Edgeworth Eagles FC v Lambton Jaffas FC
7 pm Saturday 2nd September at McDonald Jones Stadium
Last Meeting: Westfield FFA Cup – Round 6: Edgeworth 5 Lambton 0 at Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility.
Where They Finished: Edgeworth 1st (43), Lambton 3rd (39)
Past 3 Starts (most recent first):
Edgeworth – Lost Magic 1-2 (h), Won Magic 1-0 (a), Drew Roosters 2-2 (h)
Lambton – Won Olympic 2-1 (a), Won Olympic 2-1 (h), Won Jets 4-2 (a)
Best Result in NNSW 1st Division Grand Finals:
Edgeworth Eagles: Winners – 5 (1978, 2003, 2010, 2015, 2016)
Lambton Jaffas: Winners – 1 (2014)
After a pulsating semi-final series, the Grand Final is finally upon us, as the premier club of the last three seasons Edgeworth face off against Lambton Jaffas, a side who has recruited well in 2017 after missing the finals last season.
The Eagles will be looking to achieve to triple-double, which has not been achieved in the Northern NSW top flight football since Weston back in 1971-73, while Lambton will be targeting a second top grade Championship.
The Premiership race in 2017 was primarily a contest between Lambton and Edgeworth, and the Jaffas charged out of the blocks and led the competition until round 16 before the Eagles – who started slowly – took over the top spot and marched on towards a third successive Premiership.
The Jaffas were riding high in the competition until their campaign hit a snag when Jobe Wheelhouse was injured in their Westfield FFA Cup clash with the Eagles in June. From there they won just four of their final eight matches to fall out of the top two and finish third in the wash-up.
However, in the finals series against Hamilton, Wheelhouse returned from his ankle injury and immediately Lambton looked a different side. A last gasp goal for Ben Hay in the first semi-final gave them just the slender 2-1 advantage they needed heading into the second leg and they completed the business with the same scoreline a week later.
While Wheelhouse is a key for Lambton on Grand Final Day, so is Nathan Morris at the back. He too has spent a large chunk of the season on the sideline and his leadership in the back third will be crucial for Lambton as they set their sights on a first Championship since 2014.
The experience of brothers and former Socceroos Joel and Ryan Griffiths will also be huge for Lambton, with the brothers scoring 17 between them this season, with all of Ryan’s seven goals coming since he signed for the club in round 13.
Pat Brown has also played a significant part in Lambton’s season and is their leading scorer with 11 goals in the campaign so far, and he stood tall against his former club Hamilton Olympic on Saturday to score the winner and book Lambton’s place in the decider.
For the Eagles, it has been another season to remember as they won the Premiership and reached the Westfield FFA Cup Round of 32 for a third straight season.
However, Edgeworth are high achievers and you sense even with all their achievements this season Damian Zane will not be content with second best on the biggest day of the season.
Their road to the Grand Final was a tough one as they faced Broadmeadow Magic in the semi-finals, who pushed them all the way over two legs. The second leg headed into extra-time before the titanic struggle was won by Edgeworth thanks to some goalkeeping heroics from Nate Cavaliere who has been one of their best in 2017.
While Cavaliere has been key, a similar thing can be said about Edgeworth’s back line with Ayden Brice, Pat Wheeler, Josh Evans, Dom Bizzarri and Aaron McLoughlin all playing outstanding football across the season. Pat Wheeler has been most impressive at the back and has played a significant role in Edgeworth conceding a league low 14 goals across the regular season.
To put that in perspective no side has achieved a better games-to-goals-ratio in the regular season since Broadmeadow Magic conceded only six goals across their 2003 campaign.
Edgeworth’s attack has been strong as well, which is the second best in the league and they have scored 42 goals in their 20 matches, only bettered by Lambton who have scored 50. However, the Jaffas’ defence was the worst of all the top four sides conceding 29 across the league season.
Brody Taylor has had a wonderful back end of the season for the Eagles, scoring seven of his eight goals this season since round 11 and while Japanese sensation Keigo Moriyasu hasn’t been at his best this season, and is likely to come off the bench, watch out for his free-kicks if he gets the opportunity. They are something special.
Former Hyundai A-League Golden Boot Daniel McBreen always stands up in the big matches and scored both of Edgeworth’s goals in the semi-finals. Expect him to be in the thick of the action as well.
With Edgeworth slight favourites heading into the clash, the 2017 PS4 NPL NNSW Grand Final shapes up as an extremely tight contest.
What the Coaches Said:
Damian Zane (Edgeworth)
“They [Lambton] are going to be tough and while I think we handle big games well, they have just got experience from that next level. There is going to be no advantage there. I expect a pretty decent game to be honest and I don’t think nerves will come into it as both teams have got a lot of experience. It’ll be an interesting one, they’ve beaten us twice and we got them in the cup so hopefully, we can square the ledger.”
“The boys know it is something special [the triple-double], but it’s probably no different to them, to be honest. They go out every match with that winning mentality and I think you’ve just got to look, some teams switch off in games that they are expected to win. We rock up every week, and if we don’t win you’ve had to have played well. I don’t think we ever don’t turn up and even if we are not playing our best we have still got that effort always there. That is why, to be honest, we hard to beat.”
James Pascoe (Lambton)
“For me on a personal note I came into the Jaffas at the eleventh hour to do a favour for Chris Sneddon for one year basically and the way the year panned out it turned into a bit of a challenge to turn the club around and I think we’ve been able to do that in a pretty decent manner. Across the course of the last 12 months from all perspectives, [we have improved] from how we have been able to recruit and how we have been able to perform week in week out.”
“For the playing group, they have worked their socks off since November. We came in early because we wanted to give ourselves the best opportunity as well as we could this year and it’s really nice for them to be able to experience the nice things that can happen in a football season when you do the hard work. All in all, regardless of the result this weekend it would have been a really positive year, and we have stepped forward from where we were last year. Certainly, when you get to these big games, you want to win them and that’s what we will be trying to do.”
Key: On a bigger pitch and up against younger legs, can Lambton’s experienced guard match it with the Eagles’ younger legs over 90 minutes?
Tip: The Eagles have had big match experience in recent years, Lambton have big match players, so this one is tough to split. Edgeworth 2-1.
20 Years Preview
Hamilton Olympic FC v Maitland Magpies FC
4 pm Saturday 2nd September at McDonald Jones Stadium
Runaway 20 Years Premiers Hamilton face off against Maitland as the Magpies make their first Grand Final in the PS4 NPL 20 Years since their promotion in 2015.
Olympic faced off against Edgeworth in the semi finals and after a tight 0-0 draw in the first leg, it looked as if the tie would go down to the wire. However, in the days after the match, it was found that Edgeworth played Keigo Moriyasu in the match, who was ineligible to play and Olympic was subsequently awarded a 3-0 victory. With a 3-0 opening leg victory, Hamilton cruised into the Grand Final with a 2-1 second leg victory at Jack McLaughlan Oval.
For Maitland, it was a much tougher road as they took on the second-placed Emerging Jets. They too had a scoreless draw in the opening leg at Arthur Edden Oval and in the reverse clash at Darling Street the Magpies drew 1-1 with the Jets, and on the away goal rule they qualified for the Grand Final.
Olympic finished streets ahead of any other side in 2017, with 14 points separating first from second. Hamilton won eighteen and lost just twice in the regular season, racking up a league high 78 goals and conceding a league low of 16 goals.
This weekend shapes up as a difficult task for the Magpies who finished third on the ladder. They scored 47 goals in the league season, which was the fourth best in the competition, while they conceded 31 to be the fifth best.
The sides met on two occasions during the regular season with Hamilton winning 3-1 at Cooks Square Park in round four, while in round 15 Olympic romped to a 5-0 victory at home against the Magpies.
Tom Carias-Cox is one to watch for Olympic. He has been outstanding, scoring a league high 27 goals in the regular season to win the Golden Boot – 12 goals clear of his nearest rival.
In comparison, Jye Mackellar is Maitland’s leading goal scorer, scoring eight goals, while Regan Payne and Tom Duggan aren’t too far behind both with seven under their belt. Former Magic defender Adam Duggan in defence for the Magpies will be a key.
Everything points to a Hamilton victory in the 20s, but on Grand Final Day each side has a clean slate and the Magpies will be hungry to cause to a massive upset.
18 Years Preview
Emerging Jets 16 Years v Hamilton Olympic FC
2 pm Saturday 2nd September at McDonald Jones Stadium
By far and away the two best sides in the PS4 NPL NNSW 18 Years competition meet on Grand Final Day as the Premiership winning Emerging Jets look to complete the double while runners-up Hamilton Olympic aim for revenge after losing the Premiership in dramatic circumstances.
Olympic were strolling towards the Premiership in the 18’s until two Emerging Jets matches came under scrutiny. Their draw against Broadmeadow Magic in round 10 and a loss to Edgeworth in round 17 were overturned due to both Magic and the Eagles fielding ineligible players, and the Jets were awarded 3-0 victories on both occasions which in the end ensured that they would win the Premiership.
\However, it took little away from an outstanding season from both sides. In 20 matches, both sides averaged more than three goals a game with the Jets scoring 68 goals and Hamilton 65. At the back, they too were miserly with the Jets (21) conceding at just over a goal per game, and Olympic (18) even tighter.
As what always happens in finals, whatever occurs in the regular season is put aside and it becomes a totally different competition and both the Jets and Olympic had to work for victory over their two semi-final legs.
The Jets were beaten 1-0 by Adamstown in the first leg before the second leg with two minutes remaining was locked at 1-1. The Rosebud’s were heading through to the Grand Final until two goals in the final two minutes saw a dramatic turnaround as the Jets secured a 3-1 win which was enough to see them through to the big dance.
Hamilton had a slightly easier semi-final but was still pushed by Charlestown in the second verse third contest. Hamilton recorded a tight 3-2 victory in the opening leg at Arthur Edden Oval before in the second leg Olympic put the Blues to the sword with a comprehensive 4-0 victory.
Head to head in 2017 each side has one victory apiece, with the Emerging Jets winning 4-2 at Darling Street in round five, before Olympic claimed the spoils in round 16 with a 3-1 win.
Blake Archbold has scored in both the Emerging Jets clashes with Olympic and is his sides’ leading goal scorer, while Kane Treble is the man to look out for in Olympics’ line-up.
After 20 matches, these two sides couldn’t be split on points or goal difference which indicates it’s anyone’s guess who wins on Saturday. It should be a cracking battle to start Grand Final Day.