NPL Northern NSW Round 12 Review
Match of the Round
Weston Bears 3 (Hurley 10’, 28′, Maguire 45′) def. Maitland Magpies 2 (Clarke 19’, Thompson 26’)
Sunday 3rd June, 2:30pm at Rockwell Automation Park
‘El Classicoal’ was the billing ahead of this one, and it was a match equally as thrilling as it’s Spanish cousin.
Five goals in the first half, two absolute screamers from Chris Hurley, and more than a little niggle made for one of the most memorable Coalfields derby’s in recent memory.
The first of Hurley’s goals came early on, in just the tenth minute. Seizing on a loose ball outside the area after it was cleared, the midfielder hit it on the half-volley. It evaded a sea of players inside the area and flew into the back of the net.
Maitland needed a response, and it took just nine minutes to come. Matt Thompson made something out of nothing, playing a ball over the top to Ryan Clarke who was right on the last line of defence. He ran with it and finished through Kane Runge to level the scores.
Just five minutes later, Ryan Clarke was involved at the front end of the pitch again after he was adjudged to have been brought down inside the area by Callum Bower however, replays show there may not have been as much contact as first thought.
Matt Thompson stepped up to take the penalty and buried it home in the 26th minute to put the Magpies ahead for the first time in this match.
Determined not to be outshone, Chris Hurley stepped up once more. Two minutes after Maitland went ahead, Weston went forward and an attack from Tega Marcus broke down.
The ball fell nicely once again to Chris Hurley, and instead of waiting for the bounce he struck it on the volley with some venom. Bending away from goal, the left-footed strike beat Matt Trott and rippled the back of the net and got Weston back on level terms.
Another goal before half-time would have been the perfect way to go to the sheds for either side. It was the home side who found that goal – Josh Maguire at the near post seized on the ball which came in from a corner.
The shot took a deflection on the way in – but it was Maguire’s goal, an injury-time strike to send the Bears to the sheds ahead.
After a frantic, free-scoring first half many were tipping there to be a couple more in the second stanza.
Maitland nearly had just that in the 63rd minute as a corner came flying in and bounced around the area. Alex Read had a golden chance from just three yards out, but his header slammed into the underside of the crossbar and bounced clear.
The visitors were pushing on for a goal, and Weston looked to sit back and defend their lead. Max Foster nearly doubled their advantage with a stinging strike in the 72nd minute which just fizzed past the post.
Making his first appearance in Maitland colours, albeit off the bench, Sean Pratt nearly directed a header home in the 74th minute.
The Bears had a good chance from a set piece up the other end in the 84th minute after Regan Payne was brought down outside the area, but the acute angle proved too sharp for Liam O’Reilly.
Weston was on the back foot and Maitland was looking to pinch an equaliser – Alex Read was thrown up front and the visitors were playing five in the front line at stages.
Carl Thornton had been moved into the midfield and stung the palms of Kane Runge in injury time, but ultimately the Magpies were unable to find a breakthrough. Weston picked up their first win over Maitland since 2015, and moved six points clear off the bottom of tenth place.
Edgeworth Eagles 1 (Cawley 56’) drew Lambton Jaffas 1 (Duncan 87′)
Saturday 2nd June, 2:30pm at Jack McLaughlan Oval
There was a lot of hype around this one – a grand final rematch, and the first time the two sides had met since Lambton’s last-gasp win back in round one.
Ultimately though, two sides with similar lofty ambitions and strong squads cancelled each other out and shared the points.
Edgeworth nearly, and perhaps should have, had the opening goal in the 22nd minute. It was a move created and almost finished by Tyson Jackson, who played a nice ball down his right-hand side to Jamie Byrnes and then busted to make it to the back post.
He received the ball there eventually and fired off toward goal – only the post denied him from his second league goal this season.
There was an interesting coming together shortly after when Jamie Byrnes and former Eagle Bren Hammel had a tangle inside the Lambton area in the 27th minute. Nothing came of it, but it did end up with Hammel over the top of the opposition striker giving him an earful.
Adam Cawley had his share of chances throughout the match – he forced a save in the 29th minute and blazed one high and wide in the 54thminute.
The goal was coming though, and he wasn’t to be denied in the 56th minute. Cutting in from his wing once again Cawley hit a shot which fizzed high into the net, inside the near post but beyond the reach of Brad Swancott.
Lambton was mere inches from equalising in the 70th minute when Braedyn Crowley rattled the post with a shot from close range. The ball rebounded into the side of Josh Low, and luckily for the home side, not into the goal.
Edgy had a strong shout for a penalty in the 74th minute when Bren Hammel and Daniel McBreen got into a tangle inside the penalty area, but the referee waved away the protests.
Things were getting dire for Lambton, and they needed a goal – enter, of all people, Marcus Duncan. He rose for a header from a corner in the 87th minute, and his shot found the back of the net.
The visitors rescued a point at the death and moved two points clear inside the top four, above Charlestown on the ladder (on goal difference) into third spot.
Adamstown Rosebud 1 (Vallone 78’) def. by Newcastle Jets Youth 2 (O’Connor 75’, 88’)
Sunday 3rd June, 2:30pm at Adamstown Oval
The final fifteen minutes was where it all went down at Adamstown, with all three goals coming at the death.
Joseph O’Connor was the goal scorer on both occasions for Jets Youth, his double putting his side ahead and within a win of the top four.
However, it was Adamstown who had the opening chance of the match after youngster Liam Ryan chased down a backpedalling Brendan Knowles as he played a ball back to his ‘keeper.
Chris Berlin was on hand and swooped in, but his shot from an extremely acute angle trickled agonisingly across the face of goal and out.
Determined not to lie down, Jets Youth charged up the other end and nearly had one in the 14th minute when Solomon Vaiika found himself one-on-one with Benn Kelly, but he wasn’t able to beat the veteran goalkeeper.
Luke Rutledge nearly shanked a clearance into his own goal in the 28th minute in a close call for Adamstown, before Robbie Turnbull was forced off with injury shortly after and replaced by youngster Cal Gabriel.
The rain was falling as the second half began and the slippery conditions nearly proved costly for Benn Kelly, who slipped with Yerasimakis Petratos bearing down on goal. He wasn’t able to get his shot away with any real conviction, and Kelly collected it.
Some end-to-end action had the crowd at Adamstown Oval excited just shy of the hour mark when Kieran Hayes had a shot saved and play was sent back the Jets’ way.
The bouncing ball sat up for Luke Vallone, but he wasn’t able to get his shot away with enough power to beat Noah James in the Jets’ goal.
Jets Youth captain Kieran Hayes scored the winner for his side last weekend against Charlestown, and he turned provider in the 75th minute. His little dinked ball found the head of Joseph O’Connor, and he did enough to beat Kelly and put Jets Youth ahead 1-0.
Keen not to let their recent good form go to waste, Adamstown went straight back down the other end and got one back. The long ball worked a treat this time, with Luke Vallone on the end of it to finish for his fourth goal of the season.
A winning attitude has been part of the Jets Youth resurgence this season, and they showed just that in nabbing a winner late in this game.
A free kick in the 88th minute went into the mixer and Kelly got a hand to it, but only knocked it into Rosebud substitute Ayden von Essen. The rebound from him fell nicely for O’Connor, who tapped home for his second of the day and the match winner.
Jets Youth co-coach Lawrie McKinna thought his side did well in getting the three points.
“Like most games in NPL against good teams, the opposition has started strong but once we settled down, we played some good football,” said McKinna.
“I thought we finished the first half very strong, the second half was a bit more even and there were chances at both.
“It was just good to see after Adamstown equalised, the boys come back again and got the winner in the last couple of minutes. Sometimes with young players, you lose a goal late and they go into their shell a little bit. The boys showed a bit of maturity and did very well.
“A hard-fought game, good entertainment value for the crowd.”
Goals in the final fifteen minutes have won matches for Jets Youth in two consecutive matches, and McKinna believes it’s proof of how the young players are progressing.
“We’re trying to develop players for the first team but it’s all about winning, and that’s what we’ve been trying to instil all season,” said McKinna.
“We had that little slump in the middle of the season and that was when we had four or five boys injured, we called up a number of under 18s and weren’t quite getting results. In the last two games, we’ve started to get players back and credit to them.
“Young Brendan (Knowles) the young full-back, is only 16, Jack Simmons is only 16, the bulk of the squad is only 17, a few 18-year-old’s and we’ve got one 19-year-old in the squad.
“Kieran Hayes he battled, Jack Simmons, Jackson Frendo, these guys I thought were outstanding during the game.”
Jets Youth now have a weekend off thanks to FFA Cup action, and will be without McKinna for at least June as he heads to Russia for the FIFA World Cup. Co-coach Labinot Haliti will assume full control on the sideline for that period.
Broadmeadow Magic 3 (Bradbury 36’, Virgili 58’, 81’) def. Lake Macquarie City 0
Sunday 3rd June, 2:30pm at Magic Park
Edgeworth failing to win on Saturday left the door to top spot wide open for Broadmeadow on Sunday and they took full advantage by scoring three goals to propel themselves into first place – level on points with Edgy at the top but with a goal difference which is ten better.
Paul Sichalwe was playing back at Magic Park for the first time since he left Broadmeadow at the end of the last season, and the now-Lakes man fired off an early sighter which had Paul Bitz off his feet to make a save.
A parry from Stuart Plant after a palm-stinging long shot nearly opened the door for John Majurovski to put one away in the 13th minute, but Plant was able to prevent him from close range.
Sam Walker had a golden opportunity in the 14th minute when he was on hand as the ball came across the face of goal, but he wasn’t able to connect and cut a frustrated figure as the chance went begging.
A quick counter-attack around ten minutes before half-time put Magic ahead. As a Lakes corner broke down, Mitch Oxborrow sent a defence-splitting ball down toward the Lakes goal.
Intended for James Virgili, a sliding tackle from a scrambling Lakes defender won it from him but sent it straight into the path of Kale Bradbury. The striker made no mistake in slotting his shot home and edging ahead in the race for the Golden Boot.
Level before half-time would have made for an interesting second half, and Lakes thought they’d got one back in the 45th minute. A free-kick from Paul Sichalwe was helped on by Sam Walker and forced a great save from Paul Bitz.
A scramble ensued in the Magic goalmouth and it went through three sets of legs before ending up in the back of the net, but at least one of the three sets was offside and the goal didn’t stand.
Lakes almost got level in the 53rd minute, but Paul Bitz was on hand to make a fantastic save and deny Sam Walker’s diving header.
A corner five minutes later proved lethal for Lakes, as Magic doubled their advantage. Helping things along and turning provider, Kale Bradbury’s touch somehow wormed its way through for James Virgili who stretched and connected with the ball.
Finding its way high into the top of the net, Magic was up 2-0 and Virgili had now drawn back level in the race for the Golden Boot. He was denied a chance at another goal in the 63rd thanks to a low save from Plant.
The visitors weren’t without their own chances, a low save at the other end from Bitz in the 67th minute and a last-ditch sliding tackle to prevent Morgan Okeno in the 74th minute keeping Lakes at bay.
It was all in vain though, as Broadmeadow would score the goal to put this one to rest. Virgili and Fajkovic combined, the former played a one-two with the latter and finished off the move.
It was a goal which put him one ahead in the race for the Golden Boot, his second of the day and Magic’s third of the day. It was enough to see out the match for Magic, who claimed their seventh win of the season.
Magic coach Ruben Zadkovich called it a good result, but not a great performance.
“We played really well in patches, we had a lot of opportunities where we could’ve had that little bit better execution on the final pass or the final decision,” said Zadkovich.
“We had some good opportunities to score a lot more goals, but all in all we’re happy with the clean sheet, a pretty comprehensive win and we’re pretty happy with the result.”
Goalkeeper Paul Bitz made a few key saves throughout the match, but Zadkovich said it’s what he expects of the experienced shot-stopper.
“He made two or three pretty good saves which kept the clean sheet which was nice, but they’re all saves you expect him to make,” said Zadkovich.
“Lakes had a couple of opportunities, they had a goal that was disallowed for offside so that was a little bit lucky for us. We tried something a little bit different today and it worked for us, we won 3-0 but there’s still things we need to work on.”
The focus now turns to the long weekend at Speers Point and a shot at the FFA Cup Round of 32.
“Every club wants to get into that 32, it’s good exposure for your club and you put your club’s brand out there and it’s really good thing for not just the club, but the players,” said Zadkovich.
“Especially the younger ones, they get a bit of exposure and you see the other players that have gone from NPL clubs to A-League clubs off the back of FFA Cup exploits.
“For me, it’s (the round of 32) just the perfect platform to put players and the club out there, and get a little bit of exposure.”
Charlestown City Blues v Hamilton Olympic was washed out.