#1. Jets pull off a scintillating comeback
There’s been much talk of the Newcastle Jets Youth team this year as being a much more experienced and refined side from years prior, and on Sunday they well and truly proved that with a gutsy, late comeback over Valentine.
Boasting a team full of stars that included Angus Thurgate and newly senior team-signed youngster Pat Langlois, the Phoenix looked set to pull of a huge upset after being 2-nil up thanks to a Bailey Garland double, but in the last 17 minutes of the game, the young Jets turned it all around scoring three goals including one that came in stoppage time.
This year, coaches Labinot Haliti, Lawrie McKinna and Glen Moss seemed to have sparked a new sense of determination, character and winning attitude amongst this squad and it looks to be paying dividends as many promising stars are quickly beginning to emerge and blossom. The Jets Youth could quite easily be a team that challenge for the premiership this year.
#2. Bluebells taste Derby Delight
Sunday saw the oldest football derby in Northern NSW take place at The Gardens, celebrating 128 years of history between the clubs, but it was the away side, West Wallsend, who won every single grade of football, which included a 5-2 First Grade win.
With a 1-1 scoreline at half-time, and 2-2 midway through the second half, the Bluebells ran off with the game with the help of a Tye Jones hat-trick, taking his overall tally to 12 in just seven games.
While the Red Devils’ woes continue to increase, for their bitter rivals, Westy are sitting pretty in third with the best attacking record in the competition and wins in their past four matches and potentially, could be considered as one of the premiership contenders if they continue their form.
#3. Wolfies put the pressure on
The South Wallsend Wolves, or ‘Wolfies’ as they often go by, knocked out another big victory over the weekend, this time coming over Adamstown, 6-2 and in doing so, continue to pile on the pressure to the two teams above them, Warners Bay and New Lambton.
Although coach Cas Wright and her team won’t exactly be thrilled that they conceded two goals, they can take comfort in knowing that they’ve managed to score 21 in their past three games.
Speaking as guests on the Hunter Football Podcast, New Lambton coach Keelan Hamilton and defender Toria Campbell both told me that they considered South Wallsend as the “toughest that they’ve faced” and if they continue to shine in front of goal like they’ve done, it’d be hard to argue against that case.
#4. Southy challenge the Premiers
Since the beginning of the NEWFM NL1 season, this first encounter between South Cardiff and Cooks Hill was circled as a game to watch and it certainly didn’t disappoint as the Gunners gave the defending premiers a run for their money, but in the end, the Cookers found another way to avoid defeat.
After a bit of an inconsistent start to the year, South Cardiff look like they’ve now found their feet and are beginning to gel with one another so expect them to only improve as the season progresses and possibly improve on their current fourth place.
The Gunners will experience one of their toughest tests of the year next week when they face West Wallsend and with both experiencing some good form, it should be an intense encounter.
#5. As close as it gets in the NPL!
More surprising and intriguing results spewed out of the catch-up round of the NPL NNSW and it means that the competition is still so, so close – historically, one of the closest times we’ve ever seen the top flight table in this region at this point of the season.
Magic and Lambton both had the chance to move clear at the top of the table with Edgeworth having the bye, yet experienced a draw each and that now means the top of the table is still very much within touching distance of the rest of the challengers in behind.
Only four points separate 1st from 8th currently, and basically, just three wins are the difference between the top and the bottom highlighting how any team in the competition can win on their day regardless of where they sit on the table, and that every collection of three points is essential.