NPL Northern NSW Round 13 Preview
Match of the Round
Lake Macquarie City v Weston Bears
Saturday 16th June, 2:30pm at Macquarie Field
This weekend’s match of the round takes us to Macquarie Field for a game which will have real implications for those sides hovering around the bottom of the ladder.
No FFA Cup duties for either side mean they come into this fresh off a weekend’s break, something which Weston may not have wanted given they scored a huge derby win over Maitland in Round 12.
Some time off may have been just what Lakes needed given they’d lost six league games straight prior to the week off. A goal difference which is one better than Valentine’s is all that’s keeping them better from bottom.
An up-and-down run has Weston sitting on 12 points, but they’ll no doubt be buzzing after that surprise derby win over a strong Maitland side. The return of Kew Jaliens, who played around 60 minutes in the relatively unfamiliar role of striker, is an encouraging sign for one of the youngest squads in the competition.
The loss of Kamon Bol, who was deregistered from the squad, creates opportunities for the likes of young defender Angus Lathan, who started against Maitland in that win a fortnight ago. He was one of the best on the park and may be called upon once more on Saturday.
A win for Weston may just be enough to ensure they avoid the wooden spoon for the first time in three seasons. While there’s still plenty of football left to be played, three points would extend the gap between them and bottom up to nine points.
Meanwhile, a win for Lakes would keep them off the bottom of the ladder and close that gap between them and Weston (in ninth) to just three points. For them, this is a key ‘six-pointer’.
Relatively injury-free for much of the season, the week off for Lakes might have stood as a good chance for them to catch their breath and regroup ahead of the nine remaining league matches.
If the second half of the season is going to be better than the first, then home form may be a good place to start. They have the equal-second worst record at home this season, with just one win from six attempts.
What the coaches said:
Nick Webb (Lakes)
“We had a bit of a bonding session on Saturday then back into training pretty hard, getting ready for Weston. I’m not sure if it was a good time for a break, I think we’ll find the answer to that on Saturday. The boys are certainly pumped for the game, training really really well.
“It’s probably been our best training week of the year and we’re going into the game with high hopes. We’re expecting a tough match, they’ve done really well in recent weeks and are very compact, two strikers made a huge difference with Kew Jaliens up top, experienced player.
“When you’ve got those sorts of players in your team, you normally get some good structures and success, so we have no doubt it’s going to be a tough match. We’re lucky enough that we have some wide players that can attack, we’re strong through the front third with our strikers and we’ll be looking to mix it up and change what’s in front of us.
“We’re looking to turn our season around, and it starts this week.”
Newcastle Jets Youth v Valentine Phoenix
Sunday 17th June, 2:30pm at CB Complex
Things are getting desperate at Valentine, and Jets Youth will need to be at their best if they’re to overcome Phoenix on Saturday afternoon.
Of course, it was Jets Youth who did the job the last time these two sides met with a 2-1 victory back in Round 2. Back to the beginning of the draw after the bye in the last round, Valentine will want a win in order to get their second half of the season off to a much better start.
Without Lawrie McKinna in the technical area this weekend due to a trip to Russia for the FIFA World Cup, it falls on Labinot Haliti to take full responsibility on the sideline.
It’s certainly a good time for Haliti to flex his muscle, given confidence is sure to be high after two straight wins over quality opposition – 1-0 over Charlestown three weeks ago, and 2-1 over Adamstown in the last round.
One man who has been immense for Jets Youth in both those victories is captain Kieran Hayes. The midfielder scored the winner against Charlestown and set up the first against Adamstown and is a key cog in the Jets machine.
At the bottom of the ladder and without a win since victory over Weston back in round eight (their only win of the season), it will have been three weeks since Valentine has taken the pitch by the time they take to it on Saturday.
Their last match was the tight 1-0 defeat to Edgeworth in Round 11, with a bye and the FFA Cup weekend meaning they’ve spent plenty of time on the sidelines with discussions regarding their goals for their remaining ten matches.
Wilson Edwards is out for Valentine this weekend and looks likely to be so for at least another fortnight. The loss of American import Christian Kershaw also leaves a hole, which is yet to be filled.
What the coaches said:
Sam Griffin (Valentine assistant)
“Three weeks between games, which is not ideal but probably at the stage we were in it was a good time to go away, have a bit of a break then come back and get back into it. Everyone is pretty fresh and raring to go, which is the reaction you’re hoping for.
“I went and watched the Jets a couple of weeks ago against Adamstown and they were very fluid, you’re used to the Jets being quite structured but their rotation was so good. I think we’re going to have to have eyes in the back of our heads to keep track of all the movement.
“They’re quite good at keeping possession and not turning the ball over as often, we would like to take it to them and get up in their face a bit and play up their end a bit more. The first time we played them was up own end, so hopefully turn them around and get something out of it.”
Lambton Jaffas v Broadmeadow Magic
Saturday 16th June, 2:30pm at Arthur Edden Oval
Midweek matches for both sides where neither left anything in the tank, although Lambton was forced to play an extra half hour than their Magic counterparts.
It was all for nothing in the end for Jaffas though as they went out of the FFA Cup on penalties, while Magic got the job done 2-1 over Hamilton on Wednesday night.
They haven’t lost since Round 4 at Weston, and now Broadmeadow has been buoyed further after the win on Wednesday night sent them into the FFA Cup Round of 32.
It follows relatively straightforward 3-0 wins over Adamstown in the FFA Cup final eight on Saturday, and Lakes in the league the week before.
There were question marks over Kale Bradbury’s fitness for one after he went off with injury during that clash with Adamstown. Encouragingly for Magic though, he played the full 90 minutes in that midweek win over Hamilton.
It was heartbreak for Lambton as they crashed out of the FFA Cup following the heroics of Charlestown ‘keeper Danny Ireland to help the Blues win out on penalties after no goals in 120 minutes.
Both Lambton and Magic may have felt the odds were even coming into Saturday given both were playing midweek matches, but the extra half hour may prove something of a difference come the weekend.
Bren Hammel is out for Jaffas due to an overseas trip, while Braedyn Crowley is available for selection once again after being cup-tied for that fixture on Wednesday night.
It’s a match which is of huge importance to both sides and could have big implications on the make-up of the ladder. If Magic win, they’ll go three points clear of Edgeworth who has the bye this weekend and Lambton could potentially drop out of the four.
A Jaffas win would bring them to within one point of top spot though, improve on that goal difference which could be key come season’s end, and put a stop to Magic’s dream run of late.
Hamilton Olympic v Adamstown Rosebud
Sunday 17th June, 2:30pm at Darling Street Oval
With the FFA Cup now in the rear-vision mirror for both these sides, the league is once again the priority and with just a point separating the pair a win for either will be crucial.
Hamilton triumphed last time the two met as a Jed Hornery goal was enough to secure coach Peter McGuinness’ first competitive win as Olympic coach – 1-0 back in Round 2 this season.
It was a case of so close, yet so far for Hamilton in the FFA Cup. They went down at the last hurdle, a 2-1 defeat to Broadmeadow on Wednesday night denying them a shot on the national stage.
With all eyes back to the league, Hamilton needs to start picking up wins everywhere they go if featuring in the finals is a goal for them this season. They’re six points and four places adrift of the top four, albeit with a game in hand.
With Simon Mooney waiting on the results of an MRI on Friday to assess how bad his injury on Wednesday night was, there are a number of question marks of others in the squad as well. Scott Pettit, Kyle Hodges, Jarryd Sutherland and Jed Hornery are all unknowns ahead of Sunday.
Adamstown didn’t make it quite as far in the cup as Hamilton but both were beaten by the same side. Rosebud went down 3-0 on Saturday at out at Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility.
It wasn’t a particularly poor performance though, which will have given coach Shane Cansdell-Sherriff some encouragement. As their eyes turn back to the league, the ladder isn’t bad viewing for Adamstown.
After a bad start to the year, that run of four league wins in a row catapulted them into seventh and just five points from the top four. It looks a long shot, but with a couple of victories Adamstown could compete for one of those spots in the four.
What the coaches said:
Peter McGuinness (Hamilton)
“The FFA Cup loss is disappointing but we move on, that’s the end of that competition and we’ll concentrate heavily now on the league and try to climb the ladder as high as we possibly can.
“I was happy with the performance considering we had a few knocks and bruises from the weekend, we lost Scott Pettit in the warm-up and then Simon Mooney who are two key players in our front third. We recovered and competed well… a bit of luck could have gone our way, but unfortunately didn’t.
“Adamstown have improved dramatically, what Shane’s done with them he’s got points and managed to climb the ladder and he’s done a good job. A number of players there out of last year Olympic under 20s side who trained with us pre-season then decided to head over the road. I’m expecting plenty of players with a point to prove.
“A lot of the injured boys will wait until the morning of the game, and that’s to give them every opportunity.”
Maitland Magpies v Charlestown City Blues
Sunday 17th June, 2:30pm at Cooks Square Park
It’s fourth versus fifth up at Cooks Square Park on Sunday as Maitland look to snap a poor run of form and jump back into the top four.
Meanwhile, Charlestown is riding high after qualifying on penalties for the FFA Cup Round of 32, and hoping they can fight their way back toward the top spot.
Without victory since the 2-0 victory over Lakes back in Round 9, Maitland will be looking to move on quickly from that shock loss to Weston in the Coalfields Derby.
Home has been a somewhat happy hunting ground for the Magpies, who have lost just twice at Cooks Square Park this season. Three points against a strong Charlestown side could prove the perfect boost to kick Michael Bolch’s side on for the back end of the season.
The Magpies come into this one very fresh compared to their opponents. Their last game was that loss to Weston two weeks Sunday due to their crashing out of the FFA Cup against Lakes in the competition’s fifth round.
Charlestown made history by becoming just the fifth team in Northern NSW (excluding Newcastle Jets) to qualify for the FFA Cup after that penalty win over Lambton on Wednesday night.
Squad management will be key to getting three points this weekend and in the coming weeks ahead. This match will be Charlestown’s third in eight days (smack-bang in the middle of five in fifteen days) and comes off the back of a gruelling 120 minutes against Lambton.
The Blues will be hoping ‘keeper Danny Ireland can replicate his FFA Cup heroics this weekend. He was enormous throughout the win over Lambton with key saves in extra-time and the penalty shootout.
This is an important match for both sides, given the make-up of the ladder. A loss could see Charlestown drop out of the top four (albeit with a game in hand), whereas a loss for Maitland could see them potentially five points adrift of the top four.