Match of the Round
Edgeworth Eagles v Weston Workers
Jack McLaughlan Oval – Sunday 2:30pm
It will be the red-hot Edgeworth taking on a determined Weston in this week’s enormous match of the round at Jack McLaughlan Oval on Sunday.
The Edgeworth juggernaut has rolled on so far in 2020 with the defending champions continuing to achieve prodigious heights in the NPL NNSW, winning their five opening games to lead the competition after the initial rounds.
The Eagles were dominant in their 3-0 victory over Lake Macquarie last round, putting the Roosters to the sword in the first half while four Eagles players, Pat Wheeler, Keanu Moore, Tyson Jackson and skipper Josh Evans all featured in the NPL NNSW Team of the Week.
Weston is coming off a devastating 2-1 loss to Charlestown having led during the game to blow another lead at Rockwell Automation Park.
Consistency is what Leo Bertos’ men are chasing having achieved huge victories against last year’s premiers Maitland and the highly-favoured Lambton so far this year.
An opportunity to be the first team to beat Edgeworth in 2020 is on offer for Weston, while Edgeworth is on an eight-game winning spree stretching back to last year’s semi-final series.
This fixture always throws up a classic game between these two historic clubs of the region, while the two met in this year’s pre-season Heritage Cup with the Eagles winning 2-1.
The Eagles will look to continue their impressive unbeaten run and player-coach Josh Rose said the recent success was based off the club’s winning mentality while praising one of his staff.
“The big factor through all the changes that happened early in the season, there was always one constant voice and that was Rod Linsley. He’s been a main factor in why it has been a smooth transition,” Rose said.
“I just try to analyse before the game and try to get it right and sometimes on the pitch you can identify things but you also need those eyes in the stands. And I’m learning more from each game.
“[Weston] have got a lot of young boys who bring a lot of energy and they try to play football. I think we have the team to beat them and we’ve got to try and match that energy and hopefully pinpoint some areas to break them down.”
Weston still sit inside the top five and will have huge motivation to achieve another victory this weekend. Bertos said his youthful team was still finding their feet in the top grade but expected a much-improved Bears outfit when fully fit.
“It’s been really challenging but the boys have been working hard and got a few a good results and some forgettable ones as well. But that’s what happens when you have a lot of young guys and it takes time for them to learn how to be consistent in their own game,” Bertos said.
“[Edgeworth] have started the season off with a bang and been in good form, so it will be a good challenge for us.
“There are not too many games remaining now. Points are starting to really matter in the coming weeks.”
Adamstown Rosebud v Newcastle Olympic
Adamstown Oval – Tuesday 18 August 8:15pm
Two cross-town rivals collide when Newcastle Olympic visit Adamstown at a rescheduled fixture time of 8:15pm on Tuesday.
Both teams had to withdraw from their fixtures last round due to COVID-19 precautions but the two outfits will be eager to return to the field in another big game.
The Rosebuds haven’t tasted victory since their opening day win over Charlestown and will be chasing a valuable three points to stay in touch with the top five places.
Olympic have had a solid start to the season but will also be looking to notch their second victory of the year with their first coming in round one against Weston.
Olympic achieved a win over Adamstown last season at Adamstown Oval, while the two teams played out a 2-2 draw in the latter stages of the previous year.
The match will have plenty of feel as a lot of players have played for both clubs to add to the build-up of this Newcastle rivalry.
Meanwhile, Newcastle Olympic have announced former Newcastle Jets striker Joel Griffiths as its head coach, with the A-League winner to take over next season in a major coup for the club.
Maitland Magpies v Lambton Jaffas
Cooks Square Park – Sunday 2:30pm
A colossal clash will take place at Cooks Square Park on Sunday, with heavyweights Maitland and Lambton to go toe-to-toe.
Many have tipped them to finish at the higher end of the table this season, while history paints this affair as a mega battle between the two sides who finished first and second respectively last season.
Maitland have been flawless at their fortress of Cooks Square Park this season, amassing nine goals over the two fixtures so far.
The last start loss to Weston would have hurt the Magpies momentum, while the Jaffas are also looking to rebound from a heartbreaking, final minute loss to Broadmeadow.
Sunday’s match will be a game of fine margins as history suggests. Looking at the last six encounters, both sides have won twice with two draws.
Maitland’s Braedyn Crowley and Lambton’s Matt Thompson will face their former clubs, while Lambton coach James Pascoe said he was wary of Crowley’s capabilities and the whole Magpies team.
“[Crowley] is someone we’ve got to be aware of but so is Nick Cowburn, so is Joel Wood and they’ve got a really good balanced side and so we won’t concentrate too much on Braedyn as it may open up areas for other players to hurt us,” Pascoe said.
“There was a lot of positives [from the Magic game]. A couple of areas to touch up on in defence, and in terms of match fitness and mental sharpness, we’re much better as I think the three games last week really has kicked us on.
“It’s another game against a real contender. The two games against each other last year we couldn’t be split and we’re two very even teams on paper so it should be a great game.”
Maitland will be eager to avoid back-to-back defeats while coach Mick Bolch said he knows the extreme importance of the game in the grand scheme of the season.
“I think neither team can afford to drop any more points if they want to keep pace with the top two,” Bolch said.
“The boys are desperate for three points after ill-discipline cost us last week against Weston. Whilst it was disappointing to not play last weekend, it gave us a chance to re-group and let a few players get over some niggles.
“[Lambton] have quality all over the park but if we can contain their midfield of [Mitch] Oxborrow and [Matt] Thompson, I believe that will go a long way towards securing three points.”
Charlestown Azzurri v Valentine Phoenix
Lisle Carr Oval – Sunday 2:30pm
Charlestown and Valentine will line-up against each other at Lisle Carr Oval on Sunday with both teams eager to rise up the ladder.
Azzurri enjoyed a gutsy 2-1 win over Weston last start to earn their first win of the season, holding on with nine men for the final 10 minutes.
The squad was rewarded with four entries into the NPL NNSW Team of the Week with Riley Smith, Matt Tull, Kev Davison and Nathan Archbold all earning a spot.
Valentine is hoping to replicate their upcoming opponent and score their first win of the season this weekend after parting ways with co-coach Darren Sills.
The teams have been two of the lowest-scoring teams so far with Azzurri having only scored one goal more than the Phoenix with four strikes.
Charlestown will be without key attackers Regan Lundy and Jackson Frendo due to suspension for this game so they will be looking to find another avenue of attack.
The Azzurri were dominant against the Phoenix in the previous encounters including a 4-1 triumph at Lisle Carr Oval in the back end of last season.
Broadmeadow Magic v Lake Macquarie City
Magic Park – Sunday 2:30pm
The high-flying Broadmeadow Magic will host Lake Macquarie at Magic Park on Sunday.
Magic are coming off a great win over Lambton last round beating the Jaffas with two late goals to seal a tremendous three points.
Broadmeadow sit in second place, five points above third spot and will view this game as an ideal occasion to consolidate their position.
The Roosters were outclassed by Edgeworth 3-0 last round but have moved to four points and put forward some quality performances beforehand.
Lakes are second last after five games and will look to cause an upset against the side with the best attack in the competition so far with 14 goals.
Magic attacker Sam Walker will play against his former club for the first time, while Walker has been in great form with three goals from his last two games.