PHOTO: SPROULE SPORTS FOCUS
Hamilton Olympic 2 (Smith 79’, Pratt 81’) drew with Maitland Magpies 2 (Comerford 32’, M.Thompson (p) 49’) at Darling Street Oval.
Hamilton Olympic pulled a point out of the fire and could have stolen all three in the ‘Match of the Round’ as they produced a stunning rear-guard action, scoring two goals in the final 11 minutes against Maitland.
Olympic were down by two goals heading towards the final ten minutes, but a stunning strike from Scott Smith and a vicious volley from Sean Pratt ensured honours were even after 90 minutes.
The home side started the game on the front foot as Rhys Cooper – in his third match back from injury – wreaked havoc in the attacking third.
Cooper’s first chance burst through the hands of Magpies keeper Matt Trott and into the goal and minutes later Cooper had a wonderful chance to break the deadlock from inside the box on the right, but he slid his shot wide to the left.
Matt Comerford made Olympic pay for missing their earlier chances in the 32nd minute after an intricate interchange of passing between himself and Matt Thompson.
Comerford played a one-two with the former Newcastle Jets Captain and chipped Tyler Warren in the Hamilton goal to make it 1-0.
After conceding Hamilton struggled to make any headway with the Magpies controlling much of the ball as they headed to the break with a one-goal advantage.
When then returned after the interval the visitor’s dominance continued with Comerford darting down the left edge and having too much pace for Olympic defender Marcus Duncan.
Duncan dove in on Maitland’s speedster and gave away a penalty, which Matt Thompson duly converted to make in 2-0 in the 49th minute.
For the next 30 minutes, the Magpies appeared comfortable, sniffing out any half chance which Olympic created. That was until Tommy Spencer came onto the ground and Olympic began to find some space in the front third.
First, Spencer put his header from close range over the bar. It seemed that was the moment for Olympic. However, the chances continued to flow for the home side.
When Scott Smith turned on the edge of the box and curled a left-footed strike into the top left corner the match was back on.
Two minutes later and Olympic were level when Sean Pratt hit a searing volley from the right side of the box into the top right corner, sending the home fans into raptures.
The chances weren’t gone for Olympic though. Smith played Spencer through the heart of the Magpies defence in stoppage time and went one-on-one with Trott. Maitland’s keeper made a brilliant one-on-one save, sticking out his left boot to save the day.
The draw leaves just one point separating fourth from sixth on the PlayStation®4 NPL NNSW ladder with Hamilton, Maitland and Broadmeadow looking to fight it out for the last spot over the next seven weeks.
Olympic coach Mick Bolch thought his side were too inconsistent over the 90 minutes to win the match.
“I thought we were really good for the first 20 minutes. We probably deserved to be up by two, Rhys Cooper had three one-one-ones.
“Last 20 minutes I thought we were really good and ran over the top of them. Middle 40 minutes, [we were] terrible.”
“We could have won at the death there with Tommy Spencer. Did we deserve to win it? Probably not. I’m happy to get out of jail.”
While disappointed with conceding two goals in the final 15 minutes, Magpies boss Phil Dando didn’t feel like “we threw three points away.”
“They’ve gone away, they slipped away,” Dando said.
“We knew it would be an arm-wrestle. We knew it would be a tight contest. I thought we did really well absorbing their pressure early one and then we played some good football.”
Looking back on the result, Dando was pleased to take a point.
“If you would have said before the game, there is a point, we probably would have taken it. The biggest surprise to me was that we were so dominant for such a large period of the game. I just thought it would be an arm-wrestle all the way through.
“That’s credit to our guys, they’ve worked their socks off and probably didn’t quite get what they deserved today.”
Valentine Phoenix 1 (C.Brown 65’, McGinley 86’) defeated with Lambton Jaffas 1 (Griffiths (p) 25’) at Cahill Oval.
For the second time, this season Valentine skipper Scott McGinley proved to be a hero against the Jaffas, scoring in the final five minutes to make it two wins from two against Lambton this season.
The Phoenix jumped to second on the PS4 NPL Northern NSW ladder, and within a point of the first placed Jaffas with another late win at Cahill Oval.
Lambton started strongly and had the lead midway through the opening half.
Tom Waller whipped a low free-kick towards the near post in the 24th minute which deflected off the outstretched leg of Wilson Edwards and into his arm as he attempted to clear the ball.
Referee Ryan Gallagher pointed to the spot and Jaffas striker Ryan Griffiths dispatched the spot kick with ease past Perry Budden in the Phoenix goal.
Lambton took a 1-0 lead into the sheds at the break, but a stunning strike from Valentine’s Chris Brown soon levelled up the match.
Brown hit Matt Paul’s corner first time on the volley, flicking it with his left boot and curling it inside the far-right post.
Both sides had opportunities to find the go-ahead goal, but it would be Phoenix’s captain who would prove the difference in the 86th minute.
Daniel Minors found space down the right, curled in a cross to Matt Paul, who laid it off for McGinley to smash his shot into the underside of the crossbar from close range to make it 2-1.
Lambton wasn’t going anywhere though and created a couple of late chances to win it.
First, Michael Sessions shot from close range was deflected wide by the Phoenix defence and just a minute later Pat Brown headed wide from point-blank range.
Valentine were able to withstand the late pressure to win their third match in a row against the Jaffas.
Phoenix assistant coach Sam Griffin regarded the match as “the best quality game of football in the competition this year.”
“Both sides were high-quality today,” Griffin said.
Griffin also praised his side’s defence.
“I thought it was super that the only way they scored was a penalty again, same as the last match. They definitely had chances and it could have gone either way. We probably took the most of ours. To be fair they probably had the lion’s share of chances.”
Jaffas coach James Pascoe felt a different sentiment post-match to Griffin.
“It was a poor-quality game to be fair,” he said.
“Both sides probably struggled with the state of the pitch a little bit, but it’s the same for both teams and at the end of the day you’ve got to do what you can and what you can’t.”
Pascoe felt his side did enough to win the match.
“We didn’t create a lot, but we probably created a few more [chances than Valentine]. The last ten minutes we probably had three or four opportunities that on another day you probably do take.
“We created enough to take the three points, definitely, so that makes it a little more frustrating from that point of view. But, at the end of the day, it is what it is. It’s done now, and we move on.”
Charlestown City Blues 4 (Ferguson 8’, 58’, Steward 31’, Maguire 77’) defeated Newcastle Jets Youth 0 at Lisle Carr Oval.
Charlestown returned to form in style on Saturday afternoon as they scored four in a comprehensive display against the Jets Youth.
Rene Ferguson bagged a double to go top of the golden boot leaderboard as the Blues put four past the Jets for a second time this season.
Ferguson’s first came after less than eight minutes after Daniel Bartlett played him in between the Jets defence. Ferguson produced an astute finish, chipping keeper Tristan Esquilant to make it 1-0.
The Blues grabbed their second just after the half-hour mark through youngster Joel Steward. Steward was played in on goal down the right edge and hit a volley after the first bounce which sailed up and over Esquilant and inside the left post.
Charlestown led 2-0 at the break and the Jets Youth felt more pain when they returned, from the boot of Ferguson.
A shanked clearance from Esquilant fell to substitute Jack Tressider who teed up Ferguson. The marksman slotted home to make it 3-0.
Veteran striker Josh Maguire finished off the rout in the 77th minute after the Jets failed to clear their lines and Maguire slotted home from just to the left of the goal.
The win moves the Blues up to 15 points and keeps their faint finals hopes flickering.
Jets Youth coach Clayton Zane conceded his side “are in a bit of a hole” after last weekend’s 6-1 defeat at the hands of Maitland.
But, Zane felt his side weren’t without their opportunities.
“We had a couple of big moments early in the second half to get us back in the match.
“Leroy had two big one on one moments and the keeper made a couple really good saves early in the second half. It could have quite easily been 2-2 ten minutes into the second. We just didn’t take our chances.”
Zane also said his side’s defence didn’t help their cause.
“For me today the defending was terrible. We just never gave ourselves a chance in the match with the way we defended with the back four, so we probably got what we deserved in the end.”
Broadmeadow Magic 3 (Fajkovic 8’, Oxborrow 53’, Bradbury 72’) defeated Lake Macquarie Roosters 0 at Macquarie Field.
Broadmeadow extended their winning streak to five matches with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Lake Macquarie on Sunday.
The match was tight for the opening half hour, however, when Lakes’ midfield tyro Justin Broadley was given his marching orders after just half an hour, Broadmeadow took control and never looked back.
Magic opened the scoring when Jon Griffiths over hit a pass down the left edge for Dino Fajkovic, with the ball trickling to Roosters keeper Benn Kelly.
Kelly didn’t grab the ball cleanly and it rolled through his legs which Fajkovic ran onto and finished into an empty net.
The afternoon was made a whole lot more difficult in the 31st minute when Broadley bumped Mitch Oxborrow to the ground and received a second yellow card. Lakes were forced to play the final hour with just ten men.
While they held firm until the break, it was Oxborrow who would strike early in the second half. James Virgili found space down the right and Oxborrow back-heeled a superb finish to make it 2-0.
Kale Bradbury sealed the 3-0 victory for Magic in the 72nd minute with his strike from the top of the box which powered inside the left corner.
The 3-0 victory ensures Magic sit just a point outside the top four with six matches left to play.
Magic coach Ruben Zadkovich finally feels the luck has turned for his men.
“The first goal their goalkeeper pretty much handed us one, ones gone through his legs. He would have definitely felt like he stuffed up for the first goal.
“That has pretty much been the opposite of what the first round was for us. He had an unbelievable game and saved everything. To be fair, at least he bounced back and made some really good saves but, he was never going to hold us out with the amount of chances we had.”
Zadkovich also praised the opposition for their performance with ten men for much of the contest.
“Them going down to ten men obviously made their job very, very hard. Richo [Anthony Richards] will be pretty proud of his boys for their attitude and work ethic because they just didn’t give up.”
Lakes coach Anthony Richards was gutted and felt the red card wasn’t warranted.
“There would have been no-one left on the park if you hand yellow cards out all day for tackles like that.”
“It probably would have been Ruben and myself, one on one. I’m glad it never got to that because it would have been more than 3-0!”
But, Richards praised the never-say-die attitude of his side.
“We all mistakes and he [the referee] has made one. With ten players against a good side like that, it was a difficult, difficult game.
“To the credit of our guys not once did we look like throwing the towel in. We continued to play some good football and press. Unfortunately, it was decided in the 30th minute.”
Adamstown Rosebud 2 (Ensor 2’, Holzheimer 86’) defeated Weston Bears 0 at Rockwell Automation Park.
Adamstown coach Nick Webb recorded his first victory as head coach of the Rosebuds as they defeated Weston at Rockwell Automation Park.
Two fine goals from Ryan Ensor and Cameron Holzheimer along with a strong defensive effort ensured all three points would head back to Adamstown.
The game was just two minutes old when the Rosebuds found the opening goal.
Dayne Pawlik found striker Justin Tannock in the box who flicked his back heel up to Ryan Ensor whose first-time volley snuck inside Kane Runge’s near post.
Adamstown continued to probe and could have had a second soon after, but they took just the one goal lead to the sheds.
After the break, the Rosebud’s continued their strong defensive shift ensuring Weston couldn’t find a breach and late in the match Cameron Holzheimer sealed the match with a superb strike from outside the box.
The former Jets Youth man controlled turned and struck a powerful drive which picked out the top left corner and put the icing on an impressive display from the visitors.
Holzheimer’s thunder was almost stolen by an incredible moment just a couple of minutes later when Rosebud’s Alex Read cleared a ball over the sideline into a blue ute which was driving out of the ground.
Read smacked the clearance over the sideline and it travelled towards inside the front window of the car, earning howls of laughter from the crowd.
Drama aside, it was Adamstown who jumped to ninth of the ladder and more positive results in the coming weeks could keep Nick Webb beyond this season.
Webb said his first PS4 NPL win was “really pleasing.”
“They showed some resilience today and a bit of mental toughness that we have been hoping for so I’m very happy with the result.
The club’s second clean sheet of the year was another important step in Webb’s eyes.
“What I’ve been trying to do is create a bit more desperation and hunger and that certainly helped us today, even late on they had an opportunity.
“We never gave up, we put pressure on the guy to shoot over the bar. That’s what we’ve sort of worked on and it worked until the end.”
Webb laughed when speaking about the ute incident saying it was a “fantastic effort” from Read and “very funny”. But, all jokes aside Adamstown’s boss was happy the driver had his window down.
“He was probably trying to put it about 400 metres into the bushes to clear it. Lucky, he didn’t have his window up or he probably would have smashed it!”