave Rosewarne commended his side’s effort against Edgeworth and while he looked forward to their clash against Valentine, Rosebud will be without some personnel for the match.

Fullbacks Drew Grierson and Dane Lawther will likely be unavailable due to injury, while winger Ewan von Essen could also be missing.

Newcastle Olympic v Charlestown Azzurri
Darling Street Oval, Saturday 6.30pm

Newcastle Olympic will look to continue their strong start to the season when they welcome Charlestown Azzurri to Darling Street Oval on Saturday night.

Olympic scored a breathtaking 2-1 victory in their derby clash with Broadmeadow last weekend thanks to a stunning injury time free kick from Jared Muller.

Olympic now face a different challenge against a tricky Charlestown Azzurri side.

Charlestown were dominant in their opening match against Lake Macquarie City, finding an 81st-minute goal through defender Callum Bower but a late Lakes penalty saw the points shared.

Azzurri have won their last five matches against Newcastle Olympic, with Olympic last tasting victory against Azzurri in 2018.

Newcastle Olympic coach Joel Griffiths said Charlestown were always a tough team to come up against and that his side would spend the week fine-tuning before they meet on Saturday.

“I think [Charlestown] have made some really good signings,” Griffiths said.

“Nigel Boogard playing there, they are going to be just as good but it is important that we knuckle down with our training and make sure we can back up last weekend’s performance.

“We have got a good start and now we need to go on with it. That’s half the battle.”

Lambton Jaffas v Broadmeadow Magic
Arthur Edden Oval, Sunday 2pm

Lambton will finally begin their 2022 campaign when they host Broadmeadow Magic on Sunday.

Jaffas had their round two clash against Weston postponed as well as the competition wide postponement of round one due to inclement weather leaving Lambton without playing a game heading into round three.

Lambton were crowned the 2021 NPL Men’s NNSW premiers after COVID-19 forced the abandonment of the final two rounds and the finals series, with Jaffas sitting just one point above second-placed Maitland who they were scheduled to play in the final round.

It seems the Jaffas will give another strong account of themselves this season with several high-profile recruits joining the club, most notably former Broadmeadow quartet James and Luke Virgili, Matt Hoole and Mitch Rooke.

The off-season signings for the Jaffas add another level of intrigue to an already enthralling clash at Arthur Edden Oval, with James and Luke Virgili being Magic’s top goal scorer and captain respectively last season.

Broadmeadow meanwhile will be out to erase the heartbreak of their late derby loss to Newcastle Olympic last weekend.

Magic coach Damian Zane is turning to his youth following the exit of some of Broadmeadow’s more experienced players and said there were no hard feelings from him to anyone who left Magic for a new challenge.

“Sometimes it’s just a story of mates wanting to play with mates and I get that. I did it myself whilst I was playing,” Zane said.

“That just happens. Sometimes football is taken too personally and I’m not that person. I can separate that from life.

“I’m sure everyone has a point to prove. [Jaffas’ new signings] probably have a point to prove and probably some of the boys who are now getting an opportunity [at Magic] will want to prove a point as well. That’s just football”

Lambton did the double over Magic last year, winning both fixtures 2-1. It is because of those results that Zane said the Jaffas presented a challenge like few other teams but his side would be up to the task.

“[Arthur Edden Oval is] a tough place to go,” Zane said.

“But I back our players. I think we are a fantastic squad and things are looking quite good for us. We are just going to get better and better as the year goes on.

“We are expecting a physical contest and we have just got to make sure we are up to the fight, play our own game and hopefully prevail.”

Lake Macquarie City have the bye

Related Topics:
NPL Men's NNSW Preview round three

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