The NPL Northern New South Wales Football finals kick-off this weekend with an intriguing cut throat encounter.
Charlestown City Blues FC vs. Edgeworth FC
Lisle Carr Oval
Saturday 23rd August 2.45pm
The first match of the National Premier League finals series is the Elimination Final between Charlestown City Blues and Edgeworth Eagles on Saturday afternoon.
Charlestown finished the season in fourth after defeating defending Premiers Broadmeadow Magic on the final day of the season 2-0. It was their eighth win of the season, and combined with four draws and six losses they sit on twenty-eight points.
Edgeworth were defeated 2-0 in Round 18 by Hamilton Olympic, surrendering a possible third place finish whilst simultaneously falling to fifth. They finished the season with seven wins, six draws and five losses.
Form is an extremely important factor come finals time, and for Edgeworth the picture is quite bleak. After nine rounds they sat second after just one loss, however the second half of the season brought about four losses and just three wins.
Charlestown won three of their final five matches to ensure a finals berth. Their second half of the season was far superior to Edgeworth’s, winning five and losing just two in a turn-around from seventh place.
The Blues have another factor in their favour being their two front-men. Leading goal scorer Kane Goodchild and 2013 leading goal scorer Scott Smith again proved their dominance in 2014. Goodchild netted thirteen times whilst Smith scored seven, combining to twenty of the sides thirty-one goals. The Edgeworth defence will need to be on their toes when dealing with this pair on Saturday, as well as being prepared for a physical contest.
Edgeworth have struggled away from home this year, winning just one match. That is not a positive sign heading into an away match against a side who has not been beaten at their home ground all year.
The two sides met in Rounds 3 and 12 this season. In Round 3 Bren Hammel and Hector Mendez both scored braces as Edgeworth ran riot over an understrength Charlestown side, beating them 7-0. In the return fixture Hammel opened the scoring in the first half with a spot kick, however Ben Hughes equalised form the spot in the second half and the match ended 1-1.
Only one point could separate these two sides after the eighteen match season, and their Round 12 match was a true reflection on how much is actually between these teams. Expect a competitive, physical battle this weekend at Lisle Carr Oval.
Weston Workers FC vs. Lambton Jaffas FC
Rockwell Automation Park
Sunday 24th August 2.00pm
The second of the two National Premier League Semi-Finals this weekend is the Qualifying Final, which takes place at Rockwell Automation Park as Weston Workers Bears host Lambton Jaffas.
Playing for first against eventual Premiers the Jets Youth in the final round, the Bears could only muster a draw which saw them finish the season in second on thirty-two points. Nine wins, five draws and four losses accounted for this total.
The Jaffas finished the season just two points behind the Bears after defeating Adamstown 2-0 in the final round, their ninth win of the season. Alongside three draws and six losses they finished on thirty points.
Weston have only lost one game at Rockwell Automation Park this season, and will be extremely confident knowing that their ground is the one where opposition teams dread travelling to most. Lambton however, have been outstanding on the road. They only lost one game away from home all season.
Form is another factor that must be taken into consideration heading into finals time. Weston have been outstanding in recent weeks, winning four of their last five games, the other a draw against first placed Jets Youth where they led for majority of the match.
Lambton has won three of their last five fixtures.
Neither side relies on a single striker to be the foundation of the team. Individually between the sides Lambton’s Kale Bradbury has the most with nine strikes. Both operate with the focus being on the team, and that showed as ten of Weston’s top twenty chipped in with goals throughout the year, and eleven from Lambton.
The Jaffas failed to defeat Weston this year, losing to them once and the other finishing a draw. In Round 3 Jason Cowburn sent Weston into the break 1-0 ahead at Arthur Edden Oval. Despite Jobe Wheelhouse’s equalizer the Bears prevailed thanks to a Jamie Subat penalty.
The Round 12 fixture was even tighter. A double to Subat in the first half combined with a Luke Remington finish saw Weston enter the break ahead 2-1. An Alex Palozzi stunner in the second half saw the sides equal at 2-2 at the full time whistle.
Expect no difference in this weekend’s match. Both sides play attractive attacking football, but are extremely alert in defence. It will be an eye-catching game, provided that the expected rain does not make the task at hand too difficult for the sides.