Photo: Sproule Sports Focus
Match of the Round
Edgeworth FC v Broadmeadow Magic FC
Sunday, July 10, 2.45pm
Jack McLaughlan Oval
Broadmeadow Magic will be out to match the consistency of leaders Edgeworth when the teams resume their close rivalry in the PlayStation ® 4 National Premier Leagues Match of the Round at Jack McLaughlan Oval on Sunday.
The sides’ past four matches, including last year’s two-leg semi-final and an FFA Cup game, have been draws in regulation time and both coaches expect another close battle.
Edgeworth are on a seven-game winning streak and sit top on 31 points, three ahead of Hamilton and six clear of third-placed Broadmeadow.
Magic kept pace with a 1-0 win over a determined Weston last week, while the defending premiers came back from 2-1 down with 10 minutes left on the clock against the Newcastle Jets Youth to win 4-2.
Edgeworth regain senior trio Daniel McBreen (junior coaching), Bren Hammel (hamstring) and Pat Wheeler (away) to their squad this week, giving coach Damian Zane a full strength line-up to choose from.
The Eagles prevailed on penalties against Magic in the FFA Cup this year and last year beat Broadmeadow on the away goals rule in their drawn semi-finals.
A 1-1 draw this year at Magic Park continued the trend and Zane was bracing for more of the same.
“They are a good team and it always seems to be the tale of our good defence against their good attack,” Zane said.
“There’s been a few draws between us and it’s first versus third so it should be tight again.”
Magic will be without midfielder Michael Kantarovski, who is suspended after being sent off late last week for a second yellow card offence.
Co-coach Robert Virgili said Matt Hoole, who rolled his ankle and missed last week’s win, was also in doubt.
Virgili said his side would need to lift across the park to match the Eagles.
“They are going along well and they are just consistent every week,” Virgili said.
“I think the last seven games we’ve played them we’ve had one win each and five draws, in regulation, so there’s nothing in it and that’s how I look at it.”
“On the day, in terms of quality of players in each squad, I don’t think there’s much between us.
“They’ve got one way, they work hard, they know their roles and they’re a team, and their performances don’t waiver from week to week.”
“We’ve just got to be up for it and if we can do it for 90 minutes, like we have a couple of times this year, we’ll be well and truly in the game,” Virgili concluded.
Lambton Jaffas FC v Valentine FC
Saturday, July 9, 2.30pm
Arthur Edden Oval
Valentine coach Darren Sills will ask his side for a big improvement in their “last real throw of the dice” against Lambton Jaffas on Saturday at Arthur Edden Oval.
Eighth-placed Phoenix lost 2-0 to Adamstown last week to stay on 11 points, eight off the top four with six rounds to play.
Sills was disappointed with the effort against Rosebud, who joined them on 11 points but trail on goal difference.
Valentine take on a Jaffas side who beat them 2-0 first time around and are one point ahead in seventh.
“This is the last real throw of the dice for us,” Sills said.
“We need to be desperate. We’ve lost six points to a team running behind us, in Adamstown, and they were fairly ordinary on the weekend and we were a bit ordinary as well.”
“But they just probably wanted it a bit more than us and their attitude was a bit better than ours.”
“For a team fighting to stay alive finals-wise, I couldn’t come to terms with our mentality and intensity. The performance was way down on what it has been.”
Valentine are sweating on the fitness of Chris Brown and Brenton Olzomer, who both have back injuries.
Brown came off the bench last round and was having scans this week to determine the extent of the problem.
Olzomer lasted about 30 minutes last week because of a recurring issue with his back.
Sills said Peter McPherson and Jobe Wheelhouse “killed us in the middle of the park” the first time around against Jaffas, who could be without both for the rematch.
Wheelhouse, McPherson and Michael Sessions were missing for the Jaffas’ 2-2 draw with unbeaten Hamilton last week.
Jaffas coach James Pascoe said McPherson was a chance to return from a hamstring problem off the bench, but Wheelhouse remained sidelined with a leg injury. Centre-back Sessions returns from an overseas trip in time to replace Michael Williams, who suffered a season-ending hamstring tear against Olympic.
Pascoe was impressed with his understrength side’s effort against Hamilton last week.
Newcastle Jets Youth v Maitland FC
Saturday, July 9, 2.30pm
Cooks Square Park
Newcastle Jets Youth coach Clayton Zane hopes his side’s improved defence will help turn the tables on Maitland at Cooks Square Park on Saturday.
Maitland defeated Zane’s team 4-1 in a midweek catch-up match last time around when the Jets Youth were lacking depth in defence.
Matt Thompson scored twice with free kicks in the game.
Since the loss, the Jets Youth have won four and drawn once in seven games to move to fifth on 14 points, five points shy of fourth-placed Maitland.
Zane said the Magpies would provide his team with another valuable test.
“We got towelled up there last time with goals from three set-pieces so it’s something we need to be prepared for, that threat from dead-ball situations,” Zane said.
He said the addition of centre-back Matthew Richardson, who has played the past three games, and the return of players from injury had helped his side improve.
“I don’t think the performances are getting any better, we’re just cutting out silly, individual errors from earlier in the season,” he said.
“The other thing is now we’ve got competition for places.
“We had really the bare 11 before and, in defence especially, we didn’t have any pressure on the ones who were playing.
“Before they would make a mistake and they were back in there, whereas now there’s accountability and they know performances will dictate if they start each match.
“With the ball, we’ve been pretty similar, pretty effective from the beginning. We’ve scored a lot of goals but out of possession has been the problem for us.
“We’ve tidied that up and we look a lot better at the back since we’ve brought a new centre-back in. We started with three at the back at times early in the year because we didn’t have enough fit defenders, now we’ve got probably five competing for the four spots.”
He said right fullback Ryan Ensor had a calf strain and would likely miss the match, while Antonee Burke was out for the season with a stress fracture in his foot.
Maitland, meanwhile, will be keen to build on their first win in five rounds. The Magpies defeated Charlestown 2-0 with a double from captain Matt Thompson.
Coach Steve Piggott started Sam Rossi instead of regular skipper Blake Thompson and 16-year-old Regan Payne over Ryan Broadley to inject more pace into his side after just two goals scored in four games.
Piggott was pleased with the result and the chances created. Striker Ben Martin missed the match with an injury.
Adamstown Rosebud FC v Charlestown City Blues FC
Sunday, July 10, 2.30pm
Charlestown coach Shane Pryce believes his side turned the corner in defeat last week as they head into a must-win game against Adamstown at Adamstown Oval on Sunday.
The Blues have lost their past six matches to stagnate in sixth place on 14 points after a bright start to the season, which had them as high as second.
An undermanned Charlestown were thumped 6-0 midweek by Hamilton but responded with an improved showing in a 2-0 loss to Maitland last weekend.
Pryce was encouraged by the effort and said his team, who are five points outside the top four, had not given up on finals football.
“I was quite happy with the majority of our performance against Maitland,” Pryce said.
“The attitude and effort was a vast improvement. Our structure and shape was better, so this is a chance for us to turn the corner against an improved Adamstown.”
“We’ve got everything to play for.”
“Over the last four or five defeats we’ve rolled over and died a bit. We haven’t had much fight in us but the attitude against Maitland was better.”
“It would have been nice to come out with something, but I think we’ve turned the corner a little bit.
“Those finals are still in sight and we’ll be going for them until they are gone.”
Captain Ben Hughes returns from illness and Jarryd Johnson is back from suspension for the clash with Rosebud. Josh Maguire may be back from a groin problem.
Adamstown moved to 11 points with a 2-0 win over Valentine last week.
Coach Graham Law was more than pleased with the performance and said his side could have won by more after creating several great chances.
He said striker Thom Lino was suspended and he might give new signing Mitchell Hunter, a striker from Queensland who has been playing in Germany, a start in his first game.
He said another new signing, 41-year-old Sean Matthews, would play under 22s and likely sit on the bench in first grade.
Weston Workers FC v Hamilton Olympic FC
Sunday, July 10, 2.30pm
Rockwell Automation Park
Hamilton coach Michael Bolch will ask for a more focused effort from his unbeaten side when they make the trip to Weston to take on the Bears on Sunday.
Second-placed Hamilton slipped to three points behind Edgeworth on 28 with a 2-2 draw against Lambton Jaffas last week in which they conceded from a throw-in in the second minute and a corner in first-half injury time.
Olympic hit back each time but could not break down the Jaffas again for the winner in a frustrating day for the club.
Bolch said his side had to be better and would likely need to win their remaining six games to catch the in-form Eagles for the minor premiership.
“We only had ourselves to blame, conceding in the first two minutes then in injury time in the first half,” Bolch said.
“We were chasing the game the whole day.”
“We’ve just got to be better with our decision-making and all over the park basically.
“We’ve got to be mentally switched on for 90 minutes. Obviously, we were still in the sheds on Sunday conceding in the first few minutes and from two set pieces.”
Bolch said all of his players pulled through fine and he was likely to have a full squad to choose from for the match against Weston.
The Bears are last with just two points but are coming off an encouraging effort in a 1-0 loss to Broadmeadow. Bolch believed his side faced a tough task against the Bears.
“They have been defensive good all year,” Bolch said.
“Magic only scored with a penalty on the weekend so they are obviously still working hard defensively.”
Weston will be without Zac Sneddon, who suffered a fractured skull in a head clash early in the match against Magic.
Coach Trevor Morris said Jake Barner, Rurik Pereira and Josh Coleman, who had hamstring problems, were other injury concerns.
Morris was proud of the effort against Broadmeadow.
“Our defence was great, I think Magic had only two clear-cut chances and I thought we were sensational,” Morris said.
“But we’ve been hard to break down all year.”
Despite the Bears’ winless run this season and position on the table, Morris said they still had plenty to fight for.
“We’re playing for respect and that’s a good motivator,” Morris said.
“I can’t fault the players’ effort though.”
“They’ve worked hard at training and they are starting to believe in the system I’m trying to get them to play,” Morris concluded.