PHOTO: SPROULE SPORTS FOCUS
Match of the Round
Edgeworth Eagles 1 (McBreen 28’) defeated Broadmeadow Magic 0 at Magic Park.
Edgeworth extended their unbeaten run against Broadmeadow Magic to nine matches on Saturday night as another Daniel McBreen goal at Magic Park was enough to give coach Damian Zane his first-ever victory in the opening leg of a PlayStation®4 NPL NNSW semi-final.
The victory puts the Eagles in the box seat to qualify for a third straight Grand Final and have a shot at the triple-double.
With both sides playing a 5-3-2 in the opening leg, it was always going to be a tight contest, and it began exactly that way.
Ruben Zadkovich’s Broadmeadow side compacted the space and gave Edgeworth little room to move and there were limited chances in the opening half as a result.
A stiff 35km/h breeze from the south and a hard pitch ensured it was a difficult night for both sides, but the quality of football was superb considering the conditions.
Magic opened up once in the first half at the back and Edgeworth, as they constantly do, made them pay.
Josh Piddington stepped up, and out of the backline to stop Dylan Holz but the Eagles midfielder was too quick, as he raced through the heart of Broadmeadow’s defence.
With Magic keeper Niko Giantsopoulos rushing toward him, Holz summed up the situation perfectly and slid a pass to the unmarked McBreen on his right who made no mistake slotting from inside the box.
Edgeworth headed to the shed with the slender advantage but weren’t without a nervy moment of their own in the opening half.
James Virgili’s right foot strike, which deflected off McBreen was brilliantly saved by Eagles keeper Nate Cavaliere who pulled off one of the stops of the season as the ball changed direction.
The match continued along a similar trend as it did in the first half for the opening 15 minutes of the second stanza, but in the final 30 minutes the game really opened up.
Kale Bradbury almost got on the end of a perfect cross from James Virgili on the right for the home side and then Brody Taylor almost scored for the Eagles after being teed up by Kieran Sanders late in the contest.
Taylor also had a shout for a penalty inside the final 15 minutes when he was bumped to ground in the box by Scott Pettit.
In his final match at Magic Park, Broadmeadow legend Peter Haynes came off the bench for the final 15 minutes and went within inches of equalising.
Magic coach Ruben Zadkovich described it as a “frustrating game”.
“It was a bit of a scrappy game,” Zadkovich said.
“The conditions were like that, windy. I threw a few new things at the boys in the last week and I thought they did the most of it pretty good, but, we’ve just had four or five boys walk in there and say ‘sorry’.
“I’ve got boys that are fuming because they know they are better than that.”
Zadkovich said there is plenty to work on before next week, however, he was happy his side and were well and truly in the tie.
“There is heaps of room for improvement. The nice thing is that we are still in the tie. That was the big challenge I set for the boys. Clean sheet was what I was after.
“You want to go into the second game still in the mix. If we tried to go for it a little too much, we might have got punished because they are very good going forward.”
Victorious coach Damian Zane said the evening “went to plan for us”.
“To keep a clean sheet was important, to get an away goal was another thing to tick off. We might have even had a second [goal] there at the end. In saying that, they had a chance or two too.
“I think it was a fair result, to be honest.”
PHOTO: SPROULE SPORTS FOCUS
Lambton Jaffas 2 (R.Griffiths 28’, Hay 90+2’) defeated Hamilton Olympic 1 (Cooper 78’) at Arthur Edden Oval.
A Ben Hay wonder strike in the dying moments at Arthur Edden Oval proved decisive and may be crucial next week in the wash up as the Lambton Jaffas took a 2-1 lead in the opening leg of their semi-final against Hamilton Olympic.
A first-half goal to former Socceroo and current Jaffas striker Ryan Griffiths put the Jaffas in front at the break, but Rhys Cooper’s second-half goal ensured honours were even until Hay’s long-range missile.
With Jobe Wheelhouse making his first start for the Jaffas since their Westfield FFA Cup clash with Edgeworth in June, Lambton were the better side in the opening half and got their reward after 32 minutes.
Joel Griffiths curled a ball into the box from 45 degrees on the left, which Wheelhouse and Olympic defender Grant Brown rose to compete for.
The ball bumped off what looked to be Wheelhouse’s shoulder, and fell towards Ryan Griffiths at the near post who placed his header perfectly inside the back post.
While Lambton deserved their lead, it was unfortunate timing for Olympic who were down to ten men as Tom Davies received treatment for concussion and subsequently left the park minutes later.
Jaffas took their slight lead into the break and Wheelhouse left the park 15 minutes into the second half as James Pascoe gave him a rest before next week’s important second leg.
From there Olympic began to claw their way back into the contest.
Daniel Bird was unlucky not to win a penalty in the 53rd minute when Liam O’Dell barrelled him over in the box and minutes later Andrew Swan hit the post with a superbly timed volley.
Brad Swancott was also forced into a brilliant save one-on-one to stop Reece Papas.
However, Olympic would not be stopped. A swirling long ball over the top from Kyle Hodges was latched onto by Rhys Cooper who raced onto the pass and slotted wonderfully past Swancott to lock up the match.
It was Olympic who then looked more likely to get the go-ahead goal, but instead, it was left to Hay to strike a howitzer.
Rhys Tippett charged down the right edge, and whipped in a dangerous cross which was headed out Kyle Hodges, but only as far as Hay who was stationed outside the 18-yard box.
Hay sweetly smacked his left boot through the ball and it sailed past Tyler Warren who could only watch like a statue as the ball cannoned into his net, much to the pleasure of the home crowd.
Hamilton coach Michael Bolch felt his side “did enough in the second half to get a draw.”
“They were better than us in the first half. They deserved a 1-0 lead at half-time. To be honest, when it got back to 1-1, I thought we were finishing all over the top of them.
“Jobe [Wheelhouse] had gone off the field and they had lost a bit of shape. We were really pressing and had a couple of half-chances. But, a quality strike, you can’t do much about that.”
But, Bolch wasn’t totally disappointed by the result.
“I would have been happy with a draw, but it is what it is. We’ve got an away goal. We won’t be shirking away from next week. It will definitely be a contest.”