For the first time in a long time, the NPL Northern NSW will conclude with all Round 22 games being played on the same day, at the same time, Sunday 25 August, 2:30pm.
With the 2019 season proving to be one of the closest in league history, four of the five games will impact either the tight premiership, or finals race and BarTV Sports will be showcasing a special broadcast across the day. You can find a complete list of the YouTube live-streams HERE.
Maitland FC (1st) vs. Newcastle Jets Youth (8th)
Cooks Square Park
It’s been one incredible season for the Maitland Magpies and all they have to do now is win one last match against the Jets Youth to secure the club’s first-ever NPL Northern NSW premiership* (the club and NNSWF recently discovered their previously-considered 1980 title was actually that of a second-tier premiership).
Edgeworth trail Maitland by two points, but possess a better goal differential meaning the current league-leaders cannot afford to drop any points if in fact the Eagles pick up a victory.
Form is certainly in the favour of the title hunters as the Magpies haven’t tasted defeat in the past five matches and have only been beaten once in the past 12, while for the young Jets the past few weeks have been tough with six consecutive weeks without a win, including a devastating 5-0 loss last weekend to Broadmeadow.
The Jets have been missing a multitude of names to international duties and the senior squad but still have very capable stars such as Maki Petratos, Jack Simmons and Joey O’Connor who might be able to spoil Maitland’s party.
The black and white had a close-call with the Jets last time out winning 2-1 thanks to early goals from Ryan Clarke and Joel Wood – the latter is also in a battle of his own to take out the Golden Boot of which he currently co-leads with Braedyn Crowley (Lambton) with 13 goals.
While Maitland’s forwards have been in full-force in recent weeks managing to score 13 from their last five outings, the defence has also shone keeping two clean sheets in as many weeks
With a basically fully-fit and full-strength squad to pick from for the remainder of the year, the Magpies look set to not only take out their first title, but also do some damage in the finals, however coach Mick Bolch was quick to state that the side needs to keep their focus.
“As far I’m concerned, the group just had to take ownership of it,” Bolch said. “It’s all in their own hands.
“It’s been a Grand Final for us for the last five weeks.
“If the group want it that bad, no one is going to stop them from getting it.
“You don’t win many premierships. Some blokes play their whole career and don’t get a crack at it. They are hard to come by.
“They’re [Jets Youth] a bit on an unknown. You don’t know what kind of team they’re going to put out, so we’ve got to concentrate on what we’re doing.”
Lambton Jaffas (4th) vs. Edgeworth Eagles (2nd)
Arthur Edden Oval
These two sides have met one another in the past two post-seasons – in the Grand Final in 2017, and a thrilling semi-final tie in 2018 – but this time around Edgeworth have the chance to dispatch the Jaffas from the top four, however they too can end any hopes for the Eagles capturing a historic premiership.
Edgeworth are just two points behind the Magpies in first and will be praying that the Jets Youth can manage an upset result, but none of that will mean anything though if the Eagles don’t produce a win against Lambton.
Sitting just inside the cusp of the top four though, the Jaffas need to win to cement their position in the finals – anything else may see them fall out – but given their recent form which has seen them remain undefeated over the past five games with just one goal conceded, the hosts this Sunday will be feeling confident.
They went down 2-0 to the defending premiers in the earlier meeting this year but this time Edgeworth are heading into the contest having played a mid-week fixture going down 5-1 to the Newcastle Jets in the FFA Cup Round of 16.
Star midfielder Keanu Moore missed out on the big cup match and adds to a long-list of missing players for the Eagles but the Jaffas are too without their stars – the most-recent of those being midfield maestro Michael Kantarovski.
Edgeworth’s coach Damian Zane said he’s thinks his side will be able to cover the tired legs the Newcastle Jets game has brought.
“It’s going to be tough. You go from the highs of the cup, to a bumpy pitch at Arthur Edden,” he joked.
“It’s just about winning a game. It’s important we win going into the semis.
“Everyone’s written off the Jets Youth, but it’s just important for us to back up a pretty decent performance last week with another good one.
“I can’t see Maitland losing, but again, it’s not really about that it’s just important we do our job and win the game and go into the semis with some good form.”
Broadmeadow Magic (5th) vs. Charlestown City Blues (3rd)
Broadmeadow will host Charlestown in the final round in what is potentially a do-or-die clash for both sides in their quest to feature in this year’ semi-finals.
Only one point separates the two teams and it looks that only a point will keep the Blues alive in the top four, however for Magic, if they drop points, they become extremely reliant on how Lambton and Weston perform.
The hosts this Sunday lost out to their opponents, 3-1 in the first encounter in the year and although they picked up a massive 5-0 win last weekend over the Jets Youth, before that they endured a three-week winless drought while Charlestown have yet to lose one of their past six matches.
The defence of the Blues have been an area of incredible improvement in the second half of the year that’s seen them only concede six goals since Round 12 and a whopping six clean sheets since Round 12 – three of those have come in their last three outings – all spearheaded by their rock-solid goalkeeper, Nate Archbold.
While Charlestown’s defence has been firm, the attack of the Magicians has been their key strength this season and is statistically the best in the league and although James Virgili may not feature due to injury, John Majurovski and Kale Bradbery produced some terrific link-up play last weekend and will need to once again showcase that combination in his potential absence.
Weston Bears (6th) vs. Lake Macquarie City Roosters (10th)
Rockwell Automation Park
After experiencing defeat at the hands of Edgeworth last weekend, Weston have been placed in a difficult scenario of qualifying for finals and one that isn’t in their hands.
The Bears will need to beat Lakes this weekend and hope that Lambton don’t manage to defeat the Eagles, but don’t expect the Roosters to go out without a fight.
Lakes played out a scoreless draw with Valentine in the Lake Mac Derby to avoid the wooden spoon and although it initially seems there isn’t much to play for this weekend, the recent announcement that coach Nick Webb won’t be returning to Speers Point next year, the team will be hoping to send him out on a winner.
What isn’t in the favour of this Sunday’s visitors is the fact that they haven’t mustered a goal in their past three games while Weston are still the only team in the competition who haven’t been kept to nil in a match this year.
It was a comfortable 4-0 victory for the Bears when they met the Roosters earlier in the year and their home of Bear Park has been a place of despair for the visitors who haven’t managed a win at the venue since 2011.
While the Bears are playing for much more than that of Lakes, with attacking weapons such as Sam Walker in their side, expect the visitors to make Weston work for a victory.
Valentine Phoenix (9th) vs. Hamilton Olympic (7th)
It’s the one game of the final matchday that doesn’t have any impact on how the premiership or finals race shapes up, but it will still be important for both Valentine and Hamilton who will be hoping to end their seasons with one last win.
Olympic pulled off a tremendous 3-2 win in the Red and Blue Derby win in their last outing, while the Phoenix managed to avoid the wooden spoon with a Lake Mac Derby draw and will now be hopeful of retaining their ninth place.
Their defence has struggled all year, but Valentine managed to keep their first clean sheet last weekend with usual-winger Josh Carroll featuring predominantly in the back-line to earn a spot in the NPL NNSW Team of the Week.
The Phoenix defence almost kept out Hamilton earlier in the year, but a late stoppage time equaliser denied them of the victory and one that would have been their first against Olympic since 2011.
While neither team can move higher up the table, both can fall down one spot depending on other results.