Photo: Sproule Sports Focus
By Isaac McIntyre
Match of the Round
Newcastle Jets Youth v Edgeworth FC
Friday, April 22, 8:30pm
Jack McLaughlan Oval
Round 3 of the PlayStation®4 National Premier League in Northern NSW kicks off on Friday night with Edgeworth playing against the Newcastle Jets Youth squad at Jack McLaughlan Oval.
Two straight victories have put Edgeworth on top of the table in the league and their fine form will carry right into the game against the Jets Youth.
The Jets however have had a struggle getting their season started, with a draw and a loss leaving them on only a single point. The team will be hard pressed on Friday evening to keep Edgeworth’s forwards out, having conceded eight goals in the season already.
The Jets have proven that they can score goals, with Clayton Zane’s young star Cameron Joice looking to put a goal to his name for the third game in a row.
Zane’s cousin and his rival coach for the match, Damian Zane, knows that Joice can be a danger in attack and that the Jets Youth squad have proven their mettle in forward plays.
“Joice is very mobile and makes some great runs and we’re going to have to be at our very best defensively to win, if it turns into a shoot-out it could get a bit ugly, they have a lot of goals in them so we have to make sure we’re sound,” Edgeworth’s Zane said.
“With Jim Fogarty out for up to six weeks with his injury, Josh Low has come up to play in the first grade and after a great performance when he was called upon last week, he definitely deserves another chance to lead the defence.”
“He surprised me last week, when we were preparing for the game he had no nerves at all and his mentality was great. A lot of the squad handles their nerves perfectly, which I think was massive in the big games last season, so to see Low ready to play gives me confidence.”
The other returning player for the Eagles is their captain, Josh Evans. His presence on the field will go a long way to steadying the ship as the side look for their third straight win.
For Damian and Clayton however, the match also takes on a slightly personal note, with family bragging rights on the table if one can take a win over the other.
“No doubt both of us want the win, but we also have to remember at the end of the day that the squads come first and our targets are different,” Damian said with a chuckle.
“He is focusing on development and I am focusing on winning, so it’s a senior team playing against a youth development squad and if we don’t get the win I’ll be disappointed, especially considering our already strong start.”
“Getting beat by your cousin isn’t something you take lightly however, and so of course we’re both going to have a few words before the match,” he added.
With family rivalry alight in the match and Edgeworth looking to continue their dominant title defence in the third round of the season, Jack McLaughlan Oval is set as the stage for a battle with bragging rights to play for along with three crucial points.
The Match of the Round is not one to be missed, with developing stars, defending champions and the pride of the Zane family on the line for both cousins – nothing but a win will satisfy either coach, or the squads that they lead in the 2016 season.
Lambton Jaffas FC v Hamilton Olympic FC
Saturday, April 23, 2:30pm
Arthur Edden Oval
A difficult game for the Lambton Jaffas comes at home for them in the early rounds, as Hamilton Olympic journey to Arthur Edden Oval for the third weekend of the PlayStation 4 NPL.
The Jaffas game last weekend was delayed due to heavy weather in the city and left them sitting with only a single loss to their name and on no points in the 2016 season.
Conversely, Hamilton are undefeated over two weekends so far, taking a win and a draw to secure four points and prove why they are constant finals-favourites in the Northern NSW leagues.
Their success last weekend came from their dangerous attacking forwards, including A-League import Leo Bertos and his forward partner, Simon Mooney.
Mooney himself scored a brace last weekend as Hamilton downed the Rosebuds and will be looking to repeat his stand-out performance in the coming match, with the Jaffas’ defence sure to be focusing their efforts on keeping Mooney from scoring positions.
Lambton’s new coach, James Pascoe, will be looking to take his first win in the league after his move to the Jaffas, and the home game at Arthur Edden Oval could prove to be a perfect place for his squad to get their season underway.
When the Jaffas clash with Olympic, sparks always fly and the battle at Arthur Edden Oval will be another meeting in their long and documented history – the only thing left to be decided is who will be remembered for the three points and who will be leaving the Oval disappointed at the end of Round 3.
Weston Workers FC v Broadmeadow Magic FC
Sunday, April 24, 2:30pm
Rockwell Automation Park
Broadmeadow Magic travel to Rockwell Automation Park for the first match of Sunday afternoon, after the wash out of their Round 2 match last weekend.
With only one game played so far, Magic sit in fifth place on three points on the ladder, but the game in hand gives them a chance to push to the top of the ladder, granted they take a win.
Weston are yet to claim a win this season, sitting in seventh position with only with only a single point to their name. Having dropped points to the defending champions last weekend however, Weston’s coach Trevor Morris knows the loss cannot dampen spirits.
Morris claims the opposite in fact, stating that the defeat at the hands of a side that clearly have gelled and are playing with the freedom created by confidence, gave his side a lesson that was well learned.
“We’re a work in progress for sure and the loss was something that we can take on the chin and add to our development. We defended extremely well under pressure and proved where our assets lie.”
“For the game ahead there will definitely be some changes in the squad, with Magic posing a danger with their speed and mobility. Bradbury and Virgili definitely have to be combatted and we have to be cautious when we play them because they are lethal on the transition.”
“Magic hit you on the break, but if we know our jobs and what we can do to stop them, then they can’t hurt us as badly as we’ve seen them do to other clubs in recent weeks. Remaining focus is key to the match.”
Last week saw Weston lose more than points during the match, with Will Myers coming off with a concussion in the match and forcing changes to be made from Morris.
“Will Myers is alright now though,” Morris said as an update.
“It’s going to be assessed in training throughout the rest of the week, he was groggy and concussed when he came off so we’re not going to be pushing that at all. If he’s okay, then he will be starting – no doubt about that.”
“Zac Sneddon also did well when he dropped back into defence to replace Will last week, so it’s good to see that we have depth for the backline and that if Will can’t make it back to fitness within the week then Sneddon can step in with confidence,” Morris concluded.
The matchup is the first time that Broadmeadow travel away from home in the season so far and both sides will be looking to exploit the change of scenery for the dominant side.
Weston cannot be underestimated though and with only one big win under their belt, Broadmeadow have yet to prove that they are a force in the 2016 season – this game could go either way for either side that will see three points go into either sides’ pockets come the final whistle.
Adamstown Rosebud FC v Valentine FC
Sunday, April 24, 2:30pm
Adamstown Rosebud play at home for the first time this season as they take on this years promoted Valentine in a bid to drag themselves off the bottom of the table.
With a massive loss that opened the season for the Rosebud and with their second weekend not much better, Adamstown needs to turn around their two defeats with a victory at home, or risk falling behind the pack climbing the ladder.
Valentine haven’t been able to chalk up a win in the Play Station 4 NPL either, but a draw against Charlestown has put them in sixth place, with a chance to climb higher if they can defeat the Rosebud’s.
Phoenix’s assistant coach, Sam Griffin, knows that defence will be the focus of the match for Valentine as they travel away from home.
“A clean sheet is a must for our team, we’re working on defensive structure and to prove that will be a big boost, especially against Adamstown who have so many capable attacking players.”
“We’re going to change some things, mostly due to a suspension for Wilson Edwards and Josh Swaddling returning back from injury. He proved he’s ready with his second half appearance last weekend and with Alex Tserapas looking doubtful, Swaddling fits into that spot perfectly.”
“We refuse to play a negative brand of football, if we had five defenders in front of goals we wouldn’t be looking to create a very good atmosphere of football, so we’re going to go with four at the back and have them get used to the three men in the wall with them.”
The Rosebud’s will be eyeing Chris Berlin and Alex Reid to both prove themselves in front of goals in the third weekend of the competition, Phoenix’s head coach Darren Sills and Sam Griffin will be keeping tabs on the dangerous attackers.
After two weeks with Jake Hamilton between the sticks for Adamstown, veteran keeper Scott Carter returns for the home team as well, and Adamstown’s coach Graham Law knows that his return will be a massive boost for the side.
“Jake had an exceptional game against Hamilton last weekend, but we just can’t be overlooking nearly seven years of experience in the form of Carter,” Law commented.
“One of the most experienced keepers in the league playing for the side always brings confidence with it and other teams look at Carter and see strength and experience and that goes a long way in the mental aspect of the game for both sides as well.”
“Overall the only change to the side may be Carter coming back in however, we’re still testing players after nine changes in the off-season and I think that they need time to play together to prove that they can rise above and beyond.”
“It’s only two games in, and away losses to Broadmeadow and Hamilton aren’t hugely surprising results. The alarm bells will be going if we get to mid-season and we’re still like this, but for now we’re just taking it a game at a time and it’s good to return home,” Law concluded.
Either side could claim the three points, but on the day there can be only one winner and only the competition will decide whether it’s the team in dire need of a bounce-back win, or the team that is still sniffing for their first top division win of the season.
Maitland FC v Charlestown City Blues FC
Sunday, April 24, 2:30pm
Cooks Square Park
Cooks Square Park is to be the home of the final match of the 3rd round this weekend, when Maitland welcomes the Charlestown City Blues.
Maitland have had a strong start to the season so far, keeping Hamilton from the back of their net in a tense 0-0 draw and then downing promoted Valentine to collect three points from the early clash.
The four points have put them in fourth place, only two off the top of the table and right in the middle of the fight of the competition.
Charlestown have also had a great opening handful of games, claiming a win last week against the Jets Youth squad in a 5-2 battle at Lisle Carr Oval, after drawing to Valentine in the opening clash.
Both teams are locked on the same points and a victory could put distance between the mid-table pack – a result that Charlestown’s Shane Pryce is all too aware of.
“We have to take points early and make sure that we’re in a good position when the middle of the season starts approaching,” he commented.
“The thing is we’re coming up against Maitland now and I highly respect Steve Piggott in all footballing circles in Newcastle and I know he’s a great coach, so it’s going to be a hard fought content up there whether we change things or not.”
“We’re carrying the high from the victory last weekend and I believe that you shouldn’t change a winning side if you don’t have to, so that will be the focus. We got five goals last weekend and we want to sneak points from Piggo’s side, so of course we’re going to use that confident set of players,” Pryce concluded.
Of course, Maitland’s coach Piggott may have other things to say about losing points at Cooks Square Park, and has promised the home fans a focus on entertainment as well as points.
“Defence is a big part of our plans, but we want to give the fans something to cheer about at home as well. We have had zero goals at home in the season so far and while points collected are good points, we want to net goals for the people that come see us every week as well.”
“We have that key defence at the back and from that we can build into great counters and work on finishing the chances that come to us when they do get created. I think this week we’ll be taking a few more goals than we have been.”
With the Park set to see attitude changes from both sides, after Charlestown admitted that they must work on defence and Maitland acknowledging their desire for more goals, the game is sure to be open, free-flowing and dangerous for both sides.