NEWCASTLE OLYMPIC V MAITLAND MAGPIES
DARLING STREET OVAL – SATURDAY 2:30PM
Maitland will look to pick up their first away win of the season when they travel to Darling Street Oval to play Newcastle Olympic on Saturday.
The Magpies have been in sensational form at Cooks Square Park but have faltered in their two opening games on the road, going down to Edgeworth in round one and most recently to Weston on Wednesday night.
Weston took home the bragging rights in the Coalfields derby with a 1-0 win while Maitland was forced to play most of the fixture with 10 men.
On the other hand, Newcastle have shown impeccable fighting spirit highlighted by their come-from-behind 2-2 draw with Lambton last weekend. But their unbeaten start to the campaign came to an end to arch-rivals, Broadmeadow, on Wednesday night.
Tim Stewart’s goal of the season contender put them into an early lead against Magic but Olympic conceded three second-half goals to lose 3-1 at home to leave them with their first taste of defeat.
The two sides will be looking to return to the winner’s circle this weekend and maintain their spots in the top half of the table.
Looking at the last six encounters, each side has won twice while the other two matches were draws, although Olympic beat last year’s premiers 4-0 at Darling Street last season.
History shows these two teams provide close games while Newcastle interim-coach Alex Tagaroulias said he knows his side are in for another tough test.
“It’s a relief to come back but when you take a look at it, [the games] could have been a couple of wins that we could have had as well when we review it,” Tagaroulias said.
“We’re having to deal with a few injuries and suspensions but we are playing the teams that are around us and ahead of us so it is an opportunity to do something.
“The obvious [threat] is [Braedyn] Crowley and [Joel] Wood. We have to be mindful and have to block supply to them also.”
VALENTINE PHOENIX V ADAMSTOWN ROSEBUD
CB COMPLEX – SUNDAY 2:30PM
Plenty will be on the line when Adamstown travel to play a desperate Valentine side at Croudace Bay Complex on Sunday.
Both line-ups will believe they can achieve a valuable three points against an evenly-matched opposition.
Valentine are coming off a devastating 5-1 defeat to reigning premiers Maitland due to a second-half collapse to leave them bottom of the table.
The Rosebuds achieved a draw against Weston last round and now sit on four points from their opening games, leaving last year’s wooden spoon recipients pleased by their start to the year.
The two clubs also played rescheduled fixtures on Wednesday night with Valentine suffering another heavy 4-0 defeat at the hands of Lambton while the Rosebuds went down 2-1 to Lake Macquarie.
Adamstown has won four of the last six encounters against Valentine, while the two teams are used to battling away against one another finishing only a point apart last season.
Valentine will have fire in the belly to bounce back this weekend and achieve that maiden win. Co-coach Sam Griffin said his players needed to operate smarter in defence.
“We need to recognise moments in the game to attack and defend and pick our moments. I think we’re trying to get ourselves back in games too quick and leaving ourselves a bit exposed,” Griffin said.
“[Adamstown] is a massive game. I’ll back us in and we’ve got the people to do it while we know we have to earn every point, every goal.
“We need to start winning games and we understand the desperation that we need to show [to win].”
Adamstown are showing promising signs so far in 2020 with coach Shane Cansdell-Sherriff saying he expected more from the Rosebuds.
“We’ve got four points but performance-wise we haven’t been at our best. And we know where we need to be better,” Cansdell-Sherriff said.
“[With the three games] it’s all about looking after the body and advising them to look after themselves in between but we’ll rotate where we can and it helps to have five subs as we can make use of more players.
“[This weekend] will be a great opportunity to put things right and get some more points on the board.”
LAMBTON JAFFAS V BROADMEADOW MAGIC
ARTHUR EDDEN OVAL – SATURDAY 2:30PM
A colossal encounter between two giant Newcastle clubs will begin round five with Lambton playing home to Broadmeadow at Arthur Edden Oval.
Broadmeadow narrowly went down 1-0 to Edgeworth last weekend with a late Eagles goal a shattering blow to the Magic side who defended resolutely for 85 minutes.
But Magic bounced back tremendously on Wednesday night as the 2018 champions took on their traditional rivals, Newcastle Olympic, in a highly-entertaining local derby with Magic coming away with an impressive 3-1 win having come back from a goal down.
Meanwhile, Lambton re-discovered their goal scoring touch with a 4-0 victory over Valentine on Wednesday after playing out a draw against Newcastle Olympic last weekend.
Broadmeadow and Lambton sit second and third on the table respectively to provide an early season top-of-the-table clash having also qualified for the finals consecutively for the last three seasons.
Reigning Graham Jennings Medal recipient and Lambton midfielder Mitch Oxborrow will be facing his former side for the first time along with team-mate Kale Bradbery, to add to the already competitive rivalry.
Apart from the narrow defeat against Edgeworth, Magic is on a great run of form and coach Anthony Richards said it would be another intriguing contest for his young team against Lambton.
“We got a lot of positives out of the Edgeworth game. Our attitude and behaviour was fantastic. We worked out that out of last year’s game where they pumped us 6-1 at home we had 10 players that weren’t involved. So that’s a big turnaround,” Richards said.
“[Lambton] do have a star-studded side and bench and it’s going to be another tough game especially at the chocolate box [Arthur Edden Oval].
“We saw how our young players went on the weekend. Our young goalkeeper, who has just turned 20, Lachlan Watson, had the game of his life and David Ifield is probably our form player so it is another terrific test for our young players. They’re doing well.”
LAKE MACQUARIE CITY V EDGEWORTH EAGLES
MACQUARIE FIELD – SUNDAY 1:45PM
Lake Macquarie will host competitions leaders Edgeworth at Macquarie Field on Sunday.
Coming off two losses to start the year, the Roosters have kick-started their campaign with a couple of quality performances earning a draw against Charlestown Azzurri on the weekend before winning their first game of the season on Wednesday night.
Two fantastic Chris Berlin goals saw Lakes beat Adamstown 2-1 at Macquarie Field with the veteran striker notching three goals in the last two games for his new club.
Edgeworth have bolted out of the gates to lead the pack after four games winning all of them including a crucial 1-0 victory over Broadmeadow last weekend.
New interim player-coach Josh Rose got off to the perfect start but will now be without super-sub Daniel Fabrizio who moved to join Brisbane City in the NPL QLD.
The Eagles will look to their strength in numbers and aim to maintain their firm grip on first place with another three points on Sunday.
WESTON WORKERS V CHARLESTOWN AZZURRI
ROCKWELL AUTOMATION PARK – SUNDAY 2:30PM
Weston and Charlestown will battle it out at Rockwell Automation Park on Sunday with the two sides boasting plenty of young, exciting attackers to set up another exciting fixture.
Weston will look to put back-to-back wins together for the first time this season after coming off a monumental 1-0 victory over Maitland in the ‘El-Clasicoal’ on Wednesday night.
The win lifted the Bears into the top five with Lucas Straker notching the all-important goal on his first-grade debut.
Azzurri is still chasing its first win of the new season with only a point to show from their opening four games, with the first point coming against Lake Macquarie last weekend.
Six points separate these two teams and Charlestown will want to bridge the gap given the significance of every game within the shortened season.
In the previous games between these two teams, both sides settled for a 2-2 draw last time at the home of the Bears while Weston won earlier on last season.
Weston’s Aaron Niyonkuru and Charlestown’s Riley Smith will be two key players in attack for their respective teams and will be ones to watch.