Preseason is over and we are just days away from the season opener. A new look Flame take on A-League Youth Academy – Newcastle Jets, for the first time ever. The Jets were temporarily promoted to NPL2 last season after COVID caused a reshuffle of competitions. Whilst the Jets found the going tough last year, the players and coaching staff will not doubt be better for the experience.
Flame on the other hand will have been disappointed to finish mid-table after such a promising start to phase 2 of the competition. Consistency will no doubt be the key to a successful season.
Flame is likely to welcome back new recruit Nicholas Armand in goal after he missed the last trial through injury. Armand has big shoes to fill following Matt White’s departure however the 21 year old has shown he is more than just a capable replacement.
The defence will need a slight reshuffle with Kasey Kulcsar likely miss the first few matches through injury (broken arm). Carlo Stella has been big in the trials so far this year and he will be pivotal to trying to emulate last season’s phase 2 start to the season where Flame did not concede a goal inside the opening four matches.
The young Jets struggled to find the net against NPL2 opposition last year and they will be looking to Kosta Petratos and Bailey Wells to get in amongst the goals for them this season. With the A-League season in full swing, it will be interesting to see just which of these players make the trip to the South Coast.
The Flame have been given a real boost this week after picking up the versatile and experienced Jack Balmforth. When on song, Balmforth has the ability to rip up opposition teams. We also welcome back Darren Jones to the club after a couple of years where he concentrated on coaching. His experience will not doubt help the younger boys in the squad. Other new recruits to the squad include Daniel Cooper, Eugene Arku, Gerard Bruscino and Alex Gailbraith.
Coach George Kulcsar is not afraid to give the young boys a go and several opportunities were granted to players last season. Lachlan Morgan and Preston Ridley have been rewarded with selections to the First team squad.
Looking ahead, Flame’s engine room (midfield) is where the game could be won or lost. We will be no doubt be looking to new Club Captain Matthew Mazevski to take greater responsibility whilst the likes of Justin Smith and Louis Connell will also be instrumental in creating chances for the forward line.
The squad had the week off last week and is keen to start the season on a high. Flame have had roller coaster starts to the season since inception with no shortage of goals featuring in the opening game(s) of the season.
The Under 20’s have major personnel changes with more than half the team featuring new players. The Newcastle Jets finished mid table (NPL2) last year and have a bucket load of talented youngsters to chose from. We anticipate the Jets will be one of the top teams in this grade and this will act as a great measuring stick for Flame’s Youth side on how well they can contain a free scoring Jets side.
Saturday 6 March @ Ian McLennan Park
Under 20 – Kick off 4.30pm and First Grade kick off 6.30pm
To view the Football NSW season preview of all teams – Click Here.