This weekend the Northern NSW Football Federation finalises their two FFA Cup representatives. On Saturday eight teams from the region are pit against each other, before the four survivors back up on Sunday to decide who will represent Northern NSW in the FFA Cup.
Kicking off early Saturday (10am) Lambton Jaffas take on Belmont Swansea. The Jaffas will go into this fixture as favourites due largely to their NPL club status. Their current form in the PS4 NNSW NPL leaves a lot to be desired, snaring just two wins from nine matches. Last weekend they suffered a 5-nil loss to Edgeworth and their inability to trouble the scorers has been a constant for 2016. Belmont Swansea on the other hand are currently 2nd in the NEW FM 1st Division (one tier below Jaffas) and have had no problems scoring goals with 36 in 13 matches. Furthermore, the Swans have been a tower of strength in defence, conceding 16 in their 13 matches. This one could go either way.
Next up (12noon) struggling Singleton Strikers face Thornton Redbacks. The teams have met twice already in the NEW FM 1st Division with the Redbacks getting the better on both occasions. In the 4-1 and 2-1 victories Thornton’s Nathan Mcallister has scored. The match looms as a golden opportunity for both clubs. A win on Saturday puts them one win away from a place in the coveted FFA Cup Round of 32.
Both teams come into the match after a loss, with Singleton succumbing to Belmont Swansea 2-0, while the Redbacks went down 3-2 to competition leaders Lake Macquarie City. After losing to Thornton 4-1 early in the season, Singleton bridged the gap somewhat with the 2-1 defeat in late May. On Saturday the teams meet on a synthetic pitch at Lake Macquarie, this could be the variable that swings things toward Singleton.
At 2pm Norths United from Armidale district face up against NNSW NPL heavyweights Hamilton Olympic. Hamilton have been enormous this season with former A-League ace Leo Bertos playing a contributing and distributing role with little fanfare. Meanwhile, the burly but mobile Kane Goodchild has been scoring for fun (9 goals 9 games). Hamilton lead the NNSW NPL and their defeat of second placed Edgeworth last month was an assuring display. The Redmen from Norths United will truly have their work cut out for them. Currently dominating the Northern Inland competition Norths have eight wins from 9 matches and a whopping 43 goals. Giving the Redmen more confidence would be their stinginess. They’ve conceded just five times. The favourites will go into the match without winger pat Brown due to suspension. Sadly Hamilton will also be without Leo Bertos on Sunday if they beat Norths as he will be attending a coaching course.
Finally, Edgeworth FC tackle outsiders Urunga at 4pm. Urunga currently compete in the North Coast Hotel Group Premier League. They sit third on the ladder with five wins from six matches. The Raiders have been the recipients of a dream draw to make it this far, but they did knock off local competition leaders Coffs City United, with the assistance of a penalty save from keeper Ben Sonter. Edgeworth will go into the match as short priced favourites but in a chat with the Newcastle Herald, manager Damian Zane was wary of a gloomy weather forecast. Zane noted, “It’ll be a big leveller. I watched our youth teams play there this year when it was raining and the boys couldn’t control the ball.” Blessed with stars Daniel McBreen, Keanu Moore and Keigo Moriyasu it would be a huge shock if the Eagles crashed out on Saturday, but Sunday looms very dangerous. Rain is forecast for the entire weekend and Edgeworth will be without Pat Wheeler (currently overseas) and on Sunday A-League recruit Daniel McBreen will be attending the same coaching course as Leo Bertos. It’s hard to believe that players in the 2nd Tier of Australian football could be missing vital games for such reasons, but maybe in the future that won’t be the case.
All games will be played at Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility – 13 Park Road, Speers Point. Bring your wet weather gear!