1st Grade: Edgeworth Eagles v Charlestown City Blues
Kickoff Times Have Changed:
Under 19's: 5:30pm
Under 22's: 7pm
1st Grade: 8:30pm
It's a new season in the Northern NSW version of the National Premier Leagues and it all kicks off on Friday night with Edgeworth Eagles hosting the travelling Charlestown City Blues. The passionate Edgeworth fans will no doubt be on hand to watch their side in the season-opener.
These two sides faced off at Charlestown's Lisle Carr Oval in the Qualifying Final last season where the Blues came away with a 2-1 win. For the record they'd go down to the Lambton Jaffas in week two of the finals.
Success is written in the fabric of both teams and this is a great clash to kick off the new season. The Eagles are known for their defence and grinding out wins but will no doubt need to start boosting their attacking form if they want to compete in what I think will be a very attacking-based competition.
Charlestown lost Kane Goodchild last week and rumours of discontent and what not are almost a permanent thing for the Blues. They've lost some sponsors and now their top goalscorer so they'll most likely struggle to get going this year. A first-up away trip to Edgeworth doesn't help either.
I think the Eagles will get the job done here and I think they can do it in convincing form. It's a great chance to send out a warning to the rest of the competition with a win on opening night.
1st Grade: Edgeworth 3-0 Charlestown City
22's: Edgeworth 2-1 Charlestown City
19's: Edgeworth 3-1 Charlestown City
1st Grade: Lambton Jaffas v Newcastle Jets Youth
The second game of the new season sees defending champions Lambton Jaffas hosting the Newcastle Jets Youth at Arthur Edden Oval on Saturday afternoon. A big crowd should be expected for this clash with it being the only NPL match on Saturday.
The Jets Youth did win the minor premiership last season but were dumped out of the finals by, you guessed it, the Lambton Jaffas. The Jets youth have lost a couple of the mainstays who have moved up to the A-League side but still have a team full of talent. Whether or not they find success is another question.
There might be some feeling in this game for the young Jets as they face former coach and Lambton's high-profile former EPL star recruit Michael Bridges. A chance to take on your former coach is not a regular one in the game of football so it'll no doubt play a part.
I'm backing the Jaffas to get the job done here. They've got a great team all round and with players like Bridgey and Jobe Wheelhouse they shouldn't be written off as potential back-to-back champions. Add my former high-school teacher and constant attacking threat John Majurovski into the equation and this is a side that will most likely challenge for the title in 2015.
By the way, I'll be doing small previews on the lower grades as of next week. It's a bit hard to predict the 22's and what not in Round 1 so I've just guessed the scores really. Better previews will come next week and beyond.
1st Grade: Lambton 3-1 Jets Youth
22's: Lambton 1-2 Jets Youth
19's: Lambton 2-0 Emerging Jets U/18's
1st Grade: Adamstown Rosebud v Weston Workers Bears
One of the three games on Sunday afternoon sees the Adamstown Rosebud host the Weston Bears at Adamstown Oval. These two teams have a tonne of history in the top-flight of Northern NSW and success is in their blood. The Rosebud are arguably Newcastle's most famous football team and the Bears have a proud history in which they've played 50+ seasons straight in the top grade.
Premierships, championships, you name it and these sides have done it. The Buds have picked up Garry Kenneth, an experienced defender who played 163 games for Dundee United in the Scottish Premiership. That's an impressive signing and a couple of other signings will no doubt boost their hopes of success in 2015.
Weston on the other hand look like they could struggle this year. I was on hand for their trial match at Magic Park, which was indeed over a month ago now but since then they have failed to set the world on fire in their trial matches. That night they looked awful. I wouldn't be surprised if they prove me wrong but I'm predicting them to miss the finals.
These sides clashed in the FFA Cup a few weeks back and Adamstown came out with a 6-0 win. Yes Weston were missing some players but that's a horror result. It won't be that bad on Sunday but the Buds should get the win.
1st Grade: Adamstown 4-1 Weston Workers
22's: Adamstown 2-2 Weston Workers
19's: Adamstown 2-1 Weston Workers
I will be doing all I can to make it over to Magic Park on Sunday to watch this. In my opinion it is the best rivalry in the entire competition and never fails to produce an entertaining match-up. Olympic's win at Magic Park last year was one of the best local games I've seen.
I've followed Magic since I started watching the local comp a few years ago and last year was just not good enough from a team with that caliber. I'm a pretty big follower of their 1st grade team and was there for the 3-0 loss away to Hamilton last season in the pouring rain. It was a horror day for the Magic and it'll no doubt play in their minds.
Hamilton have lost two of their more experienced players in David Hodgson and Brad Swancott but picking up last year's Golden Boot winner Kane Goodchild and Jaffas keeper Danny Ireland along with a couple of other signings has Olympic prepared to make an impact this season.
This is a very tough game to pick. Both teams will surely push deep into the finals so it's hard to pick a winner here. Magic picked up Kale Bradbury in the off-season and the speedster will no doubt add some much needed pace up front for the Magic but honestly if there's one man that needs to fire, it's Peter Haynes.
Haynes couldn't stop scoring in the double-winning season two years ago but failed to hit any extreme heights last year. Haynes is a good enough player to bounce back but he and Bradbury along with the other attacking threats have to fire for Magic. Too many chances were missed last season.
I'm trying hard not to be biased as I do follow Magic to Weston and Speers Point. I was there for their Grand Final win the other year, the State Cup last year. One of my more memorable nights was watching them play in the freezing cold at Blacksmiths against the Jaffas in Round 2 of the State Cup a couple of years back. I'm dedicated through and through.
That being said I've been to a few games at Darling St and Olympic are a very impressive football club. The junior set-up they have at Olympic is up there as one of the best and they'll no doubt challenge for the premiership this season so I'm very much looking forward to this clash. It's Magic for my money though.
1st Grade: Broadmeadow 3-2 Hamilton
22's: Broadmeadow 2-1 Hamilton
19's: Broadmeadow 1-3 Hamilton
1st Grade: South Cardiff v Maitland F.C
It'll certainly be interesting to see who gets the win in this clash. South Cardiff have been tipped by some to reach the finals whilst others have backed them to finish dead last and face relegation.
Maitland on the other hand are back in the big time after a decade or so in the New-FM 1st Division and with multiple new signings, including the massive scalp of former Newcastle Jets captain Matt Thompson, the Magpies are certainly ready to take on life in the NPL.
I have absolutely no idea which way to go here. South Cardiff have found some pre-season form but Maitland are tipped to make the finals. I saw the back-end of Maitland's late FFA Cup loss to Charlestown City but the fact is they defeated Cooks Hill 8-0 in the previous round. Cooks Hill I've seen play a few times so far and to put eight past them is pretty impressive. Maitland for me in this game.
1st Grade: South Cardiff 1-2 Maitland F.C
22's: South Cardiff 1-0 Maitland F.C
19's: South Cardiff 0-2 Maitland F.C