Friday, 8 May 2015

PREVIEW: Northern NSW NPL Round 5

1st Grade: Lambton (5th) v Broadmeadow (1st)

I'd normally get to this game with bells on but I have to play my own game on Saturday. I might still try and make the back end of this match but unlikely at this stage. It is in my opinion the match of the round and it's never a dull clash when these two sides meet.

I've been to every Jaffas v Magic game in the last two seasons or so and it's my favourite fixture on the NPL calender. The Jaffas have a strong side and despite the fact that they occupy fifth spot on the league table, they are without doubt one of the major threats to lift the Premiership this season.

The 19th of April was the last time the Jaffas took to the field and I'm sure they'll be chomping at the bit to get out on the park on Saturday and take on the ladder-leading Broadmeadow Magic in front of a big crowd at Arthur Edden Oval.

I've seen all three of Magic's games this season and after looking off the pace in their opening day scoreless draw with Hamilton, Broadmeadow have piled on the goals with a 5-1 win over Maitland and a 4-1 win over Edgeworth in their last outing.

Those wins over Maitland and Edgeworth proved that Broadmeadow are back in some style this season. I'm confident in saying that they'll be extremely hard to beat if they play the way they've played in recent weeks. Lambton though are a real test for the Magic side.

Despite this being a Lambton home game, I'm going for the visitors here. They've got some real goalscoring talent in Dino Fajkovic and Kale Bradbury and I think if they click like they did before the wet weather break, they'll get over the line against Lambton on Saturday afternoon.

Under 22's: Lambton (9th) v Broadmeadow (8th)

Two sides that are desperate for an win will clash at Arthur Edden Oval in the curtain-raiser for first grade. To be fair the situation is not at all dire for either side as they've both only played two matches but I'm sure both these sides would not be enjoying sitting where they are on the league table.

Lambton at this stage isn't a side that has much depth. In fact apart from their first grade team in 5th position, the Jaffas occupy 7th spot or below in all junior comps all the way down to Under 13. I know that's not where the club wants to be and it'll change in due time.

The visiting Magic 22's have a strong side with a few fringe first graders capable of excelling in reserve grade and so far in two games they haven't done that, drawing both starts against Hamilton and Maitland. I think they'll open their account on Saturday with a win at Edden Oval.

Under 19's: Lambton (7th) v Broadmeadow (5th)

The Under 19's sides from Lambton and Broadmeadow have both had an indifferent start to the 2015 season. The Jaffas won their first game but were soundly beaten 3-0 last time out against Weston whilst Magic bounced back from a first up loss to Hamitlon with a 3-1 win over Maitland.

This'll be a tough test for both sides as both will be keen to return from a long break with a victory. I'm tipping neither to do that and the game to end in an entertaining stalemate. 2-2 sounds good.

My Tips:
1st Grade: Lambton 1-4 Broadmeadow
Under 22's: Lambton 1-2 Broadmeadow
Under 19's: Lambton 2-2 Broadmeadow

1st Grade: Adamstown (9th) v Edgeworth (6th)

I've seen both these sides play in recent weeks and to be honest I think Adamstown were the more impressive of the two. Edgeworth's last outing was a 4-1 defeat to Broadmeadow Magic and the way that the Eagles played that night was just unacceptable for their standards. I know they can do better than what they put on the table against Broadmeadow.

I got to go to Adamstown's catch-up game with Hamilton on Wednesday night and whilst the Rosebud weren't that impressive during the match I was impressed by their will to rescue a draw. They didn't give up and it paid off when Guy Bates equalised and sent the home crowd into a frenzy.

This is a tough one to call with all the wash-outs and a lack of any real form guide, based on the fact that one of the sides has only played two games so far. Anyway I'm going to tip the visitors here. The Eagles were flying until they were grounded by a strong Magic side and I'm sure they'll be up for a return to form on Sunday. Adamstown though are good enough to cause an upset but it's Edgeworth for my money.

Under 22's: Adamstown (10th) v Edgeworth (2nd)

The Eagles' reserve side is flying high after two games and will be confident ahead of a trip to Adamstown Oval to take on the bottom-placed Rosebud. Adamstown weren't too far away from producing a result against Hamilton but went down 2-1 on Thursday night and I'm pretty confident they'll be tasting defeat again on the weekend. Edgeworth will be eyeing off top spot on the table and they can maybe take it with a win.

Under 19's: Adamstown (8th) v Edgeworth (9th)

It's strange to see an Edgeworth side so far down on the ladder but after a disappointing 6-3 loss to Charlestown in Round 1, the Eagles' 19's produced a decent result when they drew 3-3 with Hamilton in their last outing. Adamstown on the other hand went down 5-2 to Hamilton just last night and I can't see them getting the best of a fresh Edgeworth side.

My Tips:
1st Grade: Adamstown 1-3 Edgeworth
Under 22's: Adamstown 0-3 Edgeworth
Under 19's: Adamstown 2-4 Edgeworth

1st Grade: Maitland (10th) v Weston Workers (2nd)

How good is it to have a derby like this on the NPL calender. I'm sure there'll be a fair bit of banter and sledging as the Magpies and Bears clash in the top-flight for the first time in 13 years. Maitland are the underdogs against a Weston side that have put a poor pre-season behind them and are currently second on the table.

Weston are the only side to have played all four games this season which considering the recent weather is pretty impressive. They've picked up two wins, a draw and a loss to the Jets Youth.

Maitland I watched first-hand the other week against Broadmeadow and to be fair they showed glimpses of class but lost their way a bit in the second half. They'll be fired up to get a win over their arch rivals and more importantly move away from the bottom of the table.

The Bears have been at the top for 50 or so straight years and success is in their blood. This is a massive game for Maitland football. 12 years outside the top grade is a long wait and to have a chance to beat their neighbours from down the road will be a big thing.

Unfortunately for the Magpies I'm backing the visitors. A mid-week win over South Cardiff with just ten men for most of the second half says a lot about Weston's will to win games. They too will be hoping to beat their rivals and prove themselves as the premier team in the Maitland area.

Under 22's: Maitland (4th) v Weston (6th)

Maitland's reserve side have been decent in their only two outings this season. A first up 5-2 win over a strong South Cardiff side was followed with a 1-1 draw with Broadmeadow in Round 2. The Magpies will now meet the visiting Bears who are out of form at the moment.

Weston's 22's squad has let in nine goals over the past week in their two matches and unless something major chances, I can't see them grabbing the three points at Cooks Square Park on Sunday.

Under 19's: Maitland (10th) v Weston (1st)

Maitland's depth isn't quite up to the standard of the other NPL teams yet and it's going to be a huge test for their Under 19's squad against top of the table and unbeaten Weston at Cooks Square Park.

The Bears were held last week by the Emerging Jets Under 16's side but gained all three points at Ulinga Oval on Thursday night. I'm tipping the Bears to continue their good start to the season on Sunday.

My Tips:
1st Grade: Maitland 1-2 Weston
Under 22's: Maitland 2-0 Weston
Under 19's: Maitland 1-2 Weston

1st Grade: Newcastle Jets Youth (4th) v Charlestown City (7th)

The Charlestown City Blues play host to the Newcastle Jets Youth side on Sunday in a match that both sides will be keen to win. The young Jets pulled off an unlikely win against Weston last time out and will no doubt be pleased to play in what is expected to be sunny conditions, compared to the water polo-like conditions from Weston last week.

The Blues haven't played in two weeks but are coming off a gutsy 4-2 win over Adamstown last time out. I say gutsy because they bounced back from a mid-week FFA Cup loss to the Rosebuds just a few days before and gained some revenge for a heartbreaking loss in the cup competition.

I've heard the Jets Youth 'got lucky' against the Bears last week and didn't actually play that well. I'm going to tip the Blues to get the win but anything is possible between these two sides.

Under 22's: Emerging Jets U/18's (1st) v Charlestown City (7th)

The Under 18 Emerging Jets bounced back from a disappointing 3-2 loss to South Cardiff with an impressive 5-1 win over Weston last week. I'm sure I read that this team copped a mouthful from a certain former Jets coach and proved him wrong on the weekend. So confidence would be up.

Charlestown haven't played in a few weeks and after beating Adamstown in their last outing, they'll certainly be keen to get out onto Lisle Carr Oval and take on the top of the table Jets. As for my tip I'm going with the visiting Jets (technically they're the home side but that's another story).

Under 19's Emerging Jets U/16's (3rd) v Charlestown City (4th)

The Under 16 Emerging Jets will be full of confidence after defeating South Cardiff a fortnight or so ago and then taking top of the table Weston to the limit last weekend. Impressive to say the least.

Charlestown will be no walkover themselves as they proved in their opening game that they have what it takes to find the back of the net. Their last outing was a 1-0 result over Adamstown and I think they'll take it to the young Jets on Sunday but I'm tipping the draw.

My Tip:
1st Grade: Newcastle Jets Youth 1-2 Charlestown City
Under 22's: Emerging Jets 18s 3-1 Charlestown City
Under 19's: Emerging Jets 16s 1-1 Charlestown City

1st Grade: South Cardiff (8th) v Hamilton Olympic (3rd)

I was left disappointed by Hamilton's effort against Broadmeadow on opening day. They didn't match the style and the attacking ability they showed over the last few seasons. Wednesday night's 2-2 draw with Adamstown brought a fair bit of that back.

Olympic were strong throughout and in my opinion only luck stopped them from leaving Adamstown Oval with the three points. Their transition from defending to attacking was impressive on Wednesday night and with South Cardiff not exactly setting the world on fire at the moment, the visitors could get the best of the Gunners' defence on Sunday.

I was impressed with Rhys Cooper on Wednesday and if he can tee up last year's top goalscorer Kane Goodchild, the goals will no doubt start piling up for the boys in blue and white. The finishing was missing on Wednesday night and I'm tipping Hamilton to not only find the net but find it a few times.

Under 22's: South Cardiff (3rd) v Hamilton Olympic (5th)

Both South Cardiff and Hamilton's 22's picked up wins in their catch-up games on Thursday night against Weston and Adamstown respectively. As for who'll win this game I think it'll be the home side. They picked up an impressive 4-0 result against a decent Weston side and on their home turf on Sunday you'd think their chances of another win are high.

Under 19's: South Cardiff (6th) v Hamilton Olympic (2nd) 

South Cardiff's Under 19's side went down gallantly to top of the table Weston on Thursday night and now meet a Hamilton side that put five past Adamstown in their catch-up game. The Gunners will need to be firing on all cylinders to beat this strong Olympic side. Personally I'm going with the visiting Hamilton to pick up the three points.

My Tips:
1st Grade: South Cardiff 2-4 Hamilton
Under 22's: South Cardiff 3-2 Hamilton
Under 19's: South Cardiff 1-2 Hamilton


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