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Match of the Round
Lambton Jaffas v Lake Macquarie City
Arthur Edden Oval, Saturday 2.30pm
Lambton Jaffas will look to continue to build on their steady start to the season when they host Lake Macquarie City in the round four Match of the Round on Saturday.
The Jaffas sit third on the NPL NNSW table after three rounds, three points behind leaders Maitland.
James Pascoe’s side exploded out of the blocks, thrashing Weston 7-1 in their opening day clash before being brought swiftly down to earth when they fell to reigning double winners Edgeworth.
But Lambton bounced back last week, edging past Valentine 1-0 to remain well placed among the chasing pack.
While Lambton will see Saturday’s clash as a chance to maintain the pressure on Maitland, the Jaffas will be acutely aware that Lakes will provide a stern test and should not be underestimated.
Josh Rufo’s side have shown great improvement to start the campaign but perhaps do not have what they deserve in terms of points after three rounds.
Lakes were only denied the three points in their opening round clash against heavyweights Broadmeadow when Magic scored a heartbreaking equaliser in stoppage time.
Lakes then went down by a single goal to 2020 grand finalists Maitland before they produced the upset of the season so far on Sunday.
City came from behind twice to down Edgeworth 3-2, condemning the reigning premiers and champions to their second defeat of the campaign.
Former A-League player Nick Cowburn has started the season strongly with Lakes who will be out to make another statement on Saturday.
Adamstown Rosebud v Valentine FC
Adamstown Oval, Saturday 2.30pm
Adamstown Rosebud and Valentine will be desperate to collect their first points of the season when they meet at Adamstown Oval on Saturday.
Adamstown prop up the table following three defeats from their opening three fixtures. New coach Dave Rosewarne has watched his young side fall to Newcastle Olympic (6-2), Charlestown Azzurri (2-0) and Weston (2-0) to start the season.
A win over Valentine would give Adamstown some much needed confidence as they look to kick start their year.
But Valentine will equally see this as an opportunity to get points on the board.
Player-coach Adam Hughes saw his side washed out in the opening round before suffering 1-0 defeats at the hands of Weston and Lambton.
While the winner will have reason to look positively ahead, the loser will be left with the anxiety of wondering where their first points will come from.
Edgeworth FC v Newcastle Olympic
Jack McLaughlan Oval, Saturday 5pm
Edgeworth will be anxious to bounce back following a flat start to the season when they host Newcastle Olympic on Saturday evening.
The Eagles sit eighth on the table having been beaten by Maitland and Lake Macquarie City either side of a win over Lambton.
New Edgeworth coach Michael Bridges will be keen for his side to secure a result to help them remain in touching distance of the chasing pack
The Eagles led twice against Lakes last week but were unable to close the game out, an issue Bridges will no doubt look to address.
Newcastle Olympic meanwhile have had a similar start to the season. After thrashing Adamstown Rosebud in the opening round Olympic have been beaten by derby rivals Broadmeadow and league leaders Maitland.
A win here would keep Joel Griffiths’ side within reach of the finals places, even if it is only early days.
Broadmeadow Magic v Weston Workers FC
Magic Park, Sunday 2.30pm
Broadmeadow will look to maintain the pressure on Maitland at the top of the table when they welcome Weston Workers to Magic Park on Sunday.
After their round one blip against Lake Macquarie City, Magic have bounced back impressively with wins over rivals Newcastle Olympic and Charlestown Azzurri.
Damian Zane will be without defender Jon Griffiths who will serve a one-match suspension after he was sent off in their fiery clash with Charlestown last weekend.
Weston will also face a selection headache with Liam Wilson also suspended following his red card last weekend.
But Leo Bertos will be delighted with the way his side have bounced back since their opening round embarrassment at the hands of Lambton.
The Bears have shown great heart to down Valentine and Adamstown since, the latter while being down to 10 men for more than 70 minutes following Wilson’s dismissal.
Weston sit fourth and will have their eyes directed up the table should they be able to pull off an upset on Sunday.
Maitland FC v Charlestown Azzurri
Cooks Square Park, Sunday 4.30pm
Charlestown Azzurri will be out to end Maitland’s perfect start to the season when they travel to Cooks Square Park on Sunday.
Azzurri will be without Regan Lundy for at least two matches after he was sent off in the 1-0 defeat to Broadmeadow last weekend following a clash with Magic attacker Keanu Moore.
Graham Law will be keen for his side to bounce back given they have a game in hand on the rest of the competition following their opening round wash out.
Along with their loss to Broadmeadow, Charlestown also scored a convincing 2-0 win over struggling Adamstown Rosebud.
Meanwhile the Magpies are flying high at the top of the NPL NNSW table after three rounds as the only side with a 100 per cent record.
Wins over Edgeworth, Lake Macquarie City and Newcastle Olympic have given Maitland a flawless start to the campaign, something Michael Bolch will want his side to continue in front of their home fans.