NPL Men's NNSW Round 22 Review: Jaffas prevail with nine men to win the 2023 premiership

Match of the Round 

Lambton Jaffas FC 1-0 Newcastle Olympic FC 

Lambton Jaffas became the NPL Men’s NNSW first grade premiers for the second time on Sunday following a nail-biting 1-0 victory at Arthur Edden Oval against Newcastle Olympic. 

The hosts played almost half the game with nine men after Josh Piddington (dangerous tackle in the 14th minute) and Kale Bradbery (dissent in the 50th minute) both received straight red cards.  

But it was 10 on nine from the 57th minute onwards after Olympic’s Dylan Burston was also shown a straight red card for a dangerous tackle. 

The Jaffas took the lead in the 26th minute when they were down to 10 men after an attempted Olympic clearance following a Bailey Newton cross rolled across the face of goal to Bradbery at the back stick who had the simplest of tap-ins. 

Olympic pushed hard during the remainder of the game to find an equaliser and they almost spoiled the Jaffas’ party in the final minute of regulation time when a Sam Donohoe strike from just outside the 18-yard box was denied by the crossbar. 

But the hosts were able to hold out their opposition in game that included eight minutes of injury time at the death to secure the three points they needed to clinch the premiership. 

It’s the Jaffas’ second first-place finish in three seasons after they claimed top spot for the first time in 2021. It’ 

Tanchevski said he was proud of his men for rising to the occasion in 2023. 

“I’m unbelievably proud,” Tanchevski said. 

“There have been a lot of challenges this year. We had six or seven players from the grand final squad leave the club, so we originally looked at this as a rebuilding year to bring a whole heap of players  in and gel them together, especially the young guys like Bailey Newton, Pat Bond, Finn Toddhunter and Sakeel (Balfour Brown). 

“The older guys there have really gelled well with them and welcomed them in. 

“That was the first challenge, and the other was we had a few injury crises throughout the year as well. 

“For the guys to come back and finish the season so strong was great. We were about sixth or seventh at the halfway mark, and then I think we only lost one game in the whole second round. It’s such a strong finish from the guys.” 
Tanchevski praised his side’s reliance and composure following both send-offs on Sunday and thought his players dominated despite being a man down for the majority of the match. 

Lambton finished the season on top with 46 points following 14 wins, four draws and four losses in 2023. Their final-round win turned out to be a crucial one as second-placed Broadmeadow Magic (45) and third-placed Charlestown Azzurri (44) were both victorious in their respective fixtures. 

The Jaffas now have this weekend off as a reward for their first-place finish and they will play the winner of the qualifying final between Magic and Azzurri the following weekend in the major semi-final. 

Meanwhile, Olympic’s season has now come to an end. They placed seventh on the 12-team table, just two wins outside the top five on 33 points following 10 wins, three draws and nine losses.  

Olympic’s coach Joel Griffiths took charge of his final game at Arthur Edden Oval on Sunday, with former player and more recently a coach of other teams at the club, Paul DeVitis, to take over for the 2024 campaign. 

Broadmeadow Magic FC 5-0 Valentine FC 

Broadmeadow Magic did what they had to on Sunday as they scored an emphatic 5-0 victory against Valentine.  

But it was not enough to earn them their first premiership since 2013 as they were forced to settle for second by a single point after Lambton reigned supreme at Arthur Edden Oval.  

The hosts broke the deadlock in the 37th minute when Riley Smith reacted quickest after a Josh Benson strike from distance was parried away by Valentine goalkeeper Brodie Volkiene and fell to Smith who buried his strike into the bottom right corner. 

The home side thought they had their second in the 41st minute, but Ben Diamond was judged to have been offside when he placed a spilled free kick into the bottom left corner.  

But Magic did double their lead less than two minutes later, with Smith providing the assist this time around when he ran in behind the defence onto a lofted James Cresnar pass and then volleyed over Volkiene and tapped the ball into the path of Bailey Wells who scored into an empty net. 

The second half was only six minutes in when Magic added a third goal as Smith fired a one-on-one strike past Volkiene after charging into the box onto a Wells pass. 

The score became 4-0 in the 55th minute when Will Ingram got in behind the Valentine defence down the left edge following some crafty build-up play by Keanu Moore and fired the ball across to Cresnar who tapped in at the back stick. 

Magic put the icing on the cake in the 76th minute when Angus McLeod scored his first goal of the season. The second half substitute calmly slotted the ball into the back of the net from the penalty spot after Smith was brought down by Valentine’s Daniel Arthur. 

Magic entered the last round in second place, just one point behind Lambton, but the Jaffas got the job done with a 1-0 win at home to claim top spot.  

The Broadmeadow men finished on 45 points following 14 wins, three draws and five losses this season. They will now meet Charlestown Azzurri this weekend in the Qualifying Final after Charlestown finished third on 44 points. 

Magic coach John Bennis said he was proud of his young side for going so close to winning the premiership and commended them on their performance on Sunday. 

“It was a pleasing win,” Bennis said. 

“It was quite a slippery surface out there so it was hard to play across the field, but we had some good moments. Our ball speed and penetration were good and we created a lot of chances. 

“The clean sheets we’ve kept for the past couple of weeks have been really good too. I’ve been happy with that. It probably comes down to communication. There’s good cohesion between our players out there. 

“The boys knew what was ahead of them in the final round and they got the job done. I’m super proud of them for finishing second. It’s been a fantastic journey and they’ve learned a lot this year. They’ve done super well and should be proud of their efforts. I’m glad I’m able to be a part of their football journey. 

“We obviously didn’t quite get the results we needed to finish first, and that’s football. We congratulate Lambton for their win. 

“I just want to reiterate how well our boys did though. We’ve been missing key players all year, so full credit to them to get themselves in a position where they were that close to winning the premiership.” 

While Magic have now turned their attention to the final series, Valentine’s 2023 campaign has come to an end. The Phoenix finished ninth on the ladder with 25 points following seven wins, four draws and 11 losses in 2023. 

Edgeworth FC 0-2 Charlestown Azzurri FC 

Charlestown scored a much-needed win at Jack McLaughlan Oval when they downed Edgeworth 2-0, but it was not enough to help them climb up the table as they remained in third place. 

Azzurri knew that earning three points was the only way they could come out on top of the premiership battle.  

The Blues took the lead in the 15th minute when Taylor Regan headed home from close range after a Miguel Herrera corner from the right was punched away by Edgeworth goalkeeper Ben Conway, only for the ball to be headed into the path of Regan by Rene Ferguson after Jacob Melling had sent it back into the box. 

Kyle Munns doubled Charlestown’s lead 10 minutes later when he cut through the Edgeworth defence and received a perfect pass from Jett White before picking out the bottom right corner with his one-on-one strike. 

Herrera thought he had put the visitors ahead by three in the 35th minute, but his back stick header was ruled out after he was judged to have been offside when Dean Pettit picked him out with a cross. 

Azzurri took their 2-0 lead into the break and neither side was able to find the back of the net in the second stanza as the visitors grinded out the victory. 

Charlestown’s coach James Pascoe was pleased they were able to recapture some form heading into the finals after three losses and a draw in their previous five games cost them the premiership. 

Azzurri accumulated 44 points this season following 14 wins, two draws and six losses. They finished a point behind Broadmeadow Magic (45) and two behind premiers Lambton (46).  

The Blues will now challenge Broadmeadow in the qualifying final this weekend for a chance to meet Lambton in the Major Semi-Final during week two of the finals series. 

Edgeworth’s season has come to an end following their final-round loss. They finished four points outside the top five on 35 points following 10 wins, five draws and seven losses. Coach Peter McGuinness will be back at the helm in 2024 and is determined to guide the Eagles back to the finals. 

Adamstown Rosebud FC 1-0 Maitland FC 

Adamstown Rosebud sent coach David Rosewarne out with a win on Sunday when they scored a 1-0 win in front of a home crowd against Maitland at Adamstown Oval. 

Mackenzie Alexander scored the decisive goal just 25 seconds into the second half when he tapped the ball into an empty net after a Zack Griffen shot had beaten Maitland goalkeeper Taylor Pate but rebounded out off the left post and into the path of his teammate. 

The hosts then held out a determined Magpies side to finish their season on a high as they earned three points for the fifth time in the 2023 campaign.  

It was the perfect way for Rosewarne to finish up his three years as the club’s first grade coach, which he decided to step away from earlier in the year. 

The Rosebuds finished 10th on the ladder with 19 points following five wins, four draws and 13 losses. 

Maitland were playing for the premiership and also a spot in the Qualifying Final at Adamstown Oval. In hindsight, they would never have finished any higher than fourth after Lambton Jaffas (46 points), Broadmeadow Magic (45) and Charlestown Azzurri (44) were all victorious, but their loss saw them end the season on 40 points following 12 wins, four draws and six losses. 

The Magpies pushed hard to find an equaliser in the second half on Sunday but were unable to. The task at hand got even tougher with nine minutes remaining in regulation time when they were reduced to 10 men after Tyran Cousins received a second yellow card just 11 minutes after entering the field as a substitute. 

Next up for the Magpies is this weekend’s elimination final against Weston.  

Cooks Hill United FC 2-0 Weston Workers FC 

Weston are the second top-five side to have gone down during the final round of the regular season after they were beaten 2-0 by Cooks Hill United at the Fearnley Dawes Athletics Field on Sunday.  
The Bears could have finished fourth had they won, but they were forced to settle for fifth after they were kept scoreless by the hosts. 

Cooks Hill’s Joel Clissold opened the scoring in the 43rd minute with what was arguably the goal of the weekend when he picked out the top right corner with a powerful free kick from just outside the 18-yard box. 

Cooks Hill took the 1-0 lead into the half-time break before scoring again in the 50th minute when Clissold played the ball in behind for striker Carter Smith, who made no mistake with a follow-up attempt after his initial strike from close range was blocked by Bears skipper Chris Hurley. 

Smith almost added a third for the hosts in the 84th minute when he got in behind down the right edge and charged into the box before firing a strike across Weston goalkeeper Gerard Roebuck but the ball cannoned away off the post. 

Two goals was enough as Cooks Hill managed to keep the Bears scoreless as they fought hard to earn the victory and end their 2023 campaign on a high. 

Coach Chris Zoricich was thrilled with the win and his side’s progression throughout the year, and said he was looking forward to returning as the side’s coach in 2024. 

The side finished the season in eighth on the table with 32 points following nine wins, five draws and eight losses during their second season in the NPLM competition. They were just one point behind seventh-placed Newcastle Olympic, three points behind sixth-placed Edgeworth, and seven points behind fifth-placed Weston, a remarkable effort considering those three sides are established heavyweight clubs in the competition. 

Weston racked up 39 points on their way to a fifth-place finish following 11 wins, six draws and five losses during the 2023 season. They finished just one point behind Maitland, and they will now play the Magpies this weekend in the elimination final. 

Lake Macquarie City FC 1-4 New Lambton FC 

New Lambton finished their season on a huge high when they scored a dominant 4-1 victory against Lake Macquarie City at Macquarie Field on Sunday.  

The match-up between the teams ranked second last and last on the 12-team table was an entertaining encounter and it came to life in the 14th minute when Chase Lattimore charged onto a lofted Fletcher Davis through ball and picked out the top left corner with a cracking volley from just inside the 18-yard box. 

The duo combined again for the side’s second goal in the 23rd minute when Lattimore made the score 2-0 from close range moments after Davis had superbly kept the ball from going out of play with a leaping header. 

Davis continued to stamp his authority on the game in the 43rd minute, this time finding the back of the net himself with a powerful strike from outside the 18-yard box that flew just inside the left upright to make the score 3-0. 

Davis thought he had doubled his own tally seconds into injury time when he scored directly from a corner that he curled in from the left but it was denied as a foul was called on a New Lambton player in the box.  

There was no denying Davis in the 74th minute when he made the score 4-0 with a powerful shot across Lakes keeper Isaac Nyman and into the bottom right corner after charging into the box onto the end of a Louis Townsend cross from the right edge. 

New Lambton’s substitute goalkeeper Kilian McCarthy came on for the second half to replace Alex Bozinovski, and made a stunning save in the 83rd minute to deny a curling Josh Maguire free kick that he tipped onto the crossbar after diving at full stretch.  

But he could not deny Maguire from the spot a minute later after the away side were penalised for a handball in the box. 

New Lambton finished their debut season in the NPLM competition 11th on 10 points following three wins, three draws and 16 losses, while Lake Macquarie ended the campaign with four points in last place, having won once, drawn once and lost 20 times.