Monthly Archives: March 2017

PS4 NPL NNSW Round 4: Hamilton Olympic take on the Maitland Magpies

Maitland Magpies v Hamilton Olympic
2.30pm Sunday 2nd April at Cooks Square Park
“Match of the Round”

Last Meeting: Round 10, 2016. Hamilton 1 Maitland 1 at Darling Street Oval.

Ladder: Maitland 11th (0 pts), Hamilton 5th (3)

Last Starts (most recent first):

Maitland – Yet to Play

Hamilton – Won Rosebud 1-0 (a), Lost Jaffas 2-3 (h)

Bottom Line

It has taken a while but Maitland will finally play their first match at home this season. With bye’s and wet weather, the Magpies have had a long wait to finally get their season started.

A lot has happened in the pre-season with Phil Dando coming in as a coach to replace the departing Dean Heffernan and there would be no doubt Dando has enjoyed the extra time with his squad to get them playing to his structure.

The Magpies meet a Hamilton side who they have had some success against in the four matches they have played against each other since Maitland’s promotion in 2014. Maitland are undefeated in the last three against Olympic, after two draws last year and a win in the final round of 2015.

With Matt Thompson, Ryan Clarke and Shane Cansdell-Sheriff all available for the weekend it makes for a mouth-watering battle as they come up against the likes of Kane Goodchild, Scott Smith and Kyle Hodges from Olympic.

Rhys Cooper remains on the sideline for Olympic while Kyle Hodges is a week-by-week proposition and will more than likely miss the match. Andrew Swan (groin) will still be out for Olympic while brother Matt will return to the side.

For Maitland, English recruit Josh Dutton-Black still isn’t up to full fitness and will most likely play in the u20s and sit on the bench for first grade. Ryan Clarke (hamstring) and Ben Martin (calf) are in doubt for the Magpies.

What the Coaches Said:

 Phil Dando (Maitland)

“We’ve ended up with four games in nine days which is not ideal. We were hoping that we could have the second of the postponed games put off for another week but it’s not the case. So, four games in nine days it is to kick off our season, and it’s just what we have got to do, we’ve got to cope.”

“To be honest the ladder doesn’t worry me too much [having played no games while other teams have played three]. I don’t see the point in looking at the table this early on. Three games in, it’s neither here nor there. We haven’t played and whatever we do is in our own hands and it has nothing to do with anyone else. If we get nine points from our three games we are doing better than anyone else and there is no reason we can’t.”

Michael Bolch (Hamilton)

“It’s a tough one, I haven’t seen them play in a while. They’ve obviously got some quality bringing in [Shane] Cansdell-Sheriff and young [Andrew] Pawiak from the Jets. They have obviously improved their group from last year and they made the semi-final last year and I’m sure they’ll be fresh and ready to go.”

“The boys did really well on Tuesday night, with a 92nd-minute winner. The week before against Jaffas it was an ageing squad and running out of legs so it was good to see them go the full 90 minutes against Adamstown.”

Key: After such a long wait to the season, will the Magpies take a little while to find their groove?

1st Grade kick off 2.30pm
Under 20s washed out
Under 18s washed out

NPL Youth
Olympic vs Mid North Coast

Under 16s kick off 1.30pm
Under15s kick off 12.00pm
Under 14s kick off 1.30pm
Under 13s kick off 12.00pm


Newcastle Jets Youth v Charlestown City Blues
2.30pm Saturday 1st April at Lisle Carr Oval

Last Meeting: Round 11, 2016: Charlestown 0 Jets Youth 4 at Lisle Carr Oval

Ladder: Jets Youth 8th (1), Charlestown 9th (1)

Last Starts (most recent first:

Jets Youth – Drew Rosebud 4-4 (h)

Charlestown – Drew Roosters 1-1 (h), Lost Phoenix 1-2 (h)

Bottom Line

Charlestown coach Shane Pryce was furious with his side’s first-half showing last weekend and will be hoping for a change in attitude against the Jets Youth.

The two sides traditionally play out high-scoring matches with the last three averaging 4.8 goals per match. When there are plenty of goals, it seems to favour the Jets and it has done so, with the side winning three of the last four clashes, including the last match in emphatic style as they won 4-0.

The Jets started off the season with a high-scoring draw against Adamstown, while Charlestown grabbed their first point of the season on Sunday with a 1-1 draw against Lake Macquarie.

However, Pryce wasn’t happy with the point after a disappointing first half from his side. In the second the Blues had their chances they just couldn’t make any count when they dominated the final 15 minutes.

The Jets had the bye during round two, so will be very fresh coming into the match after also having their round three match against Maitland washed out.

They looked good in attack during their round one draw with Adamstown, however, it was at the back where they struggled again, conceding four goals and they can’t afford that against a Charlestown side who have been strong at the back over the last two seasons.

Key: After blasting his side’s performance last weekend how will Shane Pryce’s men respond?

Lambton Jaffas v Valentine Phoenix
2.30pm Sunday 1st April at Arthur Edden Oval

Last Meeting: Round 13, 2016: Lambton 2 Valentine 3 at Arthur Edden Oval

Ladder: Lambton 2nd (7), Valentine 6th (3)

Last Starts (most recent first):

Lambton – Won Eagles 2-1 (h), Drew Bears 2-2 (a), Won Olympic 3-2 (a)

Valentine – Lost Lakes 0-3 (a), Lost Magic 2-3 (a), Won Blues 2-1 (a)

Bottom Line

Valentine will look to make it two wins from two at Arthur Edden Oval since their promotion in 2015 when they take on the Lambton Jaffas on Saturday afternoon.

Last year the Phoenix shocked the Jaffas 3-2, as youngster Riley Russell grabbed the match winner in the dying moments of the match and based on Valentine’s early season form you wouldn’t write them off causing an upset against the highly fancied Jaffas.

Lambton were held by Weston the weekend in a match where coach James Pascoe felt they played well enough to take the three points but just didn’t finish their chance as well as he would have liked. However, the disappointment at Weston was quickly forgotten on Wednesday night as the Jaffas took down the Premiers 2-1.

Pat Brown scored a double against the Eagles and now has five in three matches for the Jaffas and seems to be in the form of his career back under James Pascoe.

On the other hand, Valentine took the battle to Broadmeadow Magic, and in the end, were unlucky not to snatch a late point as Jalon Brown’s shot was well saved by Magic keeper Niko Giantsopolous.

However, the Phoenix disappointed midweek in their 3-0 derby loss to Lake Macquarie and will be keen to respond. That makes it three losses by combined scores of 11-5 in midweek catch-up matches for the Phoenix over the last two years.

Lambton have a full squad for Saturday’s match while Alex Tserepas (ankle) is in doubt for the Phoenix. In an intriguing side note, Ridge Marpu (Lambton) will play his former side for the first time.

What the Coaches Said:

 James Pascoe (Lambton)

“My hope is [the win against Edgeworth] gives the boys heaps of confidence. In regards to myself, I expect us to beat everyone we play against. Even though we have recruited well it’s still a new group and we are still not completely fluent with the ball yet. So, there is a huge amount of improvement left in us.”

“We’ve purposely concentrated particularly against Olympic and Edgeworth, being really solid without the ball and not trying to dominate games too much with the ball. Its worked as we hoped it would work to this point, but we have to get better with the ball and we will. The signs are there for us to become a good football team.”

Sam Griffin (Valentine Assistant)

“It was pretty appalling [on Wednesday against Lakes]. Our attitude just wasn’t right for a first-grade game. Overall it just wasn’t good enough. I tried to pick out some good points to be positive about, but there weren’t many. We’ve just got to give credit to Lakes for that one.”

“If we can put out a performance against Magic where I thought we were unlucky to get a point and then you put the same 14-15 guys on the park three or four days later and perform nowhere near that level its got to be down to attitude. I’ve got no doubt we’ll be up to the game on Saturday. It’s just about finding those elements which drive them to produce a good performance every week, regardless of the opposition.”

Key: Lambton only won two of nine home matches last year. Can they turn it around?

Broadmeadow Magic v Lake Macquarie City Roosters
2.30pm Sunday 2nd April at Magic Park

Last Meeting: Round 16, 2014. Broadmeadow 3 Lake Macquarie 0 at Macquarie Field.

Ladder: Broadmeadow 1st (7), Lake Macquarie 3rd (5)

Last 3 Starts (most recent first):

Broadmeadow – Won Phoenix 3-2 (h), Won Bears 2-0 (h), Drew Eagles 1-1 (a)

Lake Macquarie – Won Phoenix 3-0 (h), Drew Blues 1-1 (a), Drew Bears 2-2 (a)

Bottom Line

Two of the PlayStation® 4 NPL Northern NSW’s undefeated sides clash at Magic Park on Sunday with the newly promoted Roosters facing arguably their toughest test of the season.

The unfancied Roosters have shone over the opening three rounds and expect them to roll up theIR sleeves and get right into the battle with a Magic side who sits top of the table.

Since returning to football this season Justin Broadley has been a revelation, scoring in Lakes’ opening two matches including from a curling free kick in the Roosters draw with Charlestown on Sunday.

It took a couple of matches but finally, talismanic striker Sam Walker opened his account with a brace on Wednesday night. Expect his confidence to flow into the match against the league leaders.

Broadmeadow have gone about their business with a minimum of fuss and coach Ruben Zadkovich seems to be getting the side to gel more, every match they play. They defended well in stoppage time against Valentine to hold onto their 3-2 lead and ground out a victory the week before on a damp pitch against Weston.

Peter Haynes is the key for Broadmeadow, with the Magic Legend at his creative best over the opening three rounds. Against Weston especially, Haynes showed his class almost setting up Kale Bradbury on a number of occasions despite only being on the ground for the final 20 minutes.

Lakes are injury and suspension-free while Broadmeadow are still without Jayden Barber who has a niggle. Magic midfielder Matt Hoole is a chance of returning to the first-grade side.

What the Coaches Said: 

Ruben Zadkovich (Broadmeadow)

“I think [Lake Macquarie] have conducted themselves quite well considering it has been quite a big step up for them [from the Northern League One]. I watched them play against Weston and a little bit last week and they are looking quite decent. I think they are proving their point [that they can compete at this level] and they are undefeated and not an easy team to play against.”

“We’ve just got to execute the game plan. We haven’t really been executing at all. We’ve been well below our best probably running at about a four out of ten in our execution of what we want and the style of play we want. Application and attitude and resilience is the thing that is getting us over the line at the moment. It will be nice to see the team put in a 90-minute performance and not play in patches.”

Anthony Richards (Lake Macquarie)

“Every game we are just looking to do a bit better each time and I think we are slowing doing that. We are slowly getting better and some of the guys are getting used to the speed of the competition. We are happy with our progression and to be playing Broadmeadow Magic at Broadmeadow is fantastic for our guys and they are really excited about that.”

“It meant the world to the guys like Tom Walker, Sam Walker and Brad York who were involved when they got relegated. It’s been a while for those guys since to get back [to Macquarie Field] to plan an NPL game. They were over the moon. The other boys were happy for them, the new boys to the club, they could see how important it was for them.”

Key: Lakes haven’t beaten Broadmeadow since 2011 – a run of six matches – when Chris Turner’s (Lakes) beat Damien Smith’s (Magic) 3-0 at Magic Park. Can the Roosters turn the tide?

Adamstown Rosebud v Weston Bears
2.30pm Sunday 2nd April at Adamstown Oval

Last Meeting: Round 17, 2016: Weston 4 Adamstown 1 at Rockwell Automation Park.

Ladder: Adamstown 10th (1), Weston 7th (2)

Last 3 Starts (most recent first):

Weston – Drew Jaffas 2-2 (h), Lost Magic 0-2 (a), Drew Roosters 2-2 (h)

Adamstown – Lost Olympic 0-1 (h), Lost Eagles 0-6 (a), Drew Jets 4-4 (a)

Bottom Line

After promising so much, with their Heritage Cup victory in the pre-season, the opening rounds of their 2017 campaign hasn’t quite gone to script for Pete McGuinness and his Adamstown side.

Red cards in both of their opening two matches handicapped the side, while a late goal from Hamilton’s Scott Smith on Tuesday night rubbed salt into the Rosebud’s wounds after copping a 6-0 thumping from Edgeworth on Saturday. Describing it as a tough week for the Bud’s is probably an understatement.

Weston, on the other hand, is a side full of confidence after holding a star-studded Jaffas side to a 2-2 draw on Sunday afternoon. The Bears have impressed over their three matches, with draws against Lambton and Lakes, while a 2-0 loss against Broadmeadow was a lot tighter that the scoreline shows.

Weston’s Nick Thompson who has played up front for the Bears for much of the season has done a sterling job for someone that has been thrust into a position they are not used to. Thompson scored a double of the weekend and has held up the ball nicely to create chances for brother James in the front third.

With Weston’s new striker arriving this week in Cooper Buswell, who recently played for the Central Coast Mariners’ Youth Squad in the National Youth League, it should add to the Bears potency up front.

The Bears also welcome back Jordan Jackson (suspension) and Jamie Byrnes (virus), while Jacob Golding (injured) will remain on the sideline for the Bears. For the Rosebuds

What the Coaches Said:

 Peter McGuinness (Adamstown)

“Weston have got a young side and a very good coach and he’ll have them well organised, I’ve got no doubt. It was a great result for them against Lambton last weekend, and they’ll have some confidence in what they are doing and have some belief so it’ll be a tough match.”

“Knowing Piggo, he’ll have them extremely well organised defensively and they will look to counter attack. We’ve just got to be good with the ball and if it the game pans out that they are organised defensively and look to counter attack we will need to be good with the ball and go forward.”

 Steve Piggott (Weston)

“[The most impressive thing over the first three rounds] has been our tenacity and having a go. We’ve still got areas to improve on and each week we are trying to improve on those things. I’ve got three things noted down this weekend. Can we work towards getting a clean sheet? That needs to happen sooner than later, we need to score from open play more than once and try to run out the match in the midfield against the best teams.”

“James [Thompson] has been one of our best players right from the start of training, right through our pre-season games and the Heritage Cup. When he first started he was trying to do too much, trying to beat too many players, but he is starting to lay it off now a little bit more and he had a fair game last weekend.”

Key: Home Ground Advantage? It’s been seven matches since the Rosebud’s last won an NPL match at Adamstown Oval. That last win was against Weston. Can they turn it around?


PS4 NPL NNSW ROUND 2:Hamilton Olympic collect 3 points at Adamstown Rosebud

Hamilton Olympic collected their first 3 points of the 2017 NPL season when they defeated Adamstown Rosebud 1-0 in a deferred Round 2 match which had been washed out a week ago.

The game began with Adamstown being very mobile and pressing hard all over the field in the opening 10 minutes.

After this, the intensity of the home team dropped and Olympic began to take control with one long range effort and a scramble inside the six yard box being the closest to opening the score.

The remainder of the half was a tight midfield affair with neither team making any clear cut opportunities to open the score.

The second half continued in the same pattern with Olympic fans frustrated at the lack of initiative by any of our players to take control and dictate terms.

On the hour mark Olympic begin to show some hunger for goal after some penetrating runs from the flanks. A cross from the right is not cleared by the Adamstown defense and a thundering shot by Leo Bertos is narrowly out.

As the ball comes back into play, Louis Townsend unleashes a thunderbolt from outside the box which smashes off the Adamstown crossbar!

In the 75’ Danny Ireland keeps a clean sheet for Olympic with an extended save.

In the last 10 minutes the game comes to life with numerous good runs by both teams particularly from the flanks.

In a period of sustained pressure by Olympic, Daniel Bird shoots from outside the box forcing a great save from Paul Bitz. Moments later the entire Olympic team appeal for a hand ball inside the area but this falls on deaf ears.

In the 90’ Daniel Bird begins a solo run in the midfield and opens up the Adamstown defense to enable Scott Smith to round the Paul Bitz and score the only goal of the night!

source: Tom Tsamouras

PS4 NPL NNSW ROUND 3: Hamilton Olympic have a bye but play Adamstown Rosebud on Tuesday

Hamilton Olympic have a bye in Round 3 of the PS4 NPL NNSW competition.

Round 2 fixtures against Adamstown Rosebud have been rescheduled for:

Tuesday 28th March – 1st Grade kick off at 7.00pm

Wednesday 29th MarchUnder 18s kick off at 6.00pm

Wednesday 29th March – Under 20s kick off at 7:45pm


Hamilton Olympic take on Broadmeadow Magic at Wanderers Oval on Sunday 26th March.

13 Years – 10am
14 Years – 11:30am
15 Years – 1:00pm
16 Years – 2:30pm

In other games:
Edgeworth Eagles v Adamstown Rosebud
6 pm Saturday 25th March at Jack McLaughlan Oval
Last Meeting:
 Heritage Cup 2017 Final: Adamstown 1 (3) Edgeworth 1 (2) at Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility.

Ladder: Edgeworth 7th (1pt), Adamstown 4th (1)

Last Start:
Edgeworth – Drew Magic 1-1 (h)

Adamstown – Drew Jets 4-4 (a)

Bottom Line

Two sides with similar round one storyline’s will meet in the ‘Match of the Round’ in the third week of the PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues (NPL) Northern NSW (NNSW) competition. Both Edgeworth and Adamstown were required to fight back from a goal down and a man down in their opening round encounters and neither will want to go through that again.

In a re-match of the Northern NSW 2017 Heritage Cup decider, Edgeworth gets their chance to avenge the defeat from just three weeks ago. It was a tight match that afternoon with Paul Bitz the hero for Adamstown in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 fulltime scoreline.

However, that result will mean little come Saturday, with Edgeworth seemingly back in their groove. The Eagles fighting qualities were no more evident than in their opening match against Broadmeadow where after going a man and a goal down they still managed to fight back into the contest and claim a valuable point.

Both Edgeworth and Adamstown missed out on their round two match-ups against Lambton and Hamilton respectively and both will be eager to get back on the pitch and claim some points.

In their only match to date, Adamstown too could only grab a point from their clash with the Jets Youth. After the high of the Heritage Cup victory the week earlier, it was expected by many that the Rosebud’s would make light work of a young Jets outfit.

But, it wasn’t the case as Adamstown made the job even harder for themselves going a man down as former Weston defender Robbie Turnbull was sent off for a second yellow. They then conceded two minutes later to be down 3-2 with less than 15 minutes to play. The Rosebuds rallied through to score twice and claim a share of the points.

Adamstown welcome back a host of players for the clash with Mitch Hunter, Owen Littlewood, Justin Tannock and Captain Dayne Pawlik returning for the match. Edgeworth will still be without Kieran Sanders and Ayden Brice (both suspended), while Josh Evans will be away with work.

What the Coaches Said:

Damian Zane (Edgeworth)

“I still say it and it’s only early days but our end product, decision-making and our execution has let us down a bit. Our ground work has been good and then we’ve sort of let ourselves down with that final pass or maybe we’ve delivered a decent cross and we’re not getting in the box.”

“It’s pretty simple with me if you’re a midfielder or an attacking player and by round five you’ve got no goals or no assists, you’re no use to me. We’re a team that I think is hard to defend because we don’t have one out and out scorer. We all score, we all assist and share the load so it’s important with the competition for spots in our squad you’ve got to perform.”

Pete McGuinness (Adamstown)

“I think ultimately [the Heritage Cup Final] was only a draw and only played over 60 minutes, but, in saying that it did give the boys some confidence and self-belief that we can play against the bigger teams and compete. The team on the weekend will be a bit different to that weekend and I’m sure they will be different as well, both in personnel and attitude.”

“I think you have got to do one of two things [against Edgeworth]. You’ve got to stop the supply to their players in our half or you’ve got to deny them space in behind. Whatever happens, I think the most important thing we have got to do is compete physically, and be in the fight. If we can do that we’ve got a decent enough structure that we can contain possession and build our own attacks.”

Key: Will the loss of Robbie Turnbull’s experience at the back, will it affect a younger Rosebud’s outfit?

Newcastle Jets Youth v Maitland Magpies
2.30 pm Saturday 25th March at Cooks Square Park
Last Meeting:
 Round 13, 2016: Jets Youth 1 Maitland 1 at Cooks Square Park.

Ladder: Jets Youth 5th (1), Maitland 9th (0)

Last Start:
Jets Youth – Drew Rosebud 4-4 (h)

Maitland – Bye

Bottom Line

It’s been a long wait for Maitland to finally get their season underway and they will be hoping for some sunny weather over the coming days or it may take even long. A battle against a young and fit Jets Youth side will provide a test for the Magpies in Phil Dando’s first match as head coach.

As they did last season the Jets Youth surprised many in their opening round clash with the Rosebud’s competing well and claiming a 4-4 draw. Clayton Zane probably would have been a little disappointed to not have taken the three points against a side down to ten men for the final 15 minutes of the contest.

It was the Jets’ Achilles heel last year and it was the issue in round one – their defence. They can score goals with ease, but it’s keeping tight at the back which has been the issue. Against a Maitland side with a strong defence, the Jets may not get as many chances in front of goal and leaking goals will cost them against the Magpies.

Shane Cansdell-Sheriff was expected to make his long-awaited PS4 NPL NNSW debut but will miss the match with coaching commitments. While Andrew Pawiak will face off against his former club in his first PS4 NPL match for the Magpies. The extra wait for Maitland to start their season will have benefited their squad no end with combinations able to be developed further.

Maitland has history on their side too. In four of their PS4 NPL matches against the Jets Youth they have won two, drawn one and lost one, but that loss was almost two years ago and with a vastly different squad.

In addition to Cansdell-Sheriff missing the match, Matt Thompson also will miss the match as he is playing for the Australian Legends side in Perth. Like Thompson, Ryan Clarke too will head over to Perth. Phil Dando says English recruit Josh Dutton-Black isn’t quite up to full fitness and will most likely play in the u/20s and sit on the bench for first grade on Saturday.

What the Coaches Said:

Clayton Zane (Jets Youth)

“For us its been about getting players back on the pitch because we were really hamstrung in round one with injuries and we are still not in a good place. It has really been about damage limitation, trying not to get any injuries in training. The first game of the year I thought the performance was really good.”

“Defensively we are going to have problems all year just because of our lack of options and age so that’s not going to change too much. Young Caio [DeGodoy] has gone overseas so we’ve lost another defender. Maitland is a team we’ve had trouble with in the past just in a physical sense. I thought [our matches against Maitland] were probably our two hardest matches last year and I expect the same.”

Phil Dando (Maitland)

“I’m looking forward to coaching against Clacka [Clayton Zane] considering I used to coach him in the Newcastle Breakers Youth team. It’ll be nice to be on the sideline next to him in a coaching role. It just goes to show how old I’m getting!”

“We expect the Jets will play some neat football and my assistants know a bit about them from last season. We’ll just approach it with fresh eyes and concentrate on what we’ve been working on for the past few weeks since I’ve been here. It’ll take a bit of time [to get our structures right] and I’m not expecting it to all fall into place in the first game.”

Key: How well can the Jets defend? Against a Maitland side who give away few chances themselves the Jets backline will need to be on song to keep their side in the contest.

Broadmeadow Magic v Valentine Phoenix
7 pm Saturday 25th March at Magic Park
Last Meeting:
 Round 16, 2016: Broadmeadow 1 Valentine 2 at Johnson Park.

Ladder: Broadmeadow 1st (4) Valentine 3rd (3)

Last Starts:
Broadmeadow – Won Bears 2-0 (h), Drew Eagles 1-1 (a)

Valentine – Won Blues 2-1 (a)

Bottom Line

Broadmeadow will look to quell Valentine’s strong recent record against them when they meet at Magic Park on Saturday night.

In 2016, the highly-fancied Magic outfit could only claim one point from a possible six against the Phoenix, with a 3-3 draw in round seven followed by one of the upsets of the season in round 16 where the Phoenix beat Broadmeadow 2-1.

Broadmeadow will need to be on their toes against a Valentine side with plenty of pace and be especially careful of American import Jalon Brown who impressed against Charlestown in the opening round. The Phoenix’s counter-attack caused the Blues all sorts of problems that evening and you would expect more of the same against Magic.

After leaking goals last season, Valentine has seemed to sure up their defence this season with Zac Sneddon and Reece Pettit marshalling the backline and the experienced Scott Carter in goals.

Magic are one of only two sides who has played all their matches so far this season, as they played in round two against Weston. Broadmeadow produced an uncharacteristically gritty display against the Bears, only sealing the match in the 92nd minute via a James Virgili breakaway.

Magic struggled in attack for the opening 60 minutes until Peter Haynes entered the field of play and changed the match. He proceeded to tee up Kale Bradbury and Virgili on numerous occasions and his influence seems key for Broadmeadow this season.

What the Coaches Said:

 Ruben Zadkovich (Broadmeadow)

 “The thing that I probably try and stress to the boys is that the league is constantly improving. You are not going to get as many easy games as you would have had [in the past]. I think Weston is a good example, a young team, but coached by an experienced coach. [Steve Piggott] knows the league well, and he knows how to make it uncomfortable for you.”

“I think Valentine – I don’t know too much about their squad – but they’ll make things difficult for us and they’ll have their own qualities as well. There’s no easy games. We’ve just got to stick to our process and the way we play. We’ve got a pretty complex way of playing. It may look simple from the outside but on the inside, I ask for a lot of little detail and the boys are doing the majority of it. It’s going to get better with each game and we’re happy with where we are at.”

Sam Griffin (Valentine Assistant)

“We need to do what we did in round one for 92 and a half minutes and defend well. High pressure for as much as we can and the longer we can stop them from scoring, then hopefully they will get frustrated and that will give us a chance to win the match. The age of saying, if you don’t concede you’ve only got to score one.”

“I think our back four is key, we’ve got a lot of guys pushing for a spot there. Wilson Edwards didn’t even get on the park the last match and he is raring to go. To keep the likes of Kale Bradbury, James Virgili, Peter Haynes, etc, quiet, the four guys at the back are going to have to be right on top of their game.”

Key: Peter Haynes (Magic) and Jalon Brown (Phoenix). Both have been influential for their respective sides this season and their impact will be vital.

Charlestown City Blues v Lake Macquarie City Roosters
2.30 pm Sunday 26th March at Lisle Carr Oval
Last Meeting:
 Round 17, 2014: Charlestown 2 Lake Macquarie 1 at Lisle Carr Oval.

Ladder: Charlestown 11th (0), Lake Macquarie 6th (1)

Last Start:
Charlestown – Lost Phoenix 1-2 (h)

Lake Macquarie – Drew Bears 2-2 (a)

Bottom Line

Expect plenty of goals in this match-up with the last six matches seeing an average of just over five goals scored. While there have been goals aplenty, Charlestown won five of those six matches but only outscored the Roosters 18-13 so all the matches were tight high-scoring affairs.

Both coaches were disappointed after their opening round showings and would like to turn it around here. While a loss wouldn’t be fatal at this early stage neither sides would want a slow start especially with tougher matches to come against the noted ‘big sides’.

Charlestown competed well for most of their round one clash with Valentine despite being a man down for the final 35 minutes of the match. The injury to Corey Atkinson just before the break hurt the Blues and the wet weather will give him an extra week to recover from a nasty eye injury.

Lake Macquarie coach Anthony Richards was disappointed in the quality of football his side played in their opening fixture against Weston but understood the heat of the Hunter Valley took it out of his side. With high humidity expected for Sunday, it won’t easy so expect a hard-fought battle from either side.

Tom Walker will miss the match with a quad injury for Lakes. For Charlestown, Dan Casciaroli (suspended) is out but Atkinson (eye) could return for the Blues. Jarryd Johnson (away) is also out for the home side.

In other news regarding Charlestown, Josh Swadling has left the club due to the requirements of travelling up to training from the Central Coast.

What the Coaches Said:

Shane Pryce (Charlestown)

“They started off with a point even though they are newly up in the competition. They are not to be taken lightly with what they did in their first game. They are a team that has come up and willing to prove a point and I’m very wary of them, to be honest.”

“I think our last game as far as standards we set is disappointing and there are some individual performances that people will want to correct. We’ve been working on getting roles and responsibilities right for individual players. You get a chance to review videos and to talk and watch players and try to develop them as to what I want and I’m trying to do that and improve that communication.”

Anthony Richards (Lake Macquarie)

“We realise every game is really tough and these guys will be thinking there are three points for them this weekend and we believe we can take the three points. I don’t think it really matters what stage of the season it is whether it be round one or round eighteen we’ll be looking to put our best foot forward. We just want to do really well whenever we play.”

“Prycey’s company Chubb Fire do some work for us at my work so I’m organising a meeting on Sunday at 2.30pm for him to attend. I meant to send out the meeting invite today, but I forgot so I’ll have to send it out tomorrow. But, in all seriousness the boys are really excited to play, they’re as toey as a Roman sandal. “

Key: Desire. Conditions will be tough for football on Sunday afternoon in Charlestown so expect a hard slog.

Weston Bears v Lambton Jaffas
2.30 pm Sunday 26th March at Rockwell Automation Park
Last Meeting:
 Round 18, 2016: Lambton 4 Weston 1 at Arthur Edden Oval.

Ladder: Weston 8th (1) Lambton 2nd (3)

Last Stars:
Weston – Lost Magic 0-2 (a), Drew Roosters 2-2 (h)

Lambton – Won Olympic 3-2 (a)

Bottom Line

Lambton will be buoyed by their opening round come from behind win against fellow title contenders Hamilton and the wet weather over the weekend would have done little to dampen their spirits.

They face a Weston outfit who competed hard for 90 minutes against Broadmeadow in the only match in round two, but in the end, a red card early in the second half to centre-back Jordan Jackson crippled their chances. With the second meeting in a week against a side expected to finish in the top four will provide another good test for the young Bears and at home they should make like difficult for the Jaffas.

With the likes of Joel Griffiths, Jobe Wheelhouse and Michael Kantarovski, the Jaffas have plenty of Hyundai A-League experience across the park. Combine that with the speed of Luke Remington and Ridge Marpu down the flanks and Weston will have plenty to worry about. As well as Pat Brown – the hero of their opening round win – hasn’t even been mentioned.

Weston has their own quality as well with Greg Anderson leading the Bears backline. Striker Jamie Byrnes will also be looking for a strong performance when he comes up against one of his former clubs, while keeper Kane Runge was superb on against Magic and will get another acid test this weekend.

In a blow for the visitors, Nathan Morris will miss the match with his former club with a hamstring injury. While Jacob Golding (injured) and Jordan Jackson (suspended) will be out for Weston.

What the Coaches Said:

Steve Piggott (Weston)

“Every match is a challenge for us at this stage. James [Pascoe] is a long-term friend of mine and he’s been under my tutelage being an assistant coach under me a few years ago and he’s done well for himself. He’ll have his squad primed up for the match. They’ve got plenty of experience and a bit of pace so no different to Broadmeadow, they’re a good team.”

“All I can ask is the young guys step up and try and improve and it will be a happy camp. Everything is positive at the minute and we are believing in ourselves. Once we get to the top of that and we get a result, they’ll grow in confidence.”

James Pascoe (Lambton)

“I think my approach to [potential complacency] is squad rotation. Good chunks of the team will be getting their first start and I’d like to think there would be an eagerness about them because of that reason. I’ll do that weekly. They’ll be two and three and four changes per week throughout the season just because of the depth we have and it does keep people on their toes.”

“Training has been a case of ‘do what you can with the available facility that you’ve got.’ From a fitness point of view, we’ve been able to tick over quite well, but from a tactical point of view we have some work to do until we get a bit more consistent. But, until we get on a full pitch and can do that work it’s a case of talk about things and draw things and hope the boys understand.”

Key: Weston will need to play for the full 90 minutes. Lapses hurt them against Broadmeadow last weekend and they can’t afford them against a lethal Jaffas frontline.


PS4 NPL NNSW ROUND 2: fixture between Adamstown Rosebud and Hamilton Olympic postponed

Round 2 fixtures against Adamstown Rosebud have been rescheduled for:

Tuesday 28th March – 1st Grade kick off at 7.00pm

Wednesday 29th MarchUnder 18s kick off at 6.00pm

Wednesday 29th March – Under 20s kick off at 7:45pm


Hamilton Olympic FC v Emerging Jets FC
Games moved to Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility
Sunday 19th March 2017
13 Years – 10am
14 Years – 11:30am
15 Years – 1:00pm
16 Years – 2:30pm

source: Tom Tsamouras

PS4 NPL NNSW ROUND 2: Hamilton Olympic away to Adamstown Rosebud

Adamstown Rosebud v Hamilton Olympic

6 pm Saturday 18th March at Adamstown Oval

Last Meeting: Round 11, 2016: Adamstown 1 (Read (p) 24’) Hamilton 1 (Goodchild 7’)

Ladder: Adamstown 3rd (1pt) Hamilton 10th (0)

Last Start:

Adamstown – Drew Jets 4-4 (a)

Hamilton – Lost Jaffas 2-3 (h)

Bottom Line

Two sides who would have been expected to claim more than just a point between them in the opening round meet in the ‘Match of the Round’ in round two of the PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues Northern NSW and it shapes as a crucial match for both sides.

Neither Olympic nor the Rosebud’s can afford to drop points in this fixture, with just only two sides winning last weekend, grabbing the three points early in the competition will be essential for either side.

The Rosebud’s come into the match after a pulsating 4-all draw with the Jets Youth where both sides showed their attacking prowess but at the same time made evident to other sides the leakiness of their respective defences.

After going down to ten men, just after going down 3-2, Adamstown will be proud of the character they showed to claim a point, but they will be unable to show the same ill-discipline against Olympic.

Hamilton started the season on fire, coming out against the Jaffas all guns blazing, pressing them and putting them under all sorts of pressure. They deserved their 2-0 lead at the break, but after half-time, they fatigued and Lambton made them pay to win 3-2.

Surely their second half performance will be in the back of their minds on Saturday and it will be interesting to see how they come out in the second 45 against the Rosebud’s.

Adamstown will be without stand-in Captain Robbie Turnbull who was sent off on Saturday, but Justin Tannock, Mitch Hunter, Owen Littlewood, and Captain Dayne Pawlik will all be in line for a return to the side come Saturday.

On the flip side, Mick Bolch has a few headaches at Olympic with Rhys Cooper ruled out for 4-6 weeks with a tear in his medial. Leo Bertos is in doubt after being collected by a stray Pat Brown boot last weekend. While the experienced duo of Kyle Hodges (ankle) and Andrew Swan (foot) are also in doubt.

What the Coaches Said:

 Peter McGuinness (Adamstown)

“I watched [Hamilton] the other night against the Jaffas and I thought they were very effective in the first half. They have quite a few players that are a handful and that needs to be addressed by us if we are to get something out of the game.”

“It’s always a measure playing someone who has been there year in year out. They went through the entire season undefeated last year until finals time. It’ll tell us where we are at and if we can compete with them at this early stage of the year then it will be a good message to the group. If we are good enough to get something out of the game then it will be a really good message that we are on the right path.”

Mick Bolch (Hamilton)

“They are a young and mobile side and they did really well in the Heritage Cup. Pete McGuinness is a very good coach so I’m sure they’ll be up for it and they’ll be well organised.”

“It hasn’t been an ideal preparation for us. Usually, this time of the year we are ready to go, [but the last few years] come the back end of the season we have seemed to hit a brick wall. This year we have gone with a different approach, so we are probably only 70% of where we want to be. We realise that but it’s a long season. We are one match into 20 games, so it’s not panic stations by all means.”

Key: The second halfAdamstown scored three goals last weekend. Hamilton scored none. Olympic can’t afford another second half fade-out or questions will begin to be asked.

 U18s Olympic vs Adamstown kick off 2.15pm at Adamstown Oval

 U20s Olympic vs Adamstown kick off 4.00pm at Adamstown Oval


Olympic vs Emerging Jets  at Speers Point

U13s kick off at 10:00am

U14s kick off at 11:30am

U15s kick off at   1:00pm

U16s kick off at   2:30pm

Lambton Jaffas v Edgeworth Eagles

2.30 pm Saturday 18th March at Arthur Edden Oval

Last Meeting: Round 10, 2016: Edgeworth 5 (Hammel 27’, 90+2’, Moore 49’, Moriyasu 81’, 88’) Lambton 0 at Jack McLaughlan Oval

Ladder: Lambton 1st (3) Edgeworth 8th (1)

Last Start:

Lambton – Won Olympic 3-2 (a)

Edgeworth – Drew Magic 1-1 (h)

Bottom Line

Edgeworth meet a resurgent Lambton in the opening match of round two and this is sure to be a tight contest with not much between the sides on paper.

The Jaffas last match against the Eagles was probably one of their most disappointing of last season. In most of their matches against the top four sides, last season Lambton gave a very good account of themselves but not in round 10 at Jack McLaughlan Oval. They were brushed aside 5-0 and they will look to erase those memories on Saturday.

It’s been four matches and two and a half years since Edgeworth last tasted defeat against the Jaffas, which was back in Lambton’s Championship winning season in 2014. A win here for Lambton would be huge and to go five points clear of the Eagles after just two matches would do a lot for their premiership aspirations.

Lambton’s performance against Hamilton was the tale of two halves, with the Jaffas very disappointing in the first half before coming out in the second and controlling the match on their way to a late 3-2 victory.

Pat Brown was very impressive off the bench and you would expect he will come into the starting side after that kind of performance. But, James Pascoe might want to use him off the bench again and surprise the Eagles in the second half.

Edgeworth, on the other hand, produced a gritty display in their hard-fought opening round match against Broadmeadow. They went a man and a goal down in the space of a minute but had the resolve to fight back and claim a point – one that is sure to be a big boost for the Eagles psychologically.

Ayden Brice will miss the match for Edgeworth after his red card last weekend, while Kieran Sanders will remain on the sidelines for another week with suspension. Ridge Marpu will be available for the Jaffas after missing last weekend’s match.

What the Coaches Said:

James Pascoe (Lambton)

“To kick-off with Hamilton away first and then Edgeworth second, they’re almost like two Grand Finals in the first two weeks and if you don’t play them at Grand Final intensity you are going to get hurt so we expect a really good game of football this weekend. It could set up a brilliant start for us if we are good enough to get the result and move to six points.”

“The beauty of the squad I’ve been able to put together this year is that I can rotate people and get an element of freshness going into Saturday’s game even though they’ve had two days extra recovery by playing on Friday night. We’ll be fit and sharp and mobile from the start of the game.”

Damian Zane (Edgeworth)

“I’ve been pretty big on the defensive side of the game. I think the attacking side of the game comes naturally to us and I think we sometimes get underrated for our defence. I think if we can get off to a good start and defend well I’m confident.”

“Whenever you play Lambton, over the last few years, the goal is to at least breakeven in the midfield against Jobe because if he gets the upper hand he can really get them going. Probably the only other thing [to worry about] is our finally delivery hasn’t been great. We’ve been getting into great positions and not taking advantage of it and that something we want to improve.”

Key: Can Edgeworth cope with Lambton’s pace out wide in Luke Remington and Ridge Marpu

Broadmeadow Magic v Weston Bears

6 pm Saturday 18th March at Magic Park

Last Meeting: Round 12, 2016: Broadmeadow 1 (Virgili (p) 58’) Weston 0 at Magic Park.

Ladder: Broadmeadow 7th (1) Weston 6th (1)

Last Start:

Broadmeadow – Drew Eagles 1-1 (a)

Weston – Drew Roosters 1-1 (h)

Bottom Line

Weston’s young side will face a tough test when they face off against Broadmeadow Magic on Saturday night. After a fighting display against the Roosters, the young Bears will look to take the battle to Broadmeadow.

The recent fixtures between the sides have been low scoring affairs, with the last three matches between the sides only producing 2 goals and even though the Bears finished dead last in 2016, when they met Broadmeadow each time they took it to them having a 0-0 draw in Weston and only going down 1-0 at Magic Park in a controversial match.

The last time the Bears won, was back in 2015 – and what a thrilling contest it was. Down 2-0 early on the Bears fought back to win 4-3 courtesy of a late Jake Millsteed winner. Millsteed scored the Bears opener last weekend and will have fond memories of the ground.

Broadmeadow will come into the match a little disappointed after giving up their 1-0 advantage to a ten man Edgeworth side. New recruit Scott Robertson gave away a penalty in the final quarter hour of the match and Keigo Moriyasu made no mistake as they shared the points.

What the Coaches Said:

Ruben Zadkovich (Broadmeadow)

“Every game is tough. They’ve got a very young team, looking at the list of players meaning they’ll be enthusiastic. To be honest most teams bring their intensity when they play at Magic Park. It’s a good facility and against a strong team, they normally lift. It’ll be a tough game.”

“I was totally proud of the boys, in that scenario playing against ten men, it’s a difficult scenario. You see it all over the world that teams can lose their way a bit playing against ten men. The ten men obviously know they’ve got to lift their intensity if they are going to get anything out of the game. You won’t find me slaughtering my boys, they were fantastic [against Edgeworth].”

Steve Piggott (Weston)

“I’m looking forward to the clash with Broadmeadow and it will be a good test of where we are at. Hopefully, with the 6 o’clock kick-off, it won’t be as warm on Saturday but we won’t know until then. It’ll be a great test for us. But, we need to improve in front of goals and not make the silly mistakes we did last week.”

“People make predictions and they talk the talk and say this teams going to finish here and this teams going to finish there. In the early rounds, anything can happen and it wouldn’t be the first time that a team told they are going to finish tenth would upset a team that is going to finish in the top two. It can happen. We can only see on the day who wants it the most.”

Key: Weston will be no pushovers here and Broadmeadow cannot afford to take them lightly.

Charlestown City Blues v Maitland Magpies

2.30pm Sunday 19th March at Lisle Carr Oval

Last Meeting: Round 12, 2016: Maitland 2 (M.Thompson (p) 18’, 78’) Charlestown 0 at Lisle Carr Oval.

Ladder: Charlestown 11th (0) Maitland 9th (0)

Last Start:

Charlestown – Lost Phoenix 1-2 (h)

Maitland – Bye

Bottom Line

Maitland gets their season underway against Charlestown after having the bye in the opening round and will be looking for a positive start under new coach Phil Dando.

Dando has arrived at the eleventh hour after Maitland were in need of a coach with a B-Licence after Dean Heffernan stepped down from his player/coach role in the off-season due to work commitments. Matt Thompson has been doing most of the work with the side in the pre-season so expect the coaching decision to not have too much of an impact on the Magpies.

With new signings Josh Dutton-Black (UK), Shane Cansdell-Sheriff (Manly) and Andrew Pawiak (Jets Youth) Maitland should be in the hunt come to the end of the season and now with the coaching worries all sorted, the side can focus on the season ahead.

Charlestown comes into the match disappointed after the first-round showing against Valentine where they were right in the hunt until a stray boot collected striker Corey Atkinson in the head and he was forced from the ground just before half-time. With the loss of Atkinson’s pace up front, the Blues struggled to create any clear-cut chances from that point on. A win is a must for the Blues here. While two losses to start the season won’t be the end of the world, Shane Pryce would want to get some points on the board in what is expected to be a tight competition this year.

Interestingly, Charlestown hasn’t beaten Maitland since they returned to the PS4 NPL. They last beat the Magpies in Division One back in July 2011, it was 5-1 that afternoon.

Maitland’s Jordan Elphick is expected to play despite having a tight calf during the week, while Charlestown will be without Dan Casciaroli (suspended) and Corey Atkinson will be on the sidelines for at least two weeks with an eye injury sustained in Saturday’s clash with Valentine. Jarryd Johnson and Cameron Hughes will be available for selection for Sunday’s match after being unavailable last weekend.

What the Coaches Said:

 Shane Pryce (Charlestown)

“It’s just about attitude and commitment. We lacked urgency in our football so hopefully, there is a change is our urgency to shut down players.”

“I don’t think we’ve got someone as quick as Corey [Atkinson] so we might just change a few things. His injury really definitely changed things on the weekend. Injuries and the red card obviously changed how we wanted to go about things. But, that’s football. We hung in there and if it wasn’t for Archie [Nathan Archbold] making saves it probably would have been a lot more.”

Phil Dando (Maitland)

“After a number of years working with the kids, it’s nice to be back in senior football which I always enjoyed. There are some quality players in this comp now. At our own club, we’ve got Matt Thompson, Shane Cansdell-Sheriff who’s been 20 years over in the UK. There’s [Daniel] McBreen at Edgeworth and Jobe Wheelhouse and Joel Griffiths which makes it a more attractive proposition for spectators and players alike.”

“I’m very pleased with the attitude and application the squad has shown. I had a look on Saturday at an intra-club trial they had and I took training on Tuesday night. The response was good and the quality was great. I’ve just had one session with the guys and we worked on one particular pattern of play and if we can get that right the rest can worry about us.”

Key: Maitland’s defence was outstanding last season but found it tough in front of goal at times. If they can start well in attack here, they will only grow in confidence.

Lake Macquarie City Roosters v Valentine Phoenix

2.30 pm Sunday 19th March at Macquarie Field

Last Meeting: NewFM Division Round 19, 2015: Valentine 4 (S.McGinley x 3, Adcock x 1) Lake Macquarie 0 at Macquarie Field.

Ladder: Lake Macquarie 5th (1) Valentine 2nd (3)

Last Start:

Lake Macquarie – Drew Bears 1-1 (a)

Valentine – Won Blues 2-1 (a)

Bottom Line

Valentine travels to Macquarie Field on Sunday afternoon for the first top grade local derby in two years. The home side will be looking to erase the memories of 2015 where they and the Phoenix battled it out for promotion to the PlayStation 4 NPL Norther NSW.

Valentine won both matches that year and in the final wash-up, those two results would be the difference between promotion and staying in the NewFM Division. Their last meeting would have been the most painful for the Roosters, as Valentine piled on the pain in a 4-0 victory.

The Phoenix started off the season with a solid 2-1 victory away against Charlestown. US import Jalon Brown was outstanding for the visitors on Saturday night posing questions of the Charlestown defence all evening. The Roosters will need to be wary of him come Sunday.

Lake Macquarie comes into the match after taking a point away from Rockwell Automation Park last weekend. While coach Anthony Richards was pleased with the point, he was disappointed that his side let Weston back into the came on two occasions after taking a 1-0 and 2-1 lead in the match.

Lake Macquarie’s Trent Patridge, Matt Toohey and Tom Walker and all expected to come into considerations for Sunday’s match. Scott Carter has been cleared of any head injury after suffering a knock on Saturday night for Valentine and will play as well.

What the Coaches Said:

Anthony Richards (Lake Macquarie)

“I’m excited about the first local derby at our ground. Valentine brings something different to the game as well. They are a hard working physical side so they will be in our face. They’ve got a bit of quality there as well. Zac Sneddon from Weston is a good young kid who I rate fairly highly. It’s a different game against them, it will be a physically demanding one.”

“I guess for us it’s no different. It’s a new game every week, a new team. Every team has their ‘Joel Griffiths’ or those really good players. It’s exciting for us, we get to play against another really good team.”

Darren Sills (Valentine)

“Lakes got a good result [up at Weston] for their first game and I’m sure Richo [Anthony Richards] will have them fired up for their first home game in the NPL. I drive past their ground every day and it looks in fantastic order. We played them at that ground in a trial after Christmas and they gave us a touch-up. They won 5-2 in that match so we are under no illusions. They’ve got some quality across the park including Sam Walker, and he scored a hat-trick in that trial.”

“Jalon [Brown] is a terrific person and he has fitted in really well here. He’s got a job now, he’s got a vehicle and a place to live. The players love him and he’s got a great sense of humour. On the park, he is very fit and can run the full 90 minutes. He was playing right up to the time he left the USA. He didn’t score on the weekend, but he made the defence think a lot and that’s what it is all about. If he can keep that up we’ll be really happy.”

Key: Can the Roosters cope with Valentine’s lethal pace in the front third?

Hamilton Olympic lose Rhys Cooper to knee injury

HAMILTON Olympic were dealt a bitter blow in the wake of their second-half slide to Lambton Jaffas with news on Monday that attacking midfielder Rhys Cooper will miss up to six weeks with a knee injury.

Cooper, who scored with a great solo effort in the first half, limped off late in the 3-2 round-one loss on Sunday night at Darling Street Oval, where the hosts had led 2-0 at the break.

Olympic coach Michael Bolch said it was hoped Cooper had only a cork from a clash of knees but it was found to be a grade three medial ligament tear.

“He was flying at the moment as well so it’s going to be a big loss for us,” Bolch said.

Bolch said the likely return of skipper Kyle Hodges (ankle) and Andrew Swan (bruised foot) at the back for the away clash with Adamstown on Saturday night “gives us options” in replacing Cooper.

“Andrew can go to left back and Leo [Bertos] can push into midfield,” he said. “Daniel Bird was fresh on the bench on Sunday night, so he comes into contention, so there’s options there.”

There was no hiding, though, from the loss of Cooper. 

“He’s one who I think has definitely got the ability to be playing at the next level, and he should probably be there now,” Bolch said

“For me, he’s the best No.10 in the comp. He glides past blokes and is one of those guys who runs as fast with the ball at his feet as he does when he hasn’t.

“He’s scored some really nice goals as well. He scored some great ones last year and his one on the weekend was class, and he almost scored another from halfway.

“And he’s just turned 21. In my view, he’s in the top three players in the comp, he just needs to be given that chance. He’s one the Jets should be looking at.”

Hamilton were underdone for the clash on Sunday after recent washed out trials but Bolch said his side “created enough in the first half” to put the result beyond doubt.

Last year Hamilton went through the regular season undefeated before bowing out to Broadmeadow in the semi-finals and Bolch could see the positive out of the early setback this year.

“With no undefeated tag we’ll just get on with the job now, fly under the radar a bit and just keep improving,” he said. “If we can build on what we did in the first 45 minutes, we’ll be in four or five weeks where we need to be.”

Charlestown coach Shane Pryce was also reeling from defeat and an injury.

Midfield recruit Corey Atkinson had bleeding behind his eye and spent Saturday night in hospital after copping a stray boot against his former club, Valentine, in a 2-1 loss at Lisle Carr Oval.

Pryce said Atkinson, who saw a specialist on Monday, would be out for at least two weeks.

Of the incident, Pryce said: “There was no intent from what I saw, it was just one of those things.”

The Blues were without Jarryd Johnson and Cameron Hughes, who were at a wedding, while late goalscorer Rene Ferguson is recovering from illness and came off the bench.  

Pryce said his side, who host Maitland on Sunday, were “a bit behind the eight-ball because we didn’t have as many trial games as I wanted”.

“We get a couple back this week and just start again, it’s not the end of the world,” Pryce said.

“There’s no excuses. Valentine had more urgency and were hungrier than us, so credit it to them.”

Hamilton Olympic lose 3-2 to Lambton Jaffas in the opening game of the season

After trailing 2-0 at the break, two goals from former Olympic striker Pat Brown saw the Jaffas claim all three points and pull off a remarkable 3-2 victory.

It was Olympic who started like a house on fire, pressing Lambton into some early mistakes and they got their reward in the 17th minute. Leo Bertos lashed a left-foot strike on goal from the edge of the box. Jaffas keeper Brad Swancott got a touch onto the bar, but the rebound fell to Scott Smith who tapped in for a 1-0 advantage.

The home side doubled their lead in the 34th minute when Rhys Cooper sped through the heart of Lambton’s defence. He went one-on-one with Swancott and struck his left foot shot into the right corner to make it 2-0.

Down 2-0 at the break, Jaffas’ coach James Pascoe made two changes, removing both Ben Hay and Tom Waller and putting on Luke Remington and former Olympic striker Brown.

The move paid dividends immediately as Lambton looked the better side. A pinpoint Nathan Morris free-kick was headed by Scott Smith into his own net as Lambton began the search for an equaliser.

Kane Goodchild could have potentially put the match beyond Lambton’s reach when he had a one-on-one chance with Swancott after Morris turned the ball over on halfway. But, last year’s Golden Boot could only snatch his shot over the bar.

Then Lambton took full toll. First, Brown found space down the right edge, stepped onto his left boot and picked out the top right corner to make it 2-2 in the 77th minute.

And then – just as the match entered stoppage time – Brown struck again. This time after a lovely interchange of passes Remington played Brown into the box. He skipped past Olympic defender Grant Brown and chipped over the onrushing Danny Ireland to make it 3-2, and complete an incredible fightback from the Jaffas.

Victorious coach James Pascoe was happy with the three points but believes his side has much more to give.

“I’m obviously happy with the result, but underlining that general feeling is the fact that we probably only hit about six percent of our capacity in executing how we want to play. So, to have enough to get the result was pleasing in those circumstances.”

Pascoe also heaped praise on striker Pat Brown.

“Pat’s had a good pre-season and I ride him hard because I know what he’s got. I’ve known him since he was 15 when he was part of the NSWIS squad before the Emerging Jets started. He was a beast at 15 and unlucky to score a contract with the Youth team.”

“I don’t think there are any better strikers in the league at 23 years of age. He’s going to be a very good striker for the Jaffas for years to come. He’s hungry and he’s positive and I know there is more to come.”

Olympic coach Mick Bolch thought his side were very good in the opening 45 minutes, but a lack of match preparation in recent weekend hurt his side.

“I thought we were very good in the first half, but, leading into the match we were pretty underdone. We haven’t played a game for three weeks and it just told in the end. Fitness wise they just ran over the top of us in the last 30-35 minutes.”

“We’ve just got to take the positives out of it. I thought we were very good in the first half and created enough chances. It is what it is, though, it’s the first game of a long season and we have just got to build on it.”

The loss came at a cost for Olympic with midfielder Rhys Cooper expected to miss the next 4-6 weeks with a grade three tear on his medial.

Next weekend Lambton face off against the Eagles in what shapes as a huge match, while Hamilton meet Adamstown in the ‘Match of the Round.’
Under 20s Olympic won 4-1
Under 18s Olympic won 4-0

NPL Youth
Olympic vs Valentine

Under 16s Olympic won 6-0
Under 15s Olympic won 2-0
Under 14s Olympic won 6-3
Under 13s Olympic won 12-0

In other games:

Edgeworth Eagles 1 (Moriyasu (p) 67’) drew with Broadmeadow Magic 1 (Haynes (p) 50’) at Jack McLaughlan Oval.

Broadmeadow and Edgeworth were forced to share the points in a pulsating match to start off the 2017 PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues (NPL) Northern NSW season. The sides couldn’t be separated even after the Eagles were forced to play the final 40 minutes with just ten men.

It was a fairly even start to the match with both sides probing without creating any clear cut chances. Edgeworth striker Brody Taylor found some space in behind the Magic defence midway through the opening half, but his shot was straight at Broadmeadow’s keeper Niko Giantsopolous and the former Devonport man made a good reflex save.

Peter Haynes was the next to go close, heading a corner at the near post just wide of goal, before moments later Magic midfielder Shane Paul put his header at the back post onto the roof of the net.

After a very tight first half, the two sides headed to the sheds locked at 0-0.

But, after limited chances in the opening half, Haynes found an opening in the Eagles defence down the right side as he chipped over the top for Kale Bradbury.

Bradbury backheeled in field to Shane Paul who weaved down the right side of the box and squared a pass to Scott Pettit whose shot from point-blank range smacked into the post, ricocheted out and with no keeper in goal Eagles defender Ayden Brice dove on top of the ball, handballed, and was immediately given a straight red card by referee Stephen Laurie.

Haynes stepped up and made no mistake with the spot-kick, drilling it under Eagles keeper Nate Cavaliere and into the left corner.

Moments later Magic coach Ruben Zadkovich substituted Haynes and brought on speedster James Virgili as the visitors looked to go in for the kill against 10 men.

But, Edgeworth as they so often have done responded and it was Brody Taylor who threaded the needle to Lachie Pasquale who darted down the left side of the box. New Magic recruit Scott Robertson dove in, fouled Pasquale and Laurie pointed to the spot once more.

Keigo Moriyasu stepped up and buried the penalty perfectly into the bottom left corner.

For the final 25 minutes, both sides continued to push for the winner. Bren Hammel produced a sweet drive from the right edge in the 79th minute which forced Giantsopolous to make a great save. In the same passage of play, the ball sat up for Daniel McBreen who rolled a left-foot shot towards goal which Giantsopolous plucked out of the air.

Magic created a chance with the last kick of the game when James Virgili darted down the right and curled in a low cross, but Cavaliere was up to the task to keep the visitors at bay.

When Stephen Laurie finally called an end to the match players hit the ground everywhere from an intense opening round clash where the rivals had to share the points.

Edgeworth coach Damian Zane said he had a case of the pre-match nerves.

“I very was nervous yesterday. Just being the start of the year. Everyone else started in November/December when we were having our break so I wasn’t sure how we would be physically.”

Zane said he couldn’t be happier with how his side performed physically.

“I thought we were in a pretty decent position but you never know until you get to round one. But, I am really happy [after round one] to see where we are at and we’ll only get stronger.”

Edgeworth faces a tough trip to Lambton against the Jaffas next weekend while Broadmeadow takes on the youthful Bears outfit at Magic Park.


Adamstown Rosebud 4 (Read 22’, 85’, Holzheimer 50’, Horsley 90+2’) drew with Jets Youth 4 (Joice 27’, 29’, Baker 74’, Brymora 90’) at Adamstown Oval.

 The Jets Youth and Adamstown played out an 8-goal thriller in both sides opening hit outs of the PS4 NPL Northern NSW Season. To add to the drama Adamstown Captain Robbie Turnbull – in his first competitive match for the club – was sent off with a quarter hour of the match left to play.

Alex Read got the scoring underway for the Rosebud’s in the 22nd minute after Aaron Niyonkuru chipped the Jets defence, allowing Read to control and slot home his shot from the right edge of the box.

It didn’t take long for the Jets to reply, though. Cameron Joice tapping home from point-blank range after Adamstown keeper Paul Bitz could only parry away a curling Mark Moric shot from the left side.

Just two minutes later Joice was at the double after he weaved through some lacklustre Rosebud’s defence before going one-on-one with Bitz and making no mistake as he powered the Jets into the lead.

The Jets would take a 2-1 lead into the interval, however, on resumption, it was one of their former teammates who got Adamstown back into the match. Robbie Turnbull whipped in a dangerous ball from the left edge finding an unmarked Cameron Holzheimer in the middle who made no mistake with the header to make it 2-2.

The Jets refused to lay down and they got their reward in the 74th minute as Jarod Baker fired them back into the lead. Baker was given time and space to run and shoot from outside the box and struck it well into the left corner.

Things took a turn for the worse for Adamstown two minutes later as Turnbull received his second yellow after bumping over Kristian Brymora who was on route to goal. But, it seemed to spur on the Buds, Alex Read levelling the match once more in the 85th minute after former Jet Ryan Ensor sent him flying down the left side. Read cut inside and slotted across Jets keeper Pierce Clark.

Just as the Rosebud’s thought they had fought hard to claim a valuable point with just ten men, Kristian Brymora found space down the right edge and his shot was too good for Bitz as the Jets hit the front once more.

However, if anyone thought all the twists and turns were over they were wrong, as the Bud’s fought back incredibly for the second time. Jordan Bower cut down the left edge and found former Jet Charlie Horsley who slotted home to make it 4-4 and complete a great escape for the home side.

Adamstown coach Peter McGuinness thought is was a ‘pretty evenly fought contest’ and that his side ‘has plenty more to offer.’

“We played right to the final whistle and ended up getting something out of the game. To go 4-3 down with 90 minutes gone, you [normally] think it’s all over. But, they didn’t, they found a way to get something which is really positive,” McGuinness said.

The Jets have the bye next weekend, while Adamstown play Hamilton in the ‘Match of the Round.’


Charlestown City Blues 1 (Ferguson 90+1’) defeated by Valentine Phoenix 2 (C.Brown 13’, Carroll 71’) at Lisle Carr Oval.

Valentine got their season off the perfect start with a confidence-boosting 2-1 away victory against Charlestown. The Blues controlled possession for much of the match, but it was the Phoenix’s clinical counter-attacking football which saw them take the points home.

Valentine’s keeper Scott Carter made a brilliant start for his club making an important early save to deny former Valentine man Josh Swadling.

From then on it was fairly even until in the 15th minute when Reece Pettit played a long ball over the top of the Blues defence to Chris Brown who went one-on-one with Charlestown keeper Nathan Archbold and made no mistake in slotting home his first PS4 NPL goal for the club.

Archbold was made to work hard in the opening half as Valentine’s counter-attack caused difficulties for the Blues’ defence. American import Jalon Brown fired in a couple of shots in an impressive performance in his first match in the PS4 NPL competition.

Charlestown suffered an injury blow before halftime as former Valentine midfielder Corey Atkinson left the ground after copping Zac Sneddon’s boot to his head.

Valentine took a 1-0 lead into the sheds at half-time and the match took a turn on resumption against the home side. New recruit Dan Casciaroli was given his marching orders in the 54th minute after receiving a second yellow card for clipping Phoenix captain Scott McGinley.

Even though they were down to ten men, Charlestown continued to control possession and push for a winner. But, it was Valentine who grabbed the matches second goal with Josh Carroll nodding in a pinpoint cross at the back post to make it 2-0 in the 74th minute.

Valentine looked set to close out the match and claim just their 2nd clean sheet in their last 19 matches, but a mistake from goalkeeper Carter saw Charlestown give themselves some late hope. Rene Fergusons shot from outside the box slid under Carter and into the back of the net.

Valentine coach Darren Sills said he felt his side ‘did enough to claim the three points,’ and went on to laud the performance of US import Jalon Brown.

“We have been trying to keep wraps on his a bit. He’s not just a great footballer, he’s a great human being. He was tremendous for us,” Sills said.

On the flip side, Charlestown coach Shane Pryce thought Valentine could have won by more and that the Blues lack of trial matches showed. But, he praised his side for fighting hard with just ten men for the final 40 minutes.

“Our character with ten men was indicative of where we need to be. To show that character and create some chances, I was really proud of the boys for that. But, full credit to Valentine they deserved their win.”

Valentine will meet Lake Macquarie away in the local derby next weekend, while Charlestown play Maitland at home.


Weston Bears (Millsteed (p) 20’, Byrnes 52’) drew with Lake Macquarie Roosters (Broadley 13’, Rospigliosi 37’) at Rockwell Automation Park.

Lake Macquarie celebrated their return to the PS4 NPL with a share of points with Weston. The Bears came from behind twice to claim a point in an even contest at Rockwell Automation Park.

It didn’t take long for the Roosters to score their first goal of the year. Sam Walker scuffed his shot, but fortunately for him, it ricocheted off the Bears defence and straight into the path of Justin Broadley who swept home from the middle of the box.

Five minutes later though and the Bears were given a chance to equalise after being awarded a penalty. Jake Millsteed stepped up and slotted his penalty past Lakes keeper Benn Kelly and into the bottom right corner.

However, the Roosters were back in front before half-time when Broadley played a pinpoint ball to Steve Rospigliosi who was charging down the left flank. Rospigliosi hit a first-time shot low and hard with his left boot inside Andrew Goldman’s near post and the visitors hit the front once more.

Lakes took a 2-1 lead into the sheds at half-time, but, when they returned Weston found another equaliser just seven minutes into the half. Jamie Byrnes hitting a sweet free kick from outside the box on the left of goal, straight into the right corner to get Weston back into the match.

Both sides threatened for the remainder of the match, but neither could find a winner in steamy conditions at Weston, as they shared the points.

Roosters coach Anthony Richards felt it wasn’t the highest quality match, but he was pleased with the fight his side showed.

“It was a really hot day. The players on both sides battled really well but I wouldn’t say the football content was great. But, certainly, the effort by both team was great.”

“I was happy with the effort shown, in those conditions, but I think we’ve still got some better football in us,” Richards said.

Next weekend Lakes meet the Phoenix in their first top flight derby since 2013, while Weston travels to Magic Park to meet Broadmeadow.

2017 PS4 NPL NNSW: Hamilton Olympic host Lambton Jaffas in Round 1

Hamilton Olympic v Lambton Jaffas

6.45pm Sunday 12th March at Darling Street Oval

Last Meeting: Round 12, 2016: Hamilton 2 (Cooper 34’, Goodchild 57’) Lambton 2 (Hay 2’, Davidson 45+1’) at Darling Street Oval

2016 Ladder: Hamilton 2nd (42), Lambton 7th (19)

Bottom Line

If a Grand Final re-match wasn’t taking place on Friday night this one would almost certainly have ‘match of the round’ billing. Two of the strongest rosters in the competition do battle in a match which could count for a lot come to the end of the season.

Hamilton and Lambton played out some outstanding contests in 2016 and based on both sides strengthening their rosters in 2017 it would seem the quality will only get better.

Lambton knocked off Olympic 3-2 in the Westfield FFA Cup last year when many expected Hamilton would go through against an injury-hit Jaffas outfit. A couple of weeks later and they would battle it out again. Again the Jaffas were underdogs and Olympic had to fight hard to come from behind twice to claim a point at home.

The combination of Scott Smith and Kane Goodchild worked a treat last time they played together at Charlestown in 2014, with the two scoring 20 goals between them as the Blues finished fourth. If they can re-ignite that combination this season teams will need to be wary, especially the Jaffas on Sunday.

For Lambton, they were bitterly disappointed with a 2016 season which didn’t quite go to script. Since they were promoted to the PS4 NPL for the start of 2013 they made the Grand Final their first year, won the Grand Final their second season and in 2015 went within a whisker of making it to another Grand Final after a nail-biting semi-final loss to Hamilton.

Expectation was again high in 2016 but it didn’t quite go to script with injuries cruelling their season. Coach James Pascoe has built a very strong squad this season with the signing of Michael Kantarovski along with the experienced Joel Griffiths joining the club. Ridge Marpu has joined from Valentine and his pace combined with Luke Remington’s is sure to cause Hamilton some headaches on Sunday.

Olympic Captain Kyle Hodges is in doubt for the clash with an ankle complaint, but the kick off on Sunday night gives him plenty of time to get himself ready. The Jaffas will have a full squad to pick from come Sunday.

What the Coaches Said:

Mick Bolch (Hamilton Olympic)

“The Jaffas have got plenty of young players in the side and Joel Griffiths does well for them up front. They are very dangerous in the front third with Ridge Marpu, Joel Griffiths and Luke Remington playing up front. Joel Griffiths runs really good lines, holds the ball up well and he’s got the quick young boys around him who are very dangerous. Jobe Wheelhouse in the middle of the park with [Michael] Kantararovski and Brad Swancott is one of the best keepers in the league so they will be more competitive than what they were last year.”

“We’ve just got to stick to and have faith in our shape and what we have been worked on in the pre-season. The boys have been doing really well at training and really well in the trial games. We’ve beaten the Jets Youth and the Mariners Youth and everyone just can’t wait to get out on the field.”

James Pascoe (Lambton)

“Hamilton couldn’t do much better than they did last year. They went undefeated through the regular season which is pretty impressive and they have recruited quite well for this season. We will have to be at our best to get something out of the match, that’s for sure.”

“I think [Olympic] will be very pumped up to get something out of it. I expect it to be a pretty tight affair and a match which will be won in the last 15 minutes. There are no excuses from us, we have had a good three, three-and-a-half-month pre-season and we are right and ready to go and looking forward to it.”

Key: Hamilton’s defence coped with the pace of Magic’s James Virgili and Kale Bradbury on opposing flanks for much of last season. Can they do a similar job on Marpu and Remington?

1st Grade kick off 6.45pm
Under 20s kick off 4.45pm
Under 18s kick off 3.00pm

NPL Youth
Valentine vs Olympic

Sunday 12 March at CB Complex
Under 16s kick off 2.30pm
Under 15s kick off 1.00pm
Under 14s kick off 11.30am
Under 13s kick off 10.00am

In other games:

Edgeworth Eagles v Broadmeadow Magic 1-1                                             7.15pm Friday 10th March at Jack McLaughlan Oval

Newcastle Jets Youth v Adamstown Rosebud

2.30pm Saturday 11th March at Adamstown Oval

Last Meeting: Round 15, 2016: Jets Youth 4 (Brymora 20, Parris 23; Carroll 76’, Joice 78’) Adamstown 1 (Lino 34’) at Adamstown Oval

2016 Ladder: Jets Youth 5th (24), Adamstown 9th (11)

Bottom Line

The Jets Youth play their first competitive match since the National Youth League season finished in January against an Adamstown side brimming with confidence after their NNSWF Heritage Cup victory on Sunday.

It was a long time coming but finally, after 26 long years, Adamstown fans have something to cheer about. A victory over Edgeworth in the inaugural NNSWF Heritage Cup on Sunday would have brought a smile to many of the Rosebud faithfuls.

While they have won the NewFM Division during those 26 years, this will be much more satisfying especially considering they knocked over a side who have been unstoppable over the last couple of years.

New coach Peter McGuinness seems to have Adamstown firing on all cylinders again, but, the Jets Youth have been somewhat of a bogy side for the Rosebud’s over the last few seasons. The Buds have won two of their last six clashes against the Jets Youth and over those six clashes, they have been outscored 19-6.

The Jets were slow out of the blocks last season and it could be a similar story this year as they have experienced a squad turnover in the off-season. Andrew Pawiak has headed to Maitland, Tom Waller to Lambton and Ryan Ensor will meet his former club when he turns out for Adamstown on Saturday.

Adamstown will miss their goal scorer from the Heritage Cup Final – Justin Tannock – on the weekend as he is away. Owen Littlewood will miss the match with suspension while Cameron Holzheimer and Mitch Hunter are in doubt with injury.

What the Coaches Said:

Peter McGuinness (Adamstown)

“I’m really looking forward to the start of the season. It will be a challenging start to the season against some good, quick and technically good players that will be tactically good. It will be a good contest.”

“Particularly the committee members who have been around the club for a number of years, they were very happy with the [Heritage Cup] win on the weekend. To win something was great for everyone. I think, while they were excited that we won something, they were more excited seeing the football that we can play.”

Clayton Zane (Jets Youth)

“They’ll be full of confidence after the Heritage Cup win. They’ve got a young team and have strengthened from what they had last year. I know a few of their players and they were great servants for us. I’m expecting a quality game against a mobile team.”

“Cody Carroll will be a key for us and Finn Parris as well. He’s back from injury and we expect after getting a full season under his belt last year a few more goals and assists this year. Cameron Joice and Angus Thurgate are the other key players from last year as well as Kristian Brymora who is playing in the Jets first team and is still eligible for us.”

Key: Physicality. How well the smaller Jets cope with the larger physical presence of the Rosebud’s will go a long way to determining the result in this one.


Charlestown City Blues v Valentine Phoenix

7.30pm Saturday 11th March at Lisle Carr Oval

Last Meeting: Round 10, 2016: Valentine 3 (S. McGinley 51’, 61’, Tserepas 86’) Charlestown 2 (Johnson 45’, Hughes (p) 66’) at Blacksmiths Oval.

2016 Ladder: Charlestown 6th (24), Valentine 8th (19)

Bottom Line

Two sides who punched above their weight in 2016, will do battle in the first round of the season for the second year in a row.

Over recent history, it has been the Blues who have had the upper hand in clashes between the two sides winning four of their last six clashes, but it was the Phoenix who are undefeated in their last two clashes against Charlestown.

Potentially it was the Phoenix who ended the finals hopes of Charlestown in their last meeting when they came from behind to win 3-2 in a controversial match at Blacksmiths Oval where two of the club’s former players in Ridge Marpu and Scott Smith were both given their marching orders in separate incidents.

Charlestown has recruited well this season and have former Valentine players Josh Swadling and Corey Atkinson while Dan Casciaroli who has arrived from Broadmeadow Magic will provide plenty of creativity in the middle of the park. 

On the other hand Daniel Minors has come into Valentine’s midfield from the Championship winning Edgeworth side. Goalkeeper Scott Carter (Adamstown) and Zac Sneddon (Weston) will add some defensive steel to a side who conceded an average of almost two-and-a-half goals a game last season.

If both sides are to give themselves a chance in the race to the finals a win is a must here, both need all the points they can get and three points in round one would be a huge confidence booster.

Charlestown’s Jarryd Johnson and Cameron Hughes are both unavailable for the opening round clash while Valentine has a full squad to pick from for Saturday’s match.

What the Coaches Said:

Shane Pryce (Charlestown)

“First game, everyone will be feeling each other out and both teams will be prepared. At the club we have been working on a few of our structures for the clash. We want to get them right. We’ve got a couple of players who are out already, but there are no excuses from us, we’ve got a much greater squad depth this year.”

“I’ve got a lot of respect and time for Daniel [Casciaroli]. He’s a player I really wanted to get at the club due to his ball playing abilities. He can run the game for you in the middle of the park, make it quick, slow and change the point of play. I’ve been waiting for him to play a competition match because I think he’s got a lot to give as a player.”

Sam Griffin (Valentine Assistant)

“We really need to get off to good start this year after a big turnover of players. To Darren’s [Sills] credit he’s found a very good young squad that I feel can win something either this year or next year and I give us a big chance on the weekend.”

 “I think in turning around from last year our backline has to be tighter. Zac Sneddon was a good pick-up for us, he’s very aggressive, he’s smart and a good talker. There’s plenty of young boys in there and to have the experience of Daniel Minors from the all-conquering Edgeworth side is sure to help us. Especially being a Valentine junior it’s great to have him back.”

Key: Charlestown’s Dan Casciaroli vs Valentine’s Dan Minors. Two new signings from last year’s Grand Finalists. How well can they control the midfield battle?


Weston Workers Bears v Lake Macquarie City Roosters

2.30pm Sunday 12th March at Rockwell Automation Park

Last Meeting: Round 10, 2014: Weston 3 (Morris (p) 27’, Ryan 44’, Cowburn 69’) Lake Macquarie 2 (S. Walker 45’, Horne 74’) at Macquarie Field.

2016 Ladder: Weston 10th (6), Lake Macquarie 1st in NewFM League

Bottom Line

The two sides who are expected by most to finish in the bottom two this season meet in round one and it’s no better opportunity for one of these sides to breathe some hope into their campaign.

While they have had a big turnover in personnel and most probably won’t remember their recent record the Bears have won just 2 of their last 23 PS4 NPL matches dating to the back end of the 2015 season, where they fell from top four to finish fifth.

Weston had one of their worst seasons on record in 2016, winning just one match and drawing three on their way to finishing on the bottom of the pile. They have brought former coach Steve Piggott back into the set-up and cleaned out much of the roster so the Bears seem as though they will be an unknown for the early part of the season at least.

While they haven’t met in the PS4 NPL since 2014, Weston boasts an impressive recent record over the Roosters having won their last five straight and have lost in just one of their last nine meetings.

The Roosters have recruited a large number of players in the off-season including goalkeeper Benn Kelly who will play against his former club on Sunday. Trent Partridge has also made the move from Weston to Lakes, however, he will miss the match with a suspension carried over from last year. Striker Sam Walker scored 31 times for the Roosters last season and how well he plays on Sunday will go a long way to deciding this match.

Blake Green from Lakes is another one to look out for. He scored 17 goals in 21 NewFM Division matches last season and his combination with Walker will be key against a Weston side which will still be getting used to their combinations.

Partridge is out for Lakes, while Weston’s new goalkeeper Kane Runge will be released from the Mariners Youth in time for round two, so goalkeeping coach Andrew Goldman will start between the sticks for the Bears.

What the Coaches Said:

Steve Piggott (Weston)

“We got what we needed to out of the Heritage Cup. The big thing was to play Edgeworth the last game of the pre-season even though it was only for an hour. They beat us previously 5-1 in a pre-season trial and it was a good measuring stick for us. We got within a goal and it took a good free kick to beat us.”

“I’ve seen a fair bit of improvement in the group physically and fitness wise. We are getting there mentally and we are competing and that is all you can ask of a young group at this early stage. I’m impressed with their effort and their energy. We’ve just got to channel it into the right times and take the opportunities that we create or are given from mistakes from other teams which we haven’t done well enough in the pre-season.”

Anthony Richards (Lake Macquarie)

“We are excited about being in a top of the table clash and it’s probably the first time we will be involved in a top of the table clash all season. I do know Andrew Goldman he is a very experienced goalkeeper and Brock Oakley is a terrific defender who has got plenty of experience. They are a good young mobile side and they will go really well.”

“It’s been a long off-season for us and we are ready to go. We are like a 14-year-old schoolgirl at a Justin Bieber concert. We are good to go. Every game for us is going to be difficult so it’s irrelevant who we play whether it been Edgeworth or Weston.”

Key: Sam Walker. He dominated the NPL in 2014, but, can he do so this season? Weston need to stop him if they are to win first up.