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Newcastle Herald
Newcastle Herald

Charlestown Azzurri coach excited by flexibility after promising start to NPL NNSW

GOOD FORM: Regan Lundy, pictured in action last season, got on the scoresheet again with a well-worked goal on Sunday. Picture: Marina Neil

Charlestown coach Graham Law believes versatility could prove the difference for Azzurri as they eye success in National Premier Leagues Northern NSW (NPL NNSW).

They are on top of the table with seven points after an unbeaten start, including a comprehensive 3-1 win over defending premiers Lambton at Allen Davis Field on Sunday.

It came after Azzurri opened their 2022 campaign with a 1-1 draw against Lake Macquarie then followed it up with a 3-1 win over Newcastle Olympic.

Wet weather has wreaked havoc on the start to NPL NNSW. Some teams have played just one game while Charlestown, importantly, already have points on the board.

Law is pleased with the early signs and praised his side's ability to adapt as needed against the experienced Jaffas.

Riley Smith (7th), Nigel Boogaard (58th) and Regan Lundy (63rd) all scored for Azzurri before Lambton pegged one back through Reece Papas in the 73rd.

"It was a good win in terms of we, the coaching staff, challenged the players to play slightly different to how we've developed our game over the pre-season and I cannot commend the players enough, that they are so adaptable," Law said.

"We challenged them to play a certain way to obviously get an outcome in the game and they delivered to a tee. We were obviously very respectful that that was the champions that we were playing.

"We've set our own benchmarks for the year and that was a really good test to see where we may be at early doors in the season, and I felt we managed that well."

Law described the performance and result as a "collective effort" after some last-minute changes were forced due to illness.

"It's so good as a head coach to see such flexibility in front of you," he said.

"When you are in such a competitive league, those little edges are important. Your team being able to adapt and change as required.

"We actually have a very small first-grade squad. We made that decision as a club. When you have a smaller squad, versatility and flexibility is massive."

Azzurri will look to continue their undefeated start against Cooks Hill at No.2 Sportsground on Thursday night. The league newcomers are coming off two heavy defeats - 4-1 to Broadmeadow on Sunday and 5-0 to Weston the week before.

Law coached Cooks Hill to three consecutive Northern League One premierships between 2017 and 2019 and was not reading anything into the club's back-to-back losses.

"I know a lot of those boys," Law said. "I know how they can hurt a team. If anything we'll be even more wary."

The game kicks off at 8pm on Thursday night.

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