Maitland FC 3 (Cowburn 23’, C. Thornton 55’, A. Swan 90+3’) def. Newcastle Jets Youth 2 (Donnellan 1’, Smith 69’)
Sunday 25 August, 2:30 pm, Cooks Square Park
In an emotional and suspenseful day, Maitland secured their first-ever premiership downing the Jets Youth in a rollercoaster of a match which saw a late, stoppage-time winner putting an exclamation mark on a terrific regular-season.
The game started in disastrous fashion for the Magpies as young Jet Sam Donnellan pounced on a rather lapsing defence placing his shot low into the goal after less than a minute of action.
The hosts looked to try and kick into gear and came close on a number of occasions including a Joel Wood shot that ricocheted into the upright.
A big sigh of relief was felt across the packed-out ground, followed by jubilant cheers as Nick Cowburn finally found the equaliser thanks to a deflected shot.
Battling for the Golden Boot, Wood had a phenomenal chance to move up the rankings in a one-on-one situation, but the Jets and Young Socceroos goalkeeper Noah James won the duel making a dashing save to his right.
The Magpies continued to knock on the door for a leading goal in the second half, and eventually, it came off a corner kick that found captain Carl Thornton unmarked at the back post who easily touched it home, but his goal was quickly cancelled out by a wild volley down the other end from Riley Smith.
With news coming through to the ground that Lambton had a large margin over Edgeworth, the sense of tussle faded from the contest, but the hosts weren’t happy with a draw and continued their search for a late winner.
Cowburn looked for all money like he would be the one to find it after stepping up to take a penalty kick, but his shot from the spot went wide into the post, but thankfully with just minutes to go in stoppage time, a goal was found.
Andrew Swan was the man who climbed above everyone else from a corner kick and headed his shot high into the goal sending the large home crowd into a frenzy and one that would continue right through the Premiers trophy and medal presentation.
With the Mayor, Northern NSW Football and tons of local fans on hand, the Maitland players were awarded new medals replicated from an old medal awarded to the Minmi Rangers Premiers back in 1905.
While the Magpies have now won their first piece of silverware as a club, and entry into the National Premier Leagues Finals, the side won’t be able to party too hard though as they’ll need to turn their attention quickly back to the league and their semi-final opponent Broadmeadow Magic if they want to feature in this year’s Grand Final.
Lambton Jaffas 3 (Sutton 21’, Crowley 24’ (P), Remington 82’) def. Edgeworth Eagles 0
Sunday 25 August, 2:30 pm, Arthur Edden Oval
It was the match that possessed the most implications for the rest of the top four participants and while Edgeworth were hoping to potentially spoil Maitland’s premiers party and attain their fifth straight title, it was the Jaffas who showed their might to retain their spot in the finals.
Lambton fired out of the blocks quickly almost leading to an early goal to Braedyn Crowley whose shot cannoned into the crossbar after just four minutes of play.
Crowley would keep up his attacking pressure though and his efforts played pivotal in grabbing the first goal of the game after beating a defender in the box and placing a pass on a platter for Josh Sutton to score from extremely close range.
Minutes later, Crowley would again strike, this time with a successful penalty kick conversion after Sutton was dragged down in the box by Edgeworth’s Noah Steinerts.
Down by two goals and the premiership all but slipped away, the Eagles searched high and wide for a way back into the contest with youngster Archie Finn looking like the man who might come up with something, but his efforts couldn’t break past the Jaffas’ defence.
Will McFarlane stopped a certain goal on the line clearing away a bumbling effort with his head, and down the other end, Crowley and Sutton continued to run rampant over the Edgeworth back-line leading to a third and decisive goal.
Sutton ran from deep in his own half before playing a pinpoint pass into the feet of Luke Remington who comfortably slotted away a one-on-one effort to not only secure their finals position but also leapfrog the Eagles into second place in the final ladder.
Both sides will become even more familiar with one another now as they are both booked to take on another in the upcoming semi-final legs for the second year in a row.
Broadmeadow Magic 1 (J. Virgili 22’) def. Charlestown City Blues 0
Sunday 25 August, 2:30 pm, Magic Park
Given the result that was encountered just a few kilometres away at Arthur Edden Oval, Broadmeadow and Charlestown fought off for the last remaining semi-finals spot which Magic successfully seized following a James Virgili strike that proved to be the only difference.
Boasting the best offensive record in the competition, the Magicians showed their attacking mettle early on almost leading to another first-goal-of-the-game for Mitch Oxborrow who had his blistering shot parried away by the Goalkeeper of the Year, Nate Archbold.
Archbold was again called upon by his defence on a James Virgili shot, but it was only minutes later which saw that same player beat the Charlestown keeper in terrific fashion.
John Majurovski managed a headed flick-on to an incoming Virgili who caught Archbold off his line with a magnificent chipped finish to take his overall tally to 13 and give his side the advantage.
Only needing a draw to send themselves into the finals, the Blues stepped up their quest to find the needed equaliser and had a golden opportunity when Kane Goodchild expertly made himself some room to score from close range, but Magic keeper Paul Bitz pulled off a smothering save.
Early in the second half, Charlestown went close on multiple occasions – Riley McNaughton had a rocketing long shot clipped the top of the crossbar, Jamie Byrnes had a couple of efforts, and McNaughton went agonisingly close again almost catching Bitz lapping on a free-kick.
The tides of the match would quickly change though when Kevin Davison was shown a straight red card for his lunging challenge on Kristian Brymora.
With just minutes to go, Justin Broadley was also shown a red card following a second yellow card infringement, but his side would be able to hang onto their slim lead and hang onto a chance to defend their Grand Final crown in the finals.
For the fifth straight season, Charlestown will miss out on finals despite mustering one of the highest points-totals in their recent history.
For Broadmeadow, it’s a fifth consecutive season playing finals football and although the side did it the hard way to sneak into the top four, coach Ruben Zadkovich said he was extremely delighted with his team’s efforts.
“I’m really proud of the way the boys have battled through a tricky period…they deserve to be there for sure,” Zadkovich said.
“We had about six weeks in a row, where things just didn’t go our way…we found ourselves in a bit of a hole.
“I think we’re in a really good spot. When the big games roll around, they really know how to dig in and fight.”
Although Magic wasn’t able to keep up in the premiership race that they ran in for the majority of the year, Zadkovich confessed he and the club were still viewing this year as a strong success, especially if the team can qualify for back-to-back Grand Finals.
“It would have been nice to get that premiership and unfortunately just fell a bit short there, but we’ve done enough to be in the mix for the championship,” he said.
“I think it’s been a massively successful season for our club. We’ve won the club championship, our 20s have won the premiership and our first grade team have scored the most goals in the comp and are a chance of going back-to-back so I think it’s been a really successful year, but obviously winning something at the end of it is the most important thing at First Grade level and that’s what we intend to do.
“With the Grand Final at home this year, that’s where we want to be.”
Weston Bears 5 (Buswell 14’, Lundy 54’, 68’, Burston 66’, Tjien-Fooh 73’) def. Lake Macquarie City Roosters 2 (Walker 71’, Cox 76’)
Sunday 25 August, 2:30 pm, Rockwell Automation Park
Weston needed a lot of results to go their way if they wanted to play finals football and although they completed one of those with a strong win over opponents, Lakes, they were praying for a Lambton loss which ultimately never came.
Regardless, the Bears looked switched on and ready to go right from the first whistle and Cooper Buswell managed to find himself on the scoresheet following a lovely chipped finish to give his side an early lead.
While only one goal was encountered in the first half, there were goals galore in the second as Regan Lundy found two – one was squeezed in past Roosters’ goalkeeper Stuart Plant’s near post, while the other was blasted from an off-balanced position – and Jackson Burston found the back of the net too giving the hosts a four-goal cushion.
Lakes were able to answer back to the onslaught with a goal courtesy of captain Sam Walker who poked in a cross from Sam Webb but were almost instantly met with a reply from Weston as Jason Tjien-Fooh scored his team’s fifth with a low, driven shot.
Charlie Cox scored a second, and consolation goal for the Roosters although the goal may have proved vital for the visitors in securing ninth place, just edging out their rivals Valentine on one goal in goal differential.
The Bears finished big winners in the last round, but their win would see them end the year just one point shy of the top four.
Assistant coach at Weston, Craig Stoker, said that despite the team falling just short of a finals return, he and the coaching staff were ultimately happy with the way they performed this year and was confident that success would come in the near future.
“They’re hurting. They know they were good enough to compete in the finals,” Stoker said.
“During the week, not once did they talk about not making the semis. They were focused on the job all week.
“They showed they were disappointed, but there’s already a good vibe for the next season coming up. I guess out of a negative comes a positive.
“The good thing about it is I know next year they’re going to be a lot better for it. They’re already talking about next season.
“It’s a good group to be around and it’s a group that will win something in the following years…the club is in a good position.”
Valentine Phoenix 0 def. by Hamilton Olympic 4 (Kawachi 9’, 82’, Papas 50’, Harrison 69’)
Sunday 25 August, 2:30 pm, CB Complex
It was the only game that didn’t possess any impact on the top six teams’ fight for the title and finals race, but it produced some entertaining moments as Hamilton ended their season on a high with a strong victory over Valentine.
The match started off with a couple of close chances for Rhys Cooper to nab the lead but it would be his teammate who not long later who score the first as Shinichi Kawachi delivered a picture-perfect free-kick that skewed into the side of the goal.
The Phoenix weren’t down and out by any means though and had half-chances through Bailey Garland but both were snuffed out by Olympic’s gloveman Jez Murray.
The second half began in the worst way possible for the hosts as Reece Papas did well to find himself on the end of a delicious Ren Fukumoto cross before heading it into the side of the net, and then not long after, Papas turned into the provider dishing up an assist to Kent Harrison who blasted in a shot from just inside the box.
The finishing touches to the match and their season would be applied late on in the game by Kawachi who knocked in a deflected shot to sound out a decisive win – their second in a row that might take a little bit of the pain off from what has been a rather disappointing season given their initial targets.
Olympic finish their year in seventh place with 25 points to the name, while the Phoenix ended 2019 in tenth, just one more point than they finished with last year.
Adamstown Rosebud had the bye.