Monthly Archives: March 2018

NPL Northern NSW Round 3: Hamilton Olympic welcome Valentine Phoenix

Hamilton Olympic v Valentine Phoenix
Friday 30th March, 6 pm
Darling Street Oval

Injury-hit already at this early stage of the season, Valentine will need to dig deep in order to do the job against a Hamilton side who were unfancied by many at the start of the season but are showing signs they’re not to be taken lightly.

The last time these two met in round 20 of last season, Hamilton won 2-1 to help rubber-stamp their place in the top four and simultaneously put Valentine’s hopes on their final leg.

It’s been seven years, and nine matches since Valentine last beat Hamilton. That was a 3-2 win at Cahill Oval in 2011, but it’s been even longer since they’ve triumphed at Darling Street Oval. You have to go back all the way to 2009, and a 6-2 win in round 12 of that year.

For Olympic, it’s their third evening match from three so far this season in front of what is likely to be a big crowd at Darling Street Oval for Good Friday.

Interestingly, despite being associated with that mid-evening match for a number of years Olympic don’t have the best record there lately, having lost the previous five 6 pm kick-offs at Darling Street.

Their control of possession was vital in last weekend’s win over Adamstown, but their ability to counter quickly has led to two of their three goals so far this season and is a useful trick up the sleeve.

It’s an injury-hit Phoenix side this weekend, without Zac Sneddon and Chris Brown who look to be sidelined for two weeks (hamstring) and six-to-eight weeks (knee) respectively.

They were inhibited last weekend thanks to the two early substitutions due to injuries to the aforementioned players, and this weekend may be able to play with a little more freedom should they avoid the same fate.

Daniel Ott was out last weekend due to work commitments, but his likely inclusion for Valentine this weekend may make a huge difference. Coach Darren Sills described him as a ‘back-to-goal’ striker prior to the beginning of the season, so the players running off him will be just as important.

U20s Hamilton Olympic vs Valentine kick off at Darling St at 4.00pm
U18s Hamilton Olympic vs Valentine kick off  at Darling St at 2.15pm


Hamilton Olympic vs Edgeworth at Darling St Oval on Saturday 31 March

U13s kick off at 1.30pm

U14s kick off at 3.00pm

U15s kick off at 4.30pm

U16s kick off at 6.00pm

Broadmeadow Magic v Edgeworth Eagles
Sunday 1st April, 2:30 pm
Magic Park

It’s an Easter Sunday battle for the ages, as the perennial premiers head to Magic Park to show the competition they’ve got what it takes to knock the contenders down a notch.

The last time these two sides met was a match marred in controversy. The second leg of their semi-final last season which ended in 2-all on aggregate with Broadmeadow believing that they had won on the full-time whistle, thanks to the away goal.

However, the away goal rule didn’t count in extra-time, the match went to penalties and Edgeworth ended up going through to the grand final.

Goals, goals, and more goals look like defining Broadmeadow’s season even in the early stages.

They boast two of the league’s highest goal scorers, James Virgili with 4 and Kale Bradbury with 3, and looked rampant against Lambton despite not managing to steal the three points.

John Majurovski dropping deeper in the second half last weekend seemed to help the Magic men get forward with more effectiveness, but expect them to throw everything at the Eagles this weekend.

Round two handed Edgeworth the bye and the chance to observe the rest of the competition, and it will have proved interesting viewing for coach Damien Zane.

His side fought back late against Lambton in their round one outing, with the introduction of Dylan Holz late on proving a masterstroke and he managed two goals to level things up – but they ultimately lost right on the whistle.

It will be a case of how good is the Eagles’ defence this week – they only conceded 14 goals all season in 2017, but have already let through four in one match. If they want to show the league they’re still in the mix, Edgeworth has to keep Magic at bay.


Lake Macquarie City v Charlestown City Blues
Friday 30th March, 2:30 pm
Macquarie Field

It may be a long Good Friday for Lakes as they play host to the league leaders, Charlestown, as they look to continue their early form and nab their third win of the season.

A washout prevented these two sides from playing their match on the weekend of round 14 last season, but it was Lakes who triumphed in the rescheduled fixture with a 2-0 win.

Last season was the first time these two sides were in the same competition since Lakes were relegated from the NPL back in 2014, and results were fairly even back then too – in their last six matches, Charlestown has won three, Lakes two, with one draw.

It’s struggle street for Lakes at this early stage in the competition, who have scored only once – last week against Weston, from the boot of the Bears’ Nathan Morris.

The situation may be difficult to rectify this weekend too, given only two sides have conceded fewer goals than Charlestown so far this season.

Lakes have been unlucky enough to play in two of the hottest game days so far this season, however, but with temperatures on Friday set to reach as high as 31 degrees it may be another hot, tough slog.

The visitors this weekend are riding high at the moment – the Blues are clear at the top of the league just two rounds in, after wins against Hamilton and Maitland.

This weekend presents a different type of challenge for Charlestown, in a game, they’re widely expected to win they’ll have to make sure complacency doesn’t creep in.

Scott Smith is tied with Magic’s Kale Bradbury as the second highest goal scorer in the league but isn’t the only threat in a front line which is looking decidedly lethal with the likes of Rene Ferguson and Kane Goodchild always threatening.


Maitland Magpies v Adamstown Rosebud
Friday 30th March, 2:30 pm
Cooks Square Park

This is a rivalry which stretches back to these clubs’ time in the NEWFM Northern League One, then First Division, and with some interest in the action in the dugout this season this is a Good Friday clash not to be missed.

Adamstown had a poor 2017 but finished their season on a high with a 2-1 win over a Maitland side which were well out of the running for the top four by the time round 22 came around.

The two sides have shared the pitch at NPL level seven times since Maitland’s promotion to the competition in 2015, and Adamstown have had the rub of the results in that time – they have won five, Maitland two.

The return of Michael Bolch to the dugout this weekend is sure to be a welcome boost for the Magpies after he served the remainder of his touchline ban over the past two weeks.

He has a knack for getting the best out of his players, and it’s a win which the Magpies need after going down 3-1 to Charlestown last week.

Ryan Clarke and James Thompson played at the front end of the Maitland offence last weekend, and this weekend will need to make more of their chances if Maitland is to nab their second win of the season.

Despite going down last weekend, Adamstown has shown enough in this early stage to suggest they may be better than what many suspected this season.

They’re a side which hosts a number of former Maitland players too, with the likes of Jordan Elphick and Matt Sokulsky taking to the pitch while former defender Shane Cansdell-Sherriff now patrols the technical area.

Finishing chances will be key to Rosebud’s hopes this weekend, and thus the likes of Chris Berlin and Connor Heydon will be heavily relied upon if Adamstown is to pick up their first win of the season.


Lambton Jaffas v Weston Bears
Saturday 31st March, 2:30 pm
Arthur Edden Oval

Lambton has secured good results against two of the toughest sides in the league in the opening fortnight of the competition, and face a different type of challenge this weekend when they host Weston on Easter Saturday.

The home side definitely has recent history on their side this weekend, the last clash between these two sides ended in a 5-0 victory for Lambton in round 14 of 2017.

In fact, Weston hasn’t beat Lambton in their last five matches, and only once at Arthur Edden Oval (a 3-2 win back in 2014) since Jaffas were promoted to the top tier back in 2013.

What’s clear in the early stages of this season is that Jaffas are fast starters – they’ve let two-goal leads slip in the final fifteen minutes in both of their matches this season.

Last week it was Magic who stole a point from them and could have had all three if not for their inability to finish a flurry of chances in injury time, and it is game management which is still key for Lambton this weekend.

Experience is something which Lambton have in droves, and they’ll be looking to make the most of that against a young Weston side this weekend.

The Bears will have to make the most of those young legs this weekend as the match wears on, given they too let a lead slip in the first round against Maitland but won it late against Lakes in round two.

It’s a side which may be boosted by the return of experience this weekend, with Kew Jaliens in line for a return to the side and his first NPL appearance in Weston colours.

The win against Lakes was only their second NPL win since August 2016, and as a result, the club will be buzzing and quietly hopeful of producing a huge upset over Lambton this weekend.


NPL Northern NSW Round 2: Hamilton Olympic come away with 3 points at Adamstown Rosebud

Adamstown Rosebud 0 def. by Hamilton Olympic 1 (Honery 63’)

Saturday 24th March, 6:30 pm

Adamstown Oval

Two teams searching for their first win of the season met under the Saturday sunset, but it took until Adamstown Oval was floodlit for the visitors to find a breakthrough and claim victory.

It was a match which didn’t see either side make a huge impression, but a 63rd Jed Honery goal was enough to see Hamilton through.

The winner came after a quick counter-attack from the back, with Tom Davies clearing the ball out to Scott Pettit on the wing. Pettit ran to the byline and squared it up for Honery, who took a touch and buried it past an inrushing Isaac Terry to score the only goal of the match.

Adamstown had the first real chance of the match, after a Matt Sokulsky tackle on Hamilton’s Kyle Hodges won the ball for Connor Heydon, who had his shot turned around the post by Tyler Warren.

Olympic went close in the 18th minute, but Scott Pettit put his header just wide of the post after a nice ball in from Leo Bertos.

Rosebud went after a goal once Hamilton took the lead, and came close in the final ten minutes with Jordan Elphick turning a header at the ‘keeper.

It was Olympic who nearly made it two in the 90th minute though, prevented by Terry in goal who just managed to get a hand to a Scott Pettit chip which looked destined for the goal.

Adamstown boss Shane Cansdell-Sherriff was disappointed not to walk away with the three points.

“I have to look at the bigger picture and look at the fact we had four players playing their second game of NPL, four players stepped up to the mark and handled the level, pace and physicality of it,” Cansdell-Sherriff said.

“That for me shows a lot more than the result at the end of the day, because if they can stand up and play like that week in, week out and achieve that higher level then it won’t be too long before we see good results against good sides.

“They [Hamilton] are a good side, first half they confused us a little bit and we failed to deal with a couple of situations we spoke about prior to the game, but second half we got on top of that and took the game to them.

“After their goal went in, the game changed completely and we kept pushing and pushing and pushing, and had we finished our chances or had a little more quality in the final third it could’ve been a different game.”

 Results of yesterday’s NPL Youth
Olympic vs Lambton

Under 16s Olympic won 2-1
Under 15s Lambton won 1-8
Under 14s Olympic won 6-0
Under 13s drew 2-2


Charlestown City Blues 3 (McNaughton 35’, Goodchild 66’, Smith 77’) def. Maitland Magpies 1 (Clarke 53’)

Sunday 25th March, 2:30 pm

Lisle Carr Oval

Two of the most fancied sides met at Charlestown on Sunday afternoon but it was the star-studded Blues which overpowered the Pies in the second half and shot their way to the top of the ladder.

Just two rounds in and Charlestown have picked off two of the potential contenders for the NPL crown this season.

It was an unchanged starting side for the Blues, who got the ball rolling this weekend in the 35th minute thanks to Riley McNaughton.

The right winger beat Maitland defender Liam Thornton with a deft stepover but had his first shot stopped by Alex Read. He made no mistake with the second, firing inside the near post and putting the Blues ahead.

Maitland pulled level shortly after half-time, thanks to a decisive piece of play which was set rolling by Matt Swan. He put through James Thompson, whose shot was deflected into the path of Ryan Clarke.

Clarke made no mistake, slotting home to make it 1-1.

A set piece helped put Charlestown ahead once more in the 66th minute. Floated in by centre-back Ljubo Milicevic, the ball found it’s way to the head of Kane Goodchild.

At the back post with it all to do, Goodchild managed to steer his header across goal and over Maitland ‘keeper Matt Trott to make the score 2-1.

The Magpies went up the other end straight away and looked to get things level once again, but a slip from Matt Comerford denied him any real effective shot on goal.

Maitland’s need to restore parity was matching Charlestown’s quality and desire to go forward, and as such the match began to open up more as it wore on.

It would be another set piece that’d spell the end of the Magpies’ hopes of a comeback for the second week running.

From outside and to the right of the area, McNaughton sent a ball in low and hard in search of a deflection – and it found one courtesy of Scott Smith.

Smith scored his third goal of the season, Charlestown’s third of the day, and tied up the three points for the Blues.

Speaking to BarTV Sports after the match, Blues striker Kane Goodchild said the key to their game is keeping things simple.

“A lot has been said about our pre-season but at the end of the day we’ve got eleven good, quality footballers,” Goodchild said.

“We simplified what we’re doing, we’re doing is basically and we’re doing it well enough that it’s hard to break down and we’re creating opportunities for me and Smithy [Scott Smith] up front.

“We’re not trying to overcomplicate it, we don’t care about the possession statistics, we just want to win and we’re playing forward to our strengths, two big forwards up front… so far we’re reaping the rewards.”


Weston Bears 2 (Marcus 44’, Subat 84’) def. Lake Macquarie City 1 (Morris OG 73’)

Sunday 25th March, 2:30 pm

Rockwell Automation Park

Jamie Subat wound back the clock and scored a real poacher’s goal to tie up Weston’s first points of the year, as Lake Macquarie remain rooted to the bottom of the ladder after two matches.

Kew Jaliens remained on the sideline for Weston thanks to the ankle injury he picked up in the Heritage Cup final, while Cameron Holzheimer was out for Lakes.

It took until the end of the first half for either side to find a breakthrough, and it was Weston which went to halftime ahead.

Jackson Burston played a ball in from the right-hand side and found his strike partner Tega Marcus, whose diving header wrong-footed ‘keeper Riley Hill and found its way in at the back post.

Lakes would strike back with just over twenty minutes to play through almost comical circumstances. After some nice build-up play, Paul Sichalwe unleashed a shot from inside the area which struck the crossbar.

The deflection fell right into the path of Weston’s Nathan Morris who was desperately charging back to defend, so quick that he wasn’t able to change his course and thus suffered the ignominy of scoring an own goal to level the scores.

If Nathan Morris was a name which wouldn’t seem out of place on a Bears team sheet of yesteryear, then their leveller was reminiscent of one of the goals scored in days gone by.

Chris Hurley hoofed a clearance up-field in the 79th minute, in the direction of substitute Jamie Subat who was ghosting around the Lakes defensive line.

He went off in pursuit, took a touch around the Lakes keeper and finished for his first goal in Weston colours since June 2014.

Lakes went in search of an equaliser, and had a few chances – Tom Sparre hit the ‘keeper in the 90th minute, and losing the ball under pressure shortly after – but weren’t able to earn their first point of the year.


Valentine Phoenix 1 (Gardner 55’) def. by Newcastle Jets Youth 2 (Shabow 31’, Petratos 66’)

Sunday 25th March, 2:30 pm

CB Complex

Last week it was a late equaliser which broke their red and blue hearts, this weekend it was a 90th-minute winner which buoyed them as Kosta Petratos fired the Jets Youth into their first win of the season.

For a side which had an extra week to prepare for the season, things couldn’t have started any worse for Valentine after Chris Brown (knee) and Zac Sneddon (hamstring) taken from the pitch before the half-hour mark.

It was just after the half hour that the Jets went ahead. After building some good pressure around the Valentine box, it was a ball in from Kosta Petratos which did the damage.

Mario Shabow finished off the move and put the Jets ahead.

Valentine were level just ten minutes into the second half though, thanks to a goal from Aden Gardner. It’s his first goal for Valentine since his switch from Edgeworth last season.

Down to just one substitute for the match thanks to the two first-half injuries, it was always going to be a tough ask for Valentine.

Their task was made tougher still midway through the half when Kosta Petratos put the Jets’ second away to restore their one-goal lead with a little more than half of the second stanza to play.

Valentine were ultimately unable to fight back from a goal down for the second time in this one, and the Jets Youth went on to claim their first win of the campaign.


Broadmeadow Magic 2 (Bradbury 73’, Piddington 89’) drew Lambton Jaffas (J. Griffiths 26’, Brown 51’)

Sunday 25th March, 2:30 pm

Magic Park

It’s a case of one point gained, two points lost for both sides as Lambton let a comfortable lead slip for the second week in a row while six shots on goal in injury time with the scores level weren’t enough for Magic to find a winner.

Lambton tired and dropped deep in the second half sitting on a two-goal cushion, which allowed Magic to come storming home – but it was Lambton who looked comfortable for the first two-thirds of this one.

Marcus Duncan went down early in the first half clutching at his left arm, which had the Jaffas bench worried, and Dain Greentree ready and waiting in the technical area. After some attention, Duncan returned to the field albeit gingerly.

Jaffas almost had the lead after the 19th minute when Joel Griffiths was played in behind and tees up Pat Brown who turned it in, but Griffiths was offside.

They went ahead for real shortly after with some spectacular play. A Tom Waller throw was flicked on by Ryan Griffiths to Pat Brown, who found Joel at the far post. The former Jets man made no mistake in putting Lambton up 1-0.

The visitors almost had a second just after the half-hour mark, but a superb Luke Virgili sliding interception kept Pat Brown from tapping in for a Lambton second.

Ryan Griffiths tried the spectacular in the 41st minute, turning a bicycle wide of the post after the initial attempt beat Paul Bitz in the Magic goal but hit the crossbar.

Brown made it two for Jaffas shortly after the break, heading home a Tom Waller cross and giving the visitors a two-goal buffer.

They almost made it three just before the hour mark after a lightning-fast counter-attack. A John Majurovski header was saved by Brad Swancott, who sent the ball whizzing up the pitch. Joel Griffiths found brother Ryan unmarked on the top of the box, whose left-foot shot looked destined for the net – but sailed past the upright.

Lambton were beginning to show signs of the fatigue which set in against Edgeworth last weekend, and Magic capitalised with nearly three-quarters of the match gone when Michael Sessions gave away a penalty after a foul on Kale Bradbury.

The number 9 made no mistake from the spot, making the score 2-1.

Their second goal came from the most unlikely of scorers – captain Josh Piddington. After some nice interplay between Bradbury and Virgili, Piddington was on hand to seize on a nice Virgili through ball and finish with some conviction to level the scores.

Injury time should have spelt victory for Magic – but they were unable to finish off a plethora of chances. Substitute Dino Fajkovic shot wide, while Majurovski hit a shot at Fajkovic and Virgili mishit a volley which would have tested Swancott in the Lambton goal.

Ultimately, the two sides had to settle for a share of the points.



NPL Northern NSW Round 2: Hamilton Olympic away to Adamstown Rosebud

Adamstown Rosebud v Hamilton Olympic
Saturday 24th March, 6:30 pm
Adamstown Oval

The return of a former coach to Adamstown for the first time since their departures last season, and two sides who will be looking to kick start their seasons – get set for a cracker of a Saturday night.

Defeat for a ten-man Hamilton outfit to a rampaging Charlestown last week isn’t the way they would have hoped to get their season underway.

Meanwhile, in his first competitive match as Adamstown coach, Shane Cansdell-Sherriff was able to inspire his side to come back from two goals down late in the second half to earn a solitary point against the Jets Youth.

So it’s mixed fortunes coming into this one, but past fixtures between these two are pretty one-sided with four wins for Hamilton and just one for Rosebud since the latter was promoted to the NPL in 2014. There have been three draws.

New recruits are aplenty at both clubs this year, particularly Adamstown and although it’s early days there are a few standing above the pack. Connor Heydon scored from the spot last weekend and looked dangerous both in that match and in the Ampcontrol Heritage Cup.

Former Magic man Ben Higgins is marshalling the defence this season, which didn’t concede once in the Ampcontrol Heritage Cup but shipped two last weekend. He’ll be important against a dynamic Hamilton offence.

Two goals last weekend, one from Jed Honery and the other from Rhys Cooper weren’t enough to knock over a Charlestown side who poached some of Olympic’s best, and it is the other end of the pitch which Olympic will be looking to focus on this weekend.

After conceding just 55 goals in the past three NPL seasons at a crazy average of under one a match, the defence has been the cornerstone of Hamilton’s play for quite a time. With a new coach comes new ideas, but Olympic fans will be hoping the tightness at the back can persist.

Leo Bertos (work), Blake Green and Stuart Musalik (injury) miss out for Hamilton this weekend, while Jake McGuinness and Jacob Bailey are out due to suspension.

One to watch will be that new coach – Peter McGuinness returning to Adamstown Oval for his first competitive fixture since departing the club midway through last season.

What the coaches said:

Peter McGuinness (Hamilton)

“There were far too many turnovers [last weekend against Charlestown] and when you’re trying to play football and the turnovers are too high, you get caught out of position. We need to be better with the ball in build-up play so we don’t turn over possession too easy and allow the counter-attack.

“I went and watched Adamstown last weekend, and they’ll give 100% and I expect them to play a little bit from the back, a pretty competitive game. They seemed out of it, the Jets were probably well on top of them last week in the first half, should have had a number of goals but didn’t take them… it won’t be easy this weekend.”

 Key: Adamstown managed to fight back late from two goals down last weekend, but Hamilton may not be so forgiving. Can Rosebud start stronger?

 At Adamstown Oval, Saturday 24 March

1st Grade kick off 6.30pm
Under 20s kick off 4.30pm
Under 18s kick off 2.45pm

NPL Youth Round 4
Olympic vs Lambton
At Darling St Oval, Sunday 25 March
Under 16s kick off 6.30pm
Under 15s kick off 4.00pm
Under 14s kick off 3.30pm
Under 13s kick off 2.00pm


Charlestown City Blues v Maitland Magpies
Sunday 25th March, 2:30 pm
Lisle Carr Oval

Two of the most fancied sides and best recruiters managed slim wins in the first week of competition, but each faces a different challenge this Sunday.

Charlestown had to battle for their three points against a ten-man Hamilton Olympic side, holding onto their lead and getting their campaign off to the best of starts.

It was a different story at Cooks Square Park last Saturday however, with Maitland trailing Weston until the 85th minute before Matt Comerford helped the Magpies to a resounding comeback victory.

Since Maitland were promoted to the NPL back in 2015, they haven’t been beaten by the Blues – three black and white wins, and three draws reads the form guide.

Their most recent encounter was a 1-all draw at Cooks Square Park, back in round 13 of last season. Matt Thompson and Rene Ferguson scored the goals on that day.

It was Ferguson who proved instrumental last weekend securing the Blues three points with the help of a goal from Scott Smith. Charlestown has no troubles in creating chances in their front third with the addition of Kane Goodchild who set up each of the chances last weekend.

The challenge for Charlestown this week will no doubt be the pace of Maitland, and the onus will be on two of the most experienced heads in that back five – Ljubo Milicevic and Danny Ireland – to marshal the defence and prevent the likes of Comerford and Ryan Clarke getting in behind.

That is where the Magpies do so much damage – the speed of those two guys alongside the tricky feet of James Thompson and Josh-Dutton Black has the potential to send any defence in the league crazy.

Time will be of the essence for Maitland this weekend though after last weekend’s slow start nearly cost them any points at all. A late rally was enough to save the day, but it’s a pressure which the side would surely rather avoid if at all possible.

Of more comfort will be the solidity of Maitland’s defence in last week’s win. The inclusion of Grant Brown and Alex Read to the backline worked wonders, as Weston were restricted to two meaningful shots on goal. They’ll face a much sterner test this weekend.

Key: This one really will be a battle of attack – the speed of Maitland versus the experience and the pure class of Charlestown. A high-scoring one, perhaps?

Weston Bears v Lake Macquarie City
Sunday 25th March, 2:30 pm
Rockwell Automation Park

Tipped to be somewhere around the wrong end of the ladder come August, this season’s first trip out to Weston is shaping up to be an early indicator as to who has the best chance of upsetting the form guide.

Round one was disappointing for both the Bears and Lakes thanks to losses, but the circumstances of each were vastly different.

Weston surrendered their one-goal lead in the final ten minutes of the first Coalfields derby of the year to go down 2-1 to Maitland at Cooks Square Park.

In the sweltering Lake Macquarie heat, the Roosters succumbed to the magic of Broadmeadow on Sunday shipping six goals on the way to their heaviest defeat since an 8-2 loss to the Jets Youth class of 2012.

Of last year’s clashes, it’s Lakes who claimed dominance over Weston with a win in round 12 and a share of the points in the opening round of the season, where they did surrender the lead twice to draw 2-all.

Weston boss Steve Piggott bemoaned his young side’s mental strength and ability to close out games on a number of occasions last season and would have been dismayed to see his side surrender three points once again.

What was plain to see on Saturday night at Maitland was the impact the recruitment of some of the game’s more experienced heads is having, with Nathan Morris immense in his organisation at the back while Josh Maguire was the side’s main outlet going forward.

The return of Jordan Jackson from suspension, and potentially Kew Jaliens from injury this week will give Piggott more options in defence, given the pair will likely slot into the back three and possibly push the likes of Chris Hurley out onto the wing.

They’ll be up against a Lakes side this weekend who are stinging after a battering at the hands of Broadmeadow Magic on Sunday. They shipped six goals, including three in the final ten minutes on a scorcher out at Macquarie Field.

It’s not the best start for Nick Webb in his tenure as Lakes boss, but as he showed with Adamstown at the back end of last season he has the ability to get his boys back up out of the dust and fighting again. Some cooler conditions will no doubt aid his cause this weekend.

What the coaches said:

Steve Piggott (Weston)

“We’ll see how people move on Friday, but there may be a change in formation with us this weekend… the rain has hampered us football-wise but not workload-wise, so we haven’t been able to have a good chat about last weekend and letting the game slip but they [Weston] know they dropped the ball.

“We played them [Lakes] in the Heritage Cup, they had a couple of chances and they didn’t take them and were probably hard done by for me. For them, they can only bounce back after that 6-0 loss, there’s two teams that lost first round and it’s no secret that none of the NPL sides that played in the Heritage Cup did any good last weekend.” 

Key: Disappointment abound for both sides last weekend, but for vastly different reasons. Who’ll bounce back best?

Valentine FC v Newcastle Jets Youth
Sunday 25th March, 2:30 pm
CB Complex 

It’s a big day in store for Sunday afternoon as the young Jets travel to Valentine as they play their first match of the season at Croudace Bay Complex for the first time.

After years of woe playing out of a shared pitch at Cahill Oval, Phoenix has moved to the interdistrict home of Valentine Eleebana and will hope the grass is greener.

Of course, they had the better of the young Jets on both occasions last season with a 1-0 win in round eight and a 3-2 victory later on in the season.

Valentine had the bye last weekend, but for the Jets Youth, it was frustrating as they ceded a two-goal lead in the final ten minutes to share the points with a plucky Adamstown outfit.

An inability to see out the match from a winning position is an unfortunate reality for younger sides lacking a couple of experienced heads, as is the case with the young Jets.

In fact, the Jets Youth surrendered points after being ahead on four occasions last season, but a number came after opening games with early goals. If they can continue the early goals and incorporate the ability to grind out a win, they may be one to watch this weekend.

Jets Youth are also likely to be without Angus Thurgate and Mario Shabow once again this weekend, two of the higher-profile names on the PPS this season which are likely to play a role in the senior side’s trip to Adelaide on Friday night.

For the home side, it’s new beginnings, with a change of home and new players aplenty.

Valentine has picked up former NPL NSW striker Daniel Ott whose form may make or break their season given the departure of electric striker Jalon Brown, who has returned to the US. Brown contributed more than a third of Phoenix’s goals last season.

Luke Willard will potentially miss out this weekend with a slight hamstring strain, while the league will have to wait another week for Ott who looks like missing out due to work commitments.

Starting the season with the bye is usually a curse no coach wants, but it will has given Valentine an extra week to work on their shape and fitness among other things, and have no doubt Phoenix will come out firing on Sunday.

What the coaches said:

Darren Sills (Valentine):

“We’re keen to get started, the bye was actually good for us given our trial form wasn’t that crash hot, a lot of people away and a few injuries, so it was actually a blessing in disguise to have that week off. We went as a group to watch the Adamstown v Jets match last weekend in hot conditions, which our boys didn’t have to play through.”

“It’s hard to get a gauge on the Jets, there was a bit of man against boys [last weekend against Adamstown] and that aggression probably in the end held against the Jets Youth, who I thought should have won… but we’re not looking to be aggressive, we just want to play football, we like to play attacking footy.”

Key: The Jets are traditionally fast starters, while Valentine is just getting their season underway. Will Phoenix be up to pace this weekend?

Broadmeadow Magic v Lambton Jaffas
Sunday 25th March, 2:30 pm
Magic Park

Two of the league’s big boys go head to head on Sunday when Jaffas head over the road to Magic Park to take on Broadmeadow.

Both sides come into this one off the back of big wins, but big for different reasons.

Magic put six past Lakes in sweltering conditions on Sunday afternoon, with James Virgili, in particular, running riot.

Lambton surrendered a two-goal lead and then scored with virtually the last kick of the game to secure a 4-3 win over reigning premiers Edgeworth.

It’s Broadmeadow who have usually had the better of the clashes between these two sides, winning three of their past four games against Jaffas in the league including a 3-1 victory last July, with Kale Bradbury scoring two on the day.

Broadmeadow has been tipped for big things despite some quiet recruitment on the team that finished fourth in the league last season, and after last weekend murmurs of a Magic resurgence are getting louder.

The pressure was set to be firmly on the shoulders of James Virgili, Kale Bradbury and John Majurovski this season to deliver for the boys in red, and the trio delivered last weekend: four goals, two goals, and four assists respectively.

If Lakes were a rollover in the blistering heat however then Lambton will prove to be far from that, after Jaffas’ own fun in the sun seen them edge out the Eagles for the fourth time on the trot.

It was a performance which highlighted much of the talk which surrounded their 2017 season, in particular, the four goals scored on Saturday indicative of their seemingly unstoppable ability to score.

The goals scored statistic is a particularly interesting one – since the start of the 2017 NPL NNSW season, Lambton has only failed to score in one match, a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of Edgeworth in the FFA Cup. In fact, they’ve scored more than a single goal in over three-quarters of those matches.

Ryan Griffiths was near unstoppable last Saturday with two assists and a goal of his own, and while Ben Hay bossed the midfield they’re just two of a number of outstanding Jaffas’ players. If they’re on their game again this weekend, they’ll be tough to stop.

What the coaches said:

James Pascoe (Lambton)

“There were reasons for us letting go of the lead last weekend, we’re in a situation for this first month of this season where the bodies out there aren’t all at the same fitness level, so it’s very difficult to play the way we want to play, which is to dominate teams with the football for 90 minutes. We have to balance how we can get to the end of the 90 with a strong, experienced first grade team out there.”

“There’s a healthy respect between us and Broadmeadow and it doesn’t matter what form either takes into a Magic Jaffas encounter, it’s always very tight and that’s probably the closest derby for us and likewise for them, so it’s one of those games which brings out the best in both teams.”

“I think Magic will find themselves with a much tougher task this weekend than last weekend, but I do think they have one of the strongest, most balanced squads in the league.”

Key: Broadmeadow and Lambton can both score goals, everyone knows it. Will it be a matter of who goes forward best, or who keeps them out?

Edgeworth have the bye


10 man Hamilton Olympic unable to beat Charlestown City 2-3

Hamilton Olympic 2 (Honery 7’, Cooper 68’) def. by Charlestown City Blues 3 (Smith 34’, 50’, Ferguson 39’)
Sunday 18th March, 6 pm
Darling Street Oval

It was a rough start to the reign of one coach, but relief for another as a ten-man Hamilton fought hard but were downed by a Charlestown side assisted by two former Olympic men.

A debut goal for Hamilton’s Jed Honery got the ball rolling, after he was set off by Rhys Cooper and finished low past Danny Ireland, playing his first match between the Charlestown sticks.

The light Blues struck back just past the half-hour mark after a strong sliding tackle from Rene Ferguson forced a turnover on the halfway line. The ball fell nicely to Kane Goodchild, who put through fellow former Olympic man Scott Smith. Smith finished low and hard to level the scores at 1-all.

Five minutes before half-time, and Charlestown were ahead with Rene Ferguson again in the thick of the action. The left winger curled a beautiful shot in from the right-hand side in the afters of a corner, which nestled in the inside of the side netting to make the score 2-1.

Five minutes after half-time, Charlestown doubled their lead thanks to yet another link-up between Goodchild and Smith. The former teed up the latter after being played through by Matt Tull, and Smith had a second.

Disaster struck for Olympic in the 57th minute, when Jake McGuinness earned himself a second yellow and subsequent red card for a pull of Tom Smart’s shirt.

Hamilton were back in with a shout in the 68th minute after a Reece Papas free kick from the right-hand side eventually found it’s way in courtesy of Rhys Cooper at the back post. It wasn’t to be a miracle point for Olympic, though – the ten-man side went down 3-2.

Under 20s postponed
Under 18s Charlestown won 1-2

NPL Youth
Olympic vs Adamstown
All grades postponed


Lambton Jaffas 4 (Brown 18’, Baker 37’, Ryan Griffiths 74’, Ben Hay 90+3’) def. Edgeworth Eagles 3 (Byrnes 11’, Holz 76’, 88’)
Saturday 17th March, 2:30 pm
Arthur Edden Oval

As season openers’ go, this one turned out to be an absolute pearler of a match – four goals out of seven coming in the final twenty minutes, and Lambton claiming their fourth straight league win over the Eagles.

It was a scorcher at Lambton, with temperatures up as high as 32 degrees which meant drinks breaks were in play in this one.

After a fairly cagey start to the match, Jamie Byrnes broke the deadlock with a delightful chip over Brad Swancott in the 11th minute to give Edgeworth an early lead.

Lambton wouldn’t be kept quiet for long though; Pat Brown struck back in the 18th minute after heading home a pinpoint Ryan Griffiths cross to equalise the scores.

Twenty minutes later, Jaffas had the lead, another pinpoint pass from the other Griffiths brother, Joel, put Jarrod Baker through who finished with composure.

Daniel McBreen should have made it 2-all just before halftime, turning a free header at the back post onto the crossbar after a nice ball cross from Edgeworth youngster Tyson Jackson.

Ryan Griffiths would double Lambton’s lead in the second half, finishing off some fantastic work from Ben Hay down the left-hand side to make the score 3-1.

Two minutes later though and Edgeworth were back in with a shout – substitute Dylan Holz making the score 3-2 with a fantastic left-foot shot from outside the area.

Holz had already scored one from the bench but was hungry for a second and would score just that in the 88th minute after slamming home at the back post to level the scores at 3-all.

Edgeworth almost had a penalty courtesy of Holtz once again in the 92nd minute, but rather than pointing at the spot the referee chose to punish him for diving with a yellow card.

It was the free kick which proved almost instrumental to Jaffas’ chances – they turned around and went up the other end, with Ryan Griffiths claiming involvement in his third Jaffas’ goal of the day via a nice cut back to ‘man of the match’ Ben Hay, who finished well to hand Lambton a 4-3 win.


Newcastle Jets Youth 2 (Cairelli 46’, Harrison 67’) drew Adamstown Rosebud 2 (Abshilava 80’, Haydon 86’)
Saturday 17th March, 2:30 pm
Adamstown Oval

Up by two and seemingly cruising towards a win, it all went wrong for Jets as they surrendered two points to Adamstown with the two sides playing out a first round draw for the second season running.

It was a big game for both sides, looking to improve on poor season’s respectively in 2017 but it took until the second half for this one to come to life.

From the kick-off, the Jets controlled the ball superbly and managed to move the ball down and back up the park and took only 32 seconds to turn the ball into the back of the net.

There were only two Adamstown touches between kick-off and Jets’ Anthony Woods squaring the ball across to Josh Cairelli, who finished nicely to make the score 1-0.

NPL NNSW debutant Ryan Goodhew provided the second goal for the Jets in the 67th minute, threading the needle through to Kent Harrison who finished nicely despite howls for offside from the Adamstown players.

It was another debutant that clawed one back for Adamstown in the 80th minute, with former Kahibah man Gocha Abshilava winning the ball in midfield and firing a strike from well outside the area past the outstretched arm of Jets’ keeper Tristan Esquilant.

Things turned worse for the Jets yet, with Jackson Frendo giving away a penalty for a rough challenge on Rosebud’s Matt Sokulsky in the 86th minute. Connor Haydon dispatched the penalty with ease to level the scores and ensure a share of the points.


Maitland Magpies 2 (Read 85’, Comerford 90’) def. Weston Bears 1 (Burston 56’)
Saturday 17th March, 2:30 pm
Cooks Square Park

For 30 minutes, it looked like being the most unlikely of wins for an unfancied Weston side.

But Maitland dug in and managed to score two goals in the last ten minutes to pip the Bears to the three points.

It was fiery from the outset, with players on each side up against an old club.

Things threatened to boil over at the end of the first half after a rough tackle on Jackson Burston sparked a reaction from the young Weston striker and then handbags and words thrown around by both sides.

Ten minutes into the second half, Burston opened the scoring with a stunning left-footed strike from outside the area which managed to sail past the outstretched arm of Maitland keeper Matt Trott.

Maitland had chances after that – Josh-Dutton Black forced an outstanding save from Weston ‘keeper Kane Runge before the Englishman sent a certain goal right into the arms of Runge ten minutes later.

The Pies capitalised on a flurry of chances and possession later on though, Alex Read combining with substitute Matt Comerford to finish into an empty net to level the scores in the 85th minute.

Comerford turned from helper to hero in the 90th minute, managing to somehow turn the ball into the far side of the goal direct from a corner to put Maitland ahead for the first time in the match.

Things turned from bad to worse for Weston late into injury time, when substitute Regan Payne was shown a second yellow and subsequent red card for lashing out after giving away a free kick.

In the end, it was an ecstatic Maitland side who went away with the three points – leaving a deflated Weston in their wake.


Lake Macquarie City 0 def. by Broadmeadow Magic 6 (Virgili 2’, 41’, 63’, 90+3’, Bradbury 81’, 90+1’)
Sunday 18th March, 2:30 pm
Macquarie Field

Broadmeadow Magic have been tipped by a couple for big things this season and showed early signs that they may be headed in just that direction with a big win on opening weekend to send them top of the ladder.

While Saturday was a warm one, Sunday was where the mercury peaked with temperatures reaching as high as 39 degrees for this one at Macquarie Field.

James Virgili scored four on the way to victory, dispatching a penalty after being fouled in the opening minutes of the match to put Magic ahead early. He scored a second not long before halftime, finishing off the scraps of a John Majurovski attack.

Magic made it three just after the hour mark, with Majurovski intercepting an attempted Lakes clearance and teeing up Virgili who would put the game out of reach for the home side, finishing comfortably past Riley Hill.

Kale Bradbury would score his first and Broadmeadow’s fourth in the 81st minute after Cody Carrol won the ball in the centre of midfield and played the wide man in on the left-hand side, who cut in and placing his shot in the far corner of the net.

Majurovski bagged his third assist of the day in the 91st minute, receiving the ball from Luke Virgili at the back and teeing up Bradbury for a one on one finish to make it a 5-star performance from the boys in red.

The fun wasn’t over for Magic though – a flick on from Majurovski after a ball from Luke Virgili helped put younger brother James through, and he made no mistake in finishing to make it six for Broadmeadow. A huge win in the opening round, and a big message to the rest of the competition.


Hamilton Olympic host Charlestown City in the opening game of the season

Hamilton Olympic v Charlestown City Blues
Sunday 18th March, 6 pm at Darling Street Oval 

A new-look Hamilton side infused with youth and a fresh optimism up against a Charlestown side bolstered by some of the league’s biggest names is shaping to be one of the must-sees of the opening round of this season’s NPL NNSW.

These two sides shared the points last season –Charlestown taking the three points in round six with a 2-1 win, while Olympic struck back with their own 2-1 win when they met again in round 17.

Interestingly, Kane Goodchild scored a goal for Hamilton in each fixture – this year the 2016 and 2017 NPL NNSW leading goal scorer takes to the pitch for Charlestown.

Other Olympic high profile players who have joined Charlestown are Scott Smith and 2016 NPL NNSW goalkeeper of the year, Danny Ireland.

The biggest signing at Charlestown, however, is former Newcastle Jets captain and eight-time Socceroo, Ljubo Milicevic.

However with the big signings and influx of new players, highlights one of coach David Tanchevski’s biggest concerns for the upcoming season – whether or not his side can gel fast enough to push on for honours at year’s end.

Even though the Hamilton squad missing more than half of last year’s starting eleven, with three of the biggest names making the move back to Charlestown.

There are two big wins for Olympic though – Stuart Musalik has followed former Adamstown coach Peter McGuinness to the club and former Hyundai A-League midfielder Leo Bertos returns to the club after some time away from the game.

Charlestown goes into the round as favourites with an immensely talented and extremely experienced squad, who are sure to be strong up front and tight at the back.

What the coaches said: 

David Tanchevski (Charlestown)

“The boys trained really well, we had a good chat about what needs to be done this weekend and the intensity was really good, this week is the first time we’ve had a full complement to train with and for us the first game can’t come quick enough, we’re looking forward to it.”

“We’ll work on our shape and our structure more through the week… I think there’ll be players disappointed to miss out this weekend, we have 16 out-and-out first graders and a number of under 20’s pushing through and everyone will be expecting to start, but everyone’s aware it’s a team effort and we need those numbers to compete all year.”

Key: Can a plethora of big-name Charlestown signings gel fast and open the season with a win?

Under 20s Hamilton Olympic vs Charlestown kick off 4.00pm
Under 18s Hamilton Olympic vs Charlestown kick off 8.00pm


u13s Adamstown Rosebuds vs Hamilton Olympic Sun 18th March Kick off 10:00 am at Adamstown Oval.

u14s Adamstown Rosebuds vs Hamilton Olympic Sun 18th March Kick off 11:30 am at Adamstown Oval.

u15s Adamstown Rosebuds vs Hamilton Olympic Sun 18th March Kick off 1:00 pm at Adamstown Oval.

u16s Adamstown Rosebuds vs Hamilton Olympic Sun 18th March Kick off 2:30 pm at Adamstown Oval.


Lambton Jaffas v Edgeworth Eagles
Saturday 17th March, 2:30 pm at Arthur Edden Oval 

What better way to kick off the 2018 NPL season than with a grand final rematch?

Last season, Lambton had the better results between the two claiming the Grand Final trophy over Edgeworth and throughout the season, winning both of their matches, 2-1 in round two and 2-0 in round 13.

However, coming into the new season 2018 it’ll be a tough decider for Round 1 with a few injury setbacks to a Jaffas side and Edgeworth having a big change to the roster, it could be anyone’s game.

Jaffas begin the season with some key players sidelined – Jobe Wheelhouse remains out for at least a month as he overcomes an ankle injury.

Michael Kantarovski and Michael Sessions are struggling with injury and are both unlikely to play this weekend.

An unlikely issue for the Jaffas will be in their attack with both the Griffiths brothers returning to the season, however with Wheelhouse and Kantarovski out from the midfield, coach James Pascoe admits depth will be an issue for his side in the opening weeks.

If Pascoe can ensure his midfield are up to scratch, they have a good chance.

Edgeworth hasn’t lost their round one league fixture since 2008 and will hope that’s a record they can keep intact this season.

A new look Edgeworth side has lost some electric talent in the off-season, but have recruited some younger players which coach Damien Zane says has reinvigorated his side this season.

The defence has long been the foundation to the Eagles’ success, and in the past four NPL seasons, they have conceded over 20 goals only once.

Pat Wheeler and Josh Evans continue to marshal the Edgeworth defence this year and will have a huge task on their hands this weekend.

What the coaches said: 

Damien Zane (Edgeworth)

“On paper, you’d say they’ve [Lambton] assembled the strongest squad and take into account we’ve lost five or six important players. At the same time, we’ve got a strong squad ourselves and the starting eleven to build on, a few additions, I quite like the look of our squad and I think we’ll get better as the season goes on.”

“Jobe’s a leader for Jaffas and he should really still be playing A-League, so when they lose him, they lose their leader.”

“Michael [Kantarovski] is a fantastic player and I will believe [the word on the street] he’s out when I see him not getting changed and running out… I would expect him to play, but I could be wrong.”

“They still have some fantastic options, I thought Ben Hay was one of the best players in the league last year… Tom Waller is in there and he’s a good player, Bren [Hammel] I hear has been playing in midfield, so I think they have a big enough squad to deal with it.”

Key: Can Edgeworth prove to the competition that they’re still the force to be reckoned with by claiming a win over premiership contenders, Lambton?


Newcastle Jets Youth v Adamstown Rosebud
Saturday 17th March, 2:30 pm at Adamstown Oval 

It’s a matchup of two new-look sides – an Adamstown side under the tutelage of a new coach, Shane Cansdell-Sherriff, up against a rookie Jets side under the guidance of a seasoned football coach Lawrie McKinna and former Hyundai A-League player Labinot Haliti.

The young Jets finished tenth last season and Adamstown only did one better, but it was the Jets who had the better of the fixtures between the two sides in 2017. A 4-all draw in round one was followed up with a 3-2 Jets Youth win in the return fixture in round 12.

As ever, the Jets Youth are an unknown quantity thanks to the nature of the squad and the annual turnover which that brings.

Angus Thurgate has been plying his trade with the senior squad as they fly high in the Hyundai A-League, and he will be a crucial player in the young Jets’ engine this season.

As much as the Jets are an unknown quantity this season, Adamstown is perhaps equally so.

Despite a large turnover in the squad, and with Cansdell-Sherriff in the dugout, Rosebud went all the way to the final of last weekend’s Heritage Cup, only to go out on penalties.

With a good start to the pre-season, Rosebud will be going into the match stronger having the competitive experience under their belts and will have gelled more as a result.

Robbie Turnbull is back in the mix after spending last year sidelined with a knee injury, while Tom Carias-Cox and Luke Rutledge have come across from Hamilton in search of first-grade opportunities and will be looking to make their mark.

What the coaches said: 

Labinot Haliti (Jets Youth)

“We’ve come back after the break, a couple of new faces and we’re looking forward to the season and the opening game, it’s always a tough game against Adamstown, I remember the 4-all draw last season, so we’re looking forward to it.

“They’re all young kids in this squad, getting experience and game time against the likes of Edgeworth, Olympic, all the big clubs gives the kids a good grounding for the future and what better way than to play big games every week… Some of them already have a full NPL season under their belt, and hopefully, the new boys coming in can learn from the ones that were there last year.”

Key: A new-look Adamstown, players and coach with it all to prove. Can they get the job done on opening weekend against a young Jets side looking to improve big time on last season?


Maitland Magpies v Weston Bears
Saturday 17th March, 7 pm at Cooks Square Park

The first Coalfields derby of the season – an extremely strong Maitland squad up against a Weston side flying high after their Heritage Cup win at the weekend.

The Magpies missed out on the finals by quite a way last season, but still had the better of the Bears on both occasions when the two sides met. A 1-0 win in round six was backed up by a 3-2 win at Rockwell Automation Park in round 17; a late Josh Dutton-Black goal breaking Weston’s hearts.

Maitland is without coach Mick Bolch this weekend, who will spend the first two rounds of the season away from the sideline as he serves a suspension he received in the aftermath of Hamilton’s semi-final loss last season.

Former NEWFM Northern League One Thornton coach and now NPL Maitland assistant Darrel McAllister will run the side in his absence.

If the last two seasons have been a case of ‘so close, yet so far’ for the Magpies, then with the squad they have this year, there is almost an expectation they can go a couple better.

With Matt Thompson, Matt Comerford and Andrew Swan at the top end of the pitch, Maitland should expect a positive result this weekend.

It’s a remarkably more experienced Weston squad this season, bolstered by the return of two former Bears in Nathan Morris (Lambton) and Jamie Subat (Thornton), who are joined by Josh Maguire (Charlestown) and Kew Jaliens (retirement).

The benefits of the new signings have already shown, with a first Ampcontrol Heritage Cup win at the weekend.

It’s the influx of experience, especially at the back, which will no doubt prove vital for the Bears side which conceded 46 goals in the league last season.

Morris has already shown just why he’s regarded one of the best defenders in the league, but the Bears will be without two big names at the back this weekend –Jaliens will miss out through injury, while Brock Oakley has done an ACL and will miss six months minimum.

What the coaches said: 

Michael Bolch (Maitland)

“Everyone in local football knows the Coalfields derby, Weston and Maitland, there’s no love lost between the two clubs. Maitland were always sort of the little brother compared to Weston, but the past couple of years Weston haven’t been so good and Maitland nearly made the final a couple of years ago.”

“I watched them [Weston] play a trial match against Edgeworth, they played quite well, they’ve just won the Heritage Cup so they’ve definitely improved from the last year…I’m sure it will be playing for sheep stations come Saturday night.”

Steve Piggott (Weston)

“I was at Maitland a couple of years ago, they’ve always been a fairly physical side and they’ve got pace in key areas, they’re well led by Matt Thompson and well defended with Carl [Thornton] and a few others, so it’ll be a tough match.”

“It’s hard to gauge how much confidence the Heritage Cup win has given the group, it’s momentum building, to beat three NPL teams to get to the final and win it is encouraging, because we only beat one last year, so it’s positive.”

Key: Can a Bears squad, bolstered by some much-needed experience, upset one of the league’s strongest, on paper, sides?


Lake Macquarie City vs Broadmeadow Magic
Sunday 18th March, 2:30 pm at Macquarie Field 

Tipped for big things this season, Broadmeadow head to Macquarie Field for their opening league fixture of the season to face off against a Lakes side which is another new look squad within the NPL.

Results between these two sides tell a story of their seasons – Broadmeadow in particular, who lost the first match in round four 4-1 and then surged back to a 3-0 win in round 15 as they powered toward the end of the 2017 season.

Some of Adamstown’s brightest youngsters have followed coach Nick Webb to Lakes, including Cameron Holzheimer and Mitch Hunte,r but experience has left in the form of Benn Kelly and Justin Broadley.

Despite this, the Roosters did well in the Ampcontrol Heritage Cup, finishing runners-up in their group behind eventual winners and the only team who beat them, Weston.

Paul Sichalwe is a long-time Magic man who made the switch to Lakes for the 2018 season and will be out to show his former club just what they’re missing this weekend.

Lakes will have to be in order to keep an extremely strong Magic attack at bay – James Virgili, Kale Bradbury, Dino Fajkovic and John Majurovski all loom large this weekend as players who can make things happen all over the pitch.

With the type of attacking prowess Broadmeadow possess, goals will definitely be their strong suit this season and they’ll be keen to blast out of the blocks come Sunday.

There are also debuts for a number of new Magic men – former Lakes midfielder Justin Broadley and Paul Bitz, who played with coach Ruben Zadkovich in the pair’s early days.

Magic look to have the upper hand, given their consistent strength at both ends of the pitch. That, combined with a coach now in his second year at the helm perhaps makes them slight favourites this weekend.

What the coaches said: 

Nick Webb (Lakes)

“We stayed to our structures and our game plans in the Heritage Cup which we’ve been working towards, I think we’re in a really good mindset at the moment and we shall see how good that is, come Sunday.

“Tom Walker’s a leader and Sam [Walker] scores goals for fun and that’s a good thing to have in your team, but we’ve tried to strengthen every area so that every position has two people gunning for it so every player is fighting for their position, so it’s created a good environment at the club.”

Key: Can Nick Webb’s mix of youth and experience give the much-fancied Magic a shock?

NPL Northern NSW – 2018 Season Preview

The 2018 National Premier Leagues (NPL) Northern NSW competition is ready to kick off this weekend and it’s shaping up to be the toughest competition yet with a lot of movement between the clubs.

It has only been just over five months since Lambton Jaffas triumphed over Northern NSW (NNSW) heavyweights Edgeworth in the 2017 NPL NNSW Grand Final. Edgeworth will be looking to bounce back from last season’s grand final heartache, but will no doubt be confident of building on the successes of the previous season which included a third consecutive premiership, and a spot in the FFA Cup Round of 32 for the third year running.

If their grand final win hadn’t upset the status quo enough, Lambton are back and better than ever this year with a point to prove, and with the experience within their ranks there are high hopes Jaffas can make further waves in the competition.

Maitland have former Hamilton Olympic coach Mick Bolch at the helm and are expected to compete after some strong recruiting, while Hamilton and Broadmeadow are always a threat in this league and should always be expected to be in the mix for honours come season’s end.

Valentine just missed out on finals football last season and will hope to kick on to bigger and better things this season, and after attracting some of the biggest names in Newcastle football to the club, Charlestown are shaping up as a potential one to watch this season.

Lakes will be looking to build on a strong first season back in the top flight in 2018, while Adamstown, Jets Youth, and Weston know they need to dig in and improve on last season’s efforts.

You can catch all of the matches live on BarTV this season over on YouTube, with select matches being shown live on Facebook – the Northern NSW Football experts in Ben Homer, Chris Turner and Damien Smith are back on board and will be there to help guide you through the highs and lows of 2018.


Edgeworth Eagles
Last Year: 1st (Lost Grand Final 2-0)

Coach: Damien Zane

Ins: Jamie Byrnes, Jacob Golding (both Weston), Mitch Dobson, Tyson Jackson (both Jets Youth), Liam Spurway

Outs: Keanu Moore (Kingston City), Brody Taylor, Ayden Brice (both Melbourne Knights), Kieran Sanders (Brisbane Olympic), Bren Hammel (Lambton), Keigo Moriyasu (JPV Marikina)

Edgeworth came oh-so-close to completing the first ‘triple-double’ (winning the premiership and championship in three consecutive years) in Northern NSW Football’s (NNSWF) top flight football, since Weston managed it back in the early seventies, but were denied the chance to do so by two extra-time goals which secured the 2017 championship for Lambton.

The Eagles have a tougher task ahead of them than ever before in their quest to make it four premierships in a row – a feat achieved only by Hamilton and Weston in years gone by. There has been a significant turnover in their squad compared to past years, but this is something which may, in fact, help Edgeworth this season.

It is a new look line up at Edgeworth after teams both near and far have been in and poached some of the Eagles’ best talent. Keanu Moore returns to the Victorian NPL along with moves south for Brody Taylor and Ayden Brice, while last year’s English revelation Kieran Sanders has returned to Queensland to pursue further study opportunities and Bren Hammel has headed to Lambton.

It’s hard to find a weak spot from Edgeworth’s statistics last year – the second most potent attacking team in the competition, and the best defensively. Departures in key areas may provide a challenge to the depth, but the injection of youth in the form of Jacob Golding, Mitch Dobson and Tyson Jackson, in particular, may bring a new type of enthusiasm to the Eagles in 2018.

What Damien Zane says:

“With the departures and a bit of a new look team, we’ve already said this feels like we’re going for our first because of the hunger from the boys who have come in that haven’t won anything. It feels like a new group, it feels like the first year where we were hungry and going for our first. Last year it was tough getting players up, it seemed a bit monotonous.”

“We’ve got a few young boys who didn’t work out at other clubs, and boys who want to win things, we won’t have a problem getting up but other teams will want to knock us off the perch. Obviously you don’t lose five or six players and just replace them, but I’ve never been concerned, we’ve got some young boys who are now experienced players and if I need to resort to playing my first eleven every week, then we’ve got one of the best teams in the league still.”


Hamilton Olympic
Last Year: 2nd

Coach: Peter McGuinness

Ins: Stuart Musalik (Adamstown), Scott Pettit (Broadmeadow), Jarryd Sutherland, Jake McGuinness, Jed Honery (all Mariners Youth), Simon Mooney (travelling), Leo Bertos (retirement), Rhyan Smith (Jets Youth)

Outs: Andrew Swan, Mat Swan (both Maitland) Kane Goodchild, Scott Smith, Grant Brown (all Charlestown), Marcus Duncan (Lambton), Daniel Bird

It’s in with the new at Hamilton, in a manner of speaking. Coach for the last eight years, Mick Bolch, is out with former Adamstown Rosebud boss Peter McGuinness back at the club for the first time since his playing days in the early 2000s.

It’s not just in the dugout where the changes are plentiful, but on the pitch too with a host of Olympic mainstays on the way out. The Swan brothers Mat and Andrew, Kane Goodchild and Scott Smith head the names on the outgoings list, with each heading to divisional rivals.

The incomings make for happy reading for Olympic fans though, with former Newcastle Jet Stuart Musalik following McGuinness across from Adamstown. Jacob Bailey is back from injury and Simon Mooney is back in Olympic blue, while two former Olympic youth players in Jarryd Sutherland and Jake McGuinness return to the club.

Pipped to the premiership in a tight race last year, and then knocked out in the semi-finals to eventual winners Lambton, Hamilton have it all to prove this season. The loss of Goodchild and Smith equals more than half of Olympic’s goals scored last season, and leaves a void to fill at Darling Street.

What Peter McGuinness says:

“It’s a matter of in with the new, because it’s a new group and a different way of how to do things, different coach, different thoughts, different stuff during training. I think the players who have come in are good footballers, some of them are experienced and some are young but still have a lot of experience, a couple in the NPL2 in Sydney for a while, and it will all determine on how quickly we gel as a group.”

“It will be interesting to see how we can perform week in and week out. There are goals in a number of players, the way we’ll play will help us create chances and any one of those in the front five can score. There’s goals in Scott Pettit, Simon Mooney, Leo Bertos, Jed Honery, and I think Rhys Cooper can get a couple from midfield too.”


Lambton Jaffas
Last Year: 3rd (Won Grand Final 2-0)

Coach: James Pascoe

Ins: Cade Mapu (Mariners Youth), Bren Hammel (Edgeworth), Marcus Duncan (Bentleigh Greens)
Outs: Nathan Morris, Jackson Burtson (both Weston), Rhys Tippett (retired), Riley McNaughton, Danny Ireland (both Charlestown)

It was a defeat to Maitland in the penultimate round of last season’s competition which ultimately denied Jaffas a shot at second place and the chance to put more pressure on eventual premiers Edgeworth, but they made up for it with a stunning extra-time win over the Eagles in a 2-0 grand final win.

An already star-studded Jaffas line up has only gotten stronger this year. Both the Griffiths brothers are back, former Jets captain Jobe Wheelhouse is slowly making his way back from an ankle surgery in December, while former Central Coast Mariners youth talent Cade Mapu has also linked up with the Jaffas this season.

It’s this kind of attacking firepower which helped Lambton to the heights they hit last season. The Jaffas scored 50 goals in the league last season at an average of 2.5 per game, with Pat Brown and Joel Griffiths both hitting double digits in 2017.

The loss of Nathan Morris, who has returned to his old stomping ground at Weston, leaves a hole in Lambton’s defence which conceded the most goals, 29, of any of the sides which finished inside the top four last season. Marcus Duncan has left Bentleigh Greens to link up with Pascoe, who is likely to turn within and look to youth to add even more depth to the position.

What James Pascoe says:

“We’ll be there or thereabouts, the squad’s pretty similar, the boys that are available at the minute I’d say will be better than at the same stage last year. We don’t have the depth in the squad at this stage that we had last year, so injuries and injury management and prevention could hurt us if things go against us.”

“Both Griffiths (Joel and Ryan) boys are back playing again, Jobe (Wheelhouse) has just had a clearance so he’s had the boots back on this week… hopefully, about round five we might see Jobe available. We’ve got a bit of flexibility in the boys we’ve got, the likes of Michael Kantarovski can play in the middle or at the back, but we do need an extra body or two.”


Broadmeadow Magic
Last Year: 4th

Coach: Ruben Zadkovich

Ins: Paul Bitz (Adamstown), Justin Broadley (Lakes), John Marjuovski (Newcastle Suns), Cody Carroll (Jets Youth), Jonty Busch (Dubbo)

Outs: Peter Haynes (retired), Scott Pettit (Hamilton), Tom Beecham (Jets Youth), Mitch Oxborrow (Brisbane Roar), Niko Giantsopolous (Launceston City), Scott Robertson (Inglewood United), Ben Higgins (Adamstown)

It was heartbreak for Magic last season in the second leg of their semi-final after clawing back to knock over premiers Edgeworth 2-1 to bring the score back to 2-all, only to go out on penalties and miss out on a grand final match-up with Lambton. It was a massive turnaround from an up-and-down start to the season for Broadmeadow, who stormed home with nine wins from their last nine regular season matches of the season.

It’s a Magic squad without Peter Haynes for the first time in recent memory; but the resigning of Dino Fajkovic who had previously left to link up with brother Denis at South Cardiff and capture of journeyman striker John Marjurvoski, who helped Magic to a win in the pre-season Maso Cup in January, will help alleviate that loss and add some attacking firepower.

There are new signings elsewhere for Broadmeadow, with youngster Tom Beecham, Jonty Busch and Cody Carroll heading to Magic Park this season. Justin Broadley joins from Lakes, while former Adamstown keeper Paul Bitz is another new face who will add depth to the Magic squad. There is bad news for Magic though – star midfielder Alex Kantarovski is struggling with a knee injury, which coach Ruben Zadkovich fears could keep him out for the season.

If there’s one aspect of 2017 which Magic will be keen to kick on with this season, it’s that stunning run of form at the back end of the season which helped them pip Valentine and Maitland to a finals spot.

What Ruben Zadkovich says:

“It’s hard to say where we’ll be at season’s end, definitely in the mix. Broadmeadow Magic are one of the premier clubs in the competition and despite not having the budget of some of the other teams we certainly attract good quality players to our club, and I think that’s down to the type of players we’ve had at the club for a long time.”

“We’re missing some of those real star players like the Griffiths boys, but we have a real good bunch of boys with a bit of experience, quality strikers and some young talent coming through. We’ve kept our squad nice and balanced, we’ll definitely be in the mix and it’s hard to say early days where I think we’ll be; but we’ll be aiming to win things.”


Valentine Phoenix
Last Year: 5th

Coach: Darren Sills

Ins: Christian Kershaw (Marshall University), Zac Sneddon (America), Shinji Shozu (Agila MSA), Daniel Ott

Outs: Jalon Brown, Caleb Faulkner (both America), Daniel Minors (Charlestown), Scott McGinley, Matt Paul

Tipped not to pull up any trees in last season’s campaign, Valentine came so close to their first finals appearance, missing out on the playoff places by only four points thanks in part to the fantastic form of American striker Jalon Brown.

Brown has returned to America, and with him goes over a third of all the goals Phoenix scored in 2017. Valentine have recruited former NPL NSW striker Daniel Ott in order to fill the void, along with Japanese midfielder Shinji Shozu to add creativity in the middle of the park.

Former captain Scott McGinley is another on the departures list from Valentine, but the return of Zac Sneddon from a year at college in the US will give Darren Sills’ side some depth. The youngster is capable of playing as a central midfielder or defender, and along with now-captain Reece Pettit may be vital in improving things at the back this season.

It’s the big matches where Valentine will have to step up this season if they’re to win the type of points required to make finals football. In games against the top four last seasons, Phoenix only won two out of eight.

This season will also see a move to Phoenix’s junior grounds at Croudace Bay Complex, putting an end to the years of woe they’ve experienced after sharing Cahill Oval with cricket and rugby league.

What Darren Sills says:

“(Jalon) was an out and out striker, a facing-forward striker. Now we have a back-to-goal facing striker now which means we have to have runners off him, which makes it a little more difficult. At this stage not so confident we can fill that void, but last year we were tipped to finish last and it’s the same this year, we use that stuff and try to prove people wrong.”

“I don’t know too many people that look backwards and successfully go forwards, so we’re not looking back too much but at the same time we’re trying to use going so close as motivation and hopefully we can do one better this year.”


Maitland FC
Last Year: 6th

Coach: Mick Bolch

Ins: Andrew Swan, Mat Swan, Grant Brown (all Hamilton) Alex Read (Valentine), James Thompson, Zac Thomas (both Weston)

Outs: Shane Cansdell-Sherriff (retired), Sam Rossi (Cessnock) Jordan Elphick, Matt Sokulsky (both Adamstown) Ryan Broadley, Blake Thompson (travelling) Jye McKellar (Thornton), Zac Hill (work commitments), Ben Martin

After being dealt with a horrific wet weather hand to start the 2017 season, Maitland didn’t play their first match until nearly four weeks after the start of the competition and never really got up to pace with the rest of the competition. With a strong pre-season and some positive weather forecast, the Magpies will be confident of getting their 2018 off to a much better start.

Maitland are graced with a wealth of new blood both in the technical area and on the pitch after the signing of Hamilton Olympic coach Mick Bolch helped attract midfield maestros Andrew and Mat Swan from his former club. Former Thornton Redbacks coach Darrel McAllister also joins the side as assistant manager.

Former North Queensland Fury and Maitland boy Alex Read joins too, with key players such as Matt Thompson and Matt Comerford remaining at the club for 2018. As a result, the Magpies will expect this to be a squad which will be right in the mix for honours at season’s end.

The outgoings are primarily at the back end of the pitch with Shane Cansdell-Sherriff the big name to depart Cooks Square Park, who is now in the dugout at Adamstown. Blake Thompson, Sam Rossi, Jordan Elphick and Zac Hill are also among the outs from the defensive line.

Maitland had the best goal difference of any side outside last season’s top four and the third-best attack in the league overall. But the Magpies struggled to beat the ‘big boys’ last year with only two wins from eight matches against sides in the top four. One of those, however, was the 7-0 drubbing of Broadmeadow back in May. If they can win the big games, the Magpies may be in for a strong season.

What Mick Bolch says:

“Competition for spots is fairly good at the moment, we’ve retained a core eight or nine first graders from last year who we wanted to retain, and then we’ve added five or six first graders to that so we’ve got a good group of fourteen or fifteen. We’ve got a good six defenders fighting for four spots, five midfielders fighting for three spots and five strikers fighting for three spots, it’s a really good mix at the moment.”

“It’s definitely our goal to make the top four this year, I think the squad has got enough there and that’s our objective, to make that top four… it’s good having Darrel (McAllister), we’ve got a lot of similar ideas and it’s good having two sets of eyes and two sets of ideas.”


Lake Macquarie City
Last Year: 7th

Coach: Nick Webb

Ins: Cameron Holzheimer, Mitchell Hunter, Harry Lane, Riley Hill (all Adamstown), Paul Sichalwe (Broadmeadow), Campbell Ross (Jets Youth), Mark Finlayson (Valentine), Josh Casey (New Lambton)

Outs: Benn Kelly (Adamstown), Justin Broadley (Broadmeadow), Tom Smart (Charlestown), Blake Green (Hamilton), Matt Toohey (not playing)

The latest team to be promoted to the NPL NNSW, Lakes had a solid season in 2017, back in the top flight but are looking to do better for 2018. They finished seventh, the first of the rest of the trailing pack with some eight points behind the next best-placed side, Maitland.

It’s a young side at Lakes this season, with four players following Webb across from Adamstown and a number of youngsters coming from elsewhere in the league. The injection of youth into the side is likely to bring a new dynamic to the side this year, with a keen enthusiasm and uptick in speed welcome positives for any club.

Josh Casey is one of the more interesting signings, coming in after an impressive season with New Lambton in the Northern League One last year, how he handles the step up to NPL level will be interesting viewing.

The influx of youth is in contrast to some of the experience which has departed the club. Justin Broadley and Matt Toohey are two of the more experienced on-field leaders who have left, while Benn Kelly has also moved on.

Looking at the Lakes side of 2017, there aren’t any glaring deficiencies and that is sure to be encouraging for coach Nick Webb. Sam Walker up front will be required to at least match his 12 goals from last season, which may help Lakes take the three points more often – last year they drew five times, the highest in the league.

What Nick Webb says:

“I think having a younger group this season will bring a bit of speed and enthusiasm, the game is becoming younger and you have to be quicker at everything you do and although they’re young, most of them have been playing first grade for a year, two, or more, so they’re not green as such but they’ve all got a fair bit to prove.”

“That’s something which we’ll begin to see filtering through a lot of sides, and at the end of the day if they’re good enough they’re old enough. We’re looking pretty good so far, we’ll know more over the next few weeks as to how we’re going, it’s been a pretty good pre-season so far, we’ve got the Heritage Cup this weekend, and then Magic to kick off the season.”


Charlestown City Blues
Last Year: 8th

Coach: David Tanchevski

Ins: Ljubo Milicevic (Dandenong Thunder), Kane Goodchild, Scott Smith, Danny Ireland (all Hamilton), Daniel Minors (Valentine), Riley McNaughton (Lambton), Tom Smart (Lakes), Stuart Plant (Singleton), Cal Lewis (Cooks Hill)

Outs: Josh Maguire (Weston), Nathan Archbold (Brisbane Strikers), Josh Small, Todd McSorley

After a number of below-average years since a semi-final run back in 2014, Charlestown under the guidance of David Tanchevski will be looking to make a run on the finals this season – and he’s recruited the players to make sure they’ll be around any conversation come season’s end.

The big name signings don’t stop at the Blues – first, it was the announcement of last year’s Golden Boot winner Kane Goodchild and long-time strike partner Scott Smith returning to the club from Hamilton, soon after joined by defender Grant Brown who chose to link up with his old boss Tanchevski.

Undoubtedly the biggest name on the incomings list is that of former Socceroo Ljubo Milicevic, who played last season for Dandenong Thunder in the Victorian NPL2 competition. Milicevic has already expressed his desire to help the Blues become title contenders, and Charlestown fans will be hoping he can do just that.

Last season, goals were the issue for Charlestown – they scored just 25 in 20 league matches, the second lowest behind last-placed Weston. Tanchevski will be relying on Smith and Goodchild up front to boost those numbers while ensuring the likes of Brown and Milicevic at the back can help keep things tight.

What David Tanchevski says:

“I’m expecting a rebuilding, this season, we’ve had a pretty heavily interrupted pre-season with six or seven first graders out every single trial game and we haven’t been able to put the same team on the park two times in a row. We’ve had no chance at continuity at the moment, so the first six or seven matches of the season we’ll be happy to get some regularity in there and play the same team a few weeks in a row.”

“We’re hoping to keep the boys together for a couple of years and build that into a strong squad for the next couple of years and aim for that top four spot. We’ve got a good squad of 16 guys, a good bunch of lads who are gelling well together off the field but we just need some more game-time on the field.”


Adamstown Rosebud
Last Year: 9th

Coach: Shane Cansdell-Sherriff

Ins: Ben Higgins (Broadmeadow), Benn Kelly (Lakes), Luke Rutledge, Tom Carias-Cox, Oliver Davies (both Hamilton), Jordan Elphick, Matt Sokulsky (both Maitland), Connoy Haydon (Reinhardt University), Gocha Abshilava (Kahibah), Turki Alwesaidy (Charlestown JFC)

Outs: Stuart Musalik (Hamilton), Paul Bitz (Broadmeadow), Cameron Holzheimer, Mitchell Hunter, Harry Lane, Riley Hill (all Lakes)

After a bumpy 2017 which started off on a high with an inaugural Heritage Cup win over Edgeworth, Adamstown unfortunately finished ninth on the ladder. However, the Rosebud’s have appointed former Maitland defender Shane Cansdell-Sherriff to his first senior coaching gig in the hope that he can be the catalyst for a successful season at Adamstown Oval.

The departure of Stuart Musalik is sure to leave a hole in the Adamstown midfield, with the experienced midfielder choosing to follow coach Peter McGuinness across to Hamilton. Interim coach in 2017, Nick Webb, has also been able to take a number of youngsters with him to his new club, Lakes.

Goalkeeper Paul Bitz has also left, which has opened the door for former Maitland, Weston and Lakes keeper Benn Kelly who joined in the off-season. Youngster Thomas Carias-Cox scored 27 goals in 21 games for a premiership winning Hamilton under-20s last season, and having made the move to Adamstown in search of first grade opportunities is one to keep an eye on.

The appointment of Cansdell-Sherriff, a renowned defender in the English lower leagues and more recently at Maitland, may add some much needed resolve at the back for an Adamstown side which conceded 48 goals last season – the second worst defensive record in the competition.

A Heritage Cup run will have imbued Rosebud with some much needed confidence going into the NPL NNSW season. Despite a penalty shootout loss to Weston, Adamstown played some good football and will look to continue that going into week one of the NPL NNSW.

What Shane Cansdell-Sherriff says:

“Defence is something I take a lot of pride in and it’s something I’ve been looking at and working on, my last league club I think we played 46 games and kept 23 clean sheets, so it’s something we’ve looked at and we’re working on it and it’s about trying to mould individuals into the system and the structure that you want them to play within.”

“It’s my first senior coaching gig and I’m loving it, coaching-wise and organising and delegating it’s fantastic, the boys have been a pleasure and they’ve all got the right mentalities and attitudes which is a big thing for me.”


Newcastle Jets Youth
Last Year: 10th

Coach: Lawrie McKinna

Ins: Jack Simmons, Ryan Goodhew (both promoted), Noah James (injury), Tom Beecham (Broadmeadow Magic)

Outs: Regan Lundy (Weston), Finn Parris, Cameron Joice

After coming close to the finals places in 2016, it was a disappointing 2017 for the Jets Youth side who finished tenth, eight points above last-placed Weston.

After taking over at the back end of last year, Lawrie McKinna and Labinot Haliti are back at the helm for the 2018 season. The pair will be looking to get the most out of a young squad, with the aim of developing players firmly at the front of their minds.

There’s plenty of young talent in this Jets side, younger than what is typical. Jack Simmons and Ryan Goodhew both come from the under 16s side, while Tom Beecham has joined the Jets after a solid start with Broadmeadow Magic.

It was goals conceded which was the biggest issue for the young Jets last season – they let in 56 across 20 matches in the league, at almost three a game.

There were some big blowout results too, a 5-1 defeat to Broadmeadow in round 10 and a 6-1 loss to Maitland in round 14. Tightening it up at the back and establishing leaders on this side will go a long way to ensuring the young Jets do much better in 2018.

What Lawrie McKinna says:

“It’s getting them to believe in themselves when Labi and myself came in at the backend of last season they were playing some really good football. The big thing we found last year with the young ones was that when you make a mistake against an NPL team, you get punished so it’s important to us to make these boys a bit more ruthless.”

“Often the boys try to play too much football, so it’s a challenge to try to get them into the mindset that sometimes instead of playing out, you just have to clear your lines. Angus Thurgate is in the first team squad on a scholarship contract but he’ll be playing with us this season and that’s what it’s all about, getting as many boys as possible training in the first team and that’s our goal – hopefully win a few games, but develop players for the first team as well.”


Weston Bears FC
Last Year: 11th
Coach: Steve Piggott

Ins: Nathan Morris, Jackson Burston (both Lambton), Kew Jaliens (retirement), Josh Maguire (Charlestown), Regan Lundy, Liam O’Reilly (both Jets Youth), Jamie Subat (Thornton)

Outs: James Thompson, Zach Thomas (all Maitland), Jamie Byrnes, Jacob Golding (both Edgeworth), Jake Milsteed

It’s been a couple of years to forget for Weston. The past two years have seen them finish bottom of the pile, with only one win in the league each season. Last season’s performances were indicative of the extremely young nature of the side, however, with reinforcements of experienced players, the Bears may be a force to be reckoned with once again in 2018.

There haven’t been wholesale changes from the side which struggled last season, but there have been a number of departures. James and Nick Thompson, along with Zach Thomas all made the switch to Maitland toward the end of last season, while Jake Milsteed and Jacob Golding are among those on the outgoings list.

It’s that lack of experience which Piggott has worked hard to rectify this season, however, with two former Bears stalwarts back in – Nathan Morris to marshal the defence and Jamie Subat to chip in with some goals. They’ll be joined by former Dutch international Kew Jaliens, who has the ability to play either in the centre of defence or midfield, while Josh Maguire has made the switch from Charlestown and is expected to play a big role going forward for the Bears this season.

It’s at both ends the Bears need to do some serious work after scoring only 18 goals in twenty matches last season, and a whopping 46. Reinforcements all over the pitch should help rectify both of these statistics, but they’ll need to do better on the road too – Weston took only one point from ten away games last season.

A penalty-shootout win in the second Heritage Cup saw the Bears pick up their first piece of silverware since winning the 2010 premiership. It will be a welcome boost to the club, and coach Steve Piggott will hope this will help his side kick on and make 2018 a markedly more successful year than the past few.

What Steve Piggott says:

“The leadership these older guys are bringing and their talk, on and off the field, is something we lacked last year, so that’s a massive positive for us and it’s having an effect already in our confidence and how we do things, and hopefully results will show that. There’s been an amazing turnover of players at the club since we finished runners-up, runners-up in 2014, none of the players from that group existed in 2017, and we decided as there’s no relegation we’d take a young team last season and see how we go.”

“We’re hoping to finish middle of the pack somewhere, no great expectations, next year is where we really have to come alive, and every coach and every team will want to finish in those finals spots and they won’t tell you any different, but my expectation is that if we finish midfield, that’s okay and we’ll go from there.”


NPL: Leo Bertos returns for new-look Hamilton Olympic in 2018

HAMILTON have regained former New Zealand international Leo Bertos in a boost to their new-look squad ahead of Sunday evening’s round-one NPL clash with Charlestown at Darling Street Oval.

Bertos, 36, quit midway through last season because of mounting commitments as Macquarie Football technical director, but he has been lured back by new Hamilton coach Peter McGuinness for 2018.

Now a Northern NSW Football technical advisor and coach, Bertos has agreed to return after featuring in recent trial games.

Bertos and recruits such as Stuart Musialik, Simon Mooney, Jacob Bailey and Scott Pettit will provide experience to Olympic, who have lost several regular first-graders and many fringe players from the squad who finished second last year.

“He signed the other night, but he’s been training with us for about four weeks,” McGuinness said of Bertos. “He’s getting there three nights a week. He’s played the last couple of trials and he’s done all right. He will miss games because of his job, but he adds a bit of depth and experience and he can do a job in a number of positions, so that will be good.”

Source:Newcastle Herald

Hamilton Olympic NPL Youth take on Weston Workers at Darling St Oval

After recording two wins, one draw and one loss away to Broadmeadow Magic, this Sunday, 11th March,  sees our Youth NPL teams facing Weston Bears at Darling Street Oval, with the first game kicking off at the later time of 2.00pm

U 13s V Weston- KO at 2.00pm

U 14s V Weston- KO at 3.30pm

U 15s V Weston – KO at 5.00pm

U 16s V Weston- KO at 6.30pm

On Saturday, 10 March, our 2 Under 9 SAP teams were to play Kahibah at Jack M’Laughlan Oval.

Unfortunately the Kahibah teams were withdrawn from the competition due to lack of player numbers,  so the teams will have an intra- club trial tomorrow morning as our teams have the bye. Be patient boys, next week will come around quickly! 

We wish all our Youth teams the best on Sunday. Full canteen will be operating as usual, so  please support our canteen.

source: Con Gounis

Hamilton Olympic Youth NPL take on Broadmeadow Magic in Round 1 of the competition

A big weekend coming up, with our YOUTH NPL teams playing the local derby against Broadmeadow on Saturday, 3rd March in the Round 1 of the Youth NPL.

First game kicks off at 10.00am at Magic Park with our Under 13s.

On Sunday, 4th March, two of our Senior squads are travelling down to Sydney to face the current NSW NPL Premiers, Apia- Leichardt in the last hit out before the season starts.

U 20s v Apia at 1.00pm

1st Grade- v Apia at 3.00pm

Both matches will be at Lambert Park, Leichardt.

Best of luck to all teams on the weekend.

source: Con Gounis