MATCH OF THE ROUND
Lake Macquarie City Roosters 0 def. by Newcastle Jets Youth 1 (Petratos 36’)
Saturday 6 April, 7:30 pm, Macquarie Field
Despite all the good football Lakes threw at the Jets Youth, they just couldn’t find a way into the goal, going down in a narrow defeat – their third of the season.
Right out of the gates, the Roosters were on the offensive and looked to heave pressure on the Jets’ defence, winning numerous corners in the opening stanza and came close to scoring through Mitch Hunter.
They weren’t able to convert any of their early chances and the young Jets made them pay with a counter-attacking play that saw a perfect crossing pass from Jack Simmons who found the feet of Maki Petratos in the box. He then turned his defender and coolly tucked it away for the first goal of the game.
Trailing in the match, Lakes did well to return back their momentum and came within a whisker on two occasions to scoring. Both efforts saw a nice cross from Sam Webb finding Hunter in the box, but Jets’ goalkeeper Noah James was able to pull two lunging saves from short range to keep his team in the lead.
The second half saw much of the same as the Roosters gave all they had to find an equaliser, while down the other end of the field, goalkeeper Stuart Plant made some top saves in an attempt to keep his team within touching distance.
The last chance of the game came in the final minutes of stoppage time where a Lake Macquarie corner kick came inches away from Plant’s head, who had pushed-up into the opposition’s box all the way from his own. James was able to palm it just in the knick of time though, and with it, able to leave Macquarie Field with all three points.
That victory now sees the Jets Youth with seven points next to their name from their three matches played and looking like one of the stronger sides in the competition thus far.For Lake Macquarie, it’s yet another defeat and it’ll be a frustrating one due to displaying such a strong performance.
Their defence was much stronger from that in their first two games that saw them concede nine goals, but they just couldn’t find that finishing touch in attack. Despite that, coach Nick Webb confessed he was pleased with his team and admittedly impressed with the opposition keeper.
“I’m really happy with our turnaround in performance,” Webb said.
“Noah James was the difference between a dominant win and a very unlucky loss.
“They caught us twice in a counter-attack but otherwise we were very good across every department.”
Broadmeadow Magic 1 (Oxborrow 67’) drew with Maitland FC 1 (Wood 21’)
Saturday 6 April, 5:30 pm, Magic Park
In a rematch from last year’s semi-final series, Maitland and Broadmeadow met at Magic Park once again and after a back-and-forth contest, both sides had to share the points.
The first real opportunity of the game also provided the first goal as Matt Thompson slipped Joel Wood through the Magic defence with a good ball.
Initially, it seemed as though Wood had bottled the chance as Luke Virgili shut down his shot with a strong sliding challenge, but the new Maitland striker was able to pivot, regather and with four defenders around him, slot his shot away for his first goal in the black and white.
Broadmeadow looked to instantly reply just minutes after conceding, but some nice goalkeeping work from Matt Trott denied Ryan Ensor from who looked to shoot on the volley after some terrific work from Kale Bradbery.
As the match progressed, both teams had half chances to score, but the equalising goal finally came when Mitchell Oxborrow knocked home a free-kick for the second week in a row, on the edge of the box.
Another Oxborrow free-kick looked like it may found the back of the net once again, this time it was a cross that found the head of Luke Virgili, but Trott was able to defuse this one, leading to an eventual draw.
Maitland coach Mick Bolch said after only playing once in the first five rounds of the competition, he was proud of how his team performed.
“I’m real happy with the boys’ performance,” Bolch said.
“Unfortunately, you can’t replicate a match and we are obviously underdone, but the lads scrambled and defended and kept our shape well when we were under the pump in the second half.
“They [Magic] dominated the second half between the 50th and 75th-minute mark as we hit the wall fitness-wise, but I’m happy with a draw at Magic. They would probably feel unlucky not to get three points.
“We will improve every week as our match fitness improves.”
Bolch’s opposition, Broadmeadow’s coach Ruben Zadkovich, highlighted his displeasure with his team’s first-half performance, but that he was proud of the way they were able to turn things around.
“We were nowhere near at our best,” Zadkovich said.
“In the first half, we were very poor. We fell into a lull and didn’t get through our gears at all and Maitland applied pressure. They deserved the 1-0 lead at half-time.
“But in the second half, it was a big improvement. We had the majority of the chances and our subs played a big part in that.
“We probably should have won the game…We were denied a clear-cut penalty, but we need to be more clinical in both boxes, so we aren’t relying on the ‘rub of the green’ at the death.
“I’m very happy with our fighting-mentality when tested. Two weeks in a row we have bounced back from behind which is a positive because it shows the true character and fitness levels of our lads.”
Edgeworth Eagles 2 (Bower 30’, Rose 74’) def. Hamilton Olympic 1 (Kawachi 39’)
Saturday 6 April, 6:00 pm, Jack McLaughlan Oval
After going winless since their Round 1 match, Edgeworth finally entered the winners’ circle once again after a narrow, gutsy victory over Hamilton at home.
Chances were few and far between in the opening third, but a goal eventually came through Will Bower after a tidy through ball from Aden Gardner saw Bower tuck the ball away, edging the far post on its way through.
Hamilton’s international signing Shinichi Kawachi began to prove to be a handful for the Eagles’ defence, and after some phenomenal juggling efforts, was able to launch a bobbling shot while at full pace, that although eventuated to nothing, looked difficult for goalkeeper Josh Low to handle.
Kawachi would soon grab his much-deserved goal though and did it in stunning fashion. Sitting patiently on the edge of the box for his team’s corner, a headed clearance found the Japanese man and with his first touch, he banged the volley into the underside of the crossbar to score his second for the year and the game’s equaliser.
Edgeworth went back on the prowl for a winning goal though and came close through Josh Rose in the first half, and Jose Atayde in the second, but Hamilton goalkeeper Tyler Warren kept both at bay.
Luck was on the Eagles’ side though, as a deflected, outside-of-the-box shot from Rose found its way past Warren to give them the advantage once again.
Olympic wouldn’t be able to attain an equaliser in the final minutes, seeing the defending premiers take the three points, and extend Hamilton’s winless streak now to three games.
Winning Edgeworth coach Damian Zane confessed that he thought the game’s result was completely unpredictable as the match endured, but also that he felt his team deserved their win.
“I’m happy with our performance and the result in what was a pretty important game for us,” Zane said.
“I think we edged it overall, but it could have gone either way.
“I thought we were more patient with the ball and in turn, made better decisions when in possession, as well as being more desperate in defence.”
Pete McGuiness, Hamilton’s coach, admitted that in the moments that mattered most up front of the opposition goal, his team just weren’t up to it and will need to improve.
“I thought we had really good moments in the game and probably could have got something out of it, but we missed a couple of really good opportunities in what was a close contest,” McGuiness said.
“I was happy with the way we fought for something right to the end, but the loss hurt the boys. It was plain to see.
“We obviously need to improve in the front third and take advantage of the opportunities we create as well as being better in transitioning forward and try to keep possession.”
Charlestown City Blues 1 (Lewis 52’) def. Adamstown Rosebud 3 (Own Goal 16’, Sokoulsky 20’, Ryan 73’)
Sunday 7 April, 2:30 pm, Lisle Carr Oval
It had been 239 days since Adamstown had won an NPL NNSW match, but they finally broke their winless streak with a strong display against early-season heavyweights Charlestown away from home.
Disaster struck early for the Blues after conceding an own goal in the opening quarter of the game after Kevin Davison attempted to clear a cross, but instead knocked it past his goalkeeper Nathan Archibold.
Only minutes later, after squandering a golden opportunity to go two ahead, the Rosebuds eventually did as a Charlestown City error lead to a moment that saw four Adamstown attackers inside an empty box just waiting to score.
In the end, it was Matt Sokoulsky who got on the scoresheet from a Finn Beasley cross, and it meant they were firmly in the drivers’ seat.
The home team worked their way back into the contest and kept most of the possession throughout, looking a much-improved outfit.
They got off on the right foot by taking an early chance through Cal Lewis who managed to deliver a well-placed header from Riley McNaughton’s cross.
It looked for certain that the Blues would weasel their way back to level scores as Lewis went close to grabbing the equaliser later on as did Scott Smith, and they also had a contentious penalty deemed not to go their way.
The game was ultimately put to bed when youngster Liam Ryan made a weaving run through the Charlestown defence before neatly popping the ball past Archibold high in the goal to give his team a two-goal cushion.
Charlestown coach David Tanchevski displayed his frustration that his team encountered throughout much of the game, but admitted that his team needed to showcase more persistence in their game-plan.
“It was very hard to break down a team that just wants to defend with a band of four and five, and sit on their own 18-yard box,” Tanchevski said.
“We need to learn to be more patient against teams that don’t want to play football and just want to defend all game.
“They [Adamstown] had a game plan and it was just to defend for 90 minutes and hit us on the counter. To their credit, it came off.
“We paid the price for not playing patient football.”
For Adamstown, coach Shane Cansdell-Sherriff was disappointed his team let Charlestown back into the contest, but overall, was happy to walk away with their first points.
“I was happy with most parts of our performance, especially early on – we kept our shape well and stuck to our game plan which took us 2-0 up,” Cansdell-Sherriff said.
“Just before half-time, I think we dropped off a little which saw them [Charlestown] add a little more pressure than we wanted.
“I think we got a little nervous for wanting to hold onto the lead a little… As the half went on though, we finally put our foot on the ball and started playing again and once we did that, we continued to hurt them.
“We stuck to our game-plan and got what we wanted…but we need to learn how to see out a game the right way and kill teams off when we have the opportunity.”
Weston Bears 1 (Burston 88’) drew with Valentine Phoenix 1 (Hay 90+5’)
Sunday 7 April, 2:30 pm, Rockwell Automation Park
Historically, Valentine has been a thorn in the side of Weston and that once again proved to be true as the Phoenix stole a point from underneath the Bears’ noses in stoppage time.
In hot conditions, both teams were equally matched throughout much of the first half however in the chances department, the home team seemed to edge out the visitors. Cooper Buswell and Chris Hurley both had half-chances but were snuffed out by Valentine keeper Perry Budden.
Valentine also had their chances with the crossbar denying them from a goal, as well as having a chance cleared off the line but as the second waged on, Dutch striker Jason Tjien-Fooh looked like he might be the main culprit to collect a goal.
With just over ten minutes remaining, he had a tight-angled shot saved, before then giving a pass to a waiting Jackson Burston who seemed like he could do nothing but score from close-range, but his shot was desperately blocked.
With just minutes to go in regular time, chaos ensued across Bear Park. The match seemed all but over when the first breakthrough finally came for Weston as Jackson Burston jumped on a bouncing through ball before then lofting it over Budden’s head and wildly celebrating.
To the pleasure of the travelling fans though, there was a late twist in the tale to come. Phoenix began to launch balls forward looking for some kind of hope to be sparked and it finally did when an inch-perfect through ball from Riley Russell found Ben Hay in behind the defence and, in almost identical fashion to the first goal of the game, popped it over the head of the opposition keeper to a thunderous applause.
The final whistle sounded whilst celebrations were occurring and both teams walked away from Rockwell Automation Park with a point each.
However, although the Bears leave their ground with a point, coach Kew Jaliens was not at all pleased with how his side played.
“It was very disappointing,” Jaliens said.
“I think we played a very poor game. I think overall, we should’ve won, but if you score to make it 1-0 in the last minute, and then give away a goal in the last seconds of the game, do you really deserve it?
“I wasn’t really happy with any of our game. I expect more from my team and they’ve shown me more and better so I’m disappointed.
“We lacked in tempo, accuracy and urgency to win the game – all the things which make a mature team. That’s where we need to go to and need to work on, but I believe the boys are able to do that.”
On the other side of the fence, Valentine co-coach Sam Griffen felt the result was justified and that although he felt his side’s performance was rather rusty, he was impressed with the grit and determination showed.
“I think a draw was probably a fair reflection of the game,” Griffen admitted.
“They a majority of possession but we had probably the most-clear chances…I think both teams would have been disappointed not to get anything.
“I think our performance was a clear indicator that we haven’t played many games recently…we need to improve defensively and shut down the engine room of opposition teams.
“I’m confident the boys will improve as the games roll on…I’m really happy with the effort to still be attacking in the last minute.
“Last year we found a way to lose games in the last 5 minutes, this time, we found a way to get a result.”
Lambton Jaffas had the bye.