Monday, 31 August 2015

SEASON REVIEW: Lake Macquarie City (2nd)

1st Grade:

Lake Macquarie City were relegated from the Northern NSW NPL at the end of the 2014 season and were thus forced down into the New-FM 1st Division, an expanded New-FM 1st Division with three new clubs included. Their first competitive of the season was an important FFA Cup Round 1 clash with Valentine Phoenix. The Roosters were beaten 8-3 by their Macquarie rivals which wasn't what they were looking for in the FFA Cup.

Needless to say the New-FM season would become their main priority and as the relegated NPL side, automatically a lot of people installed them as favourites to go straight back up. Round 1 was as impressive an opening game as you'll see in any competition as the Roosters hammered local rivals Toronto-Awaba 6-1 at Macquarie Field. A hat-trick to two of the Walker brothers, Sam and Tom gave Lakes a convincing first-up win.

Round 2 was one of the craziest New-FM matches of the season. Lakes were hosting competition newcomers Wallsend F.C and the Red Devils were up early on but Lakes would brush the visitors aside. Three Walkers were on the scoresheet (Sam x 4, Tom x 2 and Dan) as well as Sean Mathews and Adam Smith. 

The Roosters beat Wallsend 9-4 and after two starts they had 15 goals in the back of the opposition net. It was obvious from the get-go that 2015 was going to be a high-scoring year for the Lake Macquarie City side. 

Round 3 saw an abnormality as no Walkers featured on the scoresheet (the only time this season). An away trip to a in-form West Wallsend side saw Lakes draw 2-2 with goals to Sean Mathews and James Rudd. A bye in Round 4 would give the side a chance to re-assess after dropping points to last year's New-FM wooden spooners.

A Good Friday home game against 2014 New-FM Semi Finalists Belmont-Swansea saw Lake Macquarie City pull off a gutsy 2-0 win via goals to Adam Smith and Sam Walker. It was a win that took Lakes to the top of the New-FM table, a position they'd hover around for the majority of the season.

Round 6 brought another home game and this time a newly promoted Cooks Hill United side. The Roosters were looking destined to drop points until late goals saw them steal all three points from the Cookers in a 5-3 victory. Jack Frith bagged a goal but was outdone by Sam Walker who added another four to his tally.

Next up was Lakes' biggest game to date as they took on fellow-promotion chasers Valentine. Sam Walker again got on the scoresheet, along with Adam Smith but they'd go down 3-2 to the Phoenix at Cahill Oval. A slight dent on the hopes of the Roosters' promotion hopes.

Returning to Macquarie Field in Round 10, the Roosters wouldn't have been expecting a 3-1 loss to Singleton. The Strikers were clinical as they pulled off a daring upset at the home of one of the competitions top teams. Two straight losses saw the Roosters drop a couple of valuable points.

A win was needed for Lakes and they produced the goods at home in a catch-up game against Cessnock City. Sam Walker bagged five with an additional goal to Brad York. The 6-3 win indicated Lakes' free-scoring ability but their defending wasn't the best in terms of goals conceded throughout the year. Generally, scoring six goals means a clean sheet isn't really necessary, let's be honest.

Catch-up games were becoming a regular thing for the Roosters and the toughest part was most of their 2015 catch-up games were away from home. A 6-1 win at Thornton Park kept the goals raining down and saw Tom Walker and Sam Walker combine with three each (just like they did against Toronto on opening day).

Struggling West Wallsend came to Macquarie Field and were blown off the park as Lakes rocketed to a 8-1 victory. Strangely enough, Sam Walker only got two! A double to brother Tom and one to Dan was added to by goals to Brad York (x2) and Sean Mathews. It was a classy display by the Roosters who were flying high mid-season.

Round 15 brought their toughest test in a few weeks as they took on a dangerous Belswans outfit on the road at Blacksmiths. The Roosters held their nerve and came away with a crucial 4-3 victory. It wasn't the prettiest win of the season but it was vital for their promotion hopes.

Next up was a tricky trip to Cessnock and the Roosters wouldn't be denied as youngster Josh Witherspoon bagged his first goal in the top grade, joining in with goals to Sam Walker (x2) and Tom Walker. Sam and Tom were again the crucial partnership when the Roosters beat Toronto 3-1 in a mid-week catch-up game at Lyall Peacock Field.

Any worries of the bye hindering their good form went out the window as Lakes played a re-scheduled and re-located catch-up game with Wallsend and defeated the fellow top-four side 3-1. This result took Lakes back to the top of the table and was a key win in season 2015.

Next up was an away game against out-of-form Cooks Hill and the Roosters again got the job done via the partnership of Sam and Tom Walker. A 3-0 win saw their promotion hopes skyrocket as the final weeks of the season arrived.

A wash-out game against Kahibah would see the Roosters drop two vital points. Kahibah had the majority of chances but Sam Walker was able to score late for Lakes and rescue a point at a very cold Kahibah Oval. Next up was the biggest game of the season, at home to fellow promotion-chasers Valentine.

Luck had been with Lakes for the majority of the season but it left them high and dry on that day against Valentine. They produced their worst performance of the season, going down 4-0 and seeing their promotion hopes circle the drain as a result. It was a case of not being as prepared for the game as the opposition.

Next up was a trip to Singleton to face a side that stunned Lakes earlier on in the season. I've personally written a lot about this game (go check out the Singleton Review if you need more) as it was a thriller. Lakes would be up 2-0 early on but a Singleton blitz would deny them and send them crashing to a 6-3 loss and thus seeing off their chances of returning to the NPL.

Round 21 brought a chance to get back in the winners' circle after a disappointing fortnight and the Roosters did just that, winning 2-0 over Thornton via goals to Joseph Cacic and Sam Walker.

The final regular season game of the season saw Kahibah FC come to Macquarie Field and hold on for a gallant 2-2 draw that saw them scrape into the finals. It wasn't a result that affected Lakes too much considering their finals spot was already sealed.

The first leg of the Semi Final saw Lakes travel to The Gardens for the first time after the previous game was moved and they produced a second-half blitz to down Wallsend F.C 3-1. Tom and Sam Walker combined for three goals and suddenly the Roosters were on the verge of a Grand Final appearance.

The Semi Final 2nd Leg needs no description, it's still fresh in the minds of everyone at Lake Macquarie City. Wallsend blitzed the Roosters early on and Lakes failed to match it. Sam Walker got one goal back to take his personal tally to forty-one but it wasn't enough as Lakes went down to their biggest loss of the season, 6-1 to Wallsend.

The side were simply outclassed and outmatched by a hungrier side on the day. It was a very disappointing end to what was a successful season at Lake Macquarie City F.C. I'm sure the boys will be back up there again in Season 2016 and threatening for promotion back to the NPL.

Lakes 1st Grade (Semi Finalists 2015) (Courtesy: Club Secretary)

Key Players:

There's only one name that needs to be mentioned here and I think everyone reading will know it. Star striker Sam Walker hasn't just been Lakes' best player this season he has set the league alight with his attacking flare and has buried teams single-handedly on some days with four or five goals.

Scoring 41 goals at this level has as far as I know never been done in Newcastle and Walker's season has been nothing short of amazing. His brothers have chipped in as well with captain Tom Walker having a quality season, Daniel Walker was vital for the side and Chris Walker was strong all season at left-back until suffering an unfortunate wrist injury against Wallsend in the 1st Semi Final.


Young Stars:

Three weeks ago when I started these reviews, the club sent me one name, Josh Witherspoon. The midfielder has been a stand-out for the Under 23's and has featured for 1st Grade on multiple occasions throughout the season. At just 17, Witherspoon has been a breakout star at Lakes this year after coming through the junior ranks for a while.

I'll use this section to give a shoutout to the quality abundance of goalkeepers coming through at Lakes. An injury to first team keeper Andrew Goldman meant back-ups Mathew Guest and Kannon Ford were required throughout the season. 19's keeper Josh Aspey has been key for a side that conceded just 16 goals this season and 17's stopper Chris Teasdale has been quality between the sticks and has two goals to his name from the penalty spot.

Chris Teasdale Was The Youngest Of Lakes' Impressive Goalkeeping Line-Up

Full Results:


Under 23's Wrap-Up:

Lakes Under 23's have found success over the course of the season but met their match in the form of the Thornton Redbacks in the Grand Final. Top goalscorer Kane Rodgers has been superb all season and along with routine assist-provider Tys Johnson, Rodgers has been crucial to their performances throughout the season.

Goalkeeper Mathew Guest has been a standout all season and has been required to fill-in for 1st Grade for the majority of the season after an injury to the regular goalkeeper. Other quality players include midfielder Matt McClure and the club's vote for best up and comer Joshua Witherspoon.

I think the standout result of the season has to be the two-legged Semi Final win over Valentine. After conceding 12 goals over two games against the Phoenix, Lakes' 23's picked up a 2-0 win in the 1st leg and held on for a scoreless draw in the 2nd leg to progress to the Grand Final. A success for the team.


Under 19's Wrap-Up:

With a win in yesterday's Grand Final, Lake's Under 19's proved themselves as the best team in this division. Beating third-placed Belswans in the Semis and then minor premiers Valentine in the Grand Final took some doing and the Roosters will no doubt consider the last month as a huge success.

Attacker Jordan Harper is arguably the best player in the division and his 20+ goal tally is proof that he has been vital to success for this side throughout the season. His chipped goal in yesterday's Grand Final sealed the trophy for this side and it was a deserved way to cap off a quality season.

Ashah Roberts showed quality throughout the season and added a fair few goals to the Roosters goals scored column. Unfortunately Roberts was injured and missed the finals series. Defender Riley Stackman has been quality this season as well and has a handful of goals to his name.

The midfield has been the engine room of the side with names like Kieran Quadrelli and Cody Chappell really doing an excellent job of steering the team across the park. Shoutouts have to go also to the likes of Thomas Stewart, Adam Buchmasser and Conor Kidd-Mathews who have all played their part well.

Lake Macquarie City (Under 19's Major Premiers)


Under 17's Wrap-Up:

A 2-1 win in the Grand Final capped off a season of excellence for the Lakes' 17's. A couple of shaky results (5-2 to Kahibah stands out) cost them the minor premiership but these boys proved themselves as the best throughout the finals series. The football they produce is second-to-none in this division.

Attacker Ben Roberts has been vital with over twenty goals this season and has been matched by the ever-threatening James Ward. With a true eye for goal, Ward has been effective in the 17's and 19's this season and was Lakes' best throughout the finals series in my opinion.

Tactics were always the main focus for these boys. (Courtesy: Nicole Teasdale)

The wing pair of Josh Richardson and Jack Russo shown so much quality and technical skill this season and even the defenders have chipped in, along with goalkeeper Chris Teasdale. This has been a team effort all season and it paid off with a big Grand Final win yesterday.

Shoutouts have to go to Kyle O'Toole, James Ward and Callum McGoldrick who have all played a part in helping the Under 19's squad this season. O'Toole started more than a third of the games in the Under 19's this season and James Ward has chipped in with some goals for them as well. Some bright young players coming through the ranks at Macquarie Field.

Lake Macquarie City (Under 17's Major Premiers)


Keys To The Future:

Consistency will see the Roosters reclaim their spot in the National Premier Leagues. They've got a team good enough for promotion (if they stay together) and I'm sure they'll do it next season. After being up 3-1 against Wallsend, the wheels fell off the Lakes bus in terms of Grand Final hopes but I believe the club's main aim for next season will be promotion and nothing less.

The Roosters pride themselves on the club's depth and junior base and with six teams out of seven (first grade being the exception) featuring in Grand Final's this season I'd consider 2015 to be a success for Lake Macquarie City. From 13's to 1st Grade this club is one that thrive on success.

Best wishes for the off-season and will see you in 2016!

-Ty Stedman

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