NPL Women’s NNSW Round Two Preview: Depleted Azzurri out to continue strong start against Magic

March 24th, 2022

 Jack Antcliff

 Sproule Sports Focus

Match of the Round
Charlestown Azzurri v Broadmeadow Magic
Allen Davis Field, Saturday 5.20pm

Charlestown Azzurri will be out to record back-to-back wins after a first-round victory against Newcastle Olympic last weekend, though may have to do it the hard way against Broadmeadow Magic with a cloud of injuries and unavailable players set to cause havoc for coach Niko Papaspiropoulos.

The Azzurri boss remained quiet on who was in doubt though admitted the line-up would likely look vastly different to the one that defeated Olympic 4-1.

“We have a bit of a tough week due to a couple of girls isolating and we have a couple of niggles in the camp. We’re assessing a fair few girls as the week goes on,” Papaspiropoulos said.

“It is out of our control and not ideal. We just have to work around it.”

One player who will be missing is Jenna Kingsley, with the striker confirming on social media she was isolating due to COVID.

Papaspiropoulos said that while the line-up may look different, the match would still be determined through the middle of the park.

“I think in most of the games against big game teams the midfield plays a crucial role in gaining control and matching intensity,” he said.

“We have a quality side and I think if we are prepared to match them in moments and key areas then we can play good football against any team.”

Magic head into the clash without Maggie Quinn who was sent off last weekend, while Keziah White will be sidelined for some time after she injured her ACL against Adamstown in round one. Bella-Jade Carlisle is also unavailable for the women in red.

Despite the list of notable omissions Magic coach Jake Curley remained confident his side could claim all three points against a dangerous Azzurri attacking lineup.

“I think cohesion is the biggest area of improvement for us which will come with playing games together. As always, the team that takes their chances will win,” Curley said.

“Azzurri have good attacking players and I’m excited to see how our girls stand up to the challenge they present.”

The match has been moved to Gateshead’s Allen Davis Field because Charlestown’s Lisle Carr Oval pitch was deemed unsafe for play following recently completed drainage works.

Adamstown Rosebud JFC v New Lambton FC
Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility, Saturday 7pm

Adamstown and New Lambton will be out to record their first win of the season when they do battle at Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility on Saturday night.

Rosebud head into the clash after a round one loss to Broadmeadow Magic, while the Eagles will be hoping for better fortunes after they were downed 6-2 by Warners Bay last weekend.

“We need to improve in our basics when building up from the back,” Adamstown coach Ryan Campbell said.

“We lacked belief in ourselves to play our style last week and played into the opposition’s hands.”

Tara Cousins is unavailable for selection for Adamstown, while Kiarra Lewis is in line to start after coming off the bench in round one. Charli O’Connor also returns.

“We are just focusing on ourselves and ensuring that we pass the ball better through the thirds to create better scoring chances,” Campbell said.

“Last week was too one out by us and we want to be more in control of the play.”

Adamstown will play the majority of their home fixtures at Speers Point’s Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility this season, a surface preferred by the Rosebud boss.

“Magic Park was very bumpy last week and it played into the girls lack of trust in playing under pressure,” Campbell said.


“We spend a lot of time at Speers Point and I am looking forward to getting back there and getting a proper roll of the ball.”

New Lambton coach MacKenzie Davis believes her side can deliver plenty of surprises in 2022.

“When you have the element of surprise on your side you don’t want to draw too much attention to yourself but I think watch out,” she said.

“Round one was a big weekend for us. People had kind of made assumptions about us as a squad that was brand new.”

Davis’ appointment signals the beginning of a new era for the club, with the former Sydney-based coach encouraging a new style of football at Alder Park.

“I was brought on as head coach because of my intentions to be able to put a bit of fight in a squad,” she said.

“We are trying to give the squad the confidence to play good passing combination football. We want to take advantage of any opportunity we get when we get them.”

Newcastle Olympic v Maitland FC
Darling Street Oval, Sunday 3.40pm

Newcastle Olympic coach Paul DeVitis will welcome back Sophie O’Brien and Zoe Burnley to his squad ahead of its round two match up against Maitland at Darling Street Oval.

“The girls are really keen to get back on the field. After a loss, the most important thing for us is to try and rebound and to do it immediately,” he said.

Olympic remain without prolific goal scorer Jemma House and Keely Gawthrop through injury, though DeVitis was confident it would not impact his squad’s overall performance.

“We know it is going to be a tough game and we know our defence is going to have to be at its best to try and get a result. The girls are very confident in their own abilities,” DeVitis said.

“We want to keep the ball a little bit more within play.  Hopefully this week we are going to be a lot better with the ball at our feet.

“Defensively we want to press a little more than we did against Charlestown.”

An experienced coach and technical director, DeVitis has been quick to analyse his opponents in search of constant improvement, with a change in tactics week by week not out of the question.

“We will probably talk about it this year. I do think a lot of the teams play very different styles of football,” he said.

The impacts of COVID-19 could be the biggest hurdle for Maitland this weekend with the side set to be without a raft of players due to isolation.

“We have had a bit of a hit from COVID-19, so we are currently down a few players since Sunday,” Magpies coach Dave Walker said.

Maitland head into their round two clash with a focus on “polishing the execution” after a hit and miss performance against Mid Coast FC at the weekend.

“For the players to get themselves on the positive foot and play a game they were able to control [against Mid Coast] that is a good starting point,” Walker said.

“It is not where we want to be from our standard perspective, though it was round one with a somewhat disrupted last three weeks.

“If we look 12 months ago, it really took six months for the squad to be able to bring together any results.”

Warners Bay FC v Mid Coast FC
John Street Oval, Sunday 3.40pm

Warners Bay will look to build on an impressive first outing when they host Mid Coast FC at John Street Oval on Sunday.

Both sides are likely to be unchanged, though Emma James could return for Middies.

“We were pretty sharp at training on Tuesday night. We should have a few players back in the squad this week,” Mid Coast coach Mick Grass said.

Mid Coast remained in touch with Maitland in round one, with the exception of a 15-minute window which saw Middies concede three goals. Grass believes with some fine tuning his side could turn disappointing results into three points.

“If we can just fine tune a bit of defensive stuff and hold the ball for long periods then that will take us a long way to getting a result,” he said.

The Middies coach was well aware of the quality at the opposite end of the park, though was not getting hung up on Sunday’s opponents.

“As a general rule, I focus on us. I am big believer in if we do what we want to do well enough then it doesn’t matter what the other team does,” Grass said.

“They have got players like Tara Pender through the midfield. She is a high-quality player. If we can keep her quiet while playing some football ourselves then that is where the game is won.”

The hosts head into the fixture with the focus on them after a round one win over New Lambton at home.

“It was a bit of a hit and miss performance against New Lambton and that happens in round one. We know where we need to improve,” Panthers coach Craig Atkins said.

Warners Bay will welcome its three A-League Women’s players back in coming weeks with the competition for positions already heating up.

“I alerted the squad on Tuesday night when those girls will be returning so that will increase the intensity and competitiveness,” Atkins said.

“The midfield we feel is very strong at this current time and it will get stronger when the other girls come back.”

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