Talking Points: Round 4
By Declan Payne
Lakes on the board, Adamstown nearly on struggle street
It took four rounds, but Nick Webb’s Lakes outfit finally got themselves some points on the board with a resounding 4-0 victory against a ten-man Adamstown side at the weekend.
Sunday brought everything together for Lakes, who were able to control the second half thanks to their man advantage and score some well-worked goals.
Lakes have only one more match, next weekend against Valentine before they’re given a week off to play the bye. They’ll be keen to take maximum points against Valentine and propel themselves as high up the ladder before then.
For Adamstown, alarm bells aren’t quite ringing but with only one point to show from twelve on offer and two big defeats in a row they’re not far off.
They have been missing key defensive man Luke Rutledge in their past two matches, and will desperately need him back for their next two – Lambton and Broadmeadow.
Maitland denied at home, Valentine chipping away
It’s only early days, but Maitland are yet to lose at Cooks Square Park this season and have in fact claimed half as many points at home already as they did in the entirety of last season.
They’ll return to Cooks Square after the play the bye in round five, and play their next three matches in fact on home soil. If the Magpies can find maximum points in those fixtures, they really will have built a fortress on the hill at Maitland.
Valentine are still without a win from their three matches so far this season but will be pleased with the points they’ve managed to dig out against quality opposition in Hamilton and Maitland.
What’s more is the players they’ve missed in the majority of their three matches – the likes of Zac Sneddon and Chris Brown through injury, and Daniel Ott through work commitments shaped as key to Phoenix’s chances this season.
To pick up points and chug along without those players in the line up is extremely positive for Darren Sills’ side, and they’ll be hungry for their first win of the season next weekend at Lakes.
Jets Youth unlucky, Edgeworth keeping touch
It was a match in which Edgeworth coach Damien Zane admitted their opponents were unlucky not to walk away with anything, and it signalled the Jets’ first loss of the season.
Their control of possession and dominance of the field position would be encouraging signs for coaches Lawrie McKinna and Labinot Haliti, but the inability to convert may be a worry.
The perennial premiers have known for some time how to dig in and get a win despite not playing their best football, and what pleased Zane the most about last weekend’s performance was just that.
A virtually new-look squad this season doesn’t look to have damaged the Eagles’ mentality, who’ve only lost once this season in a 94th-minute hiccup against Lambton in the opening round.
They currently sit just inside the top four, and given keeping touch with Charlestown at the top looks like it will be quite some mission, it’s imperative for the Eagles that they continue to chip away and take points where they can.
Weston revel in Magic victory, Broadmeadow’s blip on the radar
Before Sunday, Weston hadn’t beat Broadmeadow since 2015, and not at Rockwell Automation Park since the year before that. This win, their second of the season, doubles their tally from last season.
On Sunday, Steve Piggott’s side showed the kind of determination and longevity which had been missing from their performances over the last year and dug in to claim all three points despite a Broadmeadow onslaught in the second half.
It’ll be straight back to work for the Bears though, with games against Edgeworth and Charlestown on the horizon they need to attempt to build some momentum and perhaps even look to maintain their position on the ladder. They sit fifth currently.
A third-minute James Virgili goal had those around Rockwell Automation thinking that perhaps this was going to be a walk in the park for the Magic men, but they were unable to convert their early lead into any points.
It won’t be panic stations for Ruben Zadkovich’s side, just a blip on the radar but facing Charlestown at home this weekend may give Magic more of an indication of just how good they can be.
Charlestown go four from four, Lambton desperately unlucky
The last time any side went four wins from their opening four matches in the NPL NNSW competition was back in 2012 when Broadmeadow did just that and went on to finish a point behind premiers Hamilton but sealed the championship.
For Charlestown, to claim a fourth win on the trot and do it without marquee striker Kane Goodchild is an early indicator that they may well be on a similar path to Broadmeadow of years past.
To do it against last year’s champions Lambton is even bigger news, but it certainly wasn’t easy after a blistering first half and a forgetful second half seen the Blues rely on a healthy slice of luck to secure the victory.
That healthy slice of luck was anything but for Lambton, who looked on track to claim their best ever start to an NPL campaign before a slip from Michael Sessions brought that undone.
Despite that slip, it does equal their best beginning to a season and with a different type of challenge against Adamstown next weekend, Jaffas will be hopeful they can work their way back into the winners’ circle.