Match of the Round
Lambton Jaffas FC v Edgeworth FC
Sat. 25 July 2.30pm
Arthur Edden Oval
Top spot and a major step towards the Northern NSW PlayStation® 4 National Premier Leagues (PS4 NPL) minor premiership is on the line when Edgeworth and Lambton Jaffas clash at Edden Oval in Round 15 on Saturday.
Jaffas moved to two points behind the Eagles with a 2-0 win over Magic last week and Edgeworth’s 2-0 loss to Adamstown.
A win will put the Jaffas in first place with games against Adamstown, Maitland and South Cardiff remaining.
Edgeworth will go five points clear of Jaffas and at least three ahead of the chasers in the race for the Premiership with matches against South Cardiff, Newcastle Jets Youth and Weston to go.
Edgeworth have lost their top two goalkeepers, Jim Fogarty (shoulder) and Ben Smith (hamstring), to injury but should have Josh Evans, Bray Smith, Cameron Hughes and Aaron McLoughlin back on deck in midfield and defence.
Jaffas coach David Tanchevski should have a full-strength squad to choose from with the return of Michael Bridges from his media commitments.
Tanchevski expected the Eagles, who beat the Jaffas 2-1 in Round 6, to bounce back from their loss to Rosebud.
“I rate Edgy, and they are very good defensively and structurally,” Tanchevski said.
“They lost to Adamstown but they were obviously missing some of their key defenders, so it’s going to be a different team we face.
“They have been doing very well and have a good core of players. They will be tough to beat.”
Edgeworth coach Damian Zane was bitterly disappointed with the effort from his players against Adamstown and was looking for them to respond to the challenge of a top-of-the-table clash against Lambton.
The game promises to be one of the matches of the season and will be streamed live on BarTV.
Maitland FC v Adamstown Rosebud FC
Sat. 25 July 2.30pm
Cooks Square Park
Maitland will search for safety and Adamstown will try to keep their finals chances alive when they meet at Cooks Square Park on Saturday.
The Magpies held on for a 0-0 draw at Weston last week despite losing Corey Fletcher to a straight red card in the 31st minute, while Adamstown ended Edgeworth’s four-game winning run with a 2-0 victory.
Fletcher will be suspended for Maitland, who also have midfielder Ryan Broadley in serious doubt with ankle problems.
The Magpies, though, received a boost this week with news former Socceroo Matt Thompson had agreed to play with Maitland again next season.
Second-last Maitland are five points clear of bottom side South Cardiff and coach Reece Thompson said he side were desperate to secure their place in the PS4 NPL for 2016.
“Adamstown had a good win last week and we did well to get a point, so it should be a good game this week,” Thompson said.
“I think another two points from these finals games should see us to safety, so hopefully we can get it done this week.”
Adamstown are seven points outside the top four and coach Graham Law, who steered Maitland to promotion last year, said Rosebud still had plenty to play for.
“We still believe we can make the finals but we obviously need to win all our remaining games,” Law said.
“Training on Tuesday night was great. The boys are buzzing after the result on the weekend.
“We have to rely on other results now but I’ve told the boys we just have to win our games and don’t worry about anything else.”
Adamstown, who beat Maitland 3-1 first time around, will be without striker Roger Dowdell, who has study commitments, but will otherwise have an unchanged line-up.
Newcastle Jets Youth v Hamilton Olympic FC
Sun. 26 July 2.30pm
Darling Street Oval
Hamilton are desperate to regain their winning touch and revive their Premiership hopes against the Newcastle Jets Youth on Sunday.
Olympic were unbeaten leaders until falling to Edgeworth 3-1 in Round 12 and now sit three points off top spot after a frustrating past month.
Mick Bolch’s team have not won since a 2-0 victory over Magic in Round 10 and gave up a 2-0 lead against a 10-man South Cardiff last week to draw 3-3.
Bolch has No.1 goalkeeper Danny Ireland and Jason Korotkich back from holidays.
He said his side need a win to keep pressure on the leaders and ensure their place in the finals.
The Jets Youth, whose match against Charlestown was washed out last week, sit seventh on 13 points and have lost seven of their past eight games, but Bolch was not expecting an easy time.
“The bottom teams have all improved out of sight as the season has gone on so there’s no easy run in,” Bolch said.
Mark Jones is filling in as Jets Youth coach this week while Peter McGuinness enjoys a holiday.
Jones hoped several of the youth players would lift this weekend after playing in an intra-club trial with the Hyundai A-League squad on Wednesday night.
Reece Papas and Michael Kantarovski played the full 45 minutes, while Tom Waller, Charlie Horsley, Braedyn Crowley and Antonee Burke were also involved.
“The boys need to step up and be competitive because we expect better results than they have been getting,” Jones said.
“Hopefully they can take something out of the intensity of the trial against the first team into the game on the weekend.”
Weston Workers FC v Charlestown City Blues FC
Sun. 26 July 2.30pm
Rockwell Automation Park
Weston welcome back Jason Cowburn for his 100 first-grade game with the club while also farewelling Rob Macbeth against Charlestown on Sunday.
Cowburn missed the scoreless draw with Maitland last week because of work commitments but will return to boost the fourth-placed Bears, who are three points clear of fifth-placed Broadmeadow and one behind third-placed Hamilton.
While the Bears will celebrate Cowburn’s milestone, they will also be keen to send Macbeth off a winner in his last game for the club. The midfielder is moving away for work reasons after the weekend.
Zac Sneddon was sent off late last week for the Bears and will miss the match suspended.
Weston coach Trevor Morris said his team needed to improve after a disappointing display against Maitland.
“There’s no easy games in this league and we just have to be up for it this weekend,” Morris said.
“We took some poor options in the front third last week which cost us, so we need to be better.”
Eighth-placed Charlestown are six points clear of last place and keen to put themselves out of the relegation mix with a win at Weston.
“Another three points should do it for us, but we also want to fight to finish the season on a positive note,” coach Shane Pryce said.
The Blues did not play last weekend because of a wash out against the Jets Youth.
Rene Ferguson is unavailable and Sean Blackford is out with a knee injury for Charlestown. Daniel Bird is in doubt with injury.
South Cardiff FC v Broadmeadow Magic FC
Sun. 26 July 2.30pm
A wounded Broadmeadow Magic line-up will meet an equally desperate South Cardiff side at Ulinga Oval on Sunday.
Magic are three points outside the top four and coming off a 2-0 loss to Lambton Jaffas, while last-placed South Cardiff showed fight to draw 3-3 with Hamilton last week and boost their hopes to avoid the drop.
Broadmeadow will again be without captain Peter Haynes (work), vice-captain Josh Piddington (fractured ribs) and youngster Jayden Barber (hamstring tear), while central defender Jon Griffiths will join them on the sidelines.
Griffiths was sent off late for a second yellow card last week and is suspended.
The Gunners, who are five points behind next-worst Maitland, will be without the suspended Jarryd Johnson and Sean Clerke.
Johnson was sent off last week for two yellow cards, while Clerke is out on card accumulation.
Gunners coach Greg Asquith said Nathans Stevens and Jeong Sang-deok are likely to come into the starting line for the suspended pair.
Asquith was encouraged by the effort of his strengthened squad last week to get a point against Hamilton with only 10-men for the final 30 minutes.
“It’s a reflection of what happens when you have players back on deck,” Asquith said.
“After all our injury troubles, to have guys like Matt Grey and Lee Ashton back in the team has had a huge impact.
“We just need to keep fighting and win games. It won’t be easy, but anything is possible if we get some momentum.”
Magic co-coach Rob Virgili said he side needed to lift in the crunch game.
“Both sides are desperate and it just comes down to who wants it more, who takes their chances and wins the little battles,” Virgili said.
“A loss might cost us a finals place and a loss for them might end their chances of staying up, so it’s a huge game.”