Match of the Round
Charlestown City Blues (5th) vs. Edgeworth Eagles (3rd)
Sunday 16th June, 2:30pm, Lisle Carr Oval
Charlestown will host the defending premiers this weekend after having a couple of weeks off the field due to a washout, and the FFA Cup State Qualifiers weekend, however, their opponents have been kept busy.
In the Eagles’ most recent NPL NNSW outing, they played out a scoreless draw with last year’s champions Broadmeadow but were able to dominate them in Round 6 of the FFA Cup last weekend, before then defeating against Valentine 5-0 on Wednesday night to progress to the Round of 32.
Although the Blues haven’t played in two weeks, their form prior to that has been good coming off the back of a solid win over Broadmeadow and they’ve only lost once in their past five matches which came at the hands of the current league leaders, Weston.
In their earlier encounter in the season, Edgeworth went down at home to Charlestown and with the hosts sitting just four points off them, and just one outside the top four, the Blues will be fixed on collecting the three points again.
Striker Kane Goodchild has begun to find his goalscoring form having notched three goals in the previous two games, however the return of Oliver Smith for the Eagles is proving to be dangerous for opposition defences as he’s already found the back of the net on six occasions since coming back from injury.
Fatigue may play a factor for the Eagles this weekend, but after achieving yet another position in the FFA Cup Round of 32, confidence will be at a high when they come up against a determined Charlestown.
Lambton Jaffas (7th) vs. Hamilton Olympic (8th)
Saturday 15th June, 2:30pm, Arthur Edden Oval
The beginning of the season promised so much for both these sides, but as the season etches past its halfway point, Lambton and Hamilton now sit without FFA Cup Round of 32 action, and outside the top four in the league.
The Jaffas haven’t taken to the field in two weeks while Olympic have played three games since including a 4-2 loss to Weston in the league, before beating Bangalow 10-1 in the FFA Cup and progressing to the final round of qualification where they were slimly defeated by Maitland.
It took eight weeks for Lambton to taste their first loss in the league, but since then they’ve yet to return to the winners’ circle with their most recent victory coming all the way back in late April over Weston.
Lambton have proven that they have the ability to challenge at the top, posing one of the better defensive records in the competition, as well as the Golden Boot leader in Braedyn Crowley who will return to the field this weekend after serving a suspension.
In their Round 2 catch-up game played in late March, neither side were able to secure the win, sharing the points in a 1-1 draw, but in their eight earlier matches, Hamilton have only been able to win once.
Lambton’s coach James Pascoe said that with his team’s lack in form, the side were focused and fixed on turning it back around despite not playing much football recently.
“Mentally, the boys are fresh,” Pascoe said.
“There’s no substitute for match fitness so it’s a bit of an unknown how the game will go from a physical perspective.
“While every game is important and the league is more even than it’s been for a number of years, it’s important to keep a sense of realism about it all. There are still 30 points to play for.”
Broadmeadow Magic (2nd) vs. Lake Macquarie City Roosters (11th)
Saturday 15th June, 5:00pm, Magic Park
Lakes will travel to Magic Park on Saturday looking to try and turn their fortunes around against a team that they’ve already picked up points against during the year.
In their Round 2 catch-up fixture, the Roosters were minutes away from picking up a surprising win over Broadmeadow, but a late Josh Piddington goal deterred the current last-placed side from collecting the three points.
Lakes have experienced a couple of weeks off having had their Round 12 fixture washed out and being knocked out of the FFA Cup in earlier rounds, while for the visitors it’s been a rather disappointing few weeks.
They picked up the major signing of Andrew Hoole, but still haven’t tasted victory in their past three matches including that 4-0 FFA Cup defeat to Edgeworth last weekend.
Statistics still lie in Magic’s favour currently though as they possess best attacking record in the competition having scored 28 goals, while they’ve also collected the equal-most clean sheets in the league with three.
For the Roosters, their attack and defence are both the worst in the competition, but despite that, captain Sam Walker still fights in the race for the league’s Golden Boot having scored six goals and will need to be shut down by Magic’s defence.
Lakes need to find points and quickly if they are to make anything from their season, however doing so against a Broadmeadow Magic side, who will now have complete attention on winning the league, will be extremely tough.
Valentine Phoenix (9th) vs. Maitland FC (4th)
Sunday 16th June, 2:30pm, CB Complex
Two sides who have relished enjoyable and terrific FFA Cup runs will square off this weekend in the league coming off the back of playing in both State Qualifiers rounds last weekend and midweek.
Maitland and Valentine are still yet to face one another this season as their initial Round 2 fixture washed out is yet to be played making this match even more interesting and intriguing.
The Magpies will be flying high heading into this one having successfully qualified for the FFA Cup Round of 32 for the first time in club history, while Valentine’s great cup run ended after going down to Edgeworth during the week.
In the league though, the Phoenix have been struggling so far this season and sit closer to the wrong end of the table, however, in recent weeks have experienced a sort of resurgence thanks to their cup form.
Defensively both sides have witnessed completely contrasting seasons as the Magpies currently have the best goals conceded per game average in the competition, while Valentine have the second worst, however attacking-wise, are much more similar – Maitland have scored 15, while the Phoenix have scored 14.
Maitland will still be missing Matt Thompson due to injury while the Phoenix will be missing Ben Hay and Josh Carroll who have both left for a European holiday but do welcome back Jacob Bailey from suspension and potentially Brenton Olzomer from injury.
While Valentine’s finals hopes are basically done and dusted for 2019, Maitland’s are well and truly alive, and it looks as though the side may be fighting for the premiership come August.
If the Magpies want that to be the case though, these are the matches they’ll be forced to win, however with FFA Cup heartbreak still fresh in their minds, Valentine will be focused on redeeming themselves and heading back into the winners’ circle.
Weston Bears (1st) vs. Adamstown Rosebud (10th)
Sunday 16th June, 2:30pm, Rockwell Automation Park
They’ve now spent two weeks at the top of the table, and Weston will be hoping to continue their unexpected reign by defeating a visiting Adamstown side.
The Rosebuds have been enduring another tough season near the bottom of the table but have shown what they’re capable of but only in parts of games this season including their earlier battle with the Bears earlier on in the year where they came back from two goals down, only to lose 4-2.
Regan Lundy scored two in that game and has been one of Weston’s best so far as has international newcomer Jason Tjien-Fooh who will need to be a major focus for Adamstown’s defence that have leaked 24 goals so far and have yet to keep a clean sheet.
Both sides enjoyed a week off without any FFA Cup State Qualifiers duties so both should be refreshed and ready to go, especially the Rosebuds as they also didn’t get the chance to play the week earlier due to wet weather.
Decades ago, this fixture used to be considered one of the biggest days on the league calendar, and although the heat and tension amongst teams may have expired in recent times, expect both sides to bring their best in order to attain a win.