Maitland FC vs. Devonport Strikers
SATURDAY 21 SEPTEMBER, 1:00pm, COOKS SQUARE PARK
With the 2019 NPL Northern NSW now concluded, Maitland will look to move on from their Grand Final heartbreak as they compete in the National Premier Leagues Finals Series against fellow NPL Premiers for the first time in club history.
Drawn at home against Tasmania’s top side Devonport Strikers, the Magpies’ opponents have featured in the post-season series two times before, however, have still yet progress past the Quarter Finals (first-round).
While Maitland played as recent as last weekend in the NPL NNSW Grand Final against heavyweights Edgeworth, Devonport haven’t been on the pitch for three weeks due to the NPL Tasmania not having finals-system.
Some of the Strikers’ best did meet Hyundai A-League club Central Coast Mariners – the same team who defeated the Magpies 2-0 in the FFA Cup Round of 32 – with seven men from the team representing Football Tasmania including the league’s 2019 Best and Fairest, Players’ MVP and Media Award Winner, Joel Stone.
The team who have featured on the FFA Cup national stage twice before have also experienced one of their best seasons to date only dropping points in four games this year and scoring 91 goals over the 24 matches.
While Devonport have been a dominant side of the NPL Tasmania competition in recent years, Maitland only won their first top-tier premiership this year, however, still possess ample amounts of experience and have produced their best performances with one of the club’s best ever squads.
Players like Nick Cowburn, Joel Wood and Zach Thomas have all been instrumental in 2019, and combine that with the experience of the likes of Matt Thompson, goalkeeper Matt Trott and captain Carl Thornton, and the side may have the all the right elements to make a dashing run towards the Grand Final.
Their Grand Final loss last Sunday ended what had been an eight-game unbeaten streak in the league, and it’s been over four months since they were beaten by a team that wasn’t Edgeworth.
The winner of this match will move onto the Semi-Finals against the winner of the NPL South Australia and NPL Queensland Premiers – Campbelltown City FC and Lions FC.