Match of the Round
Weston Bears (2nd) vs. Broadmeadow Magic (3rd)
Sunday 28 July, 2:30 pm, Rockwell Automation Park
Magic travel to Weston this weekend for a match that may just be the catalyst for how the premiership race turns out and which team is going to be challenging Edgeworth for the top title.
Both sides picked up narrow victories last round to continue their hopeful chase but will compete in their most important match yet as the Bears look to get revenge after losing to Broadmeadow at their last outing, 5-3 at Magic Park.
Weston has managed to turn their form around since that loss, back in Round 8, having only lost one match since along with seven victories, however, the visitors’ run has also been impressive having managed a five-game unbeaten streak.
Attack has been the key for the defending champions scoring 37 so far from their 15 matches and it’s been the same for the Bears who are the only team in the league who are yet to kept scoreless this year.
James Virgili was able to work his way onto the scoresheet again, earning himself a spot in the NPL NNSW Team of the Week, and now sits in second on the Golden Boot tally, while the Dutchman Jason Tjien-Fooh will need to be accounted for by Broadmeadow’s defence.
Weston’s defence will be without Zac Sneddon who will be missing for most of the regular season due to a suspension, but the hosts will feel comforted after the top performance shown by Jordan Jackson last weekend to hold out Lambton.
Bears’ assistant coach Craig Stoker said he and coach Kew Jaliens were impressed and proud of the way the side grinded out a victory last weekend with 10-men.
“I said at the start of the year I thought the Jaffas were one of the best sides in the comp, so to be able to do that against them is massive for us,” said Stoker.
“Sneddo [Zac Sneddon] has been one of our best defenders and is having a great year so the way they responded was great. A lot of the times, you can lose your key defender and the game can go the other way, but they fought out the win and it was great to see.
“They play for each other and they gutted it out.”
Although there is so much riding on this encounter with Broadmeadow, Stoker said the side aren’t looking too far ahead at the possibilities of this season and admitted that each week’s game is their most important from here on.
“Last week was like that [their most important] and I think every game leading into finals will be like that,” he said.
“The boys don’t really talk about winning the premiership or anything – they’re just enjoying their football.
“Edgy have the upper hand with the goal difference and the points on the board, but if we keep winning, you never know what could happen.
“They’re just focused on each game to game.”
Maitland FC (4th) vs. Lake Macquarie City Roosters (10th)
Friday 26 July, 6:30 pm, Cooks Square Park
Before their big FFA Cup fixture, Maitland will host a Lake Macquarie side who after picking up just their second win of the season last week, jumped to tenth on the table and momentarily away from the dreaded wooden spoon position.
The Roosters completed the double over Adamstown while Maitland went down for the first time in over two months and will need to return to the winners’ circle rapidly if they want to continue fighting for a premiership spot, or even their finals position.
They mustered a two-goal victory last time out against Lakes despite conceding early on and haven’t lost since 2010 when both were playing in the second division.
The visitors kept their first clean sheet of the season when they held out the Rosebuds however their opponents have been strong in front of goal and have only been silenced to no goals in one game this season.
If the Magpies don’t manage to defeat the Roosters this Friday, they’ll face the prospect of being knocked out of the top four depending on results, however, a win for the side would propel them back into the premiership contention.
Maitland coach Mick Bolch confessed last week’s result was hard to take, and that his side would need to be better for this game against Lakes without looking too far ahead.
“They were pretty disappointed on the weekend,” Bolch said.
“I thought we were a bit flat. We had plenty of possession without creating a great deal.
“They need to be switched on for this game. Realistically, if we don’t take three points on Friday night, we might be slipped down to sixth place and although it’s great being in the FFA Cup, we’re probably not going to win the cup, while they’re got a chance to go and win a premiership or a Grand Final or something this year.
“We’ve got to get this game out of the way before we can start worrying about Central Coast.”
While the Magpies retain a whole lot of possession when facing Edgeworth, Bolch admitted the side struggled to create many quality chances in front of goal and it’s an area they’re focusing on for tomorrow’s game.
“Our composure on the ball and our final product wasn’t good enough,” said Bolch.
“We had chances to get in behind with Ryan Clarke and Jimmy Thompson but either the run or the ball wasn’t timed right – just that little bit of execution wasn’t right against Edgeworth.
“We need to be better taking our chances. We’ll create plenty, we always do, it’s just a matter of being clinical in the final third.”
Lambton Jaffas (6th) vs. Newcastle Jets Youth (7th)
Saturday 27 July, 2:30 pm, Arthur Edden Oval
The Jaffas and the Jets Youth will be keen to turn their luck when they meet at Lambton’s home ground after experiencing close defeats last weekend.
The young Newcastle Jets side went down at the hands of Hamilton while a late penalty goal for Weston sunk Lambton and halted them from entering the top four.
Last time around, this week’s hosts were sitting in the first place and undefeated but now sit in sixth and are dependent on other results if they want to sit in a finals spot.
The Jets won 3-1 in that game and it was their superstar forward Maki Petratos who did most of the damage and Lambton will know they need to shut him down if they are to collect any points.
Lambton will be missing their captain Michael Sessions, as well as attacker Luke Remington who both picked up red cards in their last outing, but a major focus will need to be placed on a man who is currently averaging a goal a game for the Jaffas, Braedyn Crowley.
It’s expected their opponents will still be missing top starters Angus Thurgate, Pat Langlois and Mat Barkho as they prepare for the national Y-League, and with the side being unable to feature in semi-finals, the rest of the side will be fixed on being a part of that upcoming squad.
Hamilton Olympic (8th) vs. Adamstown Rosebud (9th)
Saturday 27 July, 5:00 pm, Darling Street Oval
For the first time in over two months, Hamilton finally got back a victory and their upcoming opponents Adamstown will be hoping they can display that same kind of fight they showed to win the reverse fixture back on Anzac Day.
The Rosebuds had only been able to manage six points from two wins this season, and since that day they beat Hamilton, they had only scored two goals in eight matches. That was until their Wednesday night fixture against Valentine where they produced two very late goals to snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat.
Last weekend Rosebuds were toppled by Lakes for the second time this year and were kicked down to last-place on the table before defeating the Phoenix, and now, if they can manage a victory over Olympic, they’ll be four points clear of their wooden spoon rivals.
Having built their squad on the strength of their defence, Hamilton has struggled in that area since the halfway point of the season but last week managed to keep their first clean sheet since mid-May and as a result, took all three points.
Scott Pettit scored once again in that match and featured as part of the NPL NNSW Team of the Week, as did fellow goal-scorer Reece Papas and defender Marcus Duncan and goalkeeper Jez Murray for their efforts.
For Adamstown, Liam Ryan has been the standout in an otherwise disappointing last few weeks, and if they want to avoid claiming the wooden spoon for 2019, he and his side have to continue to scrape together results as they did during the week.
Charlestown City Blues (5th) vs. Valentine Phoenix (11th)
Sunday 28 July, 2:30 pm, Lisle Carr Oval
It’s been a discouraging past few weeks for Valentine as they have dived down to the bottom of the table after losing their past six matches, and they’re coming up against a side who are determined to take all three points in their fight for semi-finals football.
Charlestown held on for an entertaining 3-2 victory of the Phoenix last time out and will be fresh off the bye although played a friendly match midweek against Central Coast Mariners.
Their opponents also had midweek action as Valentine went down in a thrilling battle with Adamstown Rosebud and are facing the very real possibility of ‘winning’ the wooden spoon for the second year in a row.
The Phoenix have been unable to stop goals from leaking in this season sitting with 48 goals conceded next to their name (over three a game), and although the Blues’ attack hasn’t been lighting the world on fire this season, their strength at the back cannot be doubted especially with the return of Tom Smart who comes back from a three-game suspension this weekend.
If the hosts win, they could find themselves inside the top four come the end of the round and coach David Tanchevski confessed that if they don’t take all three points in their upcoming games against lower-tabled opponents, they can wave their finals hopes goodbye.
“We understand the importance of these games,” Tanchevski said.
“Our next two games are Valentine and Lakes and we know that they’re potential ‘banana skin’ games for us and we know we can’t afford to be dropping points against teams lower than us on the table.
“If we look back on our season and we drop games against Lakes, Valentine and Adamstown, and we’ve already dropped one to Adamstown, we crucify ourselves.
“We treat every game the same. Three points is three points. We’re cautious that whether we’re versing Edgy or a team down the bottom, we have to be up for it.”
Charlestown boasts one of the better defensive records in the competition so far this year, keeping three clean sheets over their past four games, and Tanchevski said it’ll be another area of focus for this weekend.
“We’re a lot more defensively sound now with Hughesy [Adam] at the back and we get Smarty [Tom] back too…I think it’s the first time since Round 2 or 3 that we’ve had a full-strength backline to choose from,” he said.
“We had a good performance against Adamstown midweek last week and beat them 3-0, so we want to do that again and have a nice, solid performance defensively and hopefully bang in a few goals.
“Our boys have more awareness this year and there’s a sense of belief at the moment. They know we can play when we turn it on.”