PS4 NPL NNSW Round 22 Preview










PHOTO: SPROULE SPORTS FOCUS

Ben Homer

Match of the Round
Hamilton Olympic v Broadmeadow Magic
6pm Saturday 12th August at Darling Street Oval

Last Meeting: Round 11, 2017: Hamilton 1 Broadmeadow 2 at Magic Park.
Ladder: Hamilton 2nd (37), Broadmeadow 4th (33)

Last 3 Starts (most recent first):
Hamilton – Won Roosters 4-0 (a), Won Phoenix 2-1 (h), Won Bears 3-0 (a)

Broadmeadow – Won Jets 2-0 (h), Won Magpies 3-1 (a), Won Rosebud 3-0 (h) 

Bottom Line

It may be a derby, but with both sides now assured of a finals spot it seems this weekend’s evening clash may not live up to the hype which seemed to be brewing in the previous weeks.

With Valentine and Maitland in the finals race and Broadmeadow and Hamilton struggling midway through the season, this clash seemed as though it could be a decider for the final spot in the four not so long ago.

But recently Magic and Olympic put paid to that and have both confirmed they will play finals football once again.

Unfortunately for the neutrals, these are the perils of final round derbies and it looks as though both coaches will rest players in yellow card trouble to ensure there are no needless suspensions going in the finals.

But, regardless of who steps out for either side, both clubs will want the bragging rights going into the finals in what may shape as their last clash of the season.

What is certain is that both Hamilton and Magic are in white-hot form. Magic have won their last eight, Hamilton are unbeaten in eight and have won six straight.

In comparison to this time last season, Hamilton won just two of their last four going into the finals and Magic claimed victory in just one of their final four.

Both have got the formula exactly right this season and will do some damage in the finals.

It’s a difficult match to split with both sides weakened, but the statistics don’t lie and show that Hamilton don’t lose at home often.

They have lost just four of their last 45 regular season home matches and head in as slight favourites.

What the Coaches Said:

Michael Bolch (Hamilton)

“We’ll be obviously going out to try and win the game, the last game of the year. We want to keep our form going into the semi-finals. We’ll get a good indication after what Jaffas do in the afternoon as far as Magic goes. If Jaffas win, Magic can’t go past them. It is a big game in the afternoon [Jets v Jaffas] before we play.”

“I don’t think there [will be any twists and turns] this weekend. Edgeworth are a professional outfit and they’ll be switched on and know what they need to do. Realistically we can reach 43 points and not win the premiership, which is probably the most points we have been on the last few years. It is what it is, we beat Edgy four or five weeks ago and we’ve both won every game since, so I’m not expecting them to drop points against Lake Macquarie.”

Ruben Zadkovich (Broadmeadow)

“To be honest it is bit of a dead rubber for us, we are already preparing for the finals. We are carrying some dead bodies at the moment, boys that are injured and some boys on four yellow cards, so I’m a little undecided on what to do with those boys. We are pretty light on with the boys we have lost so we’ve got to be smart about it.”

“I’ve got to be real careful about who I put out [on Saturday]. Those boys that step in – the younger ones – that haven’t had as much game time, it gives them the opportunity to play without fear and play with freedom. It’s always a nice thing as a player to go into a game where you can express yourself without too much riding on it.”

Key: Magic have conceded twice in their last four, Hamilton just once in four. Can either find a way to goal on a tight and compact Darling Street Oval?

 

Newcastle Jets Youth v Lambton Jaffas
2.30pm Saturday 12th August at Arthur Edden Oval

Last Meeting: Round 11, 2017: Jets Youth 2 Lambton 1 at Arthur Edden Oval.
Ladder: Jets Youth 10th (15), Lambton 3rd (36)

Past 3 Starts (most recent first):
Jets Youth – Lost Magic 0-2 (a), Won Roosters 5-0 (h), Won Bears 1-0 (h)

Lambton – Lost Magpies 1-2 (h), Won Rosebud 6-1 (h), Drew Blues 2-2 (h)

Bottom Line

The biggest question on everyone’s lips is what has happened to Lambton recently?

Top of the ladder for much of the season, everything has turned sour for the Jaffas recently and the common denominator is the absence of skipper Jobe Wheelhouse.

In seven PS4 NPL matches they have played in Wheelhouse’s absence Lambton have won just three, and they were all against sides – Weston, Lake Macquarie and Adamstown – in the bottom half of the ladder.

Against sides in the top six, they have lost to Valentine (2-1), Broadmeadow (3-1), Maitland, last weekend (2-1) and had to share the points with eighth-placed Charlestown (2-2).

If the Jaffas are to be a finals force they will need their midfield maestro back, otherwise it seems that a season which promised so much may deliver so little.

The Jets, on the other hand, seem to be on the improve after what can only be described as a disappointing season, where the highest they can finish is ninth.

They have won two of their last three and were unlucky on the weekend against Broadmeadow not to get on the scoreboard with Angus Thurgate and Cameron Joice missing golden opportunities.

Last time the sides met, the Jets won their first match of the season back in round 11, where they stunned the Jaffas in a 2-1 victory. A double from Kristian Brymora, who is now in Europe, was enough to seal the points that afternoon.

With the belief that they can beat this Jaffas outfit the Jets will be confident, but it is paramount Lambton win to give themselves some much-needed confidence before the finals kick-off.

What the Coaches Said: 

Lawrie McKinna (Jets Youth)

“Another big game for us. Anybody who was at the game on the weekend would realise we deserved something out of the game against Magic. That second half we dominated and when you are playing against good teams you can’t miss good chances and we did.”

“We are out to make it difficult for anybody, so we’ll be up for the game on the weekend. It’s not going to just be ‘let’s go and knock the ball around.’ We are trying to get a result and since myself and Labby [Labinot Haliti] have come in we have achieved some good results and we want to finish on a high.”

James Pascoe (Lambton) 

“As a group, we have had a list of goals this year. One of them is to finish as high as we can on the table. Obviously, it started as wanting to go for the premiership and we said right from our first session of goal setting, at whatever point in the season, if it becomes unattainable we go for second and if second becomes unattainable we aim for third and so on and so on. So, we still have a chance to finish third, so we’ll still take the game absolutely seriously and do everything we can to win it.”

“The most important games coming up are the two that will follow [this weekend]. Our performances have been reasonable without setting the world on fire. We were second best against Broadmeadow Magic that day, and from there we have had a couple of decent victories, a disappointing loss on the weekend and a disappointing draw with Charlestown as well. The wheels haven’t fallen off if that makes sense, we just need a few more things to go our way and get a little bit of leadership back into the team.”

Key: The best attack in the Jaffas (46 scored) and the worst defence in the Jets Youth (52 conceded) meet. Can the Jets keep Lambton’s strong front-men quiet? 

 

Weston Bears v Valentine Phoenix
2.30pm Sunday 13th August at Rockwell Automation Park

Last Meeting: Round 11, 2017: Valentine 2 Weston 1 at Cahill Oval.
Ladder: Weston 11th (7), Valentine 5th (32)

Past 3 Starts (most recent first):
Weston – Lost Blues 1-2 (a), Lost Eagles 0-3 (a), Lost Olympic 0-3 (h)

Valentine – Lost Eagles 0-5 (h), Lost Olympic 1-2 (a), Drew Magpies 2-2 (h)

Bottom Line

Valentine will round out their bright season on Sunday with a trip up to the Hunter Valley where they meet the Weston Bears who will end a second straight season with the wooden spoon.

For such a long period of the season it seemed as though the fairy-tale story of the Phoenix would continue into the finals, but with the sleeping giants of Hamilton Olympic and Broadmeadow Magic awakening in the final half of the competition it proved a task too difficult for the Phoenix and they will finish just outside the four.

Last weekend their finals hopes were ended by a clinical Edgeworth side 5-0, who can now almost touch a third consecutive Premiership.

It seems the Phoenix will rue a late season slide, as the significant reason they will miss the finals.

Valentine come into this weekend’s match, winning just one of their last five, and without their leading goal scorer Jalon Brown who injured his hamstring in the loss to the Eagles.

Weston’s downhill slide has continued for a much longer period than the Phoenix, and they will no doubt want to finish the season on a positive note.

Last weekend’s loss to Charlestown was their tenth straight defeat in the PS4 NPL and, their 14th of a disappointing campaign which started on a much brighter note.

Weston lost just once in their first five matches, but with a young side it seems the long season has taken its toll and they have lost 14 of 15 since.

In fact, Bears fans could be forgiven for wondering when their next victory will come.

Over the last three seasons the Bears have won just two of their last 40 PS4 NPL matches and will be relieved there has been no relegation the last two seasons.

But, coach Steve Piggott is looking to strengthen his roster in the off-season and improvement seems likely next season.

Valentine will desperately want to finish a strong season on a high, but the Bears at home in the final round of the season could spring a surprise.

What the Coaches Said:

Steve Piggott (Weston)

“We played quite well against Charlestown the other day, a horrible day for football. Westerly winds and the fire. Up near John Hunter they were doing back burning and you could hardly breathe it was coming straight over the ground. On a horrible pitch, it was very bouncy and bobbly, but it was a better effort that the week before against Edgeworth. They put in a good shift.”

“There is nothing but pride for both teams. They [Valentine] have wilted out of the finals and Darren [Sills] will be looking to finish the season on a high note, with his group. We are good mates as coaches and we’ll just be looking to put another good performance in.”

Key: Can Valentine keep the focus for the final week after having their finals dreams shattered last weekend? 

 

Maitland Magpies v Adamstown Rosebud
2.30pm Sunday 13th August at Cooks Square Park

Last Meeting: Round 11, 2017: Adamstown 3 Maitland 1 at Adamstown Oval.
Ladder: Maitland 6th (28), Adamstown 9th (16)

Past 3 Starts (most recent first):
Maitland – Lost Magic 1-3 (h), Won Roosters 4-0 (a), Drew Phoenix 2-2 (a)

Adamstown – Won Blues 1-0 (h), Lost Jaffas 1-6 (a), Lost Magic 0-3 (a)

Bottom Line

Maitland and Adamstown will round out of the season at Cooks Square Park on Sunday, with only pride on the line as the Magpies look to avenge their 3-1 defeat to the Rosebuds in round 11.

Maitland headed into last weekend’s clash with Lambton a mathematical chance of making the finals and they kept the slim hopes of a miracle alive with a 2-1 victory.

But, Broadmeadow’s victory on Sunday against the Jets Youth have made certain there will be no finals for the Magpies this season.

It’s been a disrupted season for the Magpies, with coach Dean Heffernan leaving before a ball was kicked, followed by their first four matches being washed out.

They started the season well, and looked destined for the finals when they beat Broadmeadow 7-0, but that match seemed to be the turning point in their season, winning just one of their next six and their finals hopes went south.

Adamstown come into the match fresh from the bye last weekend, and before that they claimed a tight 1-0 victory over fellow strugglers Charlestown.

During the break, coach Nick Webb announced that he would be coaching at Lake Macquarie next season, and you cannot say he doesn’t deserve the opportunity winning three of his last six matches with Adamstown.

Maitland hold the upper hand in recent meetings, winning two of their last three, but they did fall to the Rosebuds in round 11 which was Adamstown’s first win of the campaign after nine matches without a win.

In a boost for the home side, Matt Thompson returns for the Magpies who are favourites to claim the three points on Sunday.

What the Coaches Said:

Phil Dando (Maitland)

“They’ve [Adamstown] improved as the season has gone on and they gave us a nasty shock in the first round of the season. Our boys are keen to go out on a high, they are obviously disappointed we haven’t made the semis, but they want to repair some of the damage caused by the loss to Adamstown in the first round. We are just keen to go out on a high and keep playing some good football as we did last weekend.”

“As always you are playing for pride, that’s a big part of football for me. Everything you do you should do with quality and you should always play with pride. We are doing it for our pride so we want to finish as high as we can, with the best result we can.”

Nick Webb (Adamstown)

“We’ll go up there full of confidence after our last win. We’ll look to go four from eight. That’s what I have asked them and that is all I can ask of them. It’s been a great experience with the boys and I’m looking forward to getting out on the park on Sunday.

“They’ve [Maitland] got so much pace up front and are quite strong through the midfield with Thommo [Matt Thompson] so we are going to look to pressure them as much as possible as we did against Charlestown and hope to take a few more chances that is all. I’m very happy with how it has ended up [coaching at Adamstown]. Without the opportunity that Adamstown has given me, I probably wouldn’t have got the Lakes opportunity so I have to thank them [Adamstown] for that.”

Key: Can Maitland cure their Cooks Square jitters against Adamstown, a ground they have one just three times at in 2017?

 

Edgeworth Eagles v Lake Macquarie Roosters
2.30pm Sunday 13th August at Jack McLaughlan Oval 

Last Meeting: Round 11, 2017: Lake Macquarie 1 Edgeworth 2 at Macquarie Field.
Ladder: Edgeworth 1st (39), Lakes 7th (22)

Past 3 Starts (most recent first):
Edgeworth – Won Phoenix 5-0 (a), Won Bears 3-0 (h), Won Blues 3-1 (a)

Lakes – Lost Olympic 0-4 (h), Lost Magpies 0-4 (h), Lost Jets 0-5 (a) 

Bottom Line

Edgeworth will be shooting for their third straight premiership when they host the Roosters on Sunday and it has been in these types of matches over the last three seasons where the Eagles have been so clinical.

Since their defeat to Olympic last month, Edgeworth have quickly racked up three straight victories and have set sail for the finals series.

If they seal the Premiership on Sunday, they will also take part in their third PS4 NPL Finals Series where their first assignment will most likely be against Canberra Olympic in the nation’s capital.

But, first things first for the Eagles and that will be to claim victory over the Roosters on Sunday and head into the finals on the back of four victories in the PS4 NPL.

In contrast, the wheels have seemed to have well and truly fallen off Lake Macquarie’s season with the Roosters conceding 14 unanswered goals in their last four matches and have been unable to find the back of the net in their last three.

The news that popular coach Anthony Richards will leave the club at the season’s end is sure to have played its part in the sides poor result against Olympic on Sunday and the Roosters will want to send Richards out with a solid showing on Sunday.

Edgeworth are unbeaten in their last three matches against Lake Macquarie and it seems highly likely that number will stretch to four this weekend.

What the Coaches Said:

Damian Zane (Edgeworth)

“It’s a hard one, they [Lakes] don’t really have anything to play for or to lose. I guess, you’re not sure how they are going to come out really. Probably the big one is the first goal. If they get it they are probably playing for something. If we get it they start thinking [about the off-season]. It’s just natural, the teams with nothing to play for if you start well, the game just starts to go on and on with no meaning for them.”

“While you are out there you are not doing it, but I’ve been in that situation before. When you are chasing the ball you are just really not chasing it in the same way. It’s hard to explain but, it is just a mental thing that sets in. They’ll be playing on ‘let’s try and ruin Edgeworth’s party’ and if it’s not going that way they [may lose focus]. I think if we start well, you just take that out of the equation.”

Anthony Richards (Lakes)

“It’s a good opportunity for us to see what we have got in the lower grades. We have got a few boys who can’t play because of either injuries or whatever so we’ll be giving everyone a go at the big shots and see how we go. Edgeworth is playing for a premiership and we are playing for a Mad Monday.”

“The other sides have just had more to play for than we have. Hamilton are fighting for the premiership as is Edgeworth. We just haven’t been able to go with them. That is why they are coming second, Edgeworth is coming first and we are seventh. It’s not too hard at all to motivate the side. We probably had the biggest turnout to training this year the other night. We’ve still got numbers to training and everyone is excited and keen.”

Key: With an understrength side, can the Roosters put the Eagles to the test?




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