Match of the Round
Adamstown Rosebud (10th) vs. Edgeworth Eagles (1st)
Saturday 13 July, 2:30 pm, Adamstown Oval
Both Adamstown and Edgeworth sit on opposite ends of the table with vastly different targets for the last remaining games of this season, but the importance of this weekend’s historic match at Adamstown Oval exceeds this season’s results and ladder positions.
The Rosebuds will be celebrating their 130th year, almost to the day, when they come up against the Eagles in a fixture between the two most successful clubs in Northern NSW history, sharing 257 years, 24 premierships and 19 championships.
The visitors are on track to once challenge for the premiership and to potentially break the all-time record for most top-flight premierships and equal the record for most consecutive records – both records Adamstown currently hold.
While Edgeworth’s defence this season has been its typical rock-solid self, their form in front of goal has been one of the key contributors to their success, boasting one of the best-attacking records in the competition as well as the equal-top goal-scorer, Oliver Smith.
Adamstown has only been able to defeat their opponents once since 2015 and have come away with losses in their past five outings, while in contrast, the Eagles have won their last three straight.
With the current league-leaders having played more matches than the teams close below them, they’ll need to continue collecting as many points as they can to increase the pressure on their rivals, however, the Rosebuds are currently locked in a wooden-spoon scrap due to sitting just two points away from the last-placed Lakes.
Adamstown coach Shane Cansdell-Sherriff was confident his side would be able to harness the enormity of the day to continue with their strong performances.
“It’s a massive day for the club,” said Cansdell-Sherriff.
“After the 130th Year Ball the other week, I think it was a big eye-opener to all of the players, as well as myself, to see how big the history was of the club.
“No doubt they’ll be thinking about that in the game against Edgeworth.”
Cansdell-Sherriff admitted he felt that despite sitting towards the bottom of the table with just two wins to their name, his side’s performances had been much more improved than previous years and urged to players to just keep battling together.
“We need to keep persisting on,” he said.
“Sometimes teams go through some bad spells, it’s just about sticking together and turning it around. If it’d be a different story if we weren’t performing, but everyone is committed and performing, we just can’t get over the line.
“In terms of this time last year, points-wise we might have been better off, but I think we’re performing better this year than we were last year on a more consistent basis.
“It’s a really good group of guys… They’re frustrated because it’s so close, but they bounce back. They’re very resilient and strong.
“You never know when things may start to turn. In football, you need a bit of luck on your side, and we just haven’t had it.”
Lambton Jaffas (5th) vs. Valentine Phoenix (9th)
Saturday 13 July, 2:30 pm, Arthur Edden Oval
The Jaffas will host Valentine this weekend in what will be only their second game in the last month due to the wet weather, and after a thick run of tough defeats, their visiting opponents will be determined to scrap together a victory.
The Phoenix have lost their past three matches where they conceded a total of 10 goals, taking their overall tally to 38 – the worst in the competition while the hosts have enjoyed two wins in the previous matches, keeping clean sheets on both occasions.
Lambton sit just on the outskirts of the top four and still have to face all the sides above them once more and if they can attain results in those games, there’s a strong chance they could once again feature in the finals again and maybe even challenge for the Premiership title, but opportunities like this will quickly be distinguished if they lose matches against teams below them.
Valentine sits in ninth place and are just four points away from their rivals, Lakes, in last and they’ll be hoping that they don’t have to venture through another wooden spoon battle as the season nears its conclusion.
The orange team were dominated last time out against the Jaffas going down 4-0 at home, and with a plethora of names still out for this clash, including former Jaffas Ben Hay and Luke Willard, as well as Josh Carroll, Brenton Olzomer and Brock Oakley, turning that deficit around is going to take a big effort.
A win for Lambton could see them enter the top four for the first time in a long while, but Valentine will also be fixed on grabbing points in order to shoo away the luring wooden spoon.
Maitland FC (4th) vs. Charlestown City Blues (7th)
Sunday 14 July, 2:30 pm, Cooks Square Park
A match which could play a major role in shaping the destiny of the top four this weekend is Maitland’s hosting of Charlestown as the Blues look to become the first team to defeat the Magpies at home for the year and enter the top four.
Maitland were able to muster a two-goal victory when the two sides met earlier in the year and have spent the last five rounds undefeated, but the visitors have also been showcasing decent form having only lost one match in their past five which came back in early May.
The Blues have only played out one game in the last 48 days though and in that time their opponents have played three leagues games and two FFA Cup fixtures.
Maitland striker Joel Wood has been immense for his side during that period and will need to be one the Charlestown defence will have to stop if they are to keep a clean sheet as they did in their most recent match against Edgeworth.
The defence of the Blues has been solid in recent weeks with the new addition of Adam Hughes, as has the Magpies’, so goals may not come at a plenty this weekend if both sets of backlines are in form.
Lake Macquarie City Roosters (11th) vs. Hamilton Olympic (8th)
Sunday 14 July, 2:30 pm, Macquarie Field
It’s been a testing time for both Lakes and Hamilton this year as the two sides look to close out what have been rather disappointing seasons to their respective standards.
The Roosters were touted by many as a potential dark horse this season for the finals, but instead have endured one of their worst seasons in club history collecting just four points so far, while Olympic promised early on to be a team capable of returning to the finals for the first time since 2017, but they too have fallen by the wayside due to their recent results.
The last time Hamilton mustered a victory was back in early May which was a dominating 4-0 win over Maitland, but since then they’ve struggled to show the same quality having been winless in their last four games.
Things haven’t been any easier for the hosts though. They’ve struggled to get onto the field in recent weeks due to the wet weather and when they have, they’ve mainly encountered losses including five in as many consecutive matches.
A statistic that will be more frightening for Nick Webb and his side, is that they have been kept scoreless in their past three outings – it’s almost been two months since they’ve scored – however their opponent this week, although have been rather solid defensively throughout the year, has been poor in that area in recent weeks, conceding 10 in the last three fixtures.
“We’re in every game, we’re just letting them slip away. It’s now about turning that key,” Webb said.
“At the end of the day, at the crucial times, we’re just not good enough. The ladder doesn’t lie, that’s why we’re there so we’re not taking our opportunities when they’re there and we’re not defending well when we need to.
“Sam Walker is obviously our number one target for scoring goals, and he’s been working his freckle out to be honest. Unfortunately, he’s just not having the same sort of luck as last year…but its not all on Sam’s shoulders.
“He will score his goals but there needs to be other goal scorers and we need to take those chances.
“There’s still a lot to play for.
“Everyone’s on board to be back next year and they’re keen to keep pushing because they can see how close we are.”
Weston Bears (3rd) vs. Newcastle Jets Youth (6th)
Sunday 14 July, 2:30 pm, Rockwell Automation Park
They’ve been one of the form teams of the competitions but this week when Weston host an explosive Jets outfit, they’ll be in for a threatening time.
The Bears have won six of their last seven matches but when they faced off with the Jets last time out, it was an uncomfortable 3-2 win.
The visitors picked up a clinical 3-goal victory last appearance against Valentine with a major contribution coming from creative man Maki Petratos who will need to be shut down by Weston’s defence if they are to win.
The defence of the hosts has been rather sturdy though in recent weeks with experienced heads Nathan Morris, Zac Sneddon and Robbie Turnbull all turning out strong performances as has Sam Kamper who featured in last week’s NPL NNSW Team of the Week.
Weston will need to continue picking up victories against the teams below them if they are a chance of challenging for their first premiership since 2010, while although the Jets cannot qualify for semi-finals, they’ll be focused on finishing as high on the table as they can and hoping to impress ahead of the Hyundai A-League season.