Photo: Sproule Sports Focus
By Isaac McIntyre
Match of the Round
Weston Workers FC v Valentine FC
Sunday, May 8, 2.30pm
Rockwell Automation Park
The Match of the Round kicks off on Sunday afternoon, when Valentine travel to Weston’s Rockwell Automation Park to try and collect three points and avoid the fight at the bottom of the table.
Two draws and two losses have put the Bears into eighth, but the home side’s coach, Trevor Morris, believes their defence can only improve as the season drags on.
“Our defenders have been terrific and even though we conceded four goals last weekend we were fantastic for seventy minutes and it’s just keeping up that level that made the difference.”
“There is always a few things that we have to address after games, but I think that both teams last weekend played good football and we’ll build on that.”
“Due to the suspensions, we have Ben Kelly and Robbie Turnbull out and will have to check on minor injuries, including Jake Milsteed’s bad ankle that is being assessed.”
“Outside of the keeper, who is definitely going to be James Wand, I have a few decisions to make in terms of starting players. I think that this game will be important for three points and we need players who are up to the task.”
Valentine so far have had problems collecting points in the Play Station®4 National Premier League, with only a single draw netting them a single point in four games.
Valentine’s head coach, Darren Sills, faces an interesting match-up on the day however, having previously been a major part of the Weston Workers club and is eager to return as a rival and a friend.
“I’m looking forward to going back to my old club, there are a lot of friends up there that I want to see, so it’ll be a sort of homecoming for me, just not with the team I normally play there with.”
“Looking at us however, both personnel and structure needs to be changed. We need to take chances when creating them and that’s our major problem, so we need to create that spark again.”
“Training is good for proving performance and hunger, and we’ll know by match day what we want to play, and who we want to play, but anyone can prove to me that they have what it takes out there. It’s about actually doing it in the match that’s important at the end of the day.”
With the bottom of the table looming for both sides, a win is vital for their confidence – with only four games played so far, a win for either side could boost them as high as sixth place and only three points behind third – this week’s Match of the Round will be a close one.
Edgeworth FC v Hamilton Olympic FC
Friday, May 6, 7.15pm
Jack McLaughlan Oval
This Friday evening, Jack McLaughlan Oval plays host to a top of the table clash between Edgeworth and Hamilton Olympic, with the winner going clear at the top of the PlayStation 4 NPL Northern NSW competition.
Olympic remains undefeated in the league so far, coming off the back of a dominant win over the Weston Bears last weekend. So far their ten points have come from three wins and a close draw to open their season and Hamilton will be eyeing a fourth straight win to stay as league leaders.
Hamilton’s Michael Bolch knows that the game on Friday evening is a major battle for Olympic, and focuses on the side that he can play against last year’s champions.
“We have a suspension, so obviously there’s going to be changes,” Bolch said.
“We’ve been winning in the last few weeks so the starting eleven of course can’t change that much, but there are some changes that we will get forced into making.”
“Simon Mooney is a loss of course, he’s a good player, but we have other players coming back and it’s something that we can work around. There are players itching to prove themselves against Edgeworth,” Bolch concluded.
Edgeworth meanwhile have had the same recorded run – three wins and a draw putting them on ten points on the ladder, behind Hamilton only on their goal difference.
For the Eagles, a victory at home gives them a chance to slow Olympic’s ascent and Damian Zane’s side are excited for the top of the table challenge.
“The whole side is looking forward to the game, it’s the Grand Final repeat from last year, so it’s one of the biggest matches,” he commented.
“I dare say that they’re going to be up for the match and I expect us to be as well. With it being Old Boys day for us, it’s going to be a good crowd to cheer us on.”
“They had a player sent off just like we have, so we’ll both be missing first team players and it’s these little hurdles that really prove who can be champions and who slip up along the way. We’re considering a replacement for Lachlan, but it’s a short turn around so there could be more than one change.”
“I’ve said to the team that we should enjoy these top of the table clashes and they relish the chance. Fighting for the top beats playing games that don’t matter and running on the bottom of the table, so we look forward to every one of these challenges.”
With both teams coming into the match on equal footing in terms of suspensions, points and records, it may just be the Old Boys crowd that spurs Edgeworth on to victory, but with Hamilton’s dangerous squad and lethal form from the past few weeks, neither side can be dicounted.
Lambton Jaffas FC v Charlestown City Blues FC
Saturday, May 7, 2.30pm
Arthur Edden Oval
The second Saturday game of Round 5 sees the Lambton Jaffas come up against one of the most consistent performers of the league so far this season – the Charlestown City Blues.
Lambton have struggled to put points on the board in early games, with a single win over Valentine last weekend at home breaking their three game run of losses from the start of the season.
The Jaffas proved last week that they cannot be counted out either, with their team’s defensive abilities coming together with their forward line’s skill in front of goals in a game that saw both John Majurovski and James Burn netting goals.
Lambton’s coach, James Pascoe, believes that the squad is starting to come together under his vision now, after four matches at the club.
“Our intention – and we’ve spoken about it as a group – is that we want to win games through possession and we don’t want to set up defensively,” he said of the tactics for the team.
“We want to have a good work rate off the ball, we want to win possession and we want to make that our football. We’re not going to change that for anyone because I want to develop our own style and make teams change to us.”
“Reece Tippet comes back into the side after Michael Sessions was suspended last week, but apart from that I think it’ll be the same and we’re not going to change anything just because we’re playing against Charlestown – we want teams to change for us.”
Led by Shane Pryce and without a loss to their name yet in the competition, Charlestown will travel to Arthur Edden Oval to spoil Lambton’s plans for game domination.
Pryce’s focus so far has been improving on the side’s results of the past and so far it has been working wonders, with two wins and two draws under their belts.
Pryce knows that the team has been a big part of the first four rounds with their good results and is aware that there are more challenges that are yet to come.
“Obviously we’re coming into a run of games now that are good sides, they have quality individuals and quality coaches, so instead of focusing on them we’re going to look inwards and get things right as we are, as a team and as individuals,” Pryce said.
“We’re looking forward to the test that these matches bring. There are things that we have to get structurally right still and then we’re set to be competitive in every match.”
“I think that a major part of the preparation now is the introduction of replays, especially through BarTV and other companies like that, which means we can analyse teams and have a look at how they’ve played all their games.”
“The differences are that the top three or four teams worry about their own game and sometimes forget about the other team, but we look at changing, refocusing and keeping our minds on tactics that can shut them down – that’s our plan so far and so changes are guaranteed when we’re looking to beat them.”
With the Jaffas eyeing the three points and Charlestown eager to continue their unbeaten and spectacular run, both sides will be hungry for the win.
Newcastle Jets Youth v Broadmeadow Magic FC
Saturday, May 7, 2:30pm
The Newcastle Jets Youth play Broadmeadow Magic at Magic Park on Saturday afternoon, after the Jets Youth missed their game last weekend due to weather.
Even with a game less than the other teams on the ladder, their season’s start has not been great, with only a single point after their matches, conceding twelve goals so far.
Their focus now will be shoring up their defensive line – with Cameron Joice proving that he can score in any game that he needs to, with four goals to his name already, the Jets’ attack is not their problem.
Broadmeadow have had a stronger start to the season than Clayton Zanes Jets and Magic will be looking for another win as they sit two points below the top of the table.
Two wins and two draws sits them in third place, equal to Charlestown but with an improved goal difference after their big win to open the season against the Rosebud.
With dangerous forwards keeping Broadmeadow in every match and only one game going scoreless for the PlayStation 4 NPL giants, the club will now be focusing on their defence as well, with the Jets’ dangerous developing strikers key in the mind of both Broadmeadow coaches.
The match is also a chance for Magic to level the scores in terms of Hamilton and Edgeworth – if the two clubs take a draw and just a single point each against each other – a win for Broadmeadow could put them right back in the mix and a big one could put them over the top on goal difference.
One thing is for sure for the Jets Youth squad – Magic Park is always a trial for every team in the competition and the Jets will have to be playing their top game if they want to take a result against the Magic.
Adamstown Rosebud FC v Maitland FC
Sunday, May 8, 2.30pm
The final match of the league is to be played at Adamstown Oval on Sunday afternoon, with Maitland travelling to take on the Rosebud.
Adamstown have had only one win so far this season and find themselves in seventh place, with the worst goal difference in the league so far.
Injuries and suspensions have been rife in the Rosebud’s squad, most recently when both Daniel Yaxley and Daniel Clements were lost to tackles last weekend, with Clements now confirmed to be out for at least eight weeks, but possibly up to the end of the season.
Faced with the challenge of lining up squads that are down on first team players, Graham Law’s focus becomes playing the best team that he can with eleven fit players on the pitch.
“It makes it very difficult for us, we have injuries coming from everywhere at the moment and the referees aren’t really punishing them so they keep coming, and it puts holes in our squad,” Law said.
“Clements is now out for at least eight weeks and with four players out to injury and two players to suspensions, it really is going to be a barebones squad, we’re going to have to ask some of the youth to step up.”
“It really will be about getting youth to make their mark on the matches in the coming weeks. They have the chance to prove that they can play at this level above and we need to find the balance with developing them as we play and making sure we have strong sides at every match.”
“Tactics for the match against Maitland are going to be whoever is available for us, we know Maitland and we know how they play, so we’ll be setting up to beat them through that and take three points.”
Maitland’s season so far has been strong and they sit in fifth place as another of the sides in the competition not to suffer a loss.
A win and two draws keeps them on five points, but after heavy storms last weekend they were forced to delay their first grade game against the Newcastle Jets Youth and that game in hand gives them an advantage over those above and below them on the ladder.
A win for them keeps them in good stead for the coming rounds of the competition and with their strong defensive backline it will be a war of attrition against Adamstown’s dangerous front men.
With the Rosebud’s wanting to bounce back, the home match in front of their supportive fans will be the perfect place to do it. Maitland will be hard pressed to keep their defensive talents at the forefront of the match and the game is set to be another great clash.