NPL Northern NSW Round 11 Preview
MATCH OF THE ROUND
EDGEWORTH EAGLES (2ND) VS. LAMBTON JAFFAS (5TH)
SUNDAY 26 MAY, 2:30 PM, JACK MCLAUGHLAN OVAL
We’ve waited far too long for this rematch, but finally, it’s here. This Sunday sees Edgeworth host the Jaffas at the same venue where they played their epic semi-finals second leg last season which saw the hosts score in the dying minutes of both normal time and extra time on three occasions to break Lambton’s hearts and progress to the Grand Final.
The Jaffas will be out for revenge this weekend with the added pressure of the fact they haven’t been victorious for four weeks now after being undefeated for most of the season.
Edgeworth only sits one point ahead of their opponents though and are also coming off the back of a disappointing result after losing 2-1 at Weston.
A shining light for the Eagles has been the return of their new forward Oliver Smith who has quickly begun scoring goals once more and is averaging one a goal and they’ll be thanking their lucky stars that they won’t have to face Lambton’s in-form striker, and current Golden Boot leader, Braedyn Crowley who’ll be missing due to suspension.
Both sides had FFA Cup midweek duties which saw Edgeworth defeat New Lambton 2-0, however for Lambton, they had to play an extra 30 minutes of time and were beaten by Broadmeadow 2-1, so it will be interesting to see how both sets of squads will bounce back.
The recent history between these two has been nothing short of pure entertainment – in the past five matches played against one another, ten goals have been scored after the 85th-minute mark.
Pundits will be hoping that another classic encounter is once again in store as these two 2017 Grand Finalists battle it out to retain their spot in the top four.
NEWCASTLE JETS YOUTH (4TH) VS. MAITLAND FC (6TH)
SUNDAY 26 MAY, 2:30 PM, COOKS SQUARE PARK
Lawrie McKinna will take over as head of the Jets Youth team this weekend as they meet Maitland on Sunday afternoon, hoping to bounce back from a disappointing defeat at the hands of Broadmeadow.
The Magpies scored a clinical win over Adamstown in their last outing and have since moved to within two points of the young Jets with a game in hand of all the teams above them.
The young Jets have proved to be one of the better teams in the league so far and had a chance to take spot last weekend if they had tasted victory, but a team boasting current Hyundai A-League players such as Pat Langlois and Angus Thurgate, don’t expect them to be out of form for long.
It’s a battle of contrasts as the young Jets back-line will square off with a veteran Maitland strike-force which includes Joel Wood who currently sits at equal-third in the Golden Boot race, as well as Ryan Clarke and Matt Thompson.
The black and whites were defensively sound in their previous match and it saw the Thornton brothers, Carl and Liam, both selected as part of the NPL NNSW Team of the Week and that only spells more trouble for the Jets considering last season they weren’t able to manage a goal when they faced Maitland.
Historically the Jets Youth have struggled against Maitland – their last win came back in Round 3 of 2015.
Whoever wins this one is guaranteed to have a spot in the top four come to the end of the round, and both sides will be fixed on pencilling their name there.
HAMILTON OLYMPIC (7TH) VS. VALENTINE PHOENIX (9TH)
SUNDAY 26 MAY, 2:30 PM, DARLING STREET OVAL
It’s been a struggling start to the season for the boys from Croudace Bay, but after winning last time out in the Lake Mac Derby, they’ll be hoping to continue their form when they face Hamilton this weekend.
Olympic are fresh off the bye, and in their last match they pulled off a big win over Maitland to keep themselves right in the middle of the top-four conversation.
This match will largely be a game of opposites though as Valentine enter this game with the worst defensive record (goals conceded per game) in the competition, and they’re facing off with the team who have been the best in that area.
If Hamilton win this match, and results go their way, then they might find themselves in the top four by the end of the weekend, and their track-record when versing Phoenix is extremely strong as they haven’t lost since August 2011, and July 2009 when playing at home.
Scott Pettit has been clinical in front of goal for Olympic having scored six so far, but it’s their newest addition, Kent Harrison, who may be the one the Valentine defence needs to focus on if they are to win.
Josh Carroll was brilliant for the visitors and was selected as part of the NPL NNSW Team of the Week for the first time, but his teammates Luke Willard and Bailey Garland have also been in stead for a number of weeks now.
Valentine took on Weston in the FFA Cup during the week, where they won via a penalty shootout, while Hamilton had a bit of an easier task when they met Zone Premier League team, Warners Bay, winning 11-0.
Valentine Phoenix coach Sam Griffin had major praise for his side for their determination they’ve shown in the last few games and was confident that it would continue moving forward.
“After what we’ve gone through in the last week, I wouldn’t back against us,” Griffin said.
“We dug it out with nine men last week, and during the week, played 75 minutes with ten and still came from behind in extra time against a red-hot Weston team.
“There’s no substitute for belief and momentum – we now have both.
“Importantly, we have remembered how to win, even when everything is stacked against us.
“Right now, I wouldn’t change my squad for any in the league.”
On the other side of the dugouts though, Hamilton Olympic coach Pete McGuiness also said that after picking up some big wins in their last few games, confidence was high amongst his squad.
“The boys are really looking forward to the game against Valentine,” McGuiness admitted.
“We had a good performance mid-week in the Cup and are also coming off the bye, so it has been a nice period to freshen things up.
“Our last match against Maitland was full of positives with scoring goals and keeping a clean sheet. That, along with no injury concerns, gives us a healthy competition for places.”
CHARLESTOWN CITY BLUES (8TH) VS. BROADMEADOW MAGIC (1ST)
SUNDAY 26 MAY, 2:30 PM, LISLE CARR OVAL
Coming off the back of two straight top-of-the-table clashes, Broadmeadow will travel to face Charlestown in a match that could define what kind of season they will have.
Magic currently sit four points clear at the top of the table and haven’t been beaten since Round 1, and with the competition table so close behind them, they may be able to race away in front if they can continue their red-hot form.
The Blues have been rather hot and cold this season but are coming off the back of a 2-2 draw with Lambton and although the table says they’re eighth, they’re only three points away from second.
Charlestown’s goalkeeper Nate Archibold and captain Matt Tull both featured in the NPL NNSW Team of the Week for Round 10, as did their upcoming opponents Mitch Oxborrow and Kale Bradbery.
In 2018, both teams traded 1-0 victories when playing at home, and incredibly, have actually won one game apiece in every season they’ve contested since Charlestown were promoted in 2012.
Charlestown coach David Tanchevski said with his team welcoming back multiple recently-missing players, he was hoping for a strong performance.
“We rested a few players for FFA Cup…we should have a fairly strong squad on the weekend,” Tanchevski said.
“From the game against Jaffas, we welcome back Tom Smart, Kevin Davison to the defence and they’ve been missed.
“Adam Hughes might also play his first game for the club on Sunday too.
“We’re looking to build off our strong performance from last week.”
LAKE MACQUARIE CITY ROOSTERS (11TH) VS. WESTON BEARS (3RD)
SUNDAY 26 MAY, 2:30 PM, MACQUARIE FIELD
It’s been a meagre first half of a season for Lake Macquarie City especially after having such determined hopes at the beginning of the year and this weekend they host a Weston team on a high after defeating the premiers last weekend.
The Roosters have only been able to win one game so far this year despite showing glimpses of high-quality football, and as a result, sit anchored to the bottom of the table while the incoming visitors have recently navigated their way into equal-second (third on goal difference) and just four points from the top.
The Bears have won their past two games in the league but did suffer a loss at the hands of Valentine on penalties in the FFA Cup during the week making an interesting case to see how such a young team bounces back.
Winning won’t be an easy task for Weston particularly due to Lakes’ captain Sam Walker beginning to find his feet once more in the goal-scoring department after knocking in two over the weekend, taking his overall tally to six.
The Bears have proven that they possess one of the more exciting and captivating forward-lines in the competition and Regan Lundy and Jason Tjien-Fooh have been two men at the heart of it, both scoring four goals in their nine matches played.
Having conceded the most goals in the league so far, Roosters’ coach Nick Webb made clear that defence is a key area of focus for the weekend.
“We are looking to bounce back from that disappointing loss [against Valentine],” Webb said.
“We dominated again for 60 minutes but didn’t put them away.
“Weston are flying high and we need to make sure we get back to defensive disciplines to get a result.”
Bears’ coach Kew Jaliens admitted he was pleased with their form, but it would only matter if they can build on it.
“It’s going to be a difficult game,” Jaliens confessed.
“They’ll put in all effort to get a result, as will we, so it’ll be a tight game and a good challenge for us.
“We had a good game against Edgeworth, but that will only mean something if we can back that up with a good result against Lakes.”