Competitions

NPL Women’s NNSW Round 15 Preview: Olympic, Azzurri look to keep finals destiny in own hands

July 14th, 2022

Grace Clegg

Sproule Sports Focus


MATCH OF THE ROUND
NEWCASTLE OLYMPIC FC V CHARLESTOWN AZZURRI FC
DARLING STREET OVAL, SATURDAY 4.40PM

Newcastle Olympic will hope their momentum has not stalled when they host Charlestown Azzurri on Saturday.

Olympic are in a fantastic run of form having won their last six games in a row. But following the Women’s State Cup last weekend and the postponement of their round 14 match against Broadmeadow Olympic will hope the mini break has not hampered their finals push.

Olympic are fourth on 24 points, two behind Charlestown Azzurri who knocked them out of the Women’s State Cup in the group stage on Sunday.

A defeat for either could be damaging to their finals hopes with fifth-placed Maitland holding a game in hand. The Magpies also face seventh-placed Mid Coast on Saturday night, a match they will be desperate to win to maintain their own finals charge.

Olympic coach Paul Devitis said his said would do everything they could to get the win and subsequent three points.

“There’s only two points difference between us at the moment so it’s a really important game,” Devitis said.

“We had a bit of a tease against them on the weekend in the group stage [at the Women’s State Cup] and had a 2-2 draw.

“I think that gave us a lot of confidence and when we did play them last, we did really well against them up until he last minute or so. Otherwise we win that game.”

As Olympic, Azzurri and Maitland continue to battle it out for a top four place, Devitis knows that every point teams can gather for the remainder of the season will prove crucial.

“I think us, Azzurri and Maitland are going to be neck-and-neck going into the final rounds,” Devitis said.

“Unless one of the top two teams start to drop a couple of games in a row, I feel like any point you can get right now is going to be really valuable. We’re obviously going out there looking for the three points because we can’t really afford to be dropping points for the next few weeks.”

Although the thought of playing finals this season is not Olympic’s top priority just yet, Devitis said it is on their minds and they want to go all the way.

“The objective is to make the top four and then win the grand final,” Devitis said.

“Everyone knows making the top four is a lot harder than it has been the last two seasons. The competition is a lot stronger this year. I think everyone understands how important each game is. Having Charlestown and Maitland over the next two rounds, everyone is ready to put their best food forward.”

Azzurri will be looking to hold onto third with a win against Olympic on Saturday. Niko Papaspiropoulos’ side could find themselves as high as second, should Broadmeadow lose to Adamstown.

Like Devitis, Papaspiropoulos was under no illusion as to how tough the game will be.

“Like every game we’ve had against Olympic, it’s going to be a tough game,” Papaspiropoulos said.

“They’re a quality side and we’ve played each other enough times now to get to know each other quite well. We’re very keen for the challenge and looking forward to a good match.”

In a similar sentiment to Devitis, Papaspiropoulos is taking things week by week and focusing on getting the results they need to maintain their place on the table.

“I think the most important thing is to focus on the game at hand,” Papaspiropoulos said.

“If you’re getting results that will correspond on the table. Obviously we want to finish as high as we possibly can but it’s important to not let that get in the way of us being focused and disciplined and making sure we perform adequality.”

Azzurri will also looking to complete a treble of wins over Olympic this season, having won their round one and round eight matches 4-1 and 1-0 respectively.


BROADMEADOW MAGIC FC V ADAMSTOWN ROSEBUD JFC
MAGIC PARK, SATURDAY 3.40PM

Broadmeadow will look to keep the pressure on leaders Warners Bay when they host Adamstown at Magic Park on Saturday afternoon.

Magic are on 28 points with nine wins from 12 games, three points behind the Panthers. Broadmeadow also have a game in hand on Warners Bay.

In their last competition game, Broadmeadow defeated Mid Coast 3-0 at home before their round 14 match against Olympic was postponed due to wet weather.

With a large chunk of their first grade players taking a break over the Women’s State Cup weekend, Jake Curley’s side will be coming into Saturday’s match well rested and looking for a win.

Adamstown Rosebud will be looking for just their fourth win of the season. Sitting on just 11 points, Rosebud face an uphill climb if they have any chance of making this season’s finals.

In their last competition game, Adamstown went down 3-1 to Newcastle Olympic. Their round 14 match against first-placed Warners Bay was then postponed due to wet weather before the squad took on the Women’s State Cup last weekend.

Ryan Campbell’s side made it all the way to the semi-finals after an impressive group stage before going down to Azzurri 2-0.

A win to Rosebud this weekend could see them inch a little closer to fifth-placed Maitland and keep them in the mix for finals.

The last time these two teams met, Adamstown took the three points with a tight 1-0 win over Magic.


MID COAST FC V MAITLAND FC
TAREE ZONE FIELD, SATURDAY 6PM

Maitland have the opportunity to close the gap to the top four when they travel to Taree to take on Mid Coast FC on Saturday night.

Maitland are fifth on the table on 19 points, five points behind fourth-placed Olympic, though the Magpies have a game in hand on Olympic and two games in hand on third-placed Charlestown Azzurri.

A win to the Magpies will see them close the gap to two points and remain well within finals contention.

In their last competition game, Maitland went down 6-1 to Warners Bay before their round 14 match against New Lambton was postponed due to wet weather.

In the Women’s State Cup over the weekend, David Walker’s side made it all the way to the final before being pipped at the post 2-0 by Azzurri.

Mid Coast on the other hand will be looking for their first win since round 10 when they defeated New Lambton 3-0.

Middies played in the only game to go ahead in round 14 where they went down 5-0 to Azzurri before making it to the semi-finals of the Women’s State Cup last weekend where they were eliminated by Maitland.

With just two wins under their belt from 13 games, Middies coach Mick Grass is looking to get things back on track by putting in the hard work.

“We have some things to work on, particularly our intensity defensively because that’s where Maitland got away from us in the State Cup on the weekend,” Grass said.

“If we can stop them from getting goals so easily than I think we will be a bit more competitive.”

Despite sitting in seventh place Middies have shown signs of improvement as the season has worn on, something Grass has taken note of.

“I think with the exception of our last comp game, our performance has been improving,” Grass said.

“The players should be taking some confidence out of that fact and hopefully we can maintain that improvement as the season goes on.”

Maitland are also expected to welcome back key defender Kaitlin Radstaak and goalkeeper Imogene Tomasone after the pair missed the Women’s State Cup with illness.

In their last match against each other in round one, Maitland defeated Mid Coast 4-0.


NEW LAMBTON FC V WARNERS BAY FC
ARTHUR EDDEN OVAL, SUNDAY 3.40PM

Warners Bay coach Craig Atkins said his side would not be taking New Lambton lightly when they meet on Sunday afternoon.

The first-placed Panthers travel to Arthur Edden Oval to face the last-placed Eagles, looking to strengthen their hold on the place at the summit.

The Eagles have lost all 11 games so far this season and have a goal difference of -107. Warners Bay have had an almost completely opposite season, losing just two games with a goal difference of +58.

But the finals series is out of New Lambton’s reach, Mackenzie Davis’ side are unlikely to give up the three points easily, something Atkins was well aware of.

“We won’t be taking the game lightly at all,” Atkins said.

“We were building some nice momentum just before the rain break there and then the State Cup so that’s something we’re going to really focus on and want to continue. It doesn’t matter who the opposition is, we’ve got our standards and we want to meet them.”

In their last competition game, Warners Bay downed Maitland 6-1 at Cooks Square Park thanks to an impressive second half showing.

The Panthers’ round 14 game against Adamstown Rosebud was postponed due to wet weather before a Warners Bay squad made up of first grade, reserve grade and under-17s players took on the Women’s State Cup.

With a large number of their first graders taking a break for the Women’s State Cup, Atkins said his team would be refreshed and ready to go.

“A fair few girls had a break last weekend with the State Cup being on so it will be good to catch up with them again and hopefully they’re feeling refreshed,” Atkins said.

“We’re getting ready to go into the final rounds of the season so we’re looking forward to this week. We’ve got a job to do and we want to make sure we’re meeting our expectations every week.”

The last time these two sides met Warners Bay thrashed New Lambton 16-0.

Related Topics:
NPL Women's NNSW Round 15 Preview

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