NPL Northern NSW Round 4 Preview
Match of the Round
Adamstown Rosebud v Lake Macquarie City
Sunday 8th April, 2:30 pm at Adamstown Oval
A bottom of the table clash between two sides desperately fighting for their first win of the year is sure to be an interesting battle indeed, with Lakes on the road for the second time this season and hoping to grab their first points of the season.
Adamstown has a solitary point, but they’ll be on the hunt to quadruple their total and bounce back from last weekend’s horror result.
It was the Roosters who had the better of the results between these two sides in their first year back in the top tier of Northern NSW football.
They won 2-1 at Adamstown, and 3-1 at Lake Macquarie. Interestingly, that second result was against a Rosebud outfit coached by Nick Webb, who now heads up Lakes.
It’s an immensely important match for the home side this weekend following their 9-1 drubbing at the hands of Maitland on Good Friday.
They conceded three goals in the opening six minutes last weekend and never really recovered, despite clawing a goal back early in the first half.
One of their key performers on the day was goalkeeper Isaac Terry, who played both 20s and first grade. Despite conceding 13 goals across the two matches, he worked hard and if not for his performance it could’ve been more.
Three rounds in and Lakes remain the only side in the competition to have not picked up a point so far.
Despite this, Lakes look to have improved from their round one defeat to Broadmeadow despite going down to both Weston and Charlestown since.
Offence is the issue for Lakes so far this season. They’ve only scored once this year, but Adamstown has conceded twelve goals in their three fixtures this season.
Maitland Magpies v Valentine Phoenix
Saturday 7th April, 2:30 pm at Cooks Square Park
These two sides scored six goals between them in the first half of their respective matches last Friday, and they’ll each be hoping to emulate those halves of football when Valentine head to Maitland for the weekend’s only Saturday match.
A ten-man Valentine managed to wrestle a 2-all draw the last time these two sides met, in round 18 last season.
For Maitland, a win on Saturday would signal the beginning of a formidable home ground trend. A gutsy come-from-behind win against Weston in round one backed up by Good Friday’s battering of Adamstown.
That win over Adamstown was the first time this season they’ve had coach Michael Bolch in the technical area, and it would’ve been a dream first outing for him as coach.
Keeping feet on the ground and heads out of the clouds after last week won’t be an issue if the on-field talk toward the back end of last weekend’s game is anything to go by. The Magpies were still demanding 100% from each other right until the last whistle, and if they can pick up from where they left off, it’ll hold them in good stead.
It was a dream first half for Valentine last weekend, as they went into the sheds two goals ahead thanks to a Joel Wood double.
What will concern coach Darren Sills, however, is the way in which they let that lead slip, and were dominated by a resurgent Hamilton side who managed to wrestle back a 2-all draw.
Of the sides which finished in the top six last season, Valentine had the worst record on the road with five wins from their ten matches. They weren’t that defensively loose at the back though, which will be key if they’re to take points from this weekend’s match.
Weston Bears v Broadmeadow Magic
Sunday 8th April, 2:30 pm at Rockwell Automation Park
A battered Bears outfit with a tough schedule welcomes a rampant Broadmeadow Magic side this weekend, who has a win, a draw and a loss to their name despite some blistering football early in the 2018 season.
The head to head between these two sides proves interesting reading – Weston hasn’t won in the past five fixtures between these two sides, and you have to go back to round 11 of 2014 to find the last time the Bears managed to take all three points from Magic on home soil.
Save for a fifteen-minute period after half-time, Weston never really looked in the game against Lambton and went down 4-1. They’ll have to be much improved this weekend if they’re to take anything away from a tough Broadmeadow outfit.
There’s good news for the Bears at the back, with former Jets and Mariners Youth product Callum Bower set to make his debut for the club after missing the deadline for last weekend’s match by just a few hours. Unfortunately for the Bears, the prognosis on Kew Jaliens’ ankle isn’t good and he isn’t expected back anytime soon.
Weston home record has been slightly stronger than their away record in recent times, but it’s still not stellar. They’ve only won three of their last twelve matches at home, including their round two defeat of Lakes and last season’s 1-0 FFA Cup win over Cooks Hill.
In contrast, away games seem to be another strong point of Magic’s game under Ruben Zadkovich. They’ve lost only once in their last eleven trips on the road, and that was against Moreton Bay United in last season’s FFA Cup Round of 32.
James Virgili scored again on Sunday to take his total to five for the season so far and ensures he remains at the top of the leagues goalscoring charts.
Despite Virgili’s goal last weekend, Magic did go down to an Edgeworth side who were out with a point to prove. It was their first loss of the season, and they’ll be out to rectify things come Sunday.
What the coaches said:
Steve Piggott (Weston):
“It’ll be like every game to us, the boys are looking forward to it and there’s no hangover from being beat last week by a quality side, it doesn’t get any easier, they’re all tough matches in this competition but we’re looking for a bit of a bounce back.
“We haven’t had the same backline this year since the Heritage Cup, we’ve got a Callum Bower coming into the backline this week and maybe that’ll give us a little more experience. We’re looking to be positive in a couple of areas we were deficient last week, which was tracking runners and getting caught in wide areas, so a little bit to work on.”
Charlestown City Blues v Lambton Jaffas
Sunday 8th April, 2:30 pm at Lisle Carr Oval
This will be a big one. Charlestown, top of the table with the troops to scare any side in the league will play host to an unbeaten Lambton side who look red hot so far this season.
Charlestown conceded the lead and fought back for a 2-all draw the last time these two sides faced off, but it’s been almost two years since the Blues have claimed victory over Lambton.
These two sides are of three who haven’t lost a match in the league so far this season (the other is the Jets Youth), but Charlestown has won all three of their matches whereas Lambton has not.
With Kane Goodchild facing 4-6 weeks sidelined after tearing his hamstring last weekend against Lakes, there are options aplenty for Charlestown this weekend. Daniel Casciaroli, Masaya Sakamoto or new signing Zac Lloyd all shape as possibilities if coach David Tanchevski chooses to go with a three-man midfield.
Despite their winning run, Charlestown has scored the least amount of goals of the sides in the top four at this early stage. They do boast the best defence in the competition though and will prove a tough nut to crack.
Lambton were developing a worrying knack for starting strong and tailing off late but kicked that against Weston last week with a 4-1 win courtesy of some precise finishing from the Griffiths brothers.
Luke Remington and Ridge Mapu made returns from injury in that match, the latter starting and playing sixty minutes with the former his replacement for the remaining thirty, and both did well.
With an already strong squad, the return from injury of these quality players will be a welcome problem for James Pascoe. His starting eleven will only improve as players return to full fitness, and getting it right this weekend will be key if Lambton are to take all three points.
What the coaches said
David Tanchevski (Charlestown)
“We’ve got to keep playing the same way, we’re obviously happy with where we’re at and we’re up against a team with probably the most quality in one side in the competition so it’s a tough test, but we’re looking forward to it.
“For us this weekend, we’re playing a team who most people have got as the team to beat in the competition so we’ve got to be 100% focused and play to our full potential, hope that everything goes right for us.
“We can’t have a bad game this weekend because we know how badly Jaffas can hurt you if you’re not on your game and if we’re there and turn up, we’ll make a good game out of it and there’s no reason we can’t take something from it.”
Newcastle Jets Youth v Edgeworth Eagles
Sunday 8th April, 2:30 pm at Jack McLaughlan Oval
Fresh from their smash and grab win at Broadmeadow, Edgeworth will be hoping to make more of the type of dominating performance they produced last weekend and roll over a refreshed Jets Youth side.
Edgeworth rolled the Jets Youth 4-1 the last time these two met last July, and haven’t lost to the young Jets side since June of 2014. In fact, the Jets Youth have only beat Edgeworth twice since their introduction to the competition back in 2012.
Jets Youth enjoyed the bye over the Easter long weekend, and the week off ensured they retained their mantle as one of only three unbeaten sides in the competition.
They showed grit to claim victory over Valentine in round two, with Kosta Petratos providing the winning goal in that one. It was a marked improvement from the previous week, where the Jets conceded a two-goal lead in final ten minutes against Adamstown.
The young Jets boast a host of fringe A-League talent in their squad for the NPL this season, including the likes of Petratos, Mario Shabow and Angus Thurgate. Their increased involvement as the season wears on will pay dividends for the side.
Edgeworth comes into this weekend’s match off the back of a hugely important win over Broadmeadow on Easter Sunday. It was a match in which they dominated much of the play but had to rely on an own goal to pinch the points.
Much has been made of the ins and outs at Edgeworth this season, but the squad stepped up to the plate on Sunday. Adam Cawley and Dylan Holz were among the star performers up front, and they’ll be hungry to put in another good showing this weekend.
Daniel McBreen looked to be one struggling with injury after all three substitutions had been made at the weekend, due to a hamstring complaint he carried into the match. He’s likely to come off the bench, rather than start the match this weekend.
What the coaches said:
Damien Zane (Edgeworth)
“The bye gave us time to prepare for Broadmeadow, I thought we were deserving and I didn’t think there was much in it. For the young brigade of four or five 18-year-olds, we’re at the same stage we were three years ago when we had your Brody Taylor’s, Keanu Moore, Aden Brice coming through, so for them it’s massive and they believe they’re good enough to compete with the best.
“Jets Youth are a dangerous team, they’re are the best young players in Newcastle and they don’t quite have the experience but their upside is the talent they’ve got, so it’s a dangerous match for us. It’s one where if we win then we go to six points and we’ve had a good start to the year, but if we don’t get three points we’re back with the pack, chasing.”