Competitions

NPL Northern NSW Round 14 Preview

June 20th, 2019

 SPROULE SPORTS FOCUS

 QUENTIN CONNERS

 

Round 14 of the NPL Northern NSW will be featured as Women in Football round as part of rebel Female Football Week, paying recognition to all the wonderful women in the game and their remarkable contribution.

 

Match of the Round

Hamilton Olympic (8th) vs. Broadmeadow Magic (2nd)

Saturday 22 June, 5:00 pm, Darling Street Oval

It’s the second Red & Blue Derby of the year and for the hosts, Hamilton, it borders on a do-or-die situation given the context of their season’s finals hopes.

Currently, Olympic are six points out from the top four but have also played more matches than those around them while their arch-rivals Broadmeadow, are currently locked in a battle premiership which only spells more pain for the boys in blue.

The Magicians have only lost one game over the past 12 weeks and although they’ve shined in attack having scored the most goals in the league as well as having the equal-leading goal scorer in James Virgili, they also now have the most clean sheets in the competition as well.

Both Virgili brothers, James and Luke, were selected as part of the NPL NNSW Team of the Week for their performances in their 2-0 win over Lakes last week, while Olympic went down to Lambton spelling their second defeat in as many weeks and adding to the worrying statistic that they’ve only won one from their past six league outings.

In the 48 matches both these rivals have played against one another, Magic now have the slightest of edges after their earlier 1-0 victory in the season, as they now cap 20 wins to Hamilton’s 19 and the Olympic boys will be keen to make their history even again.

Hamilton coach Pete McGuiness admitted his team were prepared for their biggest game of the season not only because of the strong rivalry between the two clubs but because their finals hopes could be over if they don’t pull off a win.

“It is do-or-die,” McGuiness confessed.

“That coupled with the fact that there’s always a rivalry that exists there. We’re going to do everything we possibly can to win the game.

“We need to win, and we need to start winning now.”

McGuiness admitted that although it was a derby, and one of the biggest in Northern NSW, and the added fact that some of his players have an injury cloud over their head, his side won’t be altering their style of play.

“Tactically we’ll play as we always play. But there is that added incentive, besides the rivalry, to win,” he said.

“Nothing much will change in regards to how we set up. But we will look to execute pretty quickly when we’ve got the ball. We’ll be looking to attack them.

“We’ve got three injury concerns. Reece Petit is out for a bit with a Grade 1 medial for 4-6 weeks possibly, Cody Lucas is carrying a leg injury and Scott Pettit is also carrying some injuries in his lower back as well.”

 

Adamstown Rosebud (10th) vs. Lambton Jaffas (6th)

Saturday 22 June, 1:00 pm, Adamstown Oval

After picking up a victory for the first time in almost two months last weekend, Lambton will now travel to Adamstown with the tall task of defeating the historic club on their 130th anniversary celebration.

It’s been a disappointing season so far for the young Rosebuds, particularly as of late as they haven’t been able to muster any points from their past three matches despite being tight encounters.

An impressive start to the season for the Jaffas seemed on the verge of derailing following a winless run, but the visitors this weekend are still just two points out from the top four and are well and truly back in the mix to be playing finals come September.

Last time out Lambton defeated Adamstown rather comfortably 4-1 and it’s been seven years since the Rosebuds turned that around – their last victory over the Jaffas came all the way back in 2012 when playing in the NEWFM Northern League One.

That challenge may just be a little bit harder as well given that the league’s equal top-scorer Braedyn Crowley is expected to return to the field this weekend against a defence that has still yet to manage a clean sheet this year.

If Lambton win this match, there’s a chance they could find themselves sitting inside the top four by the end of the round, while for Adamstown, they could move their way past Valentine who have the bye, and potentially begin to make amends of their season.

 

Maitland FC (4th) vs. Weston Bears (1st)

Sunday 23 June, 2:30 pm, Cooks Square Park

This edition of the ‘El-Clasicoal’ may just be the biggest we’ve ever seen as Maitland host the league-leading Bears in a derby match that may prove pivotal in deciding the premiership race.

Both sides have enjoyed successful recent runs as Maitland have picked up wins in their past five matches, which included two FFA Cup games to see them progress to the Round of 32. While Weston have saved their form for the league having also won their past five games to sit atop of the table.

If the Bears are able to repeat what they did in the Magpies’ first game of the season and win, they will tie the all-time win-loss records as historically, from the 21 matches contested between the two Coalfields clubs Maitland have won 10 and Weston have won nine along with four draws.

For the hosts, Joel Wood has been in spectacular form and is now sitting on eight goals from the season, but so too has Weston men Jason Tjien-Fooh and Liam Wilson who have scored seven and six respectively.

Although the Magpies have scored ten goals less than their rivals, their defence has been their strength this season as they have conceded the equal-least amount of goals this year and have only conceded more than one goal on four occasions.

Weston’s assistant coach Craig Stoker acknowledged the enormity of the fixture but said his side weren’t feeling the pressure.

Without a doubt, it’s a huge game for both clubs,” Stoker said.

“It’s unbelievable how the boys are. They haven’t really talked about being top of the table, they’re just going about it all. It’s just another game to them.

“We’re not surprised that were there. Even in pre-season, we were confident of giving it a shake.

“They’ve always had the quality, now they just have the belief that they can do it. It’s a good group to be around.”

 

Newcastle Jets Youth (7th) vs. Edgeworth Eagles (3rd)

Sunday 23 June, 2:30 pm, Jack McLaughlan Oval

Coming off the back of a painful loss, Edgeworth will face off with a Newcastle Jets Youth side this weekend that haven’t played a game in almost a month.

The last outing the young Jets encountered was a close loss to Maitland and before that, crumbled to Broadmeadow with a 5-2 loss.

Edgeworth, on the other hand, enters this match with a fair bit of form on their side excluding last week’s match where they went down to a nine-man Charlestown side as prior to that they navigated their way through the FFA Cup qualification stages to proceed to the Round of 32 for the fourth time.

The Jets were able to fight out a 2-2 draw when they faced the Eagles last time out, but that has been the only time since 2015 that the side has mustered a point against the defending premiers when they drew 4-4 thanks to a late Michael Kantarovski goal.

Don’t expect the hosts to leak in so many goals this time around, as their defence this year has proven to be the best in the competition once again while they are also the only team in the competition who have yet to concede more than two goals in a game.

With such a close competition this season, if Edgeworth lose this weekend, their spot in the top four may be lost also for the time being as well as their chance to challenge for that historic premiership.

Edgeworth’s coach Damian Zane said that although his side went down last outing, he was still happy with how his side have been performing recently.

“We’ve been in pretty good form lately,” said Zane.

“I thought it was pretty harsh that we lost but it was at the end of a pretty big week. While it was disappointing when you look back on it if you had said at the start of the week would you trade a loss on the weekend for two wins in the cup, I would have said yes.”

While the Eagles have endured a rather ‘hard-slog’ of matches in the last few weeks, the Jets Youth have been kept rather fresh but Zane felt that it may prove to be a positive rather than a negative for his opposition.

“It could go both ways. It can be a bonus, or you can come out rusty,” said Zane regarding the lack of football the Jets Youth had played.

“They’re training probably close to every day so I can’t imagine they’re going to come out rusty so it may have been a good thing for them to have a break and freshen up.

“We’re expecting a tough game. But we’re not reacting too much to the loss on the weekend, I still think we’re in decent form. I think if we’re at our best we’ll be hard to stop.”

 

Lake Macquarie City Roosters (11th) vs. Charlestown City Blues (5th)

Sunday 23 June, 2:30 pm, Macquarie Field

Lakes have experienced a tough year so far and one that has had them rooted to the bottom of the league for the majority of the season, but when they return to their beloved home this weekend against Charlestown for the first time in almost a month, they’ll be hoping to bring some positivity back to their campaign.

That’ll be easier said than done though as the Blues have been enjoying a rather promising season that’s allowed them to be fighting for semi-finals.

In their past five games, Charlestown have only lost one match against the league-leaders Weston and have been able to pick up handy results against top sides such as Edgeworth, Broadmeadow and Lambton.

Former Hyundai A-League and Chinese Super League player Adam Hughes made his highly-awaited debut for the club last week and put in a stunning performance earning him a spot in the NPL NNSW Team of the Week alongside defensive teammates Nathan Archibold and Riley McNaughton – although the latter will be missing this weekend due to picking up a red card late on.

The Blues will also be without Tom Smart for his red card earlier on in the match which doesn’t help when trying to defend an attacking player like the reigning Graham Jennings Medallist, Lakes’ Sam Walker.

Walker has scored six goals for the year so far but he, as well as the rest of his team going forward, haven’t been anywhere near as dangerous as last year and it shows in the statistics as the Roosters have the least amount of goals scored in the competition, and have only had five goal-scorers throughout the squad.

Lakes will be hoping a win can relieve them of the pressure of the wooden spoon but expect the Blues to be firing given how close to the top four they are.

 

Valentine (9th) has the bye.

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