Photo: Sproule Sports Focus
Match of the Round
Edgeworth Eagles 2 defeated Maitland Magpies 1
2.30pm Sunday 7th August at Jack McLaughlan Oval
Hyundai A-League 2012-13 Golden Boot Daniel McBreen scored the winner as the Edgeworth Eagles prevailed under pressure to secure back-to-back PlayStation 4 National Premier League Northern NSW premierships with a 2-1 victory over Maitland on Sunday at Jack McLaughlan Oval.
The Eagles created multiple chances and dominated in the opening 20 minutes despite the early loss of Brody Taylor to an ankle injury.
However, it was Maitland who found their finishing touch first.
Liam Thornton was on the spot at the back post in the 21st minute when a Matt Thompson free kick deflected off an Edgeworth head and fell to him for the easiest of nods into an open net.
But the Eagles continued to threaten and have the better of possession. They were eventually rewarded when Dylan Holz equalised in the 38th minute off a cross from Bren Hammel, who found space down the right.
With Hamilton leading 1-0 over Valentine at Darling Street Oval, Edgeworth were in danger of giving up the competition lead to Olympic before McBreen struck.
The 39-year-old took a through ball from Hammel and showed pace to get behind the Maitland defence and earn a one-on-one chance in the 67th minute which he buried with his left-foot.
With Hamilton later conceding two late goals to draw 2-2 with Phoenix, the McBreen strike proved the difference as Edgeworth hung on for the win to move to 43 points, four clear of Olympic on the table, and secure the minor premiership with a round to play.
Edgeworth coach Damian Zane hailed the effort of McBreen, who played on Thursday night in a 4-2 win over Valentine, the Sunday before in the 2-1 win over Charlestown and their Westfield FFA Cup win midweek before that in Cairns.
“I thought he deserved it,” Zane of McBreen’s winner.
“He played really well and we were running off him and he was playing guys in.
“He’s played four of the four games recently, and at 39 he’s still running back covering midfielders in the 90th minute.
“It’s a credit to him for staying that fit. It’s ridiculous.”
Zane felt his side deserved the win and he praised their composure on a soft pitch in the pressure of the premiership race.
“We didn’t panic and considering the conditions, some of the football was great,” Zane said.
“At times I was thinking they should knock the ball along, but then they were playing their way out of trouble.
“I just thought we played really well.”
Maitland defender Dean Heffernan, who will take over as player-coach at the Magpies next year, said his side would take positives out of the loss. Maitland are fourth on 29 points and will play Edgeworth in the two-leg semi-finals if they draw or lose to third-placed Broadmeadow, who lead them on goal difference, in the last round.
“We know what they’re good at and we had a bit of a plan for them today,” Heffernan said.
“I think it worked well for the first 30 minutes but it was probably just us not training all week, and then a heavy pitch, it took the wind out of us a bit.
“But I thought the first 30 minutes we were the better team.
“We lost the game but we’ve taken a lot of confidence out of that. We spoke about it before the game, that we’re going to get a good idea what we’re up against in the finals.
“We wanted players to feel and know what it’s like.”
Heffernan, though, rued the loss of substitute Matt Crowell, who damaged his ankle not long after taking the field in the second half.
Newcastle Jets Youth 3 defeated Lambton Jaffas 0
2.30pm Saturday 6th August at Arthur Edden Oval
Newcastle Jets Youth coach Clayton Zane said the finishing touch of his side proved the difference as they ran out 3-0 winners over an understrength Lambton Jaffas on Saturday at Edden Oval.
The Jaffas rested captain Jobe Wheelhouse, Ben Hay, Kevin Davison, Bailey Jensen and Joel Wood to avoid a potential yellow card accumulation suspension on the eve of their Westfield FFA Cup round of 32 match in Devonport on Wednesday night. Peter McPherson has also withdrawn from the rest of the season and Michael Sessions was suspended on Saturday.
With the Jaffas, who are eighth on 16 points, focused on the FFA Cup, the Jets Youth produced to move to sixth place on 21 points.
Finn Parris provided balls in for Angus Thurgate to score at the back post in the fifth minute and Kristian Brymora to repeat the dose in the 28th.
The Jets Youth made 3-0 in the 56th minute when Tom Waller scored off a rebounded shot by Brymora.
Zane was pleased to see composed finishing from his side in the rain-affected conditions.
“Early on, we were pretty effective in the final third and got a lot of delivery into the box,” Zane said.
“It wasn’t a pretty game. It was pretty scrappy, the surface was difficult and they had a few players out and I think the level dropped a bit because of that.
“But we did well in the final third and that was probably the difference between the two teams.
“There were a few chances for both teams. We could have wrapped it up early but at the end of the game they had some really good chances.”
Jaffas coach James Pascoe said he could not afford to risk players in card trouble in the game but took positives out of the loss with starts for teenagers Carter Smith and Josh Carroll.
He said Luke Remington and Riley McNaughton were standouts for his side, who had chances to get back into the match early in the second half.
“The effort was fantastic,” Pascoe said.
“In the second half, their keeper probably made five world-class one-on-one saves before it went to 3-0.
“I was really happy with the effort.”
Pascoe also believed his side were unlucky not to earn a penalty for handball when down 1-0.
Weston Workers Bears 4 defeated Adamstown Rosebud 1
2.30pm Sunday 8th August at Rockwell Automation Park
A double from Jake Barner lifted Weston to their first win of the season as Adamstown’s woes with red cards continued in a 4-1 loss on Sunday.
The last-placed Bears, who moved to six points with the victory at home, took the lead in the third minute with Lee Ashton’s header off a Garry McDermott cross from a short corner.
Adamstown’s hopes of a revival were hit hard when defender Daniel Yaxley was shown a straight red card for a lunging challenge in midfield on Barner in the 42nd minute and Weston took a 1-0 at half-time.
Heavy rain hit Rockwell Automation Park before Barner made it 2-0 in the 55th minute when his left-foot strike took a deflection off an Adamstown defender.
Barner then cut in onto his left foot and hit a great strike in off the bottom of the crossbar in the 75th minute for 3-0.
On 88 minutes, Adamstown earned a penalty for a Nathan Morris handball and Alex Read converted for 3-1.
Morris then made it 4-1 with a free header off a corner in the second minute of injury time.
The breakthrough win was a great relief for the Bears and coach Trevor Morris.
“I thought we played well, we created plenty of opportunities and stuck them away and applied some pressure, which was good,” Morris said.
“Finally, we got our noses in front and we just grew in confidence with each goal, and we played the football we’re capable of.”
Morris said “Barner was outstanding again and worked his heart out” and “everyone contributed”.
The loss means Adamstown, who are on 11 points, will finish second last.
The game was their first since coach Graham Law resigned after a campaign marred by regular send-offs and suspensions. Yaxley’s red card was the team’s seventh this season. Dayne Pawlik, Owen Littlewood, and Thom Lino did not play against the Bears because of suspension.
Technical director Chris Dale, who is caretaker coach of Rosebud, was happy with the effort on the park despite lapses in defence and the mistake from Yaxley.
“In terms of effort, we asked the boys to play with pride and not to stop, and they didn’t,” Dale said.
“We scored a penalty late and kept pressing them. Nobody stopped. Our captain Dan Clements played on for the last 20 minutes with a knock. I couldn’t fault anyone’s effort.”
Dale said Yaxley was playing injured and made “a bad decision under fatigue”.
“We’ve got no issues with the red card and luckily the boy he made contact with was OK after that,” Dale said.
Hamilton Olympic 2 drew with Valentine Phoenix 2
2.30pm, Sunday 8th August at Darling Street Oval
Hamilton coach Michael Bolch was left to lament his side’s missed opportunities after their premiership hopes were lost in a frantic finish against Valentine on Sunday at Darling Street Oval.
Olympic led 2-0 after 62 minutes but Valentine struck in the 86th minute then saved a penalty and scored the equaliser in the second minute of injury time for a 2-2 draw. The result and Edgeworth’s win over Maitland guaranteed Hamilton, who are on 39 points, four behind Edgeworth, a second-placed finish.
Tom Spencer scored with a near-post, left-foot touch to an Andrew Swan cross in the 41st minute to put Hamilton ahead.
Kane Goodchild made it 2-0 in the 62nd minute with a header on the line after the woodwork and Valentine players had repelled three consecutive shots from Hamilton.
Valentine mounted their comeback in the 86th minute when Matt Paul scored with a deft touch, skilful turn and sweet strike from the top of the box.
Hamilton had the chance to seal the win and ensure they stayed in the minor premiership race in the second minute of injury time when Goodchild had a penalty shot after a foul in the box.
However, his low strike was saved by a diving Perry Budden and Valentine moved the ball quickly up the other end, where Brenton Olzomer scored with a left-foot shot at the back post off a cross less than 30 seconds later.
Budden was physically sick after the game and went to the hospital with a concussion suffered, early in the second half in an effort Valentine coach described as “unbelievable”.
Bolch said his side paid the price for not taking their chances.
“We probably had 20 shots to four and we just couldn’t put them to bed,” Bolch said.
“We were in control all game and then to concede two goals in the last six minutes, it’s not good enough.
“The missed penalty deflated them a bit but there’s no excuses. Valentine just kept coming until the end of the game.
“We knew it was 2-1 to Edgeworth over there, but the players didn’t know. We tried to focus on what we were doing and what we could control, but it was just very disappointing not to hold on at the end.”
The draw maintained Hamilton’s undefeated season but it was little consolation for Bolch.
“We win next week, we go through the season undefeated, but at the end of the day, it’s about winning the minor premiership,” he said.
Sills said he was “really proud” of his side, who lost 4-2 to Edgeworth on Thursday night and were without Ridge Mapu and goalkeeper Beyhan Irmako.
The draw lifted them to 19 points in seventh place.
“They dug in deep,” Sills said.
“We had five blokes carrying injuries from Thursday night and two couldn’t play.
“But we finished strong and that’s been our way the last six, seven weeks.
“Hopefully, we can keep them together and have a red-hot crack at it next year. They’ve taken a while to gel but they are now, and the second half of the season we’ve definitely finished well.”
Hamilton were without injured goalkeeper Danny Ireland and midfielder Jacob Bailey, who is out for the season. Defender Grant Brown picked up a yellow card and will now miss the last round and the first week of the finals.
Broadmeadow Magic 2 defeated by Charlestown City Blues 2
2.30pm Sunday 8th August at Magic Park
Rene Ferguson starred for Charlestown as they came back from 2-0 down to defeat Broadmeadow 3-2 at Magic Park on Sunday.
Ferguson set up two goals for the Blues before scoring the winner in the 90th minute to move fifth-placed Charlestown to 24 points.
Michael Kantarovski gave Magic the lead in the second minute when he scored with a crisp left-foot strike.
Scott Pettit then finished a counter-attacking move in the 15th minute to put the hosts ahead 2-0.
Charlestown responded in the 38th minute when Ferguson won the ball in midfield then provided the pass for Scott Smith, who buried his strike from the left corner of the 18-yard box inside the far post
Charlestown then drew level in the 54th minute when Ferguson hit a cross from the by-line to an unmarked Josh Pippen, who knocked in the easiest of goals inside the far post.
Ferguson then gave Charlestown the win when he finished a one-on-one chance from close range with his left foot after substitute Josh Maguire provided the through ball.
It was Ferguson’s seventh goal of a campaign which has left Charlestown just short of the finals.
Coach Shane Pryce said Ferguson had been outstanding for his side all year.
“For a wide midfielder to score that many goals is outstanding and he’s been in our top three most consistent players all year,” Pryce said.
Pryce was thrilled with the fighting effort from the Blues.
“We’ve got to finish the comp off in a positive manner and the response from the boys on the weekend was brilliant,” he said.
“To come back from 2-0 down against a club like Magic, that doesn’t happen every week. That’s the first time we’ve had that response from the playing group and that’s a positive.
“We’ve got Olympic and we want the same again. We want wins and to finish on a positive note. Now that we can’t make the semi-finals, it’s about making a statement for next year.”
Broadmeadow won their first clash this year at Lisle Carr Oval 4-2 and Charlestown had not succeeded at Magic Park since 2013.
Magic, who remain third on 29 points and ahead of Maitland on goal difference, were without James Virgili, Kale Bradbery, Jayden Barber and Shane Paul due to injury or card trouble.
Co-coach Robert Virgili said the performance was similar to the previous week’s 2-1 loss to Valentine and that his side were making mistakes under fatigue.
“We just fell away in the second half,” Virgili said.
“From being comfortable, it looked like we just ran out of legs.
“It was a combination of poor defensive mistakes and also the fact that we’ve been forced to play players who are underdone.
“Pettit, Higgins, Finlayson, Hoole – all these boys are coming back from injuries and haven’t had a lot of game time. I think towards the ends of games, we’re getting overrun.
“We keep sitting deeper and deeper and we pay the price for it.
“It’s disappointing in that regard, because we can see them getting deeper, and I think it’s a mindset combined with fatigue setting in.”
Charlestown were without Ben Hughes and Sam Hudson because of injury.