Match of the Round
Lambton Jaffas v Charlestown Azzurri
Arthur Edden Oval, Saturday 2.30pm
With the 10 NPL clubs drawn into their respective pools, teams will be ready to fire heading into the final rounds of the NPL NNSW season.
Starting the final rounds will be a battle between two potent line-ups with Lambton Jaffas and Charlestown Azzurri to collide at Arthur Edden Oval on Saturday.
Lambton snapped a poor run of form to beat table-toppers Edgeworth 3-1 last round and will fancy themselves to build momentum heading into the next few games.
The Jaffas’ impressive result saw four of their squad placed into last round’s NPL NNSW Team of the Week with Ben Kennedy, Riley McNaughton, Michael Sessions and Mitch Oxborrow all included.
Charlestown have been one of the form teams of the competition winning their last three games which included a stellar 2-0 victory over the Jaffas two rounds ago.
Goals from Riley Smith and Regan Lundy got them home on that occasion which will provide a wealth of confidence to try and repeat the result and continue their great run of form.
The Azzurri’s most recent result was a 2-1 victory over Maitland with Rene Ferguson scoring a 90th minute winner to earn Charlestown another valuable three points.
Charlestown are shaping up to be a dark horse of the competition and coach Graham Law said he was holding this game up as a massive fixture in the context of their season.
“It showed how big of a result it was [to beat Lambton] as they went and beat Edgeworth the following week. So it shows the magnitude of the games we’re winning right now but we’re quite happy to play the underdog,” Law said.
“My boys are honest and they are starting to realise we can win games as a team and that’s our whole philosophy.
“[Lambton] have got the best squad in the competition and we know how good they are.
“This game is very big for us and we’re treating this game as a grand final because we don’t play next weekend. We don’t want to let the work rate drop.”
Edgeworth Eagles v Valentine FC
Jack McLaughlan Oval, Saturday 2:30 pm
Edgeworth and Valentine have been drawn in Pool A and will meet at Jack McLaughlan Oval on Saturday.
The Eagles are five points ahead at the top of the table and a win would see them edge closer to a record-breaking 13th premiership.
The side suffered a setback going down 3-1 to Lambton last round although the loss featured one of the goals of the season from Eagles attacker Will Bower.
Valentine has clawed their way back into finals contention and will be ruing a missed opportunity against Weston last round.
The Phoenix led 2-0 but conceded two successive goals to leave CB Complex with a draw to sit two points away from a finals spot.
The two sides played against each other in round seven with Edgeworth running out 2-0 winners with Bower scoring two that day.
Valentine will view this an ideal challenge to test their metal against one of the premiership challengers and prove their worthiness of playing finals football.
Edgeworth have their mind fixed on returning to winning ways and player-coach Josh Rose said the defeat to Lambton hurt the playing group.
“This week has been about reiterating to the boys sometimes you do lose and it’s about trying to get back on track as they were very disappointed last Sunday which for me is great to see,” Rose said.
“Skip [Josh Evans] will be back this week and I have recovered well, so I’ll be back in there so we pretty much have got everyone back now and ready to go.
“We only played Valentine a few weeks ago and they were a tough team to break down. It’s about doing our job and we’re playing at home and it wouldn’t matter who we played at home we expect to turn up and get the job done.”
Broadmeadow Magic v Weston Workers
Magic Park, Saturday 2:30 pm
Broadmeadow will host Weston in a match that is sure to provide another entertaining spectacle when they play at Magic Park on Saturday.
The two teams played out a thrilling 3-2 encounter in round eight with the Bears winning thanks to a great performance.
The match will pit second against fourth showcasing a top-four battle while Weston sit five points behind Magic and a win for the Bears could bridge the gap to two.
Broadmeadow regained their winning formula against Adamstown last round with a dominant 3-0 victory which instilled them in second spot.
Weston fought back from a two-goal deficit against Valentine last round to draw 2-2 away from home in what could be a crucial point come the end of the season.
Magic sit top in the goal scoring department with 21 goals so far this season while Weston boast some exciting attackers of their own.
Broadmeadow coach Anthony Richards said his side were solely focused on a solid performance against the Bears.
“The draw doesn’t bother us and every team that is in our [pool] we struggled with in the early rounds so I think it will be good for us,” Richards said.
“[Weston] were too good for us and defended well [last game]. We do get another opportunity and we’re going to have to be better.
“I though the energy levels were up [against Adamstown] and it was a lot more controlled. And it was pleasing to bounce back. The boys who will take to the park will be ready to go.”
Maitland FC v Newcastle Olympic
Cooks Square Park, Sunday 2:30 pm
Maitland will play host to Newcastle Olympic at Cooks Square Park on Sunday with little to separate the two sides on the table.
The match will be an intriguing fixture with only a point separating the two outfits, with an important three points on the line.
Maitland will be out to avenge their latest showing against Olympic when they were beaten 4-0 at Darling Street Oval midway through this season.
Olympic put in a clinical second half performance on that night and remain in red-hot goal scoring form having defeated Lake Macquarie 6-2 last round.
Kent Harrison, Jarred Muller, Dino Fajkovic and Jacob Cresnar all featured in the Team of the Week due to the impressive performance which saw them rise to third on the table.
Maitland will look to return to the winner’s circle after their last start loss to Charlestown in which they went down 2-1, ending their incredible unbeaten run at Cooks Square Park.
Maitland have plenty to play for after slipping out of the top five while this match looms as another exciting battle between two sides looking to feature in the finals at the end of the season.
Lake Macquarie City (Pool A) and Adamstown Rosebud (Pool B) have the bye.