NPL: Maitland Magpies keen to soar high without extra lift

MAITLAND coach Michael Bolch believed his side were performing at only 70 per cent of their potential heading into what loomed as a crunch round-10 game with struggling defending champions Lambton Jaffas on Sunday at Cooks Square Park.

UNLIKELY: Jaffas midfielder Michael Kantarovski, pictured up against Maitland's Carl Thornton, is still out with injury. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

UNLIKELY: Jaffas midfielder Michael Kantarovski, pictured up against Maitland's Carl Thornton, is still out with injury. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Bolch, though, said the Magpies won’t be looking to follow suit and bring in marquee signings to improve their Northern NSW NPL squad.

In his first season at Maitland, Bolch has steered the Magpies to third place on 16 points and a win on Sunday could lift them to top spot and potentially leave fifth-placed Lambton (12) seven points outside the top four.

Bolch said Maitland were likely to be without Ryan Clarke (hamstring), and possibly Mat Swan, for the clash, but he was keen not to create any excuses for his squad.

“We’ve still got a lot of improvement in us,” Bolch said.

“I think we’re only at about 70 per cent, but you can only do what you can do each week.

“We won’t use the other clubs’ phrases, like it’s a rebuilding year or whatever else they want out there.

“Everyone has their injuries and that sort of stuff but that’s what you’ve got a squad for. The Jaffas have got the biggest squad in the comp.”

Lambton have battled injuries and absentees in recent weeks but have also recruited former Jets and City striker Braedyn Crowley. Broadmeadow and Edgeworth, who are on 16 points with Maitland, have added A-League talent of their own in Mitch Oxborrow and Josh Rose.

Bolch, though, said the Magpies had no plans to bring in high-profile mid-season additions. 

“We’re happy with what we’ve got,” he said.

“There’s been a few clubs bringing in players but we’ll keep going with what we’ve got. Unless you are like [leaders] Charlestown, where they are getting season-ending injuries ... that’s what you’ve got your squad for, to give those younger guys a chance.

“The big three clubs have all brought in A-League players, but it is what it is.”

Jaffas coach James Pascoe, meanwhile, said Joel Griffiths and Nathan Verity could be rushed back into his squad after their return from holidays late this week.

However, Jobe Wheelhouse (ankle) and Michael Kantarovski (quadriceps) remained sidelined and Luke Remington was still battling an ankle injury after playing in the midweek 4-1 FFA Cup win over Cessnock.

They are also set to lose Bren Hammel and Wheelhouse for five and three weeks respectively to overseas trips next month. 

“We’ll keep working, it’s all we can do, and if we’re a chance to be in touch with the top four at the back end, we’ll give it a shake again,” Pascoe said. “But you’ve got to be in a position to do that, so this weekend is pretty important.”

Elsewhere on Sunday, Hamilton host Broadmeadow Magic at Darling Street Oval and last-placed Valentine take on Adamstown at CB Complex.

On Saturday, Lake Macquarie host Edgeworth at Macquarie Field.

Weston defeated the Newcastle Jets Youth 2-1 in other round 10 game, which was played on May 9.