Photo: Sproule Sports Focus
By Isaac McIntyre
Match of the Round
Charlestown City Blues FC v Adamstown Rosebud FC
Sunday, May 1, 1.30pm
Lisle Carr Oval
The Match of the Round for the fourth weekend of the PlayStation®4 National Premier League is set to be played at Lisle Carr Oval, with the Charlestown City Blues welcoming the Adamstown Rosebud in what will prove to be a hotly contested battle.
Charlestown have put a win and two draws of the board already this season, having beaten the Newcastle Jets Youth handily in the second round, and now sit in third place on the ladder.
A victory over the Rosebud could put the Blues right into the middle of the top four teams, with Broadmeadow and Edgeworth coming up against each other this weekend and the chance to catch one – or both – of the teams will prove enticing for the home club.
Adamstown come into the match fresh off the back of their first win of the season, having downed Valentine after two defeats to Hamilton and Broadmeadow in the opening rounds.
The win put Adamstown into sixth place on the ladder with their coach Graham Law now turning his focus towards the team’s defensive strengths to keep the point collection going.
“After shipping ten goals in the first two matches, keeping a clean sheet was our main focus last week and to achieve that and get the win after going down to nine men was fantastic to see,” Law said.
“We have proven that we can get goals, so that’s going to be no problem for us going forward in the season, but it’s about clean sheets for us now and clean sheets are wins for us.”
With send offs and injuries last weekend, Law now looks to the depth that his squad has and focuses on bringing injured players back into the fold through training.
“We’re assessing all options for injured players during this week and there will be a chance for everyone that isn’t suspended to get back into the squad come the weekend.”
“Obviously with a few first team players out with the red cards from last weekend, there will be some changes, but that’s not something that we’ll decide upon until we’ve assessed fitness and playing capabilities as well as who we have available for the weekend.”
Charlestown’s undefeated streak so far will be put to the test against the improving Adamstown Rosebud, whose attack will make sure that the Blues will need to be on top of their game at the back of the pitch, while Adamstown will also be looking to keep the home side from the back of the net.
With the game set to be a defensive battle, each set of forwards will need to be as in-form as they can get.
Valentine FC v Lambton Jaffas FC
Saturday, April 30, 3pm
Returning home after a defeat at Adamstown Park last weekend, Valentine now look to claim a win over the Lambton Jaffas at Cahill Oval on Saturday afternoon.
Sitting in eighth place on the ladder and with a single point under their belt, newly-promoted Valentine will now look to take a win and three points to begin a climb up the ladder.
Valentine’s coach, Darren Sills, believes that the squad has what it takes to collect wins, but a lapse in concentration last weekend undid all the efforts that they had been building towards in the opening weeks.
“We have worked very hard on aspects of midfield play that is still making its way into our game and we’ve looked absolutely fantastic in training – it’s now a matter of getting into a game situation and executing our skills,” Sills said of the squad.
“Our formation and tactics in the first two weeks were spot on, but the second half last weekend showed where we are still lacking in our game.”
“It’s a knee-jerk reaction to replace players when you get a loss or two in a row, but we’re looking at the two options that we have available to us for this weekend – do we drop players that aren’t performing as well, or stick with them and let them build on what they have been doing well?”
“Right now, until the dust settles, we’re working on structure and play styles and we can continue to do our homework against the teams that we’re coming up against, but it’s just the personnel that is up in the air.”
Lambton have also had issues with personnel, but their problems arise through availability rather than fitting into the side and coach James Pascoe knows that the team has been struggling with missing pieces.
“We had three niggling injuries in the squad last weekend and two missing players for work and a wedding out of town, so we’ve been playing down on strengths,” Pascoe commented.
“It also makes it hard for us when Hamilton sign one of our players – we lost Grant Brown to Olympic just last week and we’re still looking for a player to replace him. He was a great player at depth anywhere along the backline, so I’m keeping my eyes open for when the window is open to get someone else like that.”
“We also had a short-turn around after Broadmeadow on Wednesday this week and being light on numbers already will test our squad depth for sure. The missing players – Kev Davison and Ben Hay – will both come back into the side for fresher legs and aside from that it’ll be how players pull up from the games.”
“Right now we’re settling, it’s a time of change for the club with Tanchevski leaving, so I think we’re all coming together and getting together as a team, we’ll find our peak when we need it in the second half of the season.”
With new coaches both setting out to prove that their side is coming together, the battle between Sills and Pascoe will be an interesting match-up and the side to walk away with three points at Cahill Oval this weekend jumps right into the middle of the mix, provided fixtures elsewhere go their way this weekend.
Hamilton Olympic FC v Weston Workers FC
Saturday, April 30, 6pm
Darling Street Oval
The second game of Saturday kicks off in the evening at Darling Street Oval, with Hamilton Olympic playing against the travelling Weston Workers.
Olympic enter the fourth round in third place where they sit on 7 points with Broadmeadow Magic, after drawing against Maitland in the opening match before beating both Adamstown and Lambton with three goals.
So far, the home side has conceded only a single goal in the entire competition, with a goal from Rosebud’s Matt Paul spoiling what could have been a completely clean slate so far for Michael Bolch’s side.
“Defensively we’ve been really good, we’ve only conceded that one goal that was a flick on with a deflection that caught us out, so we want to keep that going,” Bolch said.
“I think a part of that comes from the fact we’ve had the same starting eleven for the past two weeks, something that isn’t possible anymore since losing Marcus Duncan.”
Duncan was signed into the Melbourne PlayStation 4 National Premier League after the match against the Jaffas last weekend, but Bolch was quick to search out a signing that would replace him in the team.
The replacement came in the form of Grant Brown, a former Jaffas player who can play anywhere along the backline for his new club.
“With Brown coming in he’s definitely in contention for a spot, it’ll be him or Cody Lucas that comes into the side I’d say, but it’ll just be deciding who is more ready for the match.”
“Watching Weston play last weekend, I think that they were unlucky not to win against Broadmeadow, so we’re going to be focusing on set pieces – Trevor Morris’ sides are always well trained in that area. I think it’s going to be a hard game and we have to focus on everything that we’re doing well, as a team and a unit.”
The away side, Weston Workers, have had mixed fortunes in the league so far, with two close draws keeping them on seventh place, but a loss preventing them from climbing higher.
Last weekend saw Weston keep Broadmeadow Magic’s dangerous attacking force silent at Rockwell Automation Park, with a goalless draw giving both sides a point. This week Weston’s Trevor Morris looks for another clean sheet.
“Ben Kelly was fantastic last match and proved that he’s up to the challenge and now he gets to come up against Olympic after a tight affair against Magic last round,” Morris said.
“Saturday night with Hamilton will be completely different, they play totally differently to Magic and so there’s going to be changes on the menu for us. The main thing last weekend was we set up with two strikers up front and that shocked Broadmeadow a bit.”
“A defensive performance against Edgeworth didn’t really pan out as well as what we have had liked, so we looked to change some things and with Hamilton having Goodchild and Bertos and having them lurking for the break, we have to be really careful.”
“We need to find out how we can hurt them and I think that we can collect points away from home against them. Every game is totally different and has its own unique challenges to play against and I’m looking forward to rising to this one.”
Saturday night will prove if the Bears can repeat their strong unity from the match against Broadmeadow, or if Hamilton can continue to push their fantastic start to the league and claim another straight win at their home field.
Maitland FC v Newcastle Jets Youth
Sunday, May 1, 1.30pm
Cooks Square Park
Sunday afternoon sees Maitland come up against the Newcastle Jets Youth squad, as Maitland return to Cooks Square Park looking for their first home win of the season thus far.
Draws against both Charlestown and Hamilton at home have given Maitland two points, plus an away win over Valentine has left them with five points to their name and in fifth place on the table.
Maitland’s Steve Piggott knows that his side has to step up at home and capture some attacking form, or risk dropping points where they could be collecting all three.
“If we can put the chances that we’re creating into the back of the net, we will start to get wins,” he said.
“Being defensive has worked well for us so far in keeping the games close and we haven’t lost yet, but draws are not as good as wins and we want to have a celebration at home for the victory.”
Piggott is also wary of the Jets Youth and their capability to hit even the strongest defensive sides on the counter.
“The Newcastle Jets have proven that they can get goals, all that’s been letting them down so far has been their defence. They’re not lacking in the attacking department at all and we cannot risk that becoming a factor in the game.”
“We’re entering the match assuming that the Jets have a goal or two in them, so to get the win we have to be ready to go out there and get more goals than them and be the best at the back that we have been all season.”
“Even last weekend at Jack McLaughlan the Jets stayed in it against the Eagles and so we have to make sure that we can repeat our strong performances and look for the win at home for the boys and for the fans.”
The Jets Youth squad will be looking to their attackers again this week, just as their opposition are prone to do. With Cameron Joice still firing on good form with at least one goal in every match he’s played so far, the defence will be the main focus of the development squad.
Piggott’s strong defensive squad will be tested this weekend at Cooks Square Park and if they can keep their proven structure and form at the back, they may be able to take three more points to their name and keep their strong start to the season going.
The Jets Youth need a win however and Clayton Zane’s side will be eager to take a victory whatever the costs – if the game descends into a shootout, the Jets’ brilliant strikers could prove their worth and collect three points for the first time in the season.
Broadmeadow Magic FC v Edgeworth FC
Sunday, May 1, 2.30pm
The last game of the round is set to be a big match-up, with the defending champions Edgeworth travelling to one of the most difficult away games of the league – Magic Park.
Magic have already played mid-week, with goals from Kale Bradbery and Peter Haynes putting them up over the Jaffas to claim a 2-1 victory and keep their loss-less streak going in the league.
The two wins and a goalless draw puts them on seven points and well within reach of the top place on the ladder, should they defeat top-placed Edgeworth on Sunday afternoon.
Edgeworth have started their title defending season well, taking three straight wins in the opening rounds and sitting two points clear at the top of the table.
Damian Zane’s squad has proven that they are no strangers to taking strong wins and even a six-goal thriller from last weekend ended up going their way off the back of two fantastic goals from Keigo Moriyasu, who was a focus of Zane’s after the match.
“Moriyasu was fantastic in the match, but there will be certain games that suit him and others that don’t – the main risk we run now is if he stays good then people are going to focus on stopping him and we have to adapt to that to allow him the freedom to play.”
Zane was also focused on the rotation of his squad – a factor that he believes can carry them all the way.
“It’s a strong squad, with all the players contributing to victories and as such we use certain players for certain competitions and against other teams.”
“We left some senior players on the bench for the game against the Jets Youth squad, to give some of the other guys a go, but of course now players like Aaron McLaughlan are going to expect to be back in the team in Round 4.”
“It’s a fantastic team with great depth and so every week it has to be who is putting in a shift in training and seeing how we can line up the best team that we can to combat strengths and target weaknesses.”
“It won’t be the same team as last weekend, but it’s not set in stone until I’ve assessed them all week long and seen their efforts. Even Aiden Gardner and Daniel Minors, both who did really well in the match last week, will have to prove to me that they can put in another shift, so it’s all up for debate until players prove that,” Zane concluded.
Magic Park could see Edgeworth go four games with straight wins, or it could be the location of the first dropped points for the defending champions all season.
One thing is already confirmed for the match however – Broadmeadow and Edgeworth will always bring their top game and their best players – it will be a match not to be missed, with the top of the table to play for and both teams eyeing the prize.