Edgeworth Eagles 3 (Cawley 25’, Smith 67’, 82’) def. Maitland FC 1 (J. Thompson 59’)
Saturday 20 July, 3:30 pm, Jack McLaughlan Oval
Edgeworth have edged themselves one step closer to their historic premiership after defeating fellow top four and FFA Cup Round of 32 side Maitland at home to momentarily retain their spot at the top of the table.
Eagles’ youngster Adam Cawley was the first name on the scoresheet after finding himself on the end of a dangerous Aden Gardner cross from wide, slotting it low into the goal. The hosts were able to keep their lead for most the match until the Magpies worked their way back into it in the second half.
A Maitland corner was initially cleared away by the Edgeworth defence, but the rebound fell for James Thompson who’s battering shot found its way through the multitude of legs and bodies into the back of the net.
The scores weren’t level for long though as Oliver Smith pulled off a brilliant solo effort curling a shot from outside the box into the bottom corner of the net to regain the lead for his side.
It wasn’t too long later that he was able to jump on the end of a Daniel McBreen through ball, beat Matt Trott in goals, and place it into the side of the goal, winning the game in the process and collecting all three points.
The victory now puts them eight points ahead of Maitland and three points clear of Weston in second place which sees them continue to stay at the top.
Edgeworth’s coach Damian Zane confessed it was a tough game and attributed the win to a strong showing from his defence and substitutes.
“There were definitely some hairy moments,” Zane said.
“We felt the cup was a bigger percentage chance than the premiership, so we thought we’d give a few guys a bit of a freshen up and start them on the bench, but if we stayed in the game we could use them as an impact, and in the end, it worked.
“Our defensive display was really good. I was really pleased with it.
“A big part of the win was holding them to one goal.”
The Eagles will now turn their focus to their upcoming Wednesday night FFA Cup clash away with Darwin Olympic and Zane said the team is confident and ready to go.
“As soon as that game [vs Maitland] finished, they were in the ice baths and their focus is switched straight on the cup,” Zane said.
“They’re a great group like that. We’re not thinking too far ahead, just thinking about each game.
“If we can advance in the cup, well I guarantee we’ll be ready for the run home. We’ll be on a high.
“It’s an exciting time coming up, and this is when our boys are all up and going and are keen as.”
Newcastle Jets Youth 0 def. by Hamilton Olympic 2 (S. Pettit 49’, Papas 88’)
Saturday 20 July, 5:00 pm, Darling Street Oval
After a disappointing run of form for Hamilton, the side finally re-entered the winners’ circle once again for the first time in over two months after getting the better of the Newcastle Jets Youth for the second time this season.
Olympic midfielder Rhys Cooper had an early chance to take the lead but had his shot saved by the Jets Youth keeper, Noah James, while down the other end, Joey O’Connor and Jack Simmons both went close to scoring with their shots, but the hosts were able to survive.
In the second half though, a breakthrough was finally found coming from Hamilton’s Scott Pettit who managed a nice header from a floating Reece Papas corner.
Papas would again play a vital role in sealing the three points just minutes before half-time as he incredibly curled home a free-kick directly into the top corner to double the lead and the winning margin.
Hamilton’s coach Pete McGuinness said that it was extremely pleasing to see the side get the victory after such a long string of unfortunate results.
“It’s been a bit of a tough run for the last few weeks. We’ve been in games, but just haven’t been good enough to win them,” McGuinness said.
“In the second half, I thought we went on with it.
“It was great for them to get a clean sheet… First part of the year, our defence was our backbone, but if you look at the season as a whole, we haven’t scored enough goals. We’ve created enough chances, we just haven’t taken them.
“Ultimately if you’re not banging them in at one end, things can start to go wrong at the other.”
McGuiness said that although their finals hopes have been dashed recently, the team were still focused on ending the season on a high and determined to play some good football.
“When things aren’t going to plan, little things that go wrong get amplified and can divert the course of the ship,” he said.
“With finals out of the picture, it’s about playing for the club, playing for themselves and finishing the season on a good stretch.”
Adamstown Rosebud 0 def. by Lake Macquarie City Roosters 1 (Bower 49’)
Sunday 21 July, 2:30 pm, Adamstown Oval
Having spent the majority of the season down in last place, Lakes have jumped two places into ninth after collecting their second victory of the year, and second of the season against Adamstown.
The first goal of the game came in the second half of the game but there were multiple chances for both teams in the opening stanza including one early one-on-one attempt from Sam Webb that was saved by Daniel Eisenhauer, as well as a blocked free-kick from Judd Duncan.
It was the Roosters’ central defender that ultimately made the difference between the two sides as Callum Bower knocked in a header from a corner to take the lead
Bower troubled the goals once again in the second half as did Chris Berlin from close range forcing a strong save from Lakes’ goalkeeper Stuart Plant.
The visitors were able to hold on to take all three points taking them to a total of eight for the year seeing them overtake both the Rosebuds and Valentine.
Nick Webb, Roosters’ coach, was ecstatic with how his team strangled out the victory, especially after keeping their first clean sheet of the season.
“We did well. We defended really well and at the end of the day it was about grinding out a win,” Webb said.
“It’s very, very pleasing and the boys were very, very happy about it.”
Webb made a special mention to some of his key players who put in strong performances to lift the team, including one who has recently completely changed positions.
“Mitchell Hunter is playing left centre back now, and he’s been a striker most his life, but he was outstanding today. He and Cal Bower are working out a really good combination,” he said.
“I thought Daniel Minors was brilliant in the midfield, and Sam Walker worked his freckle off up top. Our spine did really well today, and everyone worked well around them.
“Hopefully we can keep putting in performances like we did today and continue to be resolute.”
Valentine Phoenix 1 (Garland 66’) def. by Broadmeadow Magic 2 (Oxborrow 31’, J. Virgili 81’)
Sunday 21 July, 2:30 pm, CB Complex
Broadmeadow has kept up their charge for the premiership with a tight victory over Valentine away from home which has seen the hosts fall down a position on the table as well as now faces a strong risk of finishing in the last place for the second year in a row.
The Magicians pushed on early looking to stamp their dominance and take an early lead; it didn’t take long for James Virgili to get in behind the defence, but his shot swerved wide of the goal.
Minutes later, John Majurovski also went close to scoring when Luke Virgili placed a hard cross into the box for his striker, but Majurovski, last year’s Man of the Match in the Grand Final, put his reactive shot from close range over the bar.
The pressure applied by Broadmeadow looked to have finally paid off when Mitch Oxborrow won a penalty following a foul from Phoenix goalkeeper Perry Budden, but James Virgili’s shot from the spot was expertly saved by Budden, diving to his left to stop it.
The visitors continued to trouble the Valentine goal and finally the breakthrough came when Oxborrow lofted a shot from distance in over the head of Budden, scoring his fifth of the year.
Following a dominant first-half performance, it seemed Magic would continue on for a victory, but midway through the second stanza, disaster struck for the defending champions as a misshaped clearance from goalkeeper Paul Bitz allowed Bailey Garland to practically run the ball into the back of an empty net to equalise the game.
With just under ten minutes to go, James Virgili would get his looming goal, striking a rebounded ball neatly into the bottom corner of the net which proved to be the vital match-winner and his eleventh of the year.
Broadmeadow remains in the third spot on the table but are just four points off Edgeworth in first, and one behind Weston however still have games in hand of both sides above them.
Weston Bears 1 (Morris 88’ (P)) def. Lambton Jaffas 0
Sunday 21 July, 2:30 pm, Rockwell Automation Park
Lambton has missed a golden opportunity to work their way into the top four after going down narrowly to Weston in a hard-fought contest.
Former Newcastle Jets and Central Coast Mariners goalkeeper Ben Kennedy featured for his new Jaffas side for the first time, but neither keeper were really tested in the first parts of the game as a cagey battle waged on with both sides fighting for supremacy.
Luke Remington had a free-kick that whistled over the crossbar, while some scrambling defence down the other end stopped the Bears.
The complexion of the match completely changed just before half-time though as an aggressive incident between Remington and Zac Sneddon resulted in both men being shown red cards and their marching orders from the field.
With more space on the field in the second half, both sides attempted to utilise the extra room but still failed to find the finishing touch, the closest each came were skied shots from Mark Offeh and Bren Hammel, before Kennedy was called into action tipping a skewed shot from Chris Hurley over the crossbar.
The decider of the match came in the final minutes as Jackson Burston was fouled in the box leaving his captain Nathan Morris to calmly slot home the winning goal from the penalty spot to take the three points and continue their impressive run towards finals and maybe even the premiership.
The Bears sit just three points away from the league-leading Edgeworth Eagles and still have a game in hand while the Jaffas continue to trail both Charlestown and Maitland by a slim margin in their quest to scramble a spot into the top four.