NPL Northern NSW Round 10 Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 SPROULE SPORTS FOCUS

 DECLAN PAYNE 

Match of the Round
Hamilton Olympic 2 (Mooney 54′, Pettit 62′) def. by Broadmeadow Magic 4 (Virgili 30′, 61′, Bradbury 46′, 77′)
Sunday 20th May, 2:30pm at Darling Street Oval

A crucial match for each team at what’s nearly the midway point of this NNSW NPL season, it was a chance for Magic to go top and for Olympic to make a charge on the top four.

Hamilton without Rhys Cooper and Broadmeadow without Mitch Oxborrow, it was the visitors who dealt with that absence best as they triumphed – but it wasn’t easy going.

Magic did open the scoring from the penalty spot just prior to the half-hour mark when James Virgili was brought down inside the penalty area by Tyler Warren. Initially awarded a free kick outside the area, the referee changed his mind after consultation with his linesman.

Virgili sent Warren the wrong way when he finally stepped up and converted the penalty which he won.

It took just forty seconds into the second half for Magic to double their lead, and it came from a long ball over the top from ‘keeper Paul Bitz. Dino Fajkovic brought it down and held off some attention, and played in Kale Bradbury who buried his seventh goal of the season.

Ten minutes later, and Olympic were back in with a shout. Jarryd Sutherland created the goal, carrying the ball quite a way and playing in a nice little cross. Simon Mooney got airborne, and acrobatically firing home to make it 2-1.

A goal from nothing restored Magic’s two-goal advantage in the 61st minute. Matt Hoole played a ball into Dino Fajkovic, whose first-time pass found James Virgili in behind. He finished well for his second of the day, and Magic’s third.

Not 60 seconds later, Olympic had clawed one back. Virtually from the kick-off, a long ball was played to Scott Pettit on the right-hand side. The former Magic man took it first time, chipping the onrushing Paul Bitz and grabbed his fourth in as many league matches.

The game was decided by Bradbury’s second goal in the 77th minute, but it wasn’t without controversy. A long ball through the lines found its way to Virgili and allowed him to square up Bradbury, who finished for his eighth league goal of the season.

Hamilton was filthy with the goal however as centre-back Kyle Hodges had stopped and waited alongside a downed Dino Fajkovic. It looked as if the Olympic defence expected Magic to stop and put the ball out but instead, they played on and scored the goal to shoot them to the top of the ladder.

Speaking to BarTV Sports after the win, goal scorer Kale Bradbury said it was a massive win for his Magic side.

“It keeps the roll going, I think that’s eight in a row including the FFA Cup so look, it’s extra special today obviously beating the Greeks [Olympic] at their home ground, so move on to next week and hopefully keeping the roll going on,” said Bradbury.

“The tactic before the game was press really hard early, and we did and it sort of opened up in the second half and towards the end of the first half, so credit to Rubes [Zadkovich], his tactics worked.

“The last eight games I don’t think we’ve had a bad player on the park, everyone’s contributing so that’s a big reason for why we’re going so well, it’s just extra special today.”

 

Lake Macquarie City 0 def. by Edgeworth Eagles 2 (Bizzarri 22′, Byrnes 55′)
Saturday 19th May, 2:30pm at Macquarie Field

Edgeworth momentarily fought their way back to the top of the ladder with a smash and grab victory over a struggling Lakes on Saturday.

After Sunday’s results though, Edgeworth sit in second while Lakes remain off the bottom thanks to Adamstown’s win at Valentine.

Dom Bizzarri opened the scoring in the 22nd minute with his second goal of the season. It was a move which was started from back at the goalkeeper, but Jamie Byrnes was the man who dug something out.

He received a long ball and fought with Lakes’ Tom Walker for possession, winning out and running into the box. A petite cut back found Bizzarri, and he made it 1-0 Edgeworth.

The visitors could have had a second in the 32nd minute when Adam Cawley sent Lakes’ Corey Fletcher one way, then the other, got him and found himself one-on-one with ‘keeper’ Stuart Plant – but couldn’t beat him.

Lakes had a chance of their own up the other end just two minutes later, but Sam Walker was unable to beat Josh Low in the Edgeworth goal.

Edgeworth doubled their advantage shortly after half-time, with a goal which was somewhat controversial. A long goal kick found its way to Jamie Byrnes at the point of the attack, and he touched around Josh Low and headed toward goal.

The ball took a deflection off the post and bounced around the goalmouth, and didn’t hit the net but was adjudged to have crossed the line. A decision which some on the Lakes side didn’t agree with, but Jamie Byrnes had his fifth goal of the year and Edgeworth’s second of the day.

The home side had a good chance to get back in it in the 75th minute after Mitch Hunter put Sam Walker in front of goal, but he could only drill his shot into the palms of an impenetrable Low.

Walker would hit the post in the 77th minute too, although he might not have known so much about the header which was palmed onto his head as Edgeworth dealt with a dangerous cross into the area.

Despite a lot of possession and some good field position, Lakes were ultimately unable to find a way through a stoic Edgeworth defence. The defending premiers shooting momentarily back to the top, the Roosters remaining just shy of last.

Lakes boss Nick Webb said his side were ‘desperately unlucky’ not to come away with at least a point on Saturday.

“We didn’t play well enough first half, but second half we certainly put them under enormous pressure but didn’t score,” said Webb.

“There were numerous chances to score which was great, but the result didn’t go our way again… a bit of a rev-up at half-time, (talking about) sticking to the structures instead of not playing to the game plan and once we stuck to the game plan, we did super well.

“There were just a couple of super costly errors from long balls which cost us the game, they weren’t well-constructed goals.”

Lake Macquarie is now without a win in the league since the 6-1 drubbing of Valentine, but Webb says the confidence is still there.

“We’re not scared of any team, we’ve certainly tested most teams and after we got those couple of wins I thought we were on the right track, it’s just poor mistakes that have cost us goals and unfortunately, at the end of the day, that’s why we are where we are.”

Edgeworth coach Damien Zane was ‘pretty happy’ to get the three points.

“I’ve just had a look at it actually, when we got to 2-0 I thought we fatigued a bit and went a little bit soft but overall we were in control and it was good to bounce back,” said Zane.

“That was what it was all about, bouncing back from the loss and we did that so we were happy.”

“I thought he worrying about goals a bit too much, as strikers do, and we told him to concentrate on what he’s doing and the goals will come and he got one, and probably should have had another one or two,” said Zane.

“We told him not to go away from what you’re doing, and focus on yourself and stick to what the team’s doing, and I thought it was a really positive game for him.

After the dust settled on round ten, Edgeworth (goal difference of +7) sit second – level on points with Broadmeadow (GD of +15) above them, and Charlestown (GD of +6) below them.

Despite that logjam and the arm wrestle underway for top spot, Zane isn’t having his players focus on the premiership just yet.

“It’s one match at a time, our first focus is semi-finals football, we lost six players and were probably counted out by most people,” said Zane.

“We’ve given ourselves a good shot at being there in the semi-finals, and as it gets closer if there’s anything else we need to refocus we’ll do it but at the moment, at the middle part of the year it’s just week by week, grinding out wins.”

 

Valentine Phoenix 1 (Kershaw 5′) def. by Adamstown Rosebud 2 (Vallone 10′, 23′)
Sunday 20th May, 2:30pm at CB Complex

An absolute howitzer from American import Christian Kershaw had Valentine ahead early and momentarily off the bottom of the ladder on Sunday.

Adamstown looks unstoppable at the moment though, and a first-half fight-back was enough to secure their fourth league win in as many attempts.

That first goal was created and finished by Kershaw. He started his run from inside his own half out on the right hand side, firing in what looked like a mishit cross. A bullet, it somehow beat Benn Kelly at the near post and hit the underside of the crossbar and found its way in for Kershaw’s first goal in Phoenix colours.

The hero at Edgeworth last weekend, Luke Vallone stepped up again just five minutes later to get Adamstown level. He was the beneficiary of a nice ball in behind from Chris Berlin and cut back nicely onto his right foot to slide a finish past Scott Carter and make it 1-1.

In the 22nd minute, Vallone had his third goal in two games. Backtracking and under considerable pressure, Shinji Shozu attempted to play a ball back to his keeper. Vallone swooped on it and angled a nice finish with his right foot inside the far post to make it 2-1.

Valentine almost had one back in the 51st minute, when a Josh Carroll free kick just whizzed past the post. Carroll had another good chance in the 64th minute when he made his way in behind however fired over the crossbar.

The visitors were put on the back foot for much of the second half but managed to keep their lead intact. They had a big shout for a penalty turned down in the 76th minute when Connor Heydon looked to have been pulled down inside the area, but the referee said nothing doing.

Phoenix controlled much of the ball and the territory but was Adamstown who had one of the best chances in the late stages of the match after a breakaway in the 93rd minute. Connor Heydon found himself with only Scott Carter to beat, and decided to square up to Zane Winslade – but he was offside.

The home side went back up the other end and a ball across the goal fell perfectly to Aaron Niyonkuru, who only had to hit the target to score. His first-time shot went over the bar and with it, Valentine’s hopes of clawing their way off the bottom of the ladder.

Adamstown boss Shane Cansdell-Sherriff was pleased with a win which he described as ‘not a pretty game’.

“It wasn’t good football, attractive football, but three points is three points,” Cansdell-Sherriff.

“We looked tired and a bit sluggish, the pitch didn’t help, it was quite bumpy and you could see that in back passes to the keeper going up and hitting him in the shins, we had a couple of boys off their game a little but we fought hard and defended well.

“Valentine were lucky with their first goal, aiming to cross the ball and it somehow found it’s way in the top corner at the near post but the boys didn’t put their heads down, got two goals back quite quickly.”

Six wins on the trot now have Adamstown flying ahead of the bye next weekend, but Cansdell-Sheriff believes minds are still firmly on the task ahead.

“The boys are happy, they’re in a good place but they know they’ve worked hard and they have to keep working harder,” said Cansdell-Sherriff.

“Next weekend we have a break, but then it starts again and we have the second half of the season, we’ve got to start how we finished and go on from there.

“We’ll keep going and take it one game at a time, won’t look too far ahead of ourselves and deal what’s in front of us.”

Cansdell-Sherriff also gave his thoughts on his side drawing Broadmeadow Magic in the seventh round of the FFA Cup.

“We played Magic not too long ago and although we lost the game 4-0, it was one of those games where we were in the game for large parts of it,” said Cansdell-Sherriff.

“They’re a big team, good well organised, well structured and some good players in there so we’re looking forward to the challenge.”

 

Maitland Magpies 2 (Comerford 57′, Thompson 80′) def. by Lambton Jaffas 3 (Crowley 21′, 45′, Griffiths 40′)
Sunday 20th May, 2:30pm at Cooks Square Park

Perhaps the most crucial match for Jaffas so far this season, they needed three points here today. A win would take them to within one point of the top four, a loss would have left them potentially seven points adrift.

They faced an injury-hit Maitland side which started without Alex Read, Grant Brown, Ryan Clarke and Mat Swan. Things got worse though just twenty seconds into the match for Maitland as they lost Josh Dutton-Black after he fell awkwardly.

Worryingly for Maitland in the fifth minute, Dutton Black’s replacement Louis Townsend went down with an injury. He was able to carry on, but only after some attention from medical staff.

An early goal would have helped calm things down for Lambton, and it was an early goal they got in the 21st minute. Keeping up the pressure after a corner, Bren Hammel floated a ball back into the box which was turned in by the head of Braedyn Crowley.

One before half-time is always a bonus, and Lambton were the beneficiaries of just a goal which was helped in only by the lightning-quick reactions of Ryan Griffiths. The ball in from Ridge Mapu was tricky, the way he beat Liam Thornton in the lead up even more so.

Left to run by the Maitland defence, it fell behind Griffiths but he had no trouble in pulling it out for his fifth goal of the season.

If one just before half-time is good, then two are even better and Crowley grabbed his second in the 45th minute. Played in over the top by Joel Griffiths, Crowley poked his shot past Matt Trott, who did get a hand to it but wasn’t able to keep it out and Lambton went to the sheds three goals to the good.

It was going to take something special for the home side to get back into this match, and inspiration came in the form of Matt Comerford. Charging down the right-hand side, he looked to have worked himself into a prime position to fire in a cross.

Instead, the number seven lashed at it and hit the far corner of the goal to get Maitland back into it.

In a welcome return for Jaffas, Jobe Wheelhouse made his way onto the pitch in the 63rd minute after speculation he may have severely reinjured his troublesome ankle and was set for an extended period on the sideline.

In the 80th minute, Comerford turned provider to give Maitland hope. Played in by Andrew Swan, his cross to the back post was met by the head of Matt Thompson and he made it 3-2.

Another boost for Jaffas came in the 85th minute, as Michael Kantarovski made his way onto the pitch and returned from injury. He helped Lambton keep their defence compact and prevented Maitland having a sight on goal in the final ten minutes, securing all three points for the visitors.

 

Weston Bears beat Newcastle Jets Youth 2-1 on June 9.




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