NPL Men’s NNSW Round Two Preview:  The Bears and Magpies face off in the El Clásicoal derby, while the Phoenix look to keep flying high against New Lambton

Match of the Round 
Weston Workers FC v Maitland FC 
Rockwell Automation Park, Saturday 6pm

Weston Workers will be able to finally start their NPL Men’s NNSW campaign in the El Clásicoal derby against Maitland FC on Saturday night. 

The Bears round one fixture against the Edgeworth Eagles was postponed due to wet weather last week. 

But coach Kew Jaliens made sure his squad did not miss out on match time, scheduling a training match during the week to help his side prepare for this weekend’s clash at Rockwell Automation Park. 

“I planned the week a little differently, we organised to play 11 v 11 on Monday to help us prepare,” Jaliens said. 

“I’m happy to finally start the season and get back on the pitch.

“We feel ready and prepared.”

Jaliens has boosted the numbers of his side after they fell short in the finals last year due to injuries and a lack of squad depth.

“I am really happy with the squad we have this year,” Jaliens said. 

“To be honest this is the first time that I have a big squad like this. For every position, we have three players who can step into that role at this level.

“We are still trying to find each other but that’s part of it there is no excuse not to perform well. Even though it takes time to gel, all of the players are good quality and can play football so I will let their feet do the talking.” 

“I think last year's inconsistency cost us. This year we need to be more consistent and have overall good performances.

The Bears and Jaliens are looking forward to a heated contest against Maitland and are focused on picking up three points on home turf. 

“I know the coach and the way they play but we will work on is on our game,” Jaliens said.

“It’s always a good game against Maitland.

“The main focus is just the three points.

“It’s my belief that when we turn up we can win every game and make it difficult for our opponent.

“We have good enough players that can do a good job.” 

According to Jaliens, all players are available to feature on Saturday. 

Maitland’s coach Mick Bolch was not overly positive about his side’s first performance, after going down 0-1 to Valentine in round one. 

“They (Valentine) were set up really well defensively,” Bolch said.

“We played into their hands and our ball movements were not where they should be.” 

But Bolch is aware that with multiple new players coming into the group, it could still take some time for side to gel together. 

“Every game we play we are going to get better and the combinations and partnerships will improve,” Bolch said. 

“We have a good squad there.”

The Magpies’ gaffer has made it clear to his side on what he expects ahead of this weekend’s clash against the Bears. 

“It’s always a tough clash against Weston,” Bolch said. 

“Kew usually has his side set up well and I am expecting them to come out strong.

“We need to lift our urgency and do things better and faster. We need to turn up with a bit more desire and urgency.” 

“We need to be better than what we were last weekend.

The two sides will be desperate to pick up their first three points of the season and get their 2024 campaign started on the right foot.  

New Lambton FC v Valentine FC 
Alder Park, Saturday 2:30pm

New Lambton will look to bounce back this Saturday when they host Valentine FC at Alder Park on Saturday afternoon. 

The Golden Eagles fought a hard battle against Charlestown Azzurri but went down 1-2 after losing Charlie Kelly to a red card early in the match.

Shane Pryce’s new-look side started strong in round one, scoring first against the Blues but were unable to hold onto their lead. 

New Lambton will be eager to pick up three points on against Valentine to help kick-start their season, after struggling in their first year back in the NPL Men’s NNSW competition in 2023. 

Valentine will be looking to continue their winning form, after picking up three points last weekend against Maitland. 

It was a tight contest for the Phoenix’s season opener, but they were able to hold on for the win after scoring early in the first half. 

Valentine’s coach Adam Hughes is happy with how his side performed in round one. 

“It was a good start which is what we were after,” Hughes said. 

“The first game is always hard. I thought we carried ourselves well and executed the game plan well. I think that we were worthy of the three points. 

Hughes believes he has a good mix of youth and experience within his squad to achieve success this season.

“The group is a good mix where we have some 16 and 17-year-olds as well as the older experienced ones,” Hughes said. 

“I see that it is very important for the younger players' development to have that experience around for when games get tough.

“A lot of these boys have played limited or no first grade football, so they still have lots to learn and experience to gain. 

Valentine’s gaffer said he won’t be focusing too much on the opposition this weekend but admits it's going to be a challenging battle for his side on Saturday afternoon. 

“We will do our analysis on the opponent but our main focus will be on the training we do ourselves and to keep on the same momentum as last week.” 

“Every game is going to be a tough game that we need to lean into.

“We will focus more on stuff with the ball and keep working to improve. It’s a step-by-step process.” 

The Golden Eagles will be without Kelly this weekend, as he serves a one-week suspension for a dangerous tackle on Azzurri skipper Nigel Boogard but they will be raring to claim their win against the Phoenix on home turf.  

Newcastle Olympic FC v Edgeworth FC  
Darling Street Oval, Saturday 6pm

Newcastle Olympic will look to continue their winning form when they host Edgeworth FC on Saturday night. 

Olympic started their 2024 campaign with three points and will be looking to do the same again this weekend. 

The Eagles will be eager to start their season, after missing out on round one due to wet weather. 

Olympic co-coach Neil Owens was pleased with his side’s performance in round one and hopes that having a game under their belt can help them when they return home to Darling Street Oval against the Eagles. 

“Winning does build confidence, it was good to get a win under the belt,” Owens said. 

“It’s just about being competitive, being your best and getting to the ball first.

“Hopefully we can turn one on this weekend at home.

“On paper, it does sound good to have gotten our players through 90 minutes of game fitness.

“It’s hard to know what Edgeworth will look like when there is no video to watch of them yet this season. So we need to focus on our own team and what we want to do.” 

Edgeworth has signed multiple quality signings in the off-season and will want to walk away with three points in their first match of the competition.  

Adamstown Rosebud FC v Charlestown Azzurri FC 
Adamstown Oval, Saturday 6pm 

Adamstown Rosebud will finally begin their season this weekend when they host Charlestown Azzurri at Adamstown Oval on Saturday night. 

Over 10 of Adamstown’s players and all of their coaching staff were struck down by COVID-19 heading into round one with most of their reserve grade side preparing to step up into the first team in the club’s first hit out of the competition. 

But Rosebud’s illness-stricken side was saved by the rain, with their match being postponed due to wet weather conditions against Broadmeadow Magic.

Dawkins and his coaching staff boosted the young squad in the off-season, signing multiple experienced players from across the country and overseas. 

Adamstown’s coach Daniel Dawkins, who was also impacted by COVID-19, will be hoping for a fresh start this weekend with his mostly recovered squad in aim to hold it to the Blues and pick up all three points. 

Charlestown kicked off their season with three points but started their first match slowly, waiting until New Lambton had scored and then were reduced to 10 men before responding and securing the win. 

James Pascoe will be hoping his side can start this weekend’s match against Adamstown with more urgency and maintain their winning streak to lift their points total to six, knowing how important a few points can be at the end of the season.  

Lake Macquarie City FC v Broadmeadow Magic FC 
Saturday, 7pm

Lake Macquarie City will be eager to bounce back when they take on Broadmeadow Magic on Saturday evening. 

The two teams have young squads this season, with the game expected to be high-intensity throughout the whole 90 minutes. 

The Roosters held the 2023 premier-champions Lambton Jaffas to 0-0 at half-time in the opening round but were unable to hold on, going down 3-0 at the final whistle. 

Peter Preston’s young squad will need to put on another strong performance to keep Magic’s ball-hungry side out. 

Lakes’ goalkeeper Isaac Nyan pulled off multiple top-shelf saves in round one and will be hoping to repeat his efforts against the likes of Broadmeadow's attacking threats Bailey Wells, Jayden Stewart and Alexander Rose. 

Magic will want to hit the ground running after missing out on round one’s fixture against Adamstown due to wet weather conditions.

Jim Cresnar’s men are still riding high after defeating the Jaffas in the HMRI Charity Shield earlier this month and will be hoping that they can continue their momentum into this weekend’s clash. 

Lambton Jaffas FC v Cooks Hill United FC 
No.2 Sportsground, Sunday 4:30pm 

The Jaffas will look to build on their early victory when they host Cooks Hill at No.2 Sportsground on Sunday afternoon. 

It has always been a tight contest when these two sides meet with this weekend’s clash expected to be no different. 

David Tanchevski’s side walked away from Macquarie Field with all three points in their season opener against Lakes with a convincing 3-0 win. 

The Jaffas will be looking to collect another three points in round two and have a strong start to the season after typically taking time to come into the competition in previous years. 

The Jaffas have been waiting on the debut of multiple of their new signings who have been sidelined with injury but if Jimmy Oates is anything to go off, the champions will be a hard team to beat again in 2024. 

Cooks Hill will be hungry to bounce back after going down 2-1 in their season opener against Newcastle Olympic. 

The Cookers did not have their best performance in round one but showed their fightback attitude by coming back from 0-2 down to score in the final minutes of the match. 

Chris Zoricich will be hoping that his side will be able to break down the Jaffas' strong defensive unit and walk away with an important three points against the 2023 champions.