This weekend’s ‘Match of the Round’ is the highlight of a critical week of football in the PlayStation 4 NPL Northern NSW, as finals hopes go on the line in the biggest weekend of action so far, this season.
Match of the Round
Hamilton Olympic v Valentine Phoenix
2.30pm Sunday 30th July at Darling Street Oval
Last Meeting: Round 9, 2017: Valentine 1 Hamilton 1 at Cahill Oval.
Ladder: Hamilton 3rd (34pts), Valentine 4th (32)
Last 3 Starts (most recent first):
Hamilton – Won Bears 3-0 (a), Won Eagles 1-0 (h), Won Blues 2-1 (a)
Valentine – Drew Magpies 2-2 (h), Won Jets 3-2 (h), Lost Rosebud 2-4 (a)
Hamilton are humming along beautifully and are undefeated in six matches. Olympic have won five of those six, including four straight and have gone from being on the fringe of the top four to well and truly inside it now.
Last weekend, Hamilton did what they have been unable to do for the last two seasons – back up a win against Edgeworth with three points the following week. On Sunday, against Weston they did exactly that, winning 3-0 and moving into third position, jumping above Valentine in the process.
Olympics’ recent form means a slip-up on Sunday won’t be fatal to their finals hopes, but it may just put a spanner in the works. With the top four cut-off expected to be around 36 points, Olympic really only need one win from their last three matches to be safe.
However, for their opponents Valentine losing is no option – with a clash in round 21 with Edgeworth following their meeting with Olympic on Sunday.
The Phoenix did brilliantly well to snatch a point from their last start against Maitland where they went down to ten men after Josh Carroll was sent off just after half-time.
Valentine then conceded and were down 2-1, but Jalon Brown stepped up as he has done so often this season and scored a wonderful goal to ensure a share of the points.
Valentine sit on 32 points, just two points ahead of fifth placed Broadmeadow Magic, who play Maitland at the same time, and really need at least four points from their three matches.
A point will be a pass mark for Valentine on Sunday and keep their finals hopes alive, but defeat and the Phoenix will face an uphill struggle.
Key: Hamilton haven’t conceded in their last two-and-a-half matches. Can Valentine find the key to unlock Olympics’ watertight defence?
Edgeworth Eagles v Weston Bears
2.30pm Saturday 29th July at Jack McLaughlan Oval
Last Meeting: Round 9, 2017: Weston 1 Edgeworth 2 at Rockwell Automation Park.
Ladder: Edgeworth 2nd (36), Weston 11th (7)
Past 3 Starts (most recent first):
Edgeworth – Won Blues 3-1 (a), Lost Olympic 0-1 (a), Won Jets 4-1 (h)
Weston – Lost Jets 0-1 (a), Lost Magpies 2-3 (h), Lost Rosebud 0-2 (h)
With the minor premiership race heating up, this match is a crucial one for the Eagles, with a game in hand on the Jaffas, who they are level on points with currently.
With the Westfield FFA Cup heartbreak during the week, this match can bring out two reactions from the Eagles. One of greater drive and determination after the gutting defeat, or a flat performance after the emotion of the Cup.
The Eagles conceded a final minute goal to South Melbourne on Wednesday to lose 1-0, after impressing for much of the match.
In the PS4 NPL NNSW the Eagles bounced back last weekend from their defeat to Hamilton, with a 3-1 victory over Charlestown under lights at Lisle Carr Oval.
The return to form of striker Keigo Moriyasu – who scored just his second goal since round three – was pleasing for coach Damian Zane and he could be just the spark Edgeworth need in this run into the finals.
Weston make their first trip away from Rockwell Automation Park in more than a month after four straight home matches which yielded little for them in the way of competition points.
The Bears come into the match on an eight-game losing streak – not an ideal run when you face the two-time major and minor premiers.
But, the Bears have shown plenty of fight and desire over the last three matches, with tight defeats to Maitland and the Jets Youth followed by a 3-0 defeat last weekend to a Hamilton side who have really hit their stride.
With so much to play for Edgeworth will be hot favourites to make it five wins in a row against the Bears. Stats don’t lie and Edgeworth are very hard to beat at home – losing just twice in the last two seasons there.
Key: Can the Eagles recover quickly and get back on the horse after their Cup heartbreak?
Adamstown Rosebud v Charlestown City Blues
2.30pm Saturday 29th July at Adamstown Oval
Last Meeting: Round 9, 2017: Charlestown 2 Adamstown 2 at Adamstown Oval.
Ladder: Adamstown 10th (13), Charlestown 8th (16)
Past 3 Starts (most recent first):
Adamstown – Lost Jaffas 1-6 (a), Lost Magic 0-3 (a), Lost Roosters 1-3 (a)
Charlestown – Lost Eagles 1-3 (h), Drew Jaffas 2-2 (a), Lost Olympic 1-2 (h)
Old Boy’s Day couldn’t have come at a better time for Adamstown after they hit rock-bottom last weekend in a 6-1 hiding they received from a Lambton Jaffas side with a point to prove.
The Old Boys could provide just the inspiration Adamstown need, who after winning two straight against Weston and Valentine, have now lost three on the bounce and are in danger of an ignominious end to an already forgettable campaign.
After leaking goals in the first half of matches against Valentine and Lake Macquarie, the Rosebuds have been better in the first 45 against both Broadmeadow and Lambton.
In both fixtures, Adamstown have held firm for more than 35 minutes, but goals just before the break in both have crippled their chances.
Maybe a return to Adamstown Oval, for the first time since their dramatic comeback against Valentine, could potentially spark the home side.
While Charlestown have had little to show for it on the ladder in their last five matches, the side mixed with youth and experience which Shane Pryce has put on the park recently has stood up to the plate.
They have faced the top three sides in their past three matches and in all three the Blues took an early lead, only to be pegged back.
It has been in the second half of matches recently where Charlestown have struggled to keep pace with the top sides, conceding all seven goals in their last three matches in the final 45 minutes.
Old Boys’ Day is sure to lift Adamstown, but based on recent form the Blues are favourites heading into Saturday’s clash. They will be out to demonstrate that their solid showings against the top three were no fluke, with a win over the struggling Rosebuds.
Key: Can Adamstown show some pride on Old Boys’ Day or will the Blues spoil the party?
Maitland Magpies v Broadmeadow Magic
2.30pm Sunday 30th July at Cooks Square Park
Last Meeting: Round 9, 2017: Broadmeadow 0 Maitland 7 at Magic Park.
Ladder: Maitland 6th (28), Broadmeadow 5th (30)
Past 3 Starts (most recent first):
Maitland – Won Roosters 4-0 (a), Drew Phoenix 2-2 (a), Won Bears 3-2 (a)
Broadmeadow – Won Rosebud 3-0 (h), Won Jaffas 3-1 (h), Won Blues 2-0 (h)
This clash at Cooks Square Park on Sunday may not have ‘Match of the Round’ billing, but it is of equal importance to Hamilton’s clash with Valentine at the same time.
The equation is simple. Win and finals are still a chance, anything else and it becomes an uphill battle to a top four place.
Everyone expects this one to be tight, just as many felt the round nine encounter between the two sides would be. But, what happened that afternoon at Magic Park is still something many are trying to comprehend – a 7-0 thumping of Broadmeadow on their home turf.
Since that stunning defeat, Magic have lost just two of their nine PS4 NPL matches since and are on a six-game unbeaten run.
Eighth after the Maitland defeat, Magic have risen to fifth and sit just two points outside the top four. With victory on Sunday, and a Valentine defeat, or draw at Hamilton, and Broadmeadow will be in the four.
One side that will be doing their utmost to stop that occurring is Maitland who seemed to struggle after that huge win against Magic. They lost two straight, and didn’t win in three matches as they dropped from second to fifth and now sit in sixth.
However, a thumping 6-1 victory against the Jets Youth in round 14 turned Maitland’s season around and they have now gone unbeaten in five of their last six, winning three.
Matt Thompson returns from suspension for the Magpies which is a huge inclusion to the side who cruised to a 4-0 victory last weekend against Lake Macquarie.
Key: Can Magic’s defence, which has conceded just once in their last four matches stand tall against Maitland lethal attacking arsenal?
Newcastle Jets Youth v Lake Macquarie Roosters
8pm Tuesday 18th July at Macquarie Field
Newcastle Jets Youth 5 (Hayes 12’, Joice 17’, Jennings 37’, Moric 69’, Kelly (og) 90+1’) defeated Lake Macquarie Roosters 0 at Macquarie Field.
*Match played earlier due to Jets’ Weifang Cup commitments.
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