NPL Northern NSW Round 17 Preview

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 SPROULE SPORTS FOCUS

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Match of the Round

Broadmeadow Magic v Adamstown Rosebud

Sunday 15th July, 2:30 pm at Magic Park

Knocked off the top spot for the first time since they rose there back in round 11, Magic will want to do all they can in order to get back there this weekend.

Local rivals Adamstown will be stinging after defeat last Sunday saw them slip down the ladder and virtually wave goodbye to their slim finals hopes.

A similar result to their round six exertions will see Broadmeadow hold up their end of the bargain. They won 4-0, with three goals in the final half-hour helping to blow the scoreline out.

It’s a good chance for Magic to strike back this weekend after they were beaten 1-0 by Charlestown last weekend and knocked out of top spot as a result.

James Virgili was a notable absentee last weekend as he spent time in China with the Newcastle Jets squad. He’s expected to return this weekend and is sure to play a big part.

Magic Park has been a fortress for Broadmeadow this season. They’ve lost just once there in the league and have taken 17 points from eight matches at home.

In comparison, Adamstown hasn’t been too shabby on the road. They’ve picked up 11 of their 16 points and have lost just one of their past five away from home.

Things didn’t go all that well at home last weekend though, going down 3-0 by a Lambton side which played the final half hour with just ten men after Michael Sessions was sent off.

It’s the continuation of a somewhat worrying trend which has seen Adamstown fail to win in their last six matches, including the FFA Cup, stretching back to their 2-1 defeat to Jets Youth back on June 3.

 

Lambton Jaffas v Valentine Phoenix

Saturday 14th July, 2:30 pm at Arthur Edden Oval

Undefeated in the league since the middle of May, Lambton will be hoping they can keep that trend up this weekend.

In their way is a Valentine side down on luck, points, and goals. If they can turn things around, they may yet avoid the last spot on the ladder – is this weekend the one?

Whether or not a similar scoreline to the last time these two sides met will be enough to constitute a turnaround isn’t quite clear. It was a scoreless draw, back in round six.

It’s an unbeaten run for Lambton which has featured five wins and three draws – two of the latter against fellow top-four hopefuls Edgeworth and Broadmeadow.

Last weekend was another good result and it edged them closer to top spot – a 3-0 win over Adamstown, made more special by the fact Jaffas managed to play out the final half hour with only ten men.

The downside from that result for Lambton is that they’ll be missing defensive marshal Michael Sessions. They’ve conceded just 17 goals this season and will be hoping to keep that number as is.

In a stat which might raise some eyebrows, Lambton has actually conceded fewer goals this season than Valentine has scored. Phoenix has missed the goals of Jalon Brown big time this season, and they have just 13.

One of those came last weekend, as Phoenix fell agonisingly short of an all-too-important point. An 87th-minute goal to Sam Walker locked up a 2-1 win for Lake Macquarie.

They currently have two games in hand on the three sides above them, and Valentine are five points adrift at the bottom of the ladder. With the likes of Magic and Charlestown ahead in the run home, a positive result today would make all the difference.

What the coaches said

Sam Griffin (Valentine assistant)

“It’s probably one of the few games that you can’t do a great deal of research on because of their turnover of players at the moment, a few injuries, [you don’t know] who’s going in or out so we’re just going to have to play it as it lies come Saturday. It is Lambton though, so they’re always sharp.

“The result against them earlier in the season was a bit of a reflex action because we got thumped by Lakes the week before and had to go very defensive. Now, at a different stage of the season where we need points, a 0-0 draw is no good to us. We’ll be on the front foot, and hopefully with a few of the numbers they have out we’ll have a few more opportunities and be able to get the one we missed out on in the first round.

“One of the boys said to me after the game last week ‘I don’t feel like we’re playing any worse than we did last year’ when we were top four or five for most of the year. We’re just not getting the results go our way, and for a team which is down the bottom, our resolve and our attitude is pretty good.

“If we come out and play as well as we have been and as well as we can, we get that little bit of luck that everyone needs I can see us taking three points.

“Nathan Hundley broke his foot against Maitland and we only found out before the Lakes game, so he’ll be out but we’re not sure for how long. Wilson Edwards is out, and Zac Sneddon is unlikely with a quad strain.”

 

Maitland Magpies v Newcastle Jets Youth

Sunday 15th July, 2:30 pm at Cooks Square Park

Fresh from the bye and still inside the top four after missing a week’s action, Maitland know little but a win will do this weekend.

Same goes for their opponents though, who scored a big win last weekend and will ride a wave of confidence into Sunday.

It was tight last time the two sides met, and if not for the heroics of Jets goalkeeper Noah James things might not have been so 1-0 to Maitland, back in round six.

They spent a week away from the pitch last week with the bye, and now Maitland needs to come back firing if they’re to lock down a semi-finals spot.

Their last match was the 0-0 draw with Valentine, which was preceded by a 2-2 draw with Adamstown. Two points which could easily have been six, but it’s a case of looking ahead for the Magpies.

Defeat this weekend would see them give up their spot in the top four, and it could see them drop as low as seventh. This is a big one for Maitland.

Whereas defeat for Maitland would see them drop out of the top four, a win for Jets Youth could potentially have the youngsters as their replacements inside the finals spots.

While they can’t qualify for the NPL NNSW finals, there is a definite culture of winning which has been ingrained in the side and that was on full display last weekend in the 3-2 win over Hamilton.

There was individual brilliance from Yerisimakis Petratos, a pair of nicely worked goals and some good defending. They’ll be boosted this weekend by the return of a number of players from China, where they travelled with members of the senior squad.

 

Edgeworth Eagles v Hamilton Olympic

Sunday 15th July, 2:30 pm at Jack McLaughlan Oval

Two big wins in as many weeks and a dollop of luck in results elsewhere has Edgeworth back on top of the league.

A midweek bounce-back has Hamilton dreaming of the top four once more, and it looks closer than it has all season.

If we were to bear witness to a match as entertaining as the last time these two met, we’d be lucky indeed. That one was Hamilton’s 3-2 win in sixth round of the FFA Cup. Back in round six of the NPL NNSW, Edgeworth won out over Hamilton by the same scoreline.

Edgeworth will farewell Mitch Dobson this weekend, who will leave a big hole in one of the league’s best defences. It might force a reshuffle in coming weeks, but for this weekend at least things are as per usual.

What will please the Eagles is being back on top for the first time since round 11 after Broadmeadow failed to take all three points away from Charlestown last weekend.

Edgeworth held up their end of the bargain beating Weston at Weston, 4-1 last Saturday. It was another first-half blitz, and in their past two, they’ve scored seven goals in the opening half.

Hamilton could have been level on points in fourth but behind on goal difference if not for a 3-2 defeat to Jets Youth last Saturday.

They might be ruing what may have been after beating out Charlestown 2-0 on Wednesday to climb within three points of Maitland in the top four.

What will be especially encouraging about the win over the Blues is that it was without centre-back and captain Kyle Hodges, who missed out with an injury. Jed Hornery and Blake Green were on the bench, slowly returning from injuries themselves.

 

Weston Bears v Charlestown City Blues

Sunday 15th July, 2:30 pm at Rockwell Automation Park

It’s nearly the backend of a tough run for Weston which, for the most part, they haven’t weathered all too badly.

This weekend might prove their biggest challenge yet though, as they’ll host a Charlestown side which is flying high after its big win in round 16.

It was tight and it was with ten men for the closing stages, but it was Charlestown who emerged triumphant with a 2-1 win over the Bears the last time these two sides met.

The big news out of Weston this week has been the announcement of their coach for 2019. Kew Jaliens will step into the role, one he’s already familiar with given his work with the side as an assistant coach this season.

The immediate focus will be finishing this season as high as possible, and last weekend’s 4-1 loss to Edgeworth was stretched their winless run out to four games.

Weston has done the job over more-fancied opposition twice at home this season with famous victories over both Magic and Maitland. Can they manage another one on Sunday?

The Blues are down on troops and were missing the likes of Zac Lloyd, Ljubo Milicevic, and Daniel Laiman from the defence on Wednesday night when they went down 2-0 to Hamilton.

That defeat put Charlestown slightly behind the eight ball when it comes to the race for the top four – they’ve level on points (22) with Maitland in fourth, but the Magpies have a game in hand.

The match against Weston will be Charlestown’s third in seven days, and there might be some tired legs out there on Sunday. They might look back to last Sunday, and take confidence from a brilliant 1-0 win over then-leaders Broadmeadow.

 

Lake Macquarie has the bye




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