NPL Northern NSW Round 20 Preview
Match of the Round
Hamilton Olympic v Lambton Jaffas
Sunday 5th August, 2:30 pm at Darling Street Oval
This weekend’s match of the round has the potential to more than live up to the billing as so much hinges on the result.
An Olympic win could send the premiership to Edgeworth, and keep Hamilton’s own finals hopes alive.
Should Lambton triumph, they’ll keep their premiership hopes alive and deal a cruel blow to Olympic’s finals ambitions.
This weekend’s home side will be looking to do the double over Lambton this season, following their 2-1 win at Arthur Edden Oval back in Round 9.
Last weekend, Hamilton scraped by with a 3-2 win over a Lakes side which very well could have taken all three points themselves. Only a Jacob Bailey goal, five minutes from time, sealed the victory.
Olympic’s finals destiny is out of their hands. Sat a point behind Maitland, in fourth, and trailing the Magpies by nine goals Hamilton are relying on Lakes to get the job done this weekend.
While most sides in the competition have had injury woes to contend with at one time or another this season, Hamilton’s worries are coming at perhaps the worst time. The likes of Reece Papas, Scott Pettit, Kyle Hodges, Tom Stewart and Jarryd Sutherland are among those with question marks over their heads.
Four wins on the trot for Lambton has seen them jump above Broadmeadow into second place, and now Jaffas are the only side with any real chance of knocking the Eagles off their perch.
With four points separating the pair and just three games to go, it does, however, look an unlikely outcome. Lambton will come into this clash fresh: their last game was last Tuesday, a 3-0 win over Jets Youth.
That match demonstrated Lambton’s ability to pick up goals from players all over the park, with Michael Kantarovski and Marcus Duncan among the scorers. With 33 in the league this season, they have the lowest output of teams inside the top five.
What the coaches said:
Peter McGuinness (Hamilton)
“I think we have to improve in a lot of areas, [last weekend against Lakes] we found a lot of guts and determination to get over the line. We didn’t execute very well, we limped through that game… we need to be better at both ends of the pitch.
“We’ve got a number of players in the squad at the moment carrying injuries, [and] I won’t know yet. There are guys who have to get through the week with what little training we can give them; we’ve got a few boys carrying injuries.
“Lambton are a good side, they have a good level of footballer’s in their team in all areas. I’d expect a pretty disciplined, well-structured team and I don’t expect anything else.”
Maitland Magpies v Lake Macquarie City
Sunday 5th August, 2:30 pm at Cooks Square Park
Out of the running for finals, Lakes have proved time and time again this season that they have the potential to disrupt the race from the other end of the ladder.
Looking to quell that potential this weekend are the Magpies, who sit inside the top four but with just a one-point buffer between them and the chasing Hamilton in fifth.
Maitland worked hard for victory last time out against Lake Macquarie but eventually did the job in a 2-0 win back in round nine of the league. This will be their third encounter this season: Lakes won 2-0 in their FFA Cup round four clash.
It was a case of ‘what if?’ for Maitland last weekend against Edgeworth, who went oh-so-close to finding their first win over the reigning premiers in the top flight for more than 20 years.
The 1-1 match was a thrilling one, which saw Maitland miss a penalty and score another. A superb midfield display from the Swan brothers and Carl Thornton will likely be added to this weekend, with Matt Thompson edging closer to a return to full fitness. He came off the bench late last Sunday.
Maitland’s finals destiny is in their own hands. With three games remaining, they’re one point and nine goals in front of Hamilton, who pose as the real threat for a spot in the finals. A win here is a must.
Lapses of concentration at the back and misfires at the front have been the story of Lakes’ season, and despite playing good football, for the most part, has them sat way down in tenth.
Last weekend was no different – a mountain of chances could have secured a shock and potentially season-defining win over Hamilton, but it wasn’t to be as Nick Webb’s side went down 3-2.
The focus for the back end of the season has been trying to finish as high as possible, but the Roosters could also be looking over their shoulders. Valentine could close the gap between 10th and 11th to two points should they beat Charlestown, and Lakes lose on Sunday.
What the coaches said:
Nick Webb (Lakes)
“We had 17 clear chances to score goals last week and they [Hamilton] had four chances and scored three goals. We have to be better in our defence structure when under pressure, and finish more. Very disappointed about last weekend, we dominated the match and should have been four or five up by half-time.
“Maitland are starting to get a few players back, I’m expecting Matt Thompson to play, maybe Ryan [Clarke] to play or at least come off the bench so they’ll be strong. They’re building to become one of the few clubs which is strong through all grades, so it’s going to be tough for us in all grades, be on our game and take our chances when they come.
“The Swan brothers did super well, and obviously Carl did as well [last weekend against Edgeworth] but one of our strengths this year has been our midfield. We’ve matched it with every team, I believe, in the competition. We just have to make sure we’re disciplined in our positioning, we’ll change our shape a little bit this week to try and give us a little more strength through the middle of the park.
“Campbell Ross has a slight tear to his calf, so we’ll give him until Sunday morning and do a fitness test. Other than that, it’s as usual.”
Valentine Phoenix v Charlestown City Blues
Sunday 5th August, 2:30 pm at CB Complex
Weary after a near-days road trip south and defeat to Heidelberg United in the FFA Cup Round of 32, nothing but a win will do for Charlestown on Sunday.
Their finals hopes hinge on it – but Valentine requires a win in order to have a chance of avoiding the dreaded wooden spoon.
It was tricky but Charlestown got the job done the last time these two sides met, securing a 2-0 win back in round nine this year.
Just two wins for Valentine this season but five draws have them five points adrift at the bottom, but victory over Charlestown could see them close that gap to just two points.
One of those two wins came last Sunday when Valentine did the double over Weston with a 3-1 victory away at Rockwell Automation Park. A Joel Wood hat-trick did the trick for Phoenix.
With Adamstown, next weekend and Edgeworth the following weekend, Valentine has just three games to avoid a fate to which they’ve looked destined for much of the season. Expect them to be well up for things this weekend.
Charlestown has fallen victim to many packed schedules this year as washouts have disrupted their season to no end, but it’s not wet weather which makes this Sunday’s match their third in seven days.
It was last night’s FFA Cup clash with Heidelberg United which has made that so. It was the club’s inaugural appearance in the Round of 32, and one in which they went down 2-1.
It followed last weekend’s 4-1 win over Adamstown which has them two points from the top four, but with just two games to play in the final three rounds. They’ll welcome Peter McPherson (unavailable) and captain Matt Tull (suspension) back to the side which lost to Heidelberg for this weekend’s fixture.
What the coaches said:
David Tanchevski (Charlestown)
“The boys are pretty sore after last night [against Heidelberg], it was high tempo and a physical match. We’ll get back tonight [Thursday], do a recovery session and prepare for the weekend. It was a good experience, the boys showed a lot of character after going behind in the first minute to an own goal.
“We got a goal late and made a game of it, forced Heidelberg into wasting time, so credit to the boys to get a team like Heidelberg on the back foot a bit. It’s an excellent achievement.
“We’ve seen a lot of teams in the top four drop points to the teams in the bottom four this year, Adamstown have taken points off Edgeworth and Jaffas, Valentine have taken points off Jaffas and Maitland as well. Every game is tricky, Valentine at Valentine is never easy, and it’s do-or-die for us.
“If the boys can play with the same intensity at the weekend as they did last night, then we’ll be able to get a result hopefully. We said to make the finals we need to win our next three, our assignment now is to beat Valentine this weekend and we know that if we don’t win then it’s finals over for us. If we do, it’s still out of our hands.”
Adamstown Rosebud v Edgeworth Eagles
Sunday 5th August, 2:30 pm at Adamstown Oval
What bigger motivation could a football team have than potentially clinching the premiership, three weeks out from the end of the home and away season?
A fourth consecutive title awaits Edgeworth, who will do their best to hold up their end of the bargain at Adamstown on Sunday.
Shock result is an apt description for the last time these two sides met, with Adamstown stringing their third win in a row together when they beat Edgeworth 1-0 back in Round 9.
Things are rather different this time around though, with Rosebud coming into this clash without a win in the league since they beat Valentine back in Round 10.
Since then, Adamstown has picked up just three points courtesy of three draws along the way. None of those came last weekend when Charlestown stormed home to a 4-1 win over Rosebud.
It’s unlikely, but Adamstown could finish the season in last place should they lose on Sunday. Six points separate them in ninth, and Valentine in last.
What is remarkably more likely, and remarkable it would be, is Edgeworth finishing on top of the NPL Northern NSW ladder for the fourth consecutive season in a year where they weren’t really fancied.
There are four points separating them in first and Lambton in second, but if everything falls Edgeworth’s way then they could streak out to an insurmountable seven-point lead with two games to play.
Edgeworth are in good form, without defeat in the league since their last clash with Adamstown back in May. Last weekend seen them share the points with Maitland in a pulsating 1-1 draw.
Broadmeadow Magic v Newcastle Jets Youth
Tuesday 7th August, 7pm at Magic Park
Tuesday evening’s fixture falls at the same time as the senior Newcastle Jets take on Gold Coast Knights in the FFA Cup, with this one pushed back to accommodate for the Youth’s adventures in China.
By the time these two sides meet it will have been almost two weeks since Magic have taken to the pitch, and a win on Tuesday would wrap up a finals place.
There were plenty of goals the last time these two sides met, with Broadmeadow triumphing 4-2 thanks to a pair of Mitch Oxborrow goals back in Round 9.
Oxborrow is one player who Magic will be without on Tuesday evening after a ban was passed down during the week for an incident in Magic’s draw against Adamstown back in Round 17.
He could miss up until the NPL Northern NSW Grand Final, should Magic make it that far, and there’s a fair chance he’ll miss out on Broadmeadow’s inaugural appearance in the FFA Cup Round of 16.
They got there with a 4-1 win over NPL Capital club Canberra Olympic last Wednesday night. Prior to their bye in the league last weekend, Broadmeadow beat Valentine 5-0 in Round 18.
While Broadmeadow has had almost two weeks to put their feet up and recover, Jets Youth have had no such luxury after travelling to a sweltering China to play the Weifang Cup.
They’re conditions which got the better of Keiran Hayes, who was taken to hospital for heat exhaustion in the Jets Youth loss to Argentinian club Boca Junoirs earlier in the week. They’ve also gone down in matches to the Chinese Under 19s and Shandong Leung.
Just how Jets Youth can recover and adapt their game back to the physical nature of the NPL, after playing a more technical style against youth teams, could be the decider in this one.
Weston has the bye.