Broadmeadow Magic FC v Hamilton Olympic FC
It’s a Broadmeadow-Hamilton derby in the 13 Years 2018 Grand Final after both sides scored incredible underdog victories in their semi-final outings to make this the only 3rd v 4th Grand Final across all seven NPL Northern NSW competitions.
Broadmeadow finished in third place this season, five points off the second place Jets and a massive 14 away from Premiers Lambton. Finals are all about who wins on the day though, and Magic came up with something special in a huge 6-2 win over the Jets in the semis.
If that wasn’t extraordinary enough, spare a thought for the 1st v 4th semi-final. Hamilton stunned the competition against an undefeated Lambton; after falling behind early on, Olympic rallied and managed to beat Jaffas 4-3 in normal time.
Magic finished 11 points higher than their Grand Final opponents, and are in red-hot form heading into this encounter. They haven’t lost since the middle of July – that’s six wins on the trot.
Down in fourth place was Hamilton, who come into this match as the underdogs despite their magnificent win over Lambton. They only qualified for the finals thanks to goal difference including their 8-0 win over Lake Macquarie two weekends ago.
There’s very little to split these two teams this season, but Broadmeadow will feel they have the advantage having walked away with wins in both encounters this season. In both round 1 and round 14, Magic has walked away with 2-1 victories.
Despite that, this really is anyone’s game. Broadmeadow finished the season strong and romped home in the semis, but Hamilton shocked the competition by beating the Premiers. Expect a battle for the ages.
North Coast Football v Edgeworth Eagles FC
The top four was tight, and there’s no sign of first place in this Grand Final encounter after both North Coast and Edgeworth grabbed big wins to qualify for the big dance.
For North Coast, they were up against an Olympic side with whom they’d finished level on points. In a high-scoring affair, it was North Coast who came away the victors with a 5-3 win.
Edgeworth had finished in fourth place, but only seven points off Premiers, Newcastle Jets. Most would have been expected a tight match but it was far from that: the Eagles stormed home with a 5-0 win.
There were just three points between North Coast and the Premiership, but a loss to eventual winners Newcastle Jets back in round 20 meant they finished second. North Coast have certainly kicked-on since with six wins and a draw in their last seven outings.
Edgeworth enjoyed a similar run of form heading into this encounter: they’ve only lost twice in their last ten fixtures and boast the equal-best defence in the league, conceding just 29 goals in 24 fixtures.
One of those Edgeworth losses was to North Coast just two weeks ago, when they were beaten 4-1. However, all is equal on that front, with the Eagles beating North Coast 2-0 back in round 12.
After two such high-scoring semi-finals, and the recent defeat to North Coast in the back of Edgeworth’s minds this could be an end-to-end, thrilling affair. North Coast has the best attack in the league while Edgeworth boasts the best defense – this is anyone’s game.
Lambton Jaffas FC v Edgeworth Eagles FC
The Premiers have missed out once again in the 15 years final and the underdogs have triumphed. Will a penalty shootout win be enough to help inspire Edgeworth to another big win this weekend against Lambton?
Jaffas faced the third-place Weston in the semi-finals, a side which they had played two 0-0 draws this season. Lambton got the job done with a big 3-1 win over the Bears to book a place in the Grand Final.
The extraordinary story here though is Edgeworth, who qualified for the semi-finals with just a one-point difference and who faced an Adamstown team which had won eight more games, than them this season. This didn’t matter though the Eagles managed to progress thanks to a nail-biting 5-4 penalty win.
Lambton finished in second spot, eight points below Premiers Adamstown. Their attack was equal-best in the league with 74 goals scored, but the road to the Grand Final was a bumpy one; gaining just two wins in their last five outings.
Despite a draw in their match, Edgeworth managed to wrangle themselves a spot in the finals after facing their fellow top-four finishers in the final five weeks of the competition. They did well: two wins from three attempts.
One of those wins was over this weekend’s opponents, a 4-3 victory in round 24. Edgeworth may feel like they have a slight advantage over Lambton, with a 2-1 win back in round 11 making it two from two wins.
Despite a good record in the regular season, everyone knows that form goes out the window in finals football. This match could be tight given the results between the two this season, nonetheless, spectators should expect a close match.
Hamilton Olympic FC v Valentine Phoenix FC
It’s second versus fourth in the 16 Years Grand Final after a shock victory on semi-final day for Valentine earned them the right to face Hamilton for a shot at glory today.
Olympic was up against a Lambton side who they’d beaten once and lost to once this season, but ground out a 1-0 win over the third-place Jaffas outfit to earn their spot in the grand final.
The big story of the 16 Years semi-finals though was Valentine v Jets. The Jets, who had only lost once all year and scored a massive 134 goals in 24 matches were beaten 3-1 in an incredible fashion by Valentine, who more than earned their place in this season’s decider.
Hamilton huffed and puffed their way to the semi-finals: just two wins in their last five regular season matches. Their attacking record is the envy of almost all in the competition – 67 goals scored has them as the second-best attacking side in the league.
Valentine’s run into the finals was similar with just two wins in the final five matches, at the end of round 25, they sat outside the top four. A final match win over Weston earned them a spot in the semi-finals, resulting in their appearance on the big stage today.
If there is any advantage to be gleaned for either side though, it could be the form of Hamilton’s record against Valentine this season, having won on both occasions, 3-1 back in round 9, and 3-0 just over a month ago in round 22.
With the Premiers and likely favourites out of the running, the race to the title is now well and truly in anyone’s court. Hamilton finished the higher of the two and have the wood over Valentine this year, but Valentine has shown they love being the underdog.