PS4 NPL NNSW Round 16 Preview










PHOTO: SPROULE SPORTS FOCUS

BEN HOMER 

Match of the Round
Maitland Magpies v Edgeworth Eagles
2.30pm Sunday 2nd July at Cooks Square Park

Last Meeting: FFA Cup, Round 7: Edgeworth 1 Maitland 0 at LMRFF.

Ladder: Maitland 5th (21pts), Edgeworth 3rd (27)

Last 3 Starts (most recent first):

Maitland –  Drew Olympic 2-2 (a) Won Jets 6-1 (h), Drew Blues 1-1 (h)
Edgeworth – Won Rosebud 3-0 (a), Lost Jaffas 0-2 (h), Won Magic 3-0 (a)

 Bottom Line

After a week off, Edgeworth returns to action against a Maitland side who know that anything less than a victory could put their finals hopes in jeopardy.

Last weekend the Magpies were cruising to victory at Darling Street, leading 2-0 with less than 12 minutes on the clock. They were just about to jump Olympic and enter pole position in the race for the top four.

But, within three minutes the sides were level again. Scott Smith and Sean Pratt producing stunning strikes to silence the visitors and ensure the race will be as tight as ever to make the finals.

While it was a draw which would have felt like a defeat for Maitland; they are playing the best football they have all season with just one loss in their last five matches since the disappointing defeat at Adamstown.

Edgeworth have been as consistent as ever recently having lost one of their last 14 matches in all competitions.

A break after a difficult Westfield FFA Cup weekend, followed by a trip to Adamstown came at the perfect time for the Eagles which allowed them to recharge their batteries.

It will be the last weekend off that the Eagles have before a frenetic final two months of the season where they will have PlayStation®4 NPL NNSW and Westfield FFA Cup commitments.

While the Magpies haven’t beaten Edgeworth since at least 1997, the last five matches between the sides have been almightily close. The Eagles have won three of those five by only a goal, and the other two have been drawn.

The defending champions have lost just twice all season and deserve to be favourites in this one. But, a Magpies side with the likes of Matt Comerford, Ryan Clarke and Matt Thompson to name a few will push the visitors to the limit.

What the Coaches Said:

Phil Dando (Maitland)

“They are the yardstick for everyone. You measure yourself against them and they are very, very good and they are very tidy. Their rotations, particularly in the midfield is good, so they manage to find a lot of space which creates problems for you. They’ve got the pace of Sanders up front and the experience of [Daniel] McBreen. They are good defensively and well organised. They are everything that you want your own team to be.”

“We’ve matched them. We’ve been close. There’s only been one goal between us in the two games, so we’re not far away from them. We’ve got to make sure that we play as well as we did for large parts of the game on Sunday.”

Damian Zane (Edgeworth)

“They are impressive. I think they are going to miss Ryan Broadley as far as depth goes and the other boys. They should of won [against Hamilton], I think. In the end, they could have lost it but they were really impressive. I’ve definitely spotted some things that they do which are very impressive. They are as good as anyone up front.”

“I think Keanu [Moore] coming back and all of a sudden adding a bit of depth could be a bit of a factor on the weekend. First session this week. The boys come back. Wow. That’s probably one of our best sessions of the year. They see there was a signing. One signing can mean a massive battle for spots.”

Key: Maitland have conceded their last three goals in the final 15 minutes of matches. Is fitness an issue?

 

Newcastle Jets Youth v Hamilton Olympic
2.30pm Saturday 1st July at Darling Street Oval

Last Meeting: Round 5, 2017: Hamilton 4 Jets Youth 1 at Darling Street Oval.

Ladder: Jets Youth 10th (9), Hamilton 4th (22)

Past 3 Starts (most recent first):

Hamilton – Drew Magpies 2-2 (h), Won Rosebud 3-0 (h), Lost Jaffas 2-3 (a)
Jets – Lost Blues 0-4 (a), Lost Magpies 1-6 (a), Won Rosebud 3-2 (a)

Bottom Line

After pulling three points out of the fire last weekend against Maitland, Hamilton knows that a win and nothing less is the requirement in what shapes as a fascinating finals race.

Olympic started strongly against Maitland, with Rhys Cooper the stand out as he cut swathes through the Magpies defence.

However, when a couple of chances went begging for Hamilton, Maitland made them pay and for an hour it seemed like the visitors would stroll to victory.

But, as Olympic have shown on countless occasions this season, they never say die. Scott Smith and Sean Pratt salvaged a point and almost three for their side.

This weekend provides a different challenge and a danger game for Hamilton, against a Jets Youth outfit who have leaked goals with monotonous regularity of late.

In their last two matches the Jets have conceded ten goals and with the likes of Pierce Clark and Cameron Joice missing for the Youth side on the weekend, it was always going to be a tough ask.

The final 15 minutes seems to be the key in this match. Hamilton have scored a league-high eight goals in the last 15 minutes of matches this season, while the Jets Youth have conceded a league-high 13 in the same period.

Olympic have won eight of the last ten between the sides and based on their form, they will be red hot favourites to make it nine of their last 11.

In intriguing news, Newcastle Jets CEO Lawrie McKinna will take over the coaching reigns at the Jets Youth for the foreseeable future. Labinot Haliti will be his assistant.

In a boost for Hamilton, former Jets Youth skipper Reece Papas has joined the club for the remainder of the season.

What the Coaches Said:

Mick Bolch (Hamilton)

“They are obviously a very young group, getting punished for mentally not switching on for 90 minutes. I’d say would be the best way to put it. I watched them against Maitland and that was sort of the case. They still play some good football and move the ball around well. They just switch off at times defensively.”

“It’s the same old same old with us, we’ve got to take our chances. After the result last weekend, every game is a grand final for us now. Complacency just can’t come into whatsoever. It really to me is not something I need to stress. The boys all know after the weekend Magic is one point behind us and Maitland is right behind us. Every game is vital for us now.” 

Key: Under new coach Lawrie McKinna, can the Jets Youth turn around their recent form?

 

Adamstown Rosebud v Valentine Phoenix
2.30pm Saturday 1st July at Adamstown Oval

Last Meeting: Round 5, 2017: Valentine 2 Adamstown 0 at Cahill Oval.

Ladder: Adamstown 9th (10), Valentine 2nd (28)

Past 3 Starts (most recent first):

Adamstown – Won Bears 3-0 (a), Lost Eagles 0-3 (h), Lost Olympic 0-3 (a)
Valentine – Won Jaffas 2-1 (h) Lost Magic 1-3 (h), Won Roosters 1-0 (h)

 

Bottom Line

Valentine’s third victory in a row over Lambton has put themselves within touching distance of a first finals appearance in Northern NSW’s top flight since 2010 and a win this weekend could all but seal a spot for the Phoenix.

A trip away from Cahill Oval for the first time in the PS4 NPL NNSW since the second weekend in May is sure to please head coach Darren Sills with the lush pastures of Adamstown Oval a stark contrast to the Phoenix’s home ground.

After two straight defeats to Broadmeadow, including a disappointing 3-1 defeat in round 14 Valentine looked to be out of sorts, but they proved that thought wrong on the weekend with a stunning fightback to claim a 2-1 victory over Lambton.

Adamstown also returned to form on the weekend against Weston after three straight defeats and claimed just their second clean sheet of the season in the win.

Nick Webb’s side were well-structured at the back and seem to have turned over a new leaf. Following up last weekend’s result with another good performance this weekend is key for the Rosebuds as they look to escape the cellar.

Since Valentine’s promotion at the end of 2015, the sides have met on three occasions with Adamstown winning twice last season 2-0 and Valentine winning 2-0 in round five earlier this year.

Valentine will head into the match as favourites, but Adamstown seemed to have turned a corner and should give the Phoenix a real test.

What the Coaches Said:

Nick Webb (Adamstown)

“A clean sheet was the objective [on the weekend]. I told them everything else would take care of itself if we can keep that. Again, that’s obviously got to be our main focus; being really tidy in the central areas and hopefully score some goals as well. It’s obviously a key part of our game that we have to fix and we took a massive step last week to doing that.”

“We are working with those guys [up front] and rotating a few players through that area. Ryan Ensor played up top last weekend and got a goal and should have had another one in the first ten minutes. We are rotating that area with some attacking midfielders so they’ll be a fair bit of combination play happening which is a slow process, but it’s getting there.”

Darren Sills (Valentine)

“They’ve got to have their tails up after a win against Weston so it is going to be a hard game. The main thing I’m looking forward to is getting away from Cahill Oval. We’ve had five home games in a row there, the boys are jaded so it’s going to be good for us to get away and play somewhere different.”

“Finals football is not what we are after. We want to win the minor premiership. [It would mean] everything. It would be an amazing thing for the club. It would be a great story for individual coaches, players the like. For all the people who have been at the club a long time, it would mean the world. It would mean the world for me a Sam Griffin as coaches, also the players who have come from other clubs that were not seen as first-grade footballers, who have been given an opportunity at the club.”

Key: Adamstown were rock solid at the back last weekend. They’ll need put in a similar performance against the third best attacking side in the competition.

 

Lambton Jaffas v Lake Macquarie Roosters
2.30pm Saturday 1st July at Arthur Edden Oval

Last Meeting: Round 5, 2017: Lake Macquarie 0 Lambton 4 at Macquarie Field.

Ladder: Lambton 1st (29), Lakes 7th (16)

Past 3 Starts (most recent first):

Lambton – Lost Phoenix 1-2 (a), Won Bears 5-0 (h), Won Eagles 2-0 (a)
Lakes – Lost Magic 0-3 (h), Lost Phoenix 0-1 (a), Won Bears 2-0 (h)

Bottom Line

Both Lambton and Lake Macquarie are coming off disappointing results in round 15 and will aim to bounce back in style.

After leading 1-0 at half-time against the Phoenix on Saturday, Lambton conceded two unanswered goals in the second half to fall 2-1 to the Phoenix. The Jaffas third loss in as many matches against their bogey side.

But, after defeats this season the Jaffas have responded in fine fashion. In all competitions, Lambton has lost just four matches. The three matches played after defeats thus far have resulted in 4-0, 3-2 and 5-0 victories.

Once again, Lakes have the unenviable task of playing the Jaffas after they have had a defeat so they will have their work cut out for them on Saturday.

After a strong start to the season where the Roosters lost just one of their first six matches, they have now won just one of their last seven to fall from the top of the table to seventh.

Lake Macquarie’s biggest concern comes in the front third, scoring just four times in their last five outings and they have been kept scoreless in their last two matches.

The goals have also dried up for striker Sam Walker who scored seven times in the Roosters first eight matches. Since then he has managed just one goal in his last six outings.

With the Roosters in a bit of a slump, top-of-the-table Lambton will be favourites to make it four wins from four following defeats in 2017. 

What the Coaches Said:

Anthony Richards (Lakes)

“Obviously, they are riddled with talent. I guess over all the games we have played this year that first 45 minutes [against Lambton] is the only time we have been blown off the park by any side. The second half was a lot better. It was 3-0 at half-time so we were gone at half-time in that game.”

“We are looking to improve on our start on the weekend and try and stay in the contest a bit longer. If we can stay in the contest a bit longer we will give ourselves a chance. I think we showed way too much respect last time. Jobe [Wheelhouse] pretty much controlled the entire game in that one. I know he’s missing this time so that might help us this time control the game a bit better.”

Key: The bounce-back effect. Can Lambton continue their strong record after suffering defeat?

 

Broadmeadow Magic v Charlestown City Blues
2.30pm Sunday 2nd July at Magic Park

Last Meeting: Round 5, 2017: Charlestown 1 Broadmeadow 0 at Lisle Carr Oval.

Ladder: Broadmeadow 6th (21), Charlestown 8th (15)

Last 3 Starts (most recent first):

Broadmeadow – Won Phoenix 3-1 (a), Won Bears 4-1 (a), Lost Eagles 0-3 (a)
Charlestown – Won Jets 4-0 (h), Drew Magpies 1-1 (a), Lost Phoenix 1-3 (a)

Bottom Line

Seemingly out of contention for the finals series a month ago, when they were humbled 3-0 by Edgeworth on their home patch, Broadmeadow Magic have roared back to life since and are now within touching distance of the top four.

Since the Edgeworth defeat, Broadmeadow have won five matches straight in all competitions and have racked up the goals.

Magic have now scored 17 goals in their last five matches, which is in stark contrast to the mere 14 goals they scored in their first 11 PS4 NPL NNSW matches this season.

The signing of former Jets and Glory midfielder Mitch Oxborrow has certainly helped raise the confidence of the squad, with the front third of Dino Fajkovic, James Virgili and Kale Bradbury all firing in recent weeks.

Charlestown returned to form in style on Saturday as they put four past a disappointing Jets Youth outfit.

Striker Rene Ferguson has gone from strength to strength this season and is now equal first in the golden boot standings after scoring twice on the weekend.

With the news, this week that Scott Smith and Kane Goodchild will return to the Blues in 2018, his combination with the experienced front men is sure to be a mouth-watering prospect from the Charlestown faithful.

Back to the present, and Joel Steward scored his first goal in the top grade for the club against the Jets which will provide a huge boost to his confidence going into the weekend.

Charlestown won a tight contest earlier in the year, with Josh Maguire scoring a stunning free-kick after Broadmeadow keeper Niko Giantsopoulos was sent off.

If the Blues bring their best on Sunday it will provide a tough test for Magic who are the favourites to take all three points in this contest.

What the Coaches Said:

Ruben Zadkovich (Broadmeadow)

“We didn’t really play our best [last time against Charlestown] if I remember correctly, but we still probably did enough to get something out of the game. It was one of them ones like most games in the first round where not much went our way and then we lost our goalkeeper with a red card and then the boys put it in the top corner from a free-kick. We’ll know what they offer, they’ll compete and work really, really hard for each other. It’ll be a tough game for sure for my boys.”

“I’ve felt that all year [we had confidence in front of goal], it just didn’t really happen. The way we play, we want to create plenty of chances, we want a lot of the ball, we want to be dynamic and it’s nice to see it coming together. Sometimes to change a style of football in a team, and also change a mindset it takes time, so it’s nice to see it’s slowly reaping some rewards.”

Shane Pryce (Charlestown)

“I think the guys’ performance on the weekend after two/three weeks off was commendable although Magic at home is a different story. They’ve got some confidence now, so I’m actually looking forward to the contest. There’s some guys that are starting in their second first-grade game and the actual test will be against a confident Magic side who are looking to scrape into that fourth spot.”

“I just think it’s a lot more settled side [for Magic] and Zadkovich has probably settled on selections a lot more and probably found what he thinks is going to work for them. I think they’ve been a consistent side when they’ve just had the same sort of starting side and they’ve bought a player that played a high level in Oxborrow.”

Key: Magic have won just two of six home games this season. Can they turn it around against the Blues?




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