NPL Men’s NNSW Round Five Preview: Cooks Hill set to end Valentine’s run, while Olympic look to bring down Jaffas

Match of the Round 
Cooks Hill United FC v Valentine FC 
Fearnley Dawes Athletics Field, Saturday 4:30pm 

Cooks Hill United FC coach Chris Zoricich said his side aims to be the first to score against league-leaders Valentine when they go head-to-head this Saturday.

Cookers have had a tough start to the season, going down in all of their four matches. They sit eleventh on the table with zero points and will be desperate to secure their first win of the season on home turf at Fearnley Dawes Athletics Field. 

But Cooks Hill have one goal in their sights this weekend which is to score against the Phoenix who have not conceded a goal so far this season.

“They (Valentine) have done extremely well and they will be very confident. They haven’t been scored against so hopefully we can be the first to do that,” Zoricich said. 

“We have to roll up our sleeves and be confident.”

Zoricich is aware that his side has not had an ideal start to the season but was pleased that they have continued to build with each performance.

“It has been a tough start for us,” Zoricich said. 

“We always knew that would be the case for us but the performances have definitely gotten better.

“I can’t fault the player's attitudes and effort in the last couple of games.

“We almost got a result against Magic who I believe are one of the strongest teams in the league which is a huge positive for us. 

“The players are trying their best and I work them pretty hard and try and keep them accountable. They are grinding hard. 

Cooks Hill’s coach said it is too early to be worried about relegation but admits that is a key motivator to pick up points this year. 

“It’s not nice to look at your side with zero points on the table,” Zoricich said. 

“With relegation coming in it makes you look over your shoulder a bit more but there is still a lot of football to be played and we aren’t pushing the panic buttons.

“It would be nice to get some results sooner rather than later. 

“We are in for a battle to pick up points and string a few results together, as we want to make sure we are not in the relegation battle. 

“Hopefully we can start picking up some points and get some results to help us cement that we are doing the right thing.” 

Defender Daniel Yaxley will remain sidelined for Cooks Hill after he broke his elbow in their round three match against Broadmeadow Magic. But Matthew Berrigan will return to the side after three weeks out with injury. 

Valentine FC coach Adam Hughes is thrilled with his side’s dream start to the competition, as they sit at the top of the table with four from four wins. 

Hughes said his side is proud to have not conceded so far in the competition and will do everything to keep it that way this weekend.

“It is a good achievement and something that we are priding ourselves on,” Hughes said. 

“It is clearly evident that there is that fire within the group and they don’t want to concede when you have four or five guys sprinting at top speed in a transition moment to prevent a goal from being scored. When you see that it is encouraging signs within the group. 

“We have been building something that we have set up to achieve in the first part of the season. 

“The team that concedes the fewest is something that’s important and we need to keep working harder and harder and keep up the momentum.”

Valentine knows that despite being at the bottom end of the table, Cooks Hill will be up for the fight on Saturday. 

“Cooks Hill is a good team and is coached well. They will be a tough opponent and something that we need to be well prepared for,” Hughes said. 

“You have to give 100 per cent and hope that things work out.

“We need to prepare and be mentally strong, as we have to step into every game wanting to win.”

The Phoenix will be eager to continue their momentum and secure all three points to keep their reign at the top of the table.

Lambton Jaffas v Newcastle Olympic  
Arthur Edden Oval, Saturday 2:30pm 

Lambton Jaffas coach David Tanchevski believes his side can go up another gear and will look to continue their winning form when they return home to Arthur Edden Oval to host Newcastle Olympic. 

The Jaffas sit third on the table, on equal points with the other top four sides after four straight wins. 

But Jaffas’ coach knows that his side still has ways to go to reach their potential. 

“I think the boys have been putting in but we are only at around 75 per cent fit,” Tanchevski said.

“It’s been the same thing over the last couple of weeks, we can’t bury as many chances as we would like.

“We still have room for improvement and hopefully the boys can keep moving forward and set us up for the next part of the season.

“We try not to focus too far ahead but the confidence is good within the group.

Tanchevski’s group has been plagued with injury since preseason with multiple players still sidelined. But a big boost for the side will be the return of attacker Sam Webb, who will make his 2024 competition debut after a long stint on the sideline. 

A win has the potential to launch Jaffas to the top of the table and if not keep them in the race with the other top four. 

Olympic will be eager to bounce back, after a 3-0 loss to Maitland FC in round four. They sit fifth on the table with seven points and will want a win to help them keep in touch with the other top teams in the competition. 

Co-coach Paul De Vitis was impressed with his side’s efforts so far this season and hoped that they could hold their own against a strong Lambton outfit this Saturday. 

Olympic will finally have all fit players available to take to the field, after consecutive weeks with players suspended. Joseph Langlois will return to Olympic’s squad after he served a one-match suspension in round four.  

Edgeworth FC v Charlestown Azzurri  
Jack McLaughlan Oval, Saturday 2:30pm 

Edgeworth will be desperate to bounce back when they host Charlestown Azzurri on Saturday afternoon. 

The Eagles have had a less-than-ideal start to the season, with two draws and two losses on top of losing three players to suspensions in the first four matches. 

Peter McGuinness’ side will see Aaron Oppedisano return from suspension but will be without Jordan Lennon as he serves a two-match suspension for violent conduct. 

The Eagles will be eager to get back onto the scoreboard, as they have only hit the back of the net twice in four games.

Edgeworth will hope they can come away from Saturday with three points and no red cards to help them move up the table from eighth position.

The visitors will travel to Jack McLaughlan Oval off the back of four from four wins and will be eager to make it five this weekend.

Azzurri has collected all twelve available points so far and sits second on the table behind Valentine FC on goal difference.

Coach James Pascoe does not believe his side has reached their full potential yet but is pleased that they have secured all available points in the competition so far. 

The Blues have shown that they are strong across the park as they have netted 11 goals and only conceded two. 

Charlestown will want to return home with nothing less than three points to help keep them in touch with the other top-four sides. 

New Lambton FC v Lake Macquarie City FC  
Alder Park, Saturday 4pm

New Lambton is desperate to pick up all three points this weekend when they host Lake Macquarie City FC. 

The Golden Eagles will return to Alder Park this Saturday with a hunger for a win after they had two wins snatched away from them in stoppage time in the last two matches. 

Shayne Pryce’s side sits ninth on the table with one point and will be eager to secure a win to help them move up the table and in touch with the top teams.

In a big boost for New Lambton, Josh Piddington will return to the side after he served a one-match suspension last weekend. 

Lakes have had a tough start to the season, with four defeats in four matches and sits at the bottom of the table. 

The Roosters have proved that they can put it to the top teams after they held Lambton Jaffas and Broadmeadow Magic even to half time but have let games slip away from them in the second half.

But Coach Pete Preston has been proud of the effort his young side has put in in their first four matches and hopes that they can continue to build as the season progresses.

Three points will be vital in kick-starting their season and help to boost the confidence of the young squad.  

Maitland FC v Adamstown Rosebud FC  
Cooks Square Park, Saturday 5pm 

Maitland FC looks to make it three from three when they return home to host Adamstown Rosebud FC. 

The Magpies will finally return to Cooks Square Park this Saturday after renovations to the ground kept them off since last year. 

Despite a slow start, the Magpies look to be in full flight, coming off the back of two wins. They sit sixth on the table with six points and have shown they are a threat in the competition, as attacker Braedyn Crowley has netted four goals in four matches.

Adamstown has had a difficult start to the season and sits tenth on the table with one point. 

Rosebud picked up a 2-2 draw last weekend against New Lambton after a late comeback in stoppage time.

Daniel Dawkins will hope that his side can dig deep once again and clip the wings of the Magpies attack.

Aidan Haplin showed that he can be an asset at both ends of the pitch after he scored in the round four match as well as out in a strong defensive performance in the back line. 

Three points will help either team move their way up the table and keep in touch with the top sides in the competition. 

Weston Workers FC v Broadmeadow Magic  
Rockwell Automation Park, Saturday 6pm 

Weston Workers FC is desperate to bounce back when they return home to host Broadmeadow Magic on Saturday night.

The Bears have had a mixed start to their 2024 campaign, with two losses, a win and a draw in their first four matches.

Weston narrowly went down after a 90th-minute winner from Lambton Jaffas and will be hungry to pick up a win this weekend. 

Kew Jaliens was impressed with his side’s efforts against Jaffas and was confident that if they replicated their performance again this weekend they could secure all three points. 

The visitors will travel to Rockwell Automation Park on Saturday off the back of four form four wins as they sit fourth on the table on equal points with first-placed Valentine. 

Striker and co-captain Jayden Stewardson is one of the players in the three-way tie for the golden boot, netting five goals in four matches. Stewardson as well as fellow attackers Riley Smith and Bailey Wells will be eager to continue their goal-scoring form against the Bears this weekend to secure all three points for their side. 

But they will be tested with Bears goalkeeper Gerald Roebuck pulling off multiple top-class saves in their round three match. 

Weston sits seventh on the table on four points and will be eager to jump up the table with a win this weekend.