NPL Northern NSW Round 19 Review
Match of the Round
Edgeworth Eagles 1 (Jackson 85’) drew Maitland Magpies 1 (Pratt 73’)
Sunday 29th July, 2:45 pm at Jack McLaughlan Oval
It took until the second half for this clash to really come to life, but when things sparked it ensured a thrilling finish on Sunday afternoon.
Tyson Jackson was the saviour for Edgeworth, rescuing a point with an 85th-minute goal after Maitland perhaps could have been a little further ahead.
There weren’t many chances in the first half, Maitland’s best was a Sean Pratt free kick which went close.
Both sides wrestled for control and Edgeworth started to take it as the first half wound down, when Adam Cawley was just millimetres away from finishing into a near empty net and a Daniel McBreen free header inside the box couldn’t be steered home on the stroke of half-time.
Maitland had a golden opportunity on the hour mark after Edgy keeper Josh Low brought down a Magpie inside the area. Alex Read stepped up to take the spot kick but put it straight at the legs of Low.
They had another chance from the spot in the 73rd minute when Tom Duggan was brought down inside the box by Aaron Oppedisano.
This time it was Pratt who stepped up, and although Low went the right way the penalty was too good and Maitland was ahead.
Jackson smashed his equaliser for Edgeworth into the top corner from close range in the 85th minute, and the momentum was well and truly back with the home side.
They should have won it just minutes later when a floated free-kick found an unmarked Daniel McBreen, but his header from point-blank range went over the bar and the two sides shared the points.
“I’ve not long watched the game, and Maitland were pretty good, to be honest,” said Edgeworth coach Damien Zane.
“The first twenty minutes we lacked composure and that was through them putting us under pressure, as it went on I thought, and it sums up the game, they were better but we had the better chances.
“It’s pleasing in a sense that we were threatening and created chances, but we have to be better. We gave away two poor penalties, defended poorly twice, so in the end, it was good to fight back and give ourselves an extra little buffer. I’ll take a point.”
If the ladder remains as it is, Edgeworth will take on Maitland in a two-legged semi-finals battle in four weeks’ time. Zane believes his side will have to step up and ‘match their intensity’ if that tie eventuates.
“The Swan brothers and Carl Thornton were swarming us and I don’t think we really dealt with it all that well,” said Zane.
“I thought we won that midfield battle in the first match, and we won that match, so that’s one area. We have a few players that need an extra run, we have a trial match against the [Western Sydney] Wanderers on Wednesday and I think that’ll be good.
“Boys like Sam Maxwell, Aaron Oppedisano, Dylan Holz are not long back from injury. Josh Evans is just back from his trip away so that’ll be good, and it’s important to get some solid game time into a few guys and get that rustiness out.”
The draw takes Edgeworth four points clear at the top, and their next three games are against the competition’s bottom three sides – Adamstown, Lakes, and Valentine.
“If we don’t win those games, then we don’t deserve to win the premiership,” said Zane.
“They’re bottom of the table, but they’ve got nothing to lose and that’s the tough thing in itself. We pride ourselves on not switching off and losing games that we’re favourites to win, so I don’t think we’ll get cocky and not turn up.
“It’s important we get the job done. You don’t want to go into the finals in poor form, so there’s a few reasons we want to keep on winning.”
Lake Macquarie City 2 (Walker 12’, Hunter 41’) def. by Hamilton Olympic 3 (Cooper 25’, Bertos 57’, Bailey 86’)
Saturday 28th July, 2:30 pm at Macquarie Field
In two games between these two teams this season, there have been a whopping 12 goals.
Five of those came on Saturday in a see-sawing affair, where Olympic came from behind twice but could have been dead and buried at the end of the first half.
Sam Walker opened the scoring for Lakes in the 12th minute of playing, after Reece Papas was caught in possession and the Roosters striker pulled off a nice finish. The home side should have had another shortly after but wasn’t able to turn the ball in the midst of a goalmouth scramble.
Olympic made them pay shortly after though, with a nice move which started with the goalkeeper and ended with Rhys Cooper sliding a good finish past Stuart Plant in the Lakes goal.
A precise header, along with a fair bit of luck, earned Lakes their second goal. It was Mitch Hunter who rose highest from the corner in the 41st minute.
Olympic got themselves back on level terms in the 57th minute through a Leo Bertos header inside the six-yard box, and when Jacob Bailey seized on a Plant mistake in the 86th minute Hamilton wrapped up the three points.
Charlestown City Blues 4 (McPherson 10’, Goodchild 73’, Minors 85’, Ott 90+2’) def. Adamstown Rosebud 1 (Berlin 80’)
Sunday 29th July, 2:30 pm at Lisle Carr Oval
The last ten minutes saw the scoreline blow out slightly after what had been a close match for the most part, and it’s a big win which has kept Charlestown’s slim finals hopes alive.
In their first match since marquee man Ljubo Milicevic announced his retirement via social media, Charlestown got off to the perfect start when Pete McPherson put one away in the tenth minute.
The Blues thought they had a second in the 18th minute when Scott Smith tapped home from close range, but he was offside.
It took more than an hour for another goal to come, the chance coming after Adamstown youngster Liam Ryan brought down Matt Tull inside the area.
Kane Goodchild stepped up and hit an almost-perfect penalty into the corner to double the home side’s advantage.
That advantage was halved shortly after though when Chris Berlin found himself in behind the defence. A half-step sent Jim Fogarty the wrong way and made the finish easy for Berlin.
It was a goal which sparked Charlestown into action, and when Daniel Minors’ glancing header found it’s way in the 85th minute the Blues had an unassailable lead. Daniel Ott’s first goal in Charlestown colours in late injury time was the icing on the cake.
“I was happy with the performance, it’s been a bit tough over the past couple of weeks with injuries, I think we got seven players back yesterday from the Edgeworth game,” said David Tanchevski, Charlestown City Blues coach.
“You’re reintroducing a new starting line-up once again, so there’s an inconsistency there but I was really happy with how the boys performed. We created a mountain of chances we didn’t take in the first half and let them back in at 2-1, but then finished them off well.”
Two points off Maitland in fourth and one-off fifth-placed Hamilton Olympic, Charlestown has played a game more than each of those sides and look an outside chance of playing finals football.
Their hopes hinge on poor results for the teams around them – but Tanchevski said a good run home is ‘all we can do’.
“If we can keep winning, we have Valentine at Valentine next Sunday. If we can win that game, hopefully, we’re in for a fight,” said Tanchevski.
“That’s what our goal at the start of the season was, to be in the finals shout coming into the last three or four weeks of the season.
We probably should have been in a better position, if it wasn’t about for the players we had unavailable, but we’re still where we wanted to be at the start of the season.
“Anything can happen in this comp, there’s been some crazy results this year, so as long as we keep on winning then we’re doing our bit.”
Packed in between Adamstown this weekend and Valentine next weekend, however, is a mammoth FFA Cup Round of 32 clash against NPL Victoria leaders Heidelberg United.
“We’re excited, the boys are really excited to get on there. It’s a bit more of a professional field, going down to Melbourne and playing, the experience is going to be great for the guys,” said Tanchevski.
“The team that we’re playing apart from an A-League team is one of the tougher teams you could draw. They knocked out Perth Glory last year, so we’re up for a big battle with a depleted squad again.
“Pete McPherson can’t get up there, Matt Tull is suspended and Ljubo [Milicevic] is out. We’ll give it a good go, and the boys will be better for the experience, that’s for sure.”
Weston Bears 1 (Morris 73’) def. by Valentine Phoenix 3 (Wood 18’, 55’, 90+2’)
Sunday 29th July, 2:30 pm at Rockwell Automation Park
In a rare purple patch of form, Weston went into Sunday’s clash as favourites – something they haven’t done all too often these past few years.
Joel Wood had different plans though, putting on an absolute clinic for the young strikers at the ground with a hat-trick to seal all three points for a Valentine side which now has a shot at avoiding the dreaded wooden spoon.
His first was from the penalty spot in the 18th minute after Nathan Morris brought down Wilson Edwards inside the box. Wood sent Kane Runge the wrong way and made it 1-0.
Ten minutes after half-time, Wood doubled his and Valentine’s tally. It was a solid finish at the back post, the number 9 beneficiary of a nice Matt Paul ball across the box.
Weston got themselves back into it in the 74th minute of play, when Nathan Morris hit a stinging volley into the inside of the far post and subsequently the back of the net.
The visitors would have the last laugh, though. In what looked like a very tight call for offside, Joel Wood broke the line and finished past a furious Runge to give the visitors all three points for the first time since they’d last played Weston.