Match of the Round
Newcastle Olympic v Broadmeadow Magic
Darling Street Oval – Sunday 2.30pm
After an enthralling opening two rounds to start the National Premier League NNSW season, the league is ready to turn the dial up with this weekend’s showcase fixture being the biggest derby in Newcastle football between Newcastle Olympic and Broadmeadow Magic.
The two cross-town rivals have had fast starts after the first lot of games, adding further intensity to this round’s clash with first spot potentially on offer.
Olympic fought back from another deficit to earn a 2-2 draw against Valentine with the last kick of the game in their latest match, all the while with 10 men for a large majority of the fixture.
Broadmeadow kept the ball rolling in the previous round, knocking over Charlestown with an impressive 3-1 victory on their return to Magic Park.
In the history of this clash, the two rivals have met on 49 occasions with each club remarkably winning 20 games apiece, with the other nine games having been draws, highlighting the fine margins within this colossal battle.
The blue of Newcastle Olympic won their most recent encounter against the red of Magic, a 3-2 triumph at their home ground in the second half of last season, while Broadmeadow won the previous battle earlier last year with a 1-0 victory.
Broadmeadow have assembled another strong side that will be invested in downing their arch-rivals. Coach Anthony Richards said he was eagerly awaiting another massive derby game.
“I’ve been a part of one as a player and now as a coach and they’re great fun. It’s really important for the committee, the spectators and all the volunteers and our guys just love the atmosphere,” Richards said.
“They’re a really good side [Newcastle Olympic]. Alex Tagaroulias has taken over and he’s known those boys since they were kids and been a part of that whole development program and the reason they’ve been able to finish as strong as they have been is because they’re a really good young team.
“You can’t get too emotional with these games and we have a few experienced guys who will set the tone for the game.”
Olympic have been very pleased with their ability to rescue games over the first rounds and interim coach Tagaroulias said his side would be up for the fight again.
“We spoke about the first game and how they came back and then they did it again [last week] up against even stepper odds. It was very pleasing as the guys really showed a lot of courage and determination,” Tagaroulias said.
“We’ve been rivals [with Broadmeadow] since we started in the lower divisions in the 70s and at the time we were all new Australians, so the rivalries were personal and cultural and it’s given Newcastle a dead set local derby.
“The players on both sides will feel the passion, hopefully the football will be entertaining, Broadmeadow have a quality side and quality individuals but I hope we give a good account of ourselves.”
Lake Macquarie City v Adamstown Rosebud
Macquarie Field – Sunday 1.45pm
Lake Macquarie will host Adamstown in another massive fixture, with the two outfits desperate for the three points.
The Roosters have played some great football with nothing to show for it from their opening games. The side are coming off a tough 4-1 defeat to Maitland last round, blowing an early lead to go down to the premiers away from home.
Adamstown were defeated by a strong Edgeworth line-up 3-1 last start but the previous season’s bottom finishers will be buoyed by their start with the youthful Rosebuds showing glimpses of real promise and have three points on the board.
The Roosters will be out to avoid three straight defeats to start the campaign and will take confidence from the fact they beat Adamstown twice last season.
Adding to that, Lakes have not lost to the red and green since their return to the top-flight in 2017 with five wins and a draw.
The home side won’t have it all their own way at Macquarie Field with Adamstown showing far more resilience this season and will want to put an end to their poor record on the Roosters home turf.
With plenty to play for, Lake Macquarie coach Josh Rufo said he expected a hard-fought encounter.
“[Adamstown coach] Shane [Cansdell-Sherriff] has done a great job there. They have got a lot of young players and have improved but we’re only interested in winning and controlling what we can control,” Rufo said.
“We can compete, we did that against Maitland and Lambton and when we get it right we’ll look to compete for the full 90 minutes.
“No game will be easy and we anticipate it will be our toughest game yet.”
Valentine Phoenix v Lambton Jaffas
CB Complex – Sunday 2.30pm
Two sides coming off heartbreaking results in the previous round will meet this weekend at CB Complex.
Valentine let go of an early two-goal lead against Newcastle Olympic to finish with a last-minute draw but showed they are much better than their 5-0 drubbing at the hands of Broadmeadow two weeks ago.
Meanwhile, Lambton were left deflated after another late goal saw them beaten by Weston at home.
The beauty of football is you get another 90 minutes to get back to your best and that is exactly what will be on the agenda for the Phoenix and the Jaffas.
Lambton have a far superior record over Valentine in recent seasons and will look to reassert themselves with the three points.
On the other hand, the Phoenix are yet to register a victory and with points at a high-premium this early in the season, Valentine will be more than desperate to defeat Lambton.
Valentine co-coach Sam Griffin said he was pleased with the turnaround last week but knows his side have to take the next step.
“It was good for us to know that first week we just weren’t ready and we’ve got better in us but we still can play better [than last Saturday] obviously. From a coaching point of view it’s great but from a team point of view we really need to win,” Griffin said.
“We need to learn to put games to bed. Bailey Garland is out injured at the moment who was our top goal scorer last year so that doesn’t help, so we need to be more ruthless.
“It will be interesting to see how [Lambton] react but you can’t let good players have too much time to do what they want so we need to make it hard for them.”
Edgeworth Eagles v Charlestown Azzurri
Jack McLaughlan Oval – Sunday 2.30pm
Two teams who have had differing starts to their seasons will take to the field this weekend with battling Charlestown Azzurri to play the high-flying Edgeworth Eagles.
Edgeworth have picked up where they left off, making it two wins from two matches so far, following a comprehensive 3-1 victory over Adamstown last round.
Charlestown endured back-to-back defeats against Broadmeadow Magic and will want to achieve a big result this weekend to stay on track and not fall too far behind.
The Eagles enjoy plenty of depth in key areas while new recruit and striker Kristian Brymora has produced four goals in two games for his new club.
Meanwhile, Charlestown have an extensive injury and suspension list but welcomed back their own off-season recruit in Regan Lundy last start.
The Azzurri will look to their brilliant showings of last season as they did the double over the Eagles, including a 2-1 victory over Edgeworth at their stomping ground of Jack McLaughlan Oval.
Weston Workers v Maitland Magpies
Rockwell Automation Park – Sunday 2.30pm
Round three shapes up as a mammoth weekend in the context of the season and will also feature the latest instalment of the ‘El-Clasicoal’ derby between local rivals Weston and Maitland.
This rivalry has grown into one of the standout games in the NPL NNSW calendar, with the two line-ups sharing a history of producing a quality spectacle.
Weston shrugged off their first-round defeat to come from behind twice against Lambton to defeat the Jaffas away from home achieving their first points of the new season last weekend.
Maitland also put their first points on the board with a dominant 4-1 win over Lake Macquarie, with goal scorers Braedyn Crowley and Joel Wood notching doubles.
The two sides could not be split in last season’s derby games, earning wins against each other.
Weston were jubilant after their previous performance against Lambton earning head coach Leo Bertos a maiden win. Bertos said he looked forward to the prospect of facing another class line-up.
“I look forward to every game we play and I’m sure it will be a good game between two good teams. Maitland have quality players and are coming off a successful season last year so it will be a great challenge for us,” Bertos said.
“I was very happy with the performance and effort last weekend. The players stuck to their structures and scored some good goals against a quality opposition.
“We are hoping to improve our performance as individuals and as a team. If we are successful at this then we’ll be very happy.”
Maitland got back to winning ways last start and coach Mick Bolch said he knew his team had to keep that consistency and produce another top performance.
“Our ball movement and decision making was a lot better [against Lakes] especially in the front third,” Bolch said.
“It’s a massive game this weekend against Weston. A win puts us right back in the mix where a loss could see us drop six points off the lead already.
“Derbies are always tight, torrid affairs and I don’t expect this one to be any different and both clubs are coming off good results.”