Written by James Ward
Photos: Sproule Sports Focus
Edgeworth FC have won the 2020 National Premier Leagues Northern NSW grand final after a hard-fought 1-0 triumph over Maitland FC.
After an enduring contest between two well matched teams at No.2 Sportsground on Sunday, the black and red of Edgeworth came out on top to complete the premiership-championship double and back-to-back grand finals.
The match kicked off with Maitland having the first chances with Ryan Clark looking dangerous with shots around the box.
Sean Pratt had the chance to open the scoring but drove his shot just wide of the post.
The sides shared equal amounts of possession in the opening stages before
Edgeworth’s Kristian Brymora had the best opportunity of the first half.
A cross found the striker in the six-yard box but his shot was met by a terrific save from Maitland goalkeeper Matt Trott.
After a tense opening half and little to split the two teams, the score remained 0-0 at the break.
Braedyn Crowley continued to cause havoc in behind Edgeworth’s defence after half-time and forced Shayne Van As into a good save while Carl Thornton went close from the ensuing corner.
Chances were flowing in the early stages of the second half with Will Bower almost breaking the deadlock after finding space in the box but sent a stinging shot wide.
Both defences were resolute throughout the contest and, similar to the 2019 grand final between the two sides, the match was crying out for a hero.
Up stepped Edgeworth’s Jose Atayde.
With 10 minutes to play, Atayde swooped on a dropped high ball from Trott and struck home the winner to cue scenes of jubilation from the Edgeworth players, coaches and fans.
Maitland threw plenty of men forward for the last moments of the game with Van As required to pull off a spectacular save off a Clark cross that almost dropped in.
But the Magpies ran out of time, with Edgeworth crowned champions of NPL NNSW for the second year in a row.
Edgeworth’s Dylan Holz was named the man of the match for his outstanding performance.
Edgeworth captain Josh Evans lifted the trophy in front of the Edgeworth faithful to cap off another tremendous NPL NNSW season.
Eagles player-coach Josh Rose said it was a massive achievement for the club.
“The gratitude I have for the boys that just continue to do the job week in week out is massive,” Rose said.
“Maitland were always going to give us a great battle. They have a very good group of players that can be dangerous if given time. If they stay together as a group they’ll be very tough for years to come.
“The support we receive every week from our youth and SAP team players and families is incredible. It sums up the club. The message to our boys before the game was to inspire all the kids that come to support us every week.”