NPL Northern NSW round 8 Review











 SPROULE SPORTS FOCUS

 DECLAN PAYNE 

Match of the Round
Valentine Phoenix 4 (Pettit 6’, 58’, Willard 44’, Niyonkuru 86’) def. Weston Bears 3 (Barner 1’, Buswell 79’, 88’)
Sunday 6th May, 2:30 pm at CB Complex

Sunday at CB Complex was a to-and-fro contest between two sides desperate to propel themselves back into the winners’ circle – Weston for the first time since round four, Valentine for the first time this season.

The home side didn’t do it the easy way but managed to do just enough to see out the Bears and grind their way out of last on the ladder.

It didn’t look like things were going to go their way after Jake Barner opened the scoring for Weston after just 35 seconds. New signing Kamon Bol sent a floating ball over to the back post, which Barner headed in.

Valentine was straight on the front foot, and it didn’t take them long for a response. Reece Pettit was the beneficiary of a deep free kick, the captain in the mixer and making no mistake with his header from inside the six-yard box to make it 1-all.

Tega Adjeke went close in the 29th minute after breaking away from a number of defenders and fired off a wicked shot which dipped too late over the crossbar.

A game of pinball ensued inside the penalty area in the 36th minute after Valentine was awarded an indirect free kick for a pass back from Kamon Bol which was picked up by Kane Runge.

Joel Wood’s effort after the free kick that was touched to him was saved, the ball fell to Josh Carroll who saw his shot fly back off the post before Christian Kershaw’s shot went wide into a Bears player. It fell back to Matt Paul, and his shot deflected out for a corner and Weston got away by the skin of their teeth.

Valentine would go ahead just before halftime, and it was another free kick. Floated in from the right-hand side, it was knocked down in the area to Luke Willard who poked home to put his side ahead 2-1.

Wood had an extraordinary chance to double the home side’s advantage just moments after half-time, but he was denied by a low Kane Runge save.

Valentine did double their lead nearly fifteen minutes into the half after they took full advantage of yet another set piece. It was the captain again, Pettit, who rose and headed home to make it 3-1.

Jackson Burtson had a good opportunity in the 71st minute but didn’t get enough power into the shot, before Shinji Shozu forced another good save from Runge down to the keeper’s left in the 76th.

Weston got themselves back in with a shout in the 79th minute after Cooper Buswell rose for the header after a deep Nathan Morris free kick and scored his first goal of the season.

Any hope of a Weston comeback was virtually snuffed out after substitute Aaron Nikonyuru started and finished a move, the goal a precise curling shot into the near post to make the score 4-2.

The visitors may have had their hopes up slightly once again in the 88th minute after Cooper Buswell rose yet again, this time from a Jordan Jackson cross, and headed home to bring the Bears within a goal. Valentine proved too strong at the end, holding out their opponents for a priceless victory.

Valentine coach Darren Sills was ‘happy and relieved’ to have picked up his side’s first win of the campaign.

“It’s good for the club, we got all three grades up,” said Sills.

“We had a blatant penalty disallowed, we hit the post, one-on-one chance with Joel Wood and we should have been more than 3-1 up… Weston had a couple of chances, but we had enough to put them to bed plenty of times over.

“We still scored four goals, but defensively it was lacking at set pieces, in particular, that’s something we have to work harder on… when you score four goals you should win comfortably, not conceding three off set pieces.

“Utilised more of an impact role for Aaron (Niyonkuru) and Shinji (Shozu), pleased within particular Aaron, he did well and Shinji is still a work in progress but he’s doing okay.”

 

Newcastle Jets Youth 0 def. by Lambton Jaffas 2 (Crowley 34’)
Saturday 5th May, 2:30 pm at Arthur Edden Oval

Without a league win since round three, but a huge cup win just days prior, Lambton desperately needed all three points to keep touch with the top on Saturday.

In the shadow of McDonald Jones Stadium and the impending Hyundai A-League grand final, a champion side chock-full of former Newcastle Jets players did the job against the next generation and kept Lambton’s second clean sheet of the season.

Jaffas broke through in the first half, the goal coming after a Bren Hammel free-kick forced a good, high save from Noah James. The ensuing corner from Joel Griffiths was met in the middle by Braedyn Crowley, who scored his first league goal in Lambton colours.

The home side nearly had two just a minute later, after breaking quickly down the pitch and finding Joel Griffiths. He put a foot on it inside the six-yard box for the onrushing Ryan Griffiths, but he was caught perhaps unaware and managed to dribble his shot into the arms of James.

Not long after the break, Jaffas had two. Crowley had a big hand in this one too, squaring the ball to Ben Hay from the left-hand side. Hay slipped through Tom Waller, who finished strongly to make it 0-2.

Jets Youth nearly had one back in the 71st minute, after a Kent Harrison cross was put narrowly wide by Jaffas defender Michael Sessions. In the end, neither side was able to add to the score-line and Lambton jump the Jets to move into fifth place.

 

Hamilton Olympic 4 (Mooney 7’, 21’, 39’, Pettit PEN 63’) def. Lake Macquarie City 3 (Sichalwe 3’, Walker PEN 13’, 58’)
Sunday 6th May, 2:30 pm at Darling Street Oval

Nothing but a win would have done for Hamilton on Sunday, who were fighting hard for a positive result after losing by slim margins time and time again so far this season.

It took a controversial penalty to get them over the line, but Olympic wouldn’t have cared as they edged out Lakes in a seven-goal thriller.

It was a match that was tit-for-tat almost the entire way through, Lakes getting things started through Paul Sichalwe in just the third minute. Their brand of counter-attacking football on full show looked to have opened up a chance, but it was when things broke down that the chance opened up.

Attempting to play their way out of trouble, Olympic’s Reece Papas was caught on the ball just outside the box. It sat up nicely for Sichalwe, and he made no mistake from the edge of the 18 to make it 0-1.

Keen to level things, the home side did just that in the seventh minute. Simon Mooney rose from a corner and headed home to square it up at 1-1.

Lakes was ahead just five minutes later after Tom Davies slid in to make a tackle inside the area and handballed. Davies wasn’t too pleased with the decision, but Sam Walker stepped up regardless and scored his sixth goal in four matches to make it 1-2.

Hamilton got level once again in the 21st minute as they were keen not to rest on their laurels. A floated ball in from Cody Lucas just beat the head of Lakes’ defender Corey Fletcher, and Mooney was there again to square things up.

Hamilton went ahead for the first time in this match just minutes from half-time, Mooney the beneficiary of another great ball, this time from the opposite side. A good touch from Mooney brought it under his control, a measured chip beat Lakes’ keeper Stuart Plant and made it 3-2.

In the 58th minute, Walker shot his way to the top of the competition goal-scoring charts after firing home from outside the area. His shot took a deflection on the way, and Lakes was level.

The key moment in this match would come in the 62nd minute when Tom Sparre dove in on Scott Pettit and looked to have won the ball. A penalty was awarded however and Pettit converted the penalty which he won to send his side ahead 4-3.

Despite more chances at both ends, 4-3 is how it’d stay. Hamilton claiming their first home win in the league this season, while Lakes left searching after conceding nine goals in their last two outings.

Speaking to BarTV Sports after the match, Hamilton coach Peter McGuinness called it a ‘relief’ to have claimed a first league win since round two.

“The group can play good football, week in week out we tend to find ourselves chasing games whether it be through individual mistakes, switching off or whatever reason and it happened again today,” said McGuinness.

“I thought we could have scored in the first minute, we had another opportunity and then we were down again which was the frustrating part… today was about getting a win, getting some points.

“I know they can play football, I know we can develop them further as footballers and as a team but without that key ingredient of winning games, it’s hard to build momentum and get confidence.

“Hopefully we take that into a good week of training and go up against Jaffas next week, a little bit of confidence, we know we can score it’s just about keeping the other end tidy.”

 

Adamstown Rosebud 3 (Carias-Cox 19’, Heydon 30’, def. Charlestown City Blues 2 (Tull 3’, Lewis 66’)
Sunday 6th May, 2:30 pm at Adamstown Oval

Going into last weekend’s clash with Weston, Adamstown was in all sorts of trouble after six league matches without a win and more than twenty goals conceded in those fixtures.

After full-time yesterday, Rosebud now finds themselves with three wins (two in the league, one in the cup) on the trot and can count themselves as only the second side to have got the job done against Charlestown this season.

It looked like Adamstown may have been in for another long afternoon when Charlestown captain Matt Tull poked home from a corner in just the third minute to put the visitors, and league leaders, ahead.

The home side would find a way back in shortly after though, with a corner from the same side the catalyst. The ball found Tom Carias-Cox at the near post, and his glancing header found the back of the net and made it 1-1.

On the half-hour mark, Adamstown was ahead. A ball across from the left off the boot of Judd Duncan found Connor Heydon, who met it superbly on the volley and steered it home past Danny Ireland.

It was a superb individual effort from Cal Lewis which levelled the scores in the 66th minute. He received the ball on the right-hand side, beat two defenders and fired home into the top of the net past Benn Kelly to make the score 2-all.

Charlestown nearly had a third in the 67th minute, when a curling Scott Smith effort was deflected just over the bar.

A quick counter-attack would eventually prove the difference between the two sides in the 78th minute. Adamstown streaked away down the pitch, and it was Connor Heydon who was the beneficiary of a Chris Berlin ball in. His shot made its way in with the help of the inside of the far post.

Adamstown thought they had a fourth in the 83rd minute when a Turki Alwesaidy free kick on the edge of the area found Chris Berlin, and his effort was poked home by Connor Heydon – but he was offside.

Charlestown nearly pinched a point in the 94th minute after a free kick was let through the legs of Riley McNaughton and nearly caught Kelly off guard in goal, but it wasn’t to be as Adamstown celebrated a huge win.

 

Maitland Magpies 1 (Clarke 28’) def. by Edgeworth Eagles 2 (McBreen 21’, Bower 78’)
Sunday 6th May, 2:30 pm at Cooks Square Park

With both sides level on points and first place potentially up for grabs, Maitland and Edgeworth were coming into a difficult clash on the hill at Cooks Square Park.

Edgeworth is looking like the competition has come to know again, as they claimed a priceless victory to extend their unbeaten run to six matches and shoot up to the top of the heap.

It was Daniel McBreen who opened the scoring for Edgeworth with his fourth goal in his past three matches. It was scrappy, McBreen was the beneficiary of a loose ball inside the area after a corner, but he wouldn’t have cared as Edgeworth went ahead 0-1.

Only seven minutes later, Maitland was level. A nice one-two between Ryan Clarke and Chris Fayers saw the former emerge with the ball, and was allowed to run on goal before pulling up and curling in a nice effort from outside the 18-yard box to make it 1-1.

The Eagles nearly went ahead in the 59th minute after a free kick in from Tyson Jackson was met by the head of Josh Evans, but came back off the crossbar.

It has so often been the late show for Edgeworth this season, and it was so once again on Sunday. Substitute Will Bower found himself free inside the area after beating Liam Thornton and cutting back onto his left foot.

Bower unleashed a curling shot, which left Matt Trott with little he could do as it rippled the back of the net and put Edgeworth ahead.

1-2 is how the score would stay, Maitland missing their chance to go the top of the ladder and slipping to fourth with their second loss of the season.

Edgeworth coach Damien Zane said he believed his side ‘deserved’ the win.

“The way that we played, we had to be patient and we were and it’s good, the depth in our squad showed and the effort from the boys off the bench helped us get over the line,” said Zane.

“It was a decent performance, I thought we defended pretty well and didn’t give up much apart from their goal which was a pretty decent strike.”

Despite shooting from fourth to first with the win, the Eagles aren’t getting ahead of themselves just yet.

“It’s early days yet, we hope we can maintain it, we’ve been pretty lucky so far to avoid injuries but it’s a long season and there’s a long way to go so we’re not getting ahead of ourselves,” said Zane.

“The goal we had was semi-finals, that’s our first step and as it gets closer we’ll start thinking about premierships.

“Josh Rose was fantastic, he had a big night on Saturday as one of the retiring players but he was full of energy and you could see his quality,” said Zane.

“The way we trained on Friday when he was there, there was a spring in the boys’ step and he’s added to us already, he’ll be a great fit.”




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