NPL Northern NSW round 14 preview

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Hamilton Olympic v Edgeworth Eagles
2.30pm, Sunday 17th July at Darling Street Oval
Last Meeting: Hamilton 3 Edgeworth 2 at Jack McLaughlan Oval, Friday 6th May 2016
Ladder: Hamilton 2nd (31pts) Edgeworth 1st (34)
Past 3 Starts (Most Recent First):
Hamilton – Won Bears 3-1 (a), Drew Jaffas 2-2 (h), Won Blues 6-0 (h)
Lambton – Lost Phoenix 3-2 (h), Drew Olympic 2-2 (a), Won Weston 3-1 (a)

Bottom Line
This match has all the hallmarks of being one of the games of the season. The last time these two sides clashed – back in round five at Jack McLaughlan Oval – it was a cracking contest. It took a Tommy Spencer goal midway through the second half to get the job done for the visitors on that night, as well as some brilliant late goalkeeping from Jim Fogarty.

But, Edgeworth seem like a different team now to the one that started 2016. Coach Damian Zane thought his sides intensity at training went up a notch before their round eight clash at Cooks Square Park against Maitland, and the stats don’t lie.

Attacking wise Edgeworth’s stats aren’t too different scoring 21 goals in the opening seven matches, compared to 19 in the last six. However, defensively there is a stark contrast, with the Eagles conceding just three goals in their last six matches. In contrast, they conceded eight goals in their opening seven matches.

There is a buzz about the club as well, with fans flocking out to see Japanese sensation Keigo Moriyasu. The tireless work at the back week in week out from captain Josh Evans shouldn’t go unnoticed, though.

Hamilton have flown very much under the radar of late – ever since their loss against Lambton in the Westfield FFA Cup. Their form has been patchy the last few weeks, with three draws in their last five matches, but a morale-boosting win at Weston on Sunday looks to have steadied the ship.

So defensively strong at the start of the season, Olympic have leaked five of the nine goals they have conceded this season in the last five weeks and Captain Kyle Hodges and his defensive partners will need to be on their game on Sunday to stop Edgeworth’s riches of attacking weapons.

Rhys Cooper will be the real key for Olympic on Sunday, with speed to burn and a brilliant right foot, he has the ability to unlock a mobile Edgeworth side. Tommy Spencer vision and Kane Goodchild’s finishing will also go a long way to determining who wins at Darling Street.

If Hamilton go down in this one, the minor premiership race seems all but over, however, a win for the home side and the race will be well and truly on for the final four competition fixtures.

What the Coaches Said:
Mick Bolch (Hamilton)
“This match is for the title really, if they beat us it’s all over and if we win we are right back in it. I’m sure it will be no holds barred, there on a very good run at the moment. They’re just a good unit, they work hard for each other, and have plenty of options off the bench.”

“They are the benchmark, they won everything last year and are leading the competition this year, so it’s up to us to come up with a way to beat them. If we want to beat them everyone has to be on their game, if we turn up and two guys are off their game you just can’t beat a side like Edgeworth.”

Damian Zane (Edgeworth)
“We’ve just been concentrating on ourselves this week. We’ve had a pretty big month and it was quite heavy on the weekend so we had a couple of light sessions this week to try and get ourselves sharp and ready for the weekend.”

“For us, this is a massive chance to put a six-point gap on Hamilton, and with a busy time coming up that would be good with just four games left after. In the first match against them [this season] I thought we had the better of the chances but I wasn’t happy I thought we weren’t hungry enough. We didn’t deserve a win that night due to our lack of intensity.”

Key: The final fifteen minutes. Scored 15 Conceded 0. That is Edgeworth’s stats in the final fifteen minutes of matches this season. Hamilton stopped them in this period in round five and they will need to do it again.

Broadmeadow Magic v Newcastle Jets Youth
2.30pm, Saturday 16th July at Magic Park
Last Meeting: Broadmeadow 4 Jets Youth 1 at Magic Park, Saturday 7th May 2016
Ladder: Broadmeadow 3rd (25) Jets Youth 6th (14)
Past 3 Starts (Most Recent First):
Broadmeadow – Lost Eagles 2-0 (a), Won Bears 1-0 (a), Won Jaffas 4-2 (a)
Jets Youth – Lost Eagles 4-2 (a), Won Blues 4-0 (a), Won Phoenix 4-3 (h)

Bottom Line
This match shapes up as a potential danger game for Broadmeadow, and even though they beat the Jets Youth convincingly back in round five, the young Jets have improved considerably since the start of the season.

Broadmeadow have dominated their last three clashes with the Youth side winning those by a combined margin of 14-5 and will be looking for nothing less than three points to cement their spot in the top four. Their loss at Edgeworth on the weekend has all but ended hopes of a first minor premiership since 2013, but currently, they sit firmly entrenched in the four, six points clear of fourth-placed Maitland who have a game in hand.

Both sides have plenty of pace on offer, especially James Virgili and Kale Bradbury for Broadmeadow and both will be looking to get on the score sheet after an uncharacteristic dry spell in front of goal for Magic. Magic, who have scored at an average of just over 2.5 goals a game this season, have scored just one in their last two matches. That single goal was a penalty James Virgili scored against Weston.

The Jets Youth have been the standout performers alongside Edgeworth over the last five weeks of the competition. They won three straight matches before a loss to the Eagles, in a match which they led approaching the final ten minutes. A wash-out against Maitland last weekend will no doubt have them fresh and reading to go from the opening whistle on Saturday.

The most improved aspect of the Jets game over the last part of the season has been their defence. They have conceded eight goals in their last five matches at an average of 1.6 per game, which is stark in contrast to their opening seven matches where they conceded 25 goals at an average of 3.6 per game. Against a Magic side with plenty of strike power, they will need to bring their defensive steel of late to the table.

The Jets Youth have had a blow on the injury front with Antonee Burke ruled out for the remainder of the season with a stress fracture in his foot. For Broadmeadow Jon Griffiths and Shane Paul will both miss the match with a suspension.

What the Coaches Said:
Bobby Naumov (Broadmeadow)
“Their obviously in an elite program, so we talk about habits and doing the right thing and that’s what they do. It’s just that their young kids so we have the experience on them. Their not going to be easy and it will be a difficult task if we don’t play well.”

“Every week we just need to focus on the same things. It’s about us taking better options, it’s about us working hard, and it’s about us keeping the ball better every time. So you just keep working on that constantly and if you do that and you play to your structures and your style then the other team have to worry about you.”

Clayton Zane (Jets Youth)
“I think [the week off] was perfect timing for us because we have had most of our team that played against Edgeworth training with the first team. This will be their third week and the demands of training with the first team and a lot higher that what they are used too. The boys’ bodies were a bit of a mess last weekend so it was good to miss the Maitland game.”

“The last game we played against Magic was probably our worst performance of the year. We just never got our foot in the match. I thought we had no control at all throughout that match. This is the one game I really want to see some improvement in, compared to our first match against them. We struggled to deal with their speed up top and their counter attack and this will be a good measure for us to see how far we’ve come.”

Key: The Jets’ defence. If they bring the defensive quality they have shown of late, Magic will be given a real test.

Valentine Phoenix v Weston Workers Bears
3pm Saturday 16th July at Blacksmiths Oval
Last Meeting: Valentine 2 Weston 1 at Rockwell Automation Park, Sunday 8th May 2016
Ladder: Valentine 7th (14) Weston 10th (2)
Past 3 Starts (Most Recent First):
Valentine – Won Jaffas 3-2 (a), Lost Rosebud 2-0 (h), Won Magpies 1-0 (a)
Weston – Lost Olympic 3-1 (h), Lost Magic 1-0 (a), Lost Jaffas 3-1 (h)

Bottom Line
Anything less than a win for Valentine in this one will see their finals hopes all but disappear, and they will need to break a recent trend if they are to claim the three points. The Phoenix have been up and down over the last six matches with an LWLWLW trend over those games. So going off that, this match is supposed to be a loss.

Away from the stats though and Valentine have proved a lot of people wrong this season. Tipped to finish last at the start of the season Valentine have come into their own the last few weeks and seem to be growing with every match. But, coach Darren Sills has higher expectations from his side.

“We are entrenched in the top seven but I set higher standards for these guys. But we have lost two games to teams below us on the ladder and those are games we need to win. We made a bad mistake in injury time against Maitland in round three. And those seven points would put us in the top four.”

Weston will see this game as a big opportunity to get their first win of the season. They went down in a close match to the Phoenix in round five and since that day both Weston and Valentine have headed in different directions on the ladder.

Bears coach Trevor Morris said ‘our two worst performances this year were against Valentine and Maitland’ and to only lose 2-1 in a poor performance will give Bears’ fans hope of a victory this weekend. But, they will have to contend with the loss of five players for this clash.

Dylan Murphy heads back to the USA, Lachlan Rowen (knee), Rurik Pereira has been offered a contract with a third tier German club, Mick Ryan (knee), and Will Myers (broken leg) are all out of Weston’s side for the weekend.

For Phoenix, Alex Tserepas is out for at least three weeks with a broken ankle. Valentine’s leading goalscorer Brenton Olzomer returns from a back injury and Chris Brown (back) also is set to return.

What the Coaches Said:
Sam Griffin (Valentine Assistant)
“It’s a massive danger game for us, and if there is one positive to take out of the loss to Adamstown a week and a half ago, we came into the game complacent against a team below us on the table, even though only by a couple of points. We can’t afford that this weekend.”

“If you take out the result against Adamstown, we have turned the corner halfway through the year. We figured out that we just need to play a bit simpler. We just to play simple, play through the midfield, get plenty of touches and put the ball in the big white thing in the middle of the park. That’s been the major focus of training this week.”

Trevor Morris (Weston)
“If I want nightmare games our worst performances were against Maitland and Valentine. They were just horror games. All we have to do is turn up. We are in the positions where we just need to fight for everything and scrap for everything. It’s not pretty, but I said to the boys ‘what else have you got to lose?’ You’ve got nothing else to lose, you’ve just got to go out and go for it.”

Key: Which Valentine side will turn up? If they being a performance similar to the one they showed against Lambton last weekend the Phoenix will put themselves in the box seat to make it two wins in a row for the first time this season.

Charlestown City Blues v Lambton Jaffas
2.30pm Sunday 17th July at Lisle Carr Oval
Last Meeting: Charlestown 3 Lambton 1 at Arthur Edden Oval, Saturday 7th May 2016
Ladder: Charlestown 5th (17) Lambton 8th (12)
Past 3 Starts (Most Recent First):
Charlestown – Won Rosebuds 3-1 (a), Lost Magpies 2-0 (h), Lost Olympic 6-0 (a)
Lambton – Lost Phoenix 3-2 (h), Drew Olympic 2-2 (a), Won Bears 3-1 (a)

Bottom Line
Charlestown will be looking to continue their push towards the finals when they meet the Lambton Jaffas at home on Sunday. Depending on Maitland’s result against Adamstown, the Blues could find themselves inside the top four by the end of the weekend if they can claim all three points against the Jaffas.

An incredible statistic in clashes between these two sides is that five of the last six clashes have been decided by a 3-1 scoreline – three have been won by the Jaffas and two by Charlestown. But, it has been the Jaffas of late who have had the better of the head to head results winning three of the last four matches against the Blues. Charlestown’s only win coming in their match-up in round five earlier this year.

After a lean trot where Charlestown lost six straight matches, it seems like they have may have rediscovered some of their early season form against Adamstown last weekend and they will need to bring that form against the hot and cold Jaffas.

Lambton have been all over the shop this season with results, and injuries have played a major part in that. Jobe Wheelhouse will most likely miss this clash with a calf injury he picked up last weekend, but the Jaffas have shown they can perform without their inspiration captain.

The last two matches without Wheelhouse saw the Jaffas claim a point from a credible draw with Hamilton Olympic and three points from last-placed Weston. Bailey Jensen and Ben Hay have stepped up in recent weeks for the Jaffas in the midfield and will need another big game if they are to beat the Blues.

For Charlestown Josh Maguire is still out with a groin injury.

What the Coaches Said:
Shane Pryce (Charlestown)
“It’s a massive game for us, we’ve got to keep the gap as short as we can to fourth spot. We got to treat this as a mini grand final. I think a few of the guys will grow in confidence with the win [last weekend]. I thought from the Maitland game there were some positive signs so it was great to get the win and get some confidence back.”

“On paper [even without Wheelhouse] Lambton have a strong side. They have some young talented guys who will want to prove to James Pascoe that they are ready to play week in week out this year and next year. The major difference for us last weekend was everyone contributed and that was lacking in the weeks before. We need the same this weekend.”

Key: Can the Jaffas young guns step up again to make up for Jobe Wheelhouse’s absence?

Maitland Magpies v Adamstown Rosebud
2.30pm Sunday 17th July at Cooks Square Park
Last Meeting: Maitland 6 Adamstown 1 at Adamstown Oval, Sunday 8th May 2016
Ladder: Maitland 4th (19) Adamstown 9th (11)
Past 3 Starts (Most Recent First):
Maitland – Won Blues 2-0 (a), Lost Phoenix 1-0 (h), Lost Magic 3-0 (a)
Adamstown – Lost Blues 3-1 (h), Won Phoenix 2-0 (a), Lost Eagles 2-0 (a)

Bottom Line
Maitland will be looking to consolidate their place in the top four when they take on the Rosebuds on Sunday at Cooks Square Park. The two sides met back in round five and by just looking at the result, you would think Maitland did it easily.

But, it wasn’t as straightforward as it seems. Adamstown’s Thom Lino put them ahead inside the opening ten minutes before keeper Paul Bitz was sent from the field for pulling down Maitland striker Ben Martin. In the remaining 80 minutes of 11 versus 10, Maitland piled on the goals but provided there are no red cards in this one the result will be a lot tighter.

After a dip in form which saw Maitland lose four straight, the Magpies returned to form two weekends ago with a 2-0 victory over Charlestown, and there is no doubt they will be the fresher of the two sides after having last weekend off after wet weather caused their match against the Jets Youth to be cancelled.

Adamstown’s form has been solid over the past month without being spectacular, with two draws, two losses and a win the results from their five matches within that period. Those two draws though were against Hamilton and Broadmeadow, which make them all the more impressive.

It seems as though last weekend’s performance against Charlestown wasn’t a fair reflection of their recent form and the Rosebuds will be keen to make amends for that disappointing performance in front of their home fans.

Adamstown coach Graham Law coached Maitland to promotion in the 2014 season and of all the coaches in the NPL Northern NSW he will have the most inside knowledge about the Magpies. He has a good record against them as well, winning two of the three matches against his former club.

For Maitland, Matt Crowell is on the road to recovery from a hernia but still is out as is Nick Russell with an ankle injury. Sam Rossi will most likely come into the starting side after being away.

For the visiting Rosebuds Dayne Pawlik is suspended due to his red card last weekend as is Thom Lino with yellow card accumulation. Defender Jordan Harrison is also out of the clash, as is Hakan Canli who is on holidays. On a positive Mitch Hunter makes his debut for the club after receiving an international transfer clearance.

What the Coaches Said:
Reece Thompson (Maitland Assistant)
“Even with the bombshell of ‘Piggo’ [Steve Piggott] leaving the club last night, the mood around the boys is still really positive, it’s been really positive. It’s a big game for the club coming up against a guy [Graham Law] who used to coach our club and one of our former players in Alex Read.”

“Adamstown are unpredictable, to be honest. I watched their game last weekend on BarTV and I thought they were good. They just didn’t get the rub of the green and I think that’s what happened at the start of the year with their goalkeepers being sent off. They have just had an unlucky year. If we can get them on our good day and the boys fire I think we will be right.”

Graham Law (Adamstown)
“We were very disappointed on the weekend losing to Charlestown. That was a big win for them, keeping their finals hopes alive. We played really well but Charlestown just took their chances. The boys are so disappointed that they didn’t win on the weekend. We just need to just win as many games as we can and try and finish up as high up the league as we can.”

“We’ve already won at Maitland this year in the FFA Cup, so we are confident going up there. We just need to keep 11 men on the park. That would be a good starting point. I think it will be an entirely different game to the last one [6-1 loss]. The first fifteen minutes we were very much in the game until [the red card].

Key: Can Adamstown bring the form they showed in the five matches before last weekend’s loss? If they can, an upset is on the cards.

Source: Northern NSW Football

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