NPL Men’s NNSW Round 21 Review: Jaffas climb to the top of the table after Maitland suffer slip-up

Match of the Round 
Maitland FC 1-2 Newcastle Olympic FC 

Newcastle Olympic scored a major upset at Cooks Square Park on Saturday afternoon when they denied Maitland the chance to go top of the table with a 2-1 win. 

The Magpies led 1-0 at the half-time break but a second half brace to Olympic super sub Nathan Toby saw the visitors leave Maitland with the three points. 

The hosts hit the lead in the 31st minute when centre back Will McFarlane bundled the ball into the back of the net from close range. It came from a free kick that the hosts won off the back of a superb piece of build-up play down the left edge between Adam Blunden, Flynn Goodman and James Thompson.  

Thompson was fouled just outside the box and Braedyn Crowley stepped up to take the free kick, which he curled over Olympic goalkeeper Adam Pearce and into the oath of McFarlane who made no mistake from a few metres out. 

Maitland had their chances to double the lead before and after the break but Pearce was well and truly up to the task as he pulled off some top-quality saves that kept Olympic in the game. 

The visitors were able to capitalise in the 71st minute when Toby levelled the score as he volleyed over the top of Maitland goalkeeper Taylor Pate from close range after charging onto a superb Jye Rodway cross. 

Olympic then took the lead in the 80th minute when Toby finished off a blistering counterattack just 11 seconds after centre back Steven Theacos had won possession for his side with a brilliant tackle at the other end of the park.  

Dylan Burston sent a perfectly-weighted long ball into the path of Kane Treble down the left edge, and he then squared it inside to Toby who again lifted the ball over Pate from close range. 

The message from Olympic’s coach Joel Griffiths to his side during the final 10 minutes of regulation time and then injury time was to keep playing football as opposed to clearing the ball long and resting on their laurels.  

They did just that and almost added a third goal with the final kick of the game, however, a deflected Burston free kick in the 95th minute rebounded out off the right post and the full-time whistle sounded to confirm the visiting side’s 2-1 victory. 

Magpies coach Mick Bolch was disappointed that his side had missed another chance to go top of the table following a 1-1 draw two weeks earlier against Cooks Hill. 

“I thought our execution and our urgency have been poor for the last two and haven't been up to our usual standards,” Bolch said. 

“Olympic defended well as a unit and we were poor in our transition. 

“It's been two opportunities to move to top spot in the last two weeks and we have slipped up on both occasions. It's now about consolidating, trying to finish in the top and preparing for the final series.” 

Maitland’s loss saw them slip to third after the Lambton Jaffas beat Cooks Hill United 3-2 on Saturday, and the Magpies could fall to fourth if Broadmeadow Magic defeat Charlestown Azzurri at Lisle Carr Oval tomorrow night. They will take on Adamstown away from home on Sunday in the final round of the regular season, determined to win and finish as high as possible on the table.  

Olympic are still seventh following their victory but are now just two points behind Edgeworth. Skipper Marcus Duncan said last week that his side’s goal was to finish as high up the ladder as possible, and they will travel to Lambton to take on the Jaffas this Sunday with their sights set on sixth place. 

New Lambton FC 0-4 Weston Workers FC 

A Yuta Konagaya hat-trick helped fire Weston to a 4-0 win away from home against New Lambton at Alder Park on Saturday. 

Skipper Chris Hurley also scored when he fired home the fourth and final goal from the penalty spot in the 84th minute to put the icing on the cake as the Bears secured three crucial points that saw them lock in a spot in the finals series. 

Konagaya opened the scoring in the 24th minute when he finished off a superb piece of build-up play that he was involved in alongside Aaron Niyonkuru and Liam Wilson. Konagaya’s shot from inside the 18-yard box was too powerful for New Lambton goalkeeper Alex Bozinovski, as was the Bears gun’s strike from about 25 yards out when he doubled Weston’s lead on the 40-minute mark. 

The away side took the 2-0 lead into the half-time break and they increased their advantage 20 minutes into the second stanza when Konagaya completed his hat-trick. The attacker released Niyonkuru in behind with a classy pass and showed brilliant awareness to follow the play.  

The Bears won a penalty late in the game when Ben Clouten was brought down in the box, and Hurley stepped up and sent Bozinovski the wrong way as he picked out the bottom right corner. 

It was Weston’s second clean sheet victory on the trot, and more importantly, it saw them secure a place in the top five after sixth-placed Edgeworth drew 1-1 at home against Adamstown.  

Kew Jaliens’ men are now four points clear of Edgeworth with just one game to play, and although they are still fifth, they can finish as high as second if they beat Cooks Hill United away from home this Sunday and other results go their way. 

New Lambton are still second last in 11th place following their loss and take on Lake Macquarie at Macquarie Field on Sunday. 

Edgeworth FC 1-1 Adamstown FC 

Edgeworth and Adamstown shared the points at Jack McLaughlan Oval on Saturday after they contested a 1-1 draw. 

The two sides looked set to go into half-time locked at 0-0, but Adamstown took the lead in the 44th minute when Dino Fajkovic stepped up to take a free kick from just outside the 18-yard box and superbly curled the ball over the wall and into the bottom left corner. 

Dylan Holz almost equalised for Edgeworth in the 54th minute when he charged onto a Kevin Dagnet cross and unleashed a powerful low strike from just inside the area, however, the ball cannoned back out off the left post. 

The Eagles eventually did find the equalising goal in the 80th minute when Tom Curran delivered an in-swinging corner from the right and Mason King headed the ball home at the back stick 17 minutes after entering the game as a substitute.  

There was some controversy surrounding the goal as Adamstown appealed for a foul on their goalkeeper Nick Hartnett but the goal was awarded.  

Edgeworth had 10 minutes and injury time to find a winning goal and save their finals chances, but they were held out by the visitors as the match finished 1-1. 

The Eagles entered the round just two points behind the Weston Bears, which managed to score a 4-0 win away from home against New Lambton and move four points clear of Peter McGuinness’ men with just one round left to play.  

Edgeworth still have a lot to play for when they host A-League club Western United in an Australia Cup Round of 32 clash on Wednesday night, and they will round out the regular season with a home game against Charlestown on Sunday. 

Adamstown are still 10th following their draw and will finish the 2023 campaign in that position regardless of their final round result this Sunday when they host Maitland at Adamstown Oval. 

Cooks Hill United FC 2-3 Lambton Jaffas FC 

Lambton Jaffas finished the weekend in top spot after they edged out Cook Hill United 3-2 on Saturday. 

The match at Fearnley Dawes Athletics Field exploded to life in the seventh minute when Kale Bradbery opened the scoring with a stunning strike as he volleyed the ball over Daniel Eisenhauer and into the back of the net. 

Cooks Hill equalised in the 11th minute with a quality strike of their own after Brock Beveridge received a pass out wide on the left edge and curled his shot over Liam Michels to make the score 1-1. 

The hosts almost took the lead in the 25th minute but were denied by the woodwork twice in a matter of seconds as a Nick Russell in-swinging corner struck the crossbar and Beveridge’s follow-up strike deflected away off the left post.  

Cooks Hill were later saved by the woodwork at the other end when Harrison Richardson’s attempted headed clearance from a Lambton corner kick almost ended up in his own net, only for it to bounce away off the crossbar. 

Cooks Hill went ahead 2-1 in the 42nd minute when Carter Smith whipped a cross into the box from the right sideline and Lambton’s Matt Hoole headed it into the top left corner with what would have been a sensational finish had it have been at the other end of the park. 

The Jaffas came out firing in the second stanza and almost equalised 30 seconds after play had resumed, but Bradbery was denied by the left post from close range after receiving a pin-point Reece Papas long ball.  

But it was only moments later that they did make the score 2-2 after Cooks Hill cleared the ball away over the goal line, and then Nathan Verity headed an in-swinging Ben Hay corner into the back of the net. 

The Jaffas hit the lead in the 50th minute when Bailey Newton drove the ball into the bottom left corner from just outside the 18-yard box.  

The Jaffas held Cooks Hill out for the remainder of the contest to earn the three points and climb to the top of the table.  

The victory was even more impressive considering the Jaffas went into the game without a handful of first grade regulars including gun goalkeeper Ben Kennedy, veteran centre backs Nikolai Topor-Stanley and Josh Piddington and the versatile Pat Bond. 

Lambton coach David Tanchevski said he was proud that his men got the job done after adapting to the way he thought their opposition approached the game. 

“We came into the game thinking we’d need to outscore our opponents because we were doing it a bit tough defensively, losing BK, Nikolai being unable to play and Bondy and Piddo being suspended. It’s a lot of senior players to lose at the back end of the field,” Tanchevski said. 

“They (Cooks Hill) didn’t try to play football at all, they just launched the ball long from the centre backs to Carter Smith the whole game. We probably gave them two goals too, which wasn’t ideal. 

“The way we set up to defend went out the window in the first 15 minutes because they didn’t want to play football. We had to change everything over, but the information got out there quickly and the boys adapted to it really easily. That’s what’s impressing me most, the ability of our boys to adapt and change things quickly. 

“At half-time, we talked about how we just needed to play our game. We were getting a bit sloppy at times. I moved (Reece) Papas into the midfield in the second half and put Riley (McNaughton) back into centre back. Papas really controlled the game in the second half and was a big reason why we got back in front. 

“I’m proud as a coach. We heard in the second half that Maitland had lost and we had the opportunity to go to first place if we won. 3-2 up and hanging on at the end there, the boys knew what was at stake and they managed the game well. 

“It’s funny, we haven’t been on top of the table all year, but now there’s one game to go and we’re sitting on top of the table, obviously pending the Magic and Charlestown game. It’s a crazy season. We could be first at the end of next weekend or we could be fourth. There’s a lot to play for.” 

Lambton’s Round 22 clash is at home at Arthur Edden Oval when they host Newcastle Olympic. Regardless of the result of tomorrow night’s clash between Charlestown and Broadmeadow, the Jaffas will be playing for a chance to claim the premiership on Sunday. 

Cooks Hill are still eighth following Saturday’s clash, which is where they will remain regardless of their result at home against Weston Bears this Sunday. 

Lake Macquarie City FC v Valentine FC 

The match was postponed due to wet weather. The match will now be played on Wednesday 9 August at Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility at 8:15pm.  

Charlestown Azzurri FC v Broadmeadow Magic FC 

To be played on Tuesday night at Lisle Carr Oval from 8pm.