Match of the Round
Weston Workers v Maitland Magpies
Sunday, May 22, 2.30pm
Rockwell Automation Park
The first coalfields derby will take place at Rockwell Automation Park on Sunday afternoon as part of the ‘Match of the Round’ in the 2016 PlayStation® 4 National Premier League Northern NSW competition and there is plenty of interest in this one.
You would be excused for thinking which side is which, with the amount of transfers over the off season between these two sides.
Steve Piggott returns to Rockwell Automation Park for the first time as a PlayStation 4 NPL first grade coach since he left Weston after guiding them to the 2014 Grand Final.
Carl Thornton, Liam Thornton, Brock Oakley and Tim Pratt all played for Weston last season and return to their old stomping ground, while both of Weston’s goalkeepers Benn Kelly and James Wand take on their former side.
Last season the two derbies where tight tense affairs where the only goal from 180 minutes of football was scored by Weston’s Troy Hearfield at Cooks Square Park in Round 5. However this year they will be looking at their other attack as Hearfield is no longer, which will include the likes of Gary McDermott and Mick Ryan.
The sides are at opposite ends of the ladder to where they were last season, with Weston currently sitting last with their only points from two draws. Maitland on the other hand haven’t been defeated this season, with three wins and three draws from their opening six matches.
The Bears attack has been an achilles heel this season, which is the worst in the competition to date. They have managed just four goals in six matches and Trevor Morris believes hard work at training is key.
“We’ll go over some drills at training and get ourselves to replicate match positions. We just need to execute a bit better. When you’re down like this, you just have to dig that little bit deeper and work that little bit harder.”
They meet a Maitland side who are coming off a gritty 0-0 draw with the Jaffas last weekend. The Magpies have proven themselves without their main men Matt Thompson, Matt Crowell and Dean Heffernan who have been injured and suspended at different times throughout the season.
Maitland’s defence has been brilliant this season, with the addition of Carl Thornton, Brock Oakley and Liam Thornton from Weston bolstering their backline. Tim Pratt will also meet his former teammates and former coach Steve Piggott, as he signed for Maitland as a backup to Matt Trott.
Will both sides having quality defensive line-ups, it will no doubt be a tight and gritty affair with neither side wanting to give too much away.
Join myself and Gary Fisher from 2.30pm on Sunday Afternoon live on BarTV.
Key: Weston’s attack. After a spluttering start of the year in attack, if Weston’s front men can fire against their rivals, an upset could be on the cards.
Newcastle Jets Youth v Hamilton Olympic
Saturday, May 21, 2.30pm
Darling Street Oval
After a confidence boosting win in Round 6 of the PlayStation 4 NPL, the Newcastle Jets Youth side will meet an in form Hamilton Olympic side in Round 7.
After leaking 20 goals in their opening five matches the Jets produced a solid defensive performance against Adamstown, recording their first clean sheet for 2016. The Jets attack has been less of a concern, already scoring 12 goals so far this season. It was Krisitan Brymora who was the star for the Jets Youth, as he grabbed a hat-trick and went to equal first in the leading scorers of the 2016 PlayStation 4 NPL Northern NSW.
Brymora will once again be key for the Jets against an Olympic side who sits atop the ladder, with an outstanding defensive record. Cameron Joice will also be another important player for the Jets if they are to cause a major upset.
Jets coach Clayton Zane was looking forward to the challenge of taking on Olympic.
“They’re going to be a big physical test for us, it will be a very difficult match. They throw everything but the kitchen sink at you. They’ve got Goodchild up front, Rhys Cooper is clever, and [Tommy] Spencer. They have got people that can break forward at pace.”
Hamilton Olympic, have been outstanding since their opening round stalemate with Maitland at a windy Cooks Square Park. Since then Michael Bolch’s side has grabbed 15 points from 5 matches, including knocking off Edgeworth 3-2 in Round 5 and then taking down Broadmeadow last weekend 3-1.
The questions for Olympic will be whether they can keep the good form going, after a couple of tough matches against quality opposition. The young Jets’ attack has been firing of late and Hamilton with the best defence in the competition currently – conceding just 4 goals in 6 matches – will not want to take them lightly.
Olympic coach Michael Bolch is wary of the threats the Jets Youth possess.
“They’re sharp over the whole park, they’re very fit and keep possession very well. We just need to concentrate on ourselves. At the moment we are winning our battles, everyone is winning their individual battles.”
However, Bolch wants to ensure his side remains focused.
“It’s a long season and everyone’s talking about top of the table, but for me we are only six games in. For us as a group we went to the first 12 or 13 Rounds undefeated last year and finished 3rd. As soon as you take your foot off the peddle, you get shot in the foot. You need to show everyone respect when you play them.”
Key: Against a side with plenty of pace in attack, can Kyle Hodges marshal his defence to keep the Jets’ young guns quiet?
Lambton Jaffas v Adamstown Rosebud
Saturday, May 21, 2.30pm
Arthur Edden Oval
The Lambton Jaffas will be looking for their first points at home in 2016, when they return to Arthur Edden Oval for their Round 7 clash with Adamstown.
With 3 losses to open their account in front of the Jaffas faithful, Lambton will want to turn things around and bridge the gap starting to appear on the ladder between themselves and the top 5 sides. The Jaffas so far in 2016 have been far from disappointing as their solitary win and draw suggest.
They were in front against Edgeworth in the opening round until the final ten minutes and with a bit more luck against Broadmeadow in Round 2 they could easily have snatched at least a point. A point at Maitland on the weekend, suggests they are up with the quality of the leading pack and a win looks just around the corner.
Jaffas coach James Pascoe is upbeat that a change in fortunes is not far away.
“We’re not really getting the rub of the green at the minute, but the boys are working hard and I know that will turn around.”
For Adamstown, a 3-0 loss to the Jets Youth side on Sunday was a bitter pill to swallow for coach Graham Law. With the Rosebuds now sitting second bottom on the ladder, with just one win and 5 losses to open their campaign. Injuries and suspensions have cruelled their chances, but Law believes he still has a quality squad, regardless of what has happened.
“There is no question whatsoever, that we have got a good side. Don’t get me wrong, we have 4-5 players out that are key players, but there is only so long you can use that as an excuse. We are training really, really well, but we just aren’t taking that into a game environment.”
The loss of Matt Paul for Adamstown will be significant, as he announced this week that he would make the move to Valentine effective immediately.
Key: John Majurovski and Chris Berlin. In both side’s they recorded 2-0 wins against Valentine this season, both were on the scoresheet. Can one of these experienced campaigners inspire their side to a much needed victory?
Broadmeadow Magic v Valentine Phoenix
Sunday, May 22, 2.30pm
After an undefeated start to the year before a loss to rivals Hamilton last weekend, Broadmeadow Magic will be looking to get their first win over Valentine since they were relegated in 2013.
Broadmeadow, after being unable to shake the monkey off their back against Hamilton, will no doubt be keen to avenge the loss back in front of their home fans. The loss last weekend saw them slip outside the top 4 for the first time this season.
Magic co-coach Bobby Naumov knows how important it is for his side to keep up with the top 4.
“We’ve put ourselves in a bad position now, that we are really chasing the pack. Therefore, we can’t afford to drop any points. We need to target winning for our next four or five games and hope some of the top sides slip up a little bit so come halfway through the season we are only within a point or two of the top sides.”
For Valentine, this represents the 2nd week of three tough matches for the Phoenix. They went down 4-0 to Edgeworth last weekend, before meeting Hamilton Olympic next weekend.
Brenton Olzomer has been prolific in attack for the Phoenix this season with four goals, while Josh Swaddling has also caused headaches for opposition sides and was unlucky not to score against Edgeworth on Saturday.
At the back Alex Burrell, will be crucial for the Phoenix alongside captain Scott McGinley and coach Darren Sills will look at trying to combat Magic’s pace up front.
“They got in behind us a number of times in the trial. We played a way too high line and didn’t have any pressure on the ball and that’s a recipe for disaster. This week we will look at how we set up. On the weekend we changed formation twice just to see if we could get something out of it. I thought we were good with a basic 4-4-2 formation for the last 30 minutes against Edgeworth.”
Valentine will welcome a fantastic addition for them in their midfield this weekend. Matt Paul will play his first match for the Phoenix, after it was announced that he had transferred from Adamstown this week.
Key: If Valentine’s backline are unable to keep the likes of Kale Bradbury, Peter Haynes and James Virgili quiet, it could be a long afternoon for them.
Edgeworth Eagles v Charlestown City Blues
Sunday, May 22, 2.45pm
Jack McLaughlan Oval
An intriguing fixture on Sunday afternoon sees the undefeated Charlestown travel to Edgeworth to meet the Eagles.
After 6 rounds the visitors sit in second place on the ladder, with four wins and two draws. This match marks the beginning of a three-week test for Shane Pryce’s men. They meet Broadmeadow next weekend, before travelling to Hamilton in Round nine. Written off at the start of the year by many, Charlestown have proved their doubters wrong over the opening six rounds of the season.
But coach Shane Pryce doesn’t want them to get ahead of themselves.
“It’s funny, a season can change in two or three weeks. We’ll enjoy the confidence we have got from our previous performances, but going forward, the key is trying to maintain this form.”
Pryce was also excited for the challenge of taking on the Eagles.
“I think it’s going to be a good challenge for the boys to see where we are at, because we are undefeated and there is a bit of confidence around it. On their day, Edgeworth are a very tough and organised opponent.”
For Edgeworth, so far their season has gone to the script, the only blip has been a 3-2 loss to top of the table Hamilton. A result which Damian Zane and his side will probably not look at with too much disappointment, as it is better to lose in round 5, than in August and September when the title is on the line.
Coach Damian Zane’s policy of giving his whole squad a chance to perform in first grade has once again proved successful in 2016 and he explained the reasons behind his plan.
“I’ve seen players who are always on the bench lose hope. It’s hard if you’re deflated to get yourself up for every training session. I just think giving everyone a chance keeps training intense and because training is intense, I’ve got faith that if young guys do well at training, then they will do well on the weekend.”
Edgeworth’s strike power is open for everyone to see and that is where Charlestown will need to be wary. Edgeworth boast former A-League golden boot Daniel McBreen, rising stars Keanu Moore and Brody Taylor, the experience of Bren Hammel as well as a young Japanese star in Keigo Moriyasu.
Rene Ferguson and Scott Smith will be the key men up front for Charlestown and there is no doubt they will need to put some in the back of the net if that are to beat the Eagles.
Key: Charlestown’s Defence. So far outstanding in 2016, but they will face its toughest test against the Eagles. If Todd McSorley and his defensive partners produce an outstanding display, Charlestown will go a long way to keeping their undefeated run going.