By Isaac McIntyre
Match of the Round
Broadmeadow Magic FC v Lambton Jaffas FC
Sunday, April 17, 2:30pm
Round 2 of the PlayStation®4 National Premier League sees the league leaders Broadmeadow Magic welcome the Lambton Jaffas to Magic Park on Sunday afternoon.
Last week Broadmeadow showed why Magic Park is one of the toughest away days in the league, downing Adamstown with seven goals, three of which came from James Virgili down the wing.
Lambton took a loss in the first round of the competition, but with the defeat coming at the hands of the defending champions Edgeworth, the Jaffas cannot be faulted with dropping the points last weekend.
This match will be a vital three points for the travelling team however – two back to back losses to open the season could see confidence drop for the strong side and a win for Lambton against Magic, while difficult, will be crucial.
Bobby Naumov, dual coach of the home side, also knows that his side has to improve over the coming weeks, regardless of the dominant win that came in the first week.
“We managed to get a good win last week, but we played poorly in my opinion,” Naumov commented, speaking of the team’s 7-2 win over Adamstown.
“I think we have to keep an eye on what the squad can do, especially against Lambton. Conceding two goals late in the match last weekend cannot be something that becomes a regular habit, because there won’t be seven goals for us every week.”
“There aren’t any bolted on starters either. [James] Virgili and [Kale] Bradbery both got us some good goals, but we have to assess the squad in training every week and find the most passionate and the most prepared players to put on the field when it gets to the weekend.”
“With a lot of draws in the first round, another win can put us ahead on the ladder and I think anything but a win will be cause for concern in the squad, especially with another game at home.”
Both teams need the three points from the last match to be played in Round 2, but for Broadmeadow it’s to get a step forward and to be ahead on the ladder from the rest of the teams. However for Lambton it’s to get into the mix of the ladder early on in the season.
One thing is for sure in the Match of the Round – Magic Park saw nine goals last weekend, and Lambton lost to the defending champions only minutes before the final whistle. This game will be a highlight of the season for every fan, regardless of the final result.
Edgeworth FC v Weston Workers FC
Jack McLaughlan Oval
Friday, April 15, 9pm
Returning home after an away trip last weekend, defending champions Edgeworth will play late on Friday evening against the Weston Workers Bears, who are still looking for their first win in the 2016 season.
Two late goals from Ayden Brice and Keanu Moore saw Edgeworth take back the lead away from home last weekend and claim all three points in their first season outing and Damian Zane’s outfit will be eager for another win on the weekend to push their strong start further ahead.
Weston had a harder time of collecting points in their fixture however as they took part in a shoot-out with the Jets Youth in a six goal thriller that saw both teams leave the ground with a single point each.
Regardless of the three goals that were let in, Bears coach Trevor Morris was happy with his defence especially with their youngest player in the squad, Will Myers, whom turned 17 this week.
“After the effort that he put in against the Jets Youth, he absolutely deserves another start,” Bears coach Trevor Morris said of Myers’ name on the team sheet.
“He’ll be a starter for us again this weekend, no doubt and he’s showing that he’s hungry to learn and to grow.”
Edgeworth’s coach Zane also knows that the team sheet will be a focus of the match-up.
“Anyone who knows me, knows that I like to work on the team sheet week to week and I can tinker with it depending on who we’re facing,” he said.
“The team last week put in a great effort, but if there’s players who are more suited to taking on Weston then they’ll be in there over others. I don’t want to become complacent with choices and last season’s changing for opponents seems to have worked out okay in the long run.”
The obvious choice for Zane on the team sheet would be Keanu Moore, who scored the winner for Edgeworth last weekend, but the match against Lambton saw him start on the bench.
“Moore showed me that he deserves to be in contention and I think that we don’t have a starting eleven, we have seventeen or eighteen fantastic players and Keanu proved that with his goal.”
Will Myers will have much to prove against Zane’s champions this weekend, the battle in front of the away side’s goal could be a riveting affair.
Nothing is to be taken for granted this early in the season and Weston away from home is not to be underestimated – Friday evening will prove whether Edgeworth can continue their hot streak from the 2015 double.
Newcastle Jets Youth v Charlestown City Blues FC
Sunday, April 17, 2:30pm,
Lisle Carr Oval
The first game on Saturday afternoon is to be played at Lisle Carr Oval, where the Newcastle Jets Youth come up against the Charlestown City Blues.
With most teams in the competition coming off closely fought draws, both the Jets and the Blues now both look for a boost on the table in taking home three points.
The Jets Youth will be focusing on their scoring star from the first match, Cameron Joice, who showed great character for a young player when he wrong-footed the Bears’ keeper to open the scoring for the boys in red and blue.
Joice will have a tough time breaking down Nathan Archbold between the sticks for the Blues, however with Charlestown’s new signing, he will be keen for a clean sheet in his new club colours and everything to prove after his move away from Magic at the start of the season.
Charlestown and the Jets both need the win as a leg up in a season that could mean a place higher than mid-table for both sides and both coaches will be eyeing the victory as a way to keep their squad on the right track.
Lisle Carr Oval will be the host of an exciting game for all who attend. With the Jets boasting a dangerous attacking side and Charlestown keeping their squad on an upward trajectory, it will be a battle between both sides to secure their first win of the season.
Valentine FC v Maitland FC
Saturday, April 16, 3pm
An old table-topping battle from the NewFM 1st Division, Valentine now welcome Maitland to Cahill Oval in the top league in Northern NSW, with both teams looking for their first win of the season.
With both teams having recruited strongly in the off season to avoid the bottom of the table, each coach will be eyeing all three points to keep their objectives alive and make clear that their signings have been influential on their sides.
Maitland’s Steve Piggott believes that Maitland has to focus on their defensive shape in the league, but knows that after a goalless match to open the season his players will need to find the back of the net as soon as possible.
“We’re probably going to be keeping a defensive shape that relies on two holding midfielders and will be keeping an eye on our obvious defensive strengths, but against Valentine we also have to play a bit more freely.”
“I think a lot of people look at our defensive strengths and our abilities to keep the score down and the first thing that they think of is that we’re playing a ‘negative’ game, but keeping goals out of the back of the net is key to victories and long standing campaigns.”
“We may also shift shape for Valentine however – I know we’re away from home, but I want to see the fans celebrating some goals and because of the change in shape there may be a change in personnel. It will probably be two changes at most, possibly to add some goals to our tally,” Piggott concluded.
Valentine’s coach, Darren Sills, believes that missing players holds the key to his club’s chances for winning this weekend.
“At the different end of the field we have Reece Pettit and Josh Swaddling giving us a massive boost across the board and last week our lack of pace at the back kind of saw us get caught out by pacey players.”
“Pettit at the back means that our speed issues could go away, he’s fast and strong and he’s got a great ability to silence forwards that are troubling our defence. He’s back from his suspension and that means that he can fit right into the side.”
“Maitland’s forward Heffernan is a great player, but his game isn’t built around speed so it’ll be good to focus on the positioning of the backline instead of back pedalling on breakaways.”
Heffernan in attack and Pettit keeping him from making an impact will be the major battle of the match and if Heffernan can bring his former A-League talents to the duel then that may be the deciding factor for the travelling team.
Cahill Oval will be the staging ground for both teams, they will both be eager to get 3 points and their first win of the season.
Hamilton Olympic FC v Adamstown Rosebuds FC
Saturday, April 16, 6pm
Darling Street Oval
Fresh off the back of a goalless draw against Maitland, Hamilton Olympic will take on Adamstown Rosebuds at Darling Street Oval on Saturday evening.
The Rosebuds were on the other end of the spectrum in terms of goals in their game, with nine goals in their match against Broadmeadow and seven of them going against them.
The travelling side will be looking to set the record straight on the start of their season, but Olympic are not a team that they can easily claim a victory over, especially with their team back to full force.
After rehabilitating from an injury sustained over the summer, Kane Goodchild is set to make his first start after completing only three weeks of full training and coming on a half-time substitute in the game against Maitland.
Hamilton’s’ coach, Michael Bolch, will be eyeing Goodchild to make an impact up front for the side, with the dangerous striker having already scored 12 goals for the club since his 2015 move to Darling Street.
It’s expected that Bolch will focus on a formation that allows both Goodchild and Tom Spencer to play up top on the weekend, with star signing Leo Bertos moving out to the wing to accommodate the change.
The Rosebuds will be prepared for Hamilton’s attacking prowess, however they may look to play a defensive game considering they are away from home and looking to keep from leaking goals, a focus that will be key after Broadmeadow’s damaging assault last weekend.
With Hamilton and Adamstown both having a long history of battles against each other, the fans will be looking for another exciting clash at Darling Street. The final match on Saturday afternoon will be a key game for both teams to kick start their campaigns in this year’s 2016 PlayStation 4 NPL Northern NSW season.