PHOTO: SPROULE SPORTS FOCUS
Hamilton Olympic 2 (Goodchild 67’, Bird 89’) defeated Valentine Phoenix (Murray 59’) 1 at Darling Street Oval.
Hamilton Olympic sealed their place in the finals and ensured the minor premiership race is well and truly on with a last-gasp 2-1 victory over Valentine at Darling Street Oval on Sunday.
Down 1-0 just after half-time, Olympic responded with goals from substitute Kane Goodchild and Daniel Bird in the final two minutes to cement their place in the top four.
For Valentine, it was a heartbreaking defeat and it will mean they require two wins from their last two matches to have a hope of playing in the finals.
On a mild afternoon in Hamilton, the first-half was a real arm-wrestle with both sides creating half chances but unable to take the game by the scruff of the neck.
Although, in the second half the match came to life.
In a Man of the Match performance, Jalon Brown was superb all afternoon, putting the ball on a platter for Josh Murray to open the scoring in the 59th minute.
Brown jinked and stepped his way down the left edge and punched a low cross to the feet of Murray who tapped it home.
However, the lead was short lived for the Phoenix as Olympic coach Michael Bolch quickly brought star striker Kane Goodchild off the bench and he made an immediate impact.
Goodchild was played in on goal by Scott Smith and Hamilton’s leading scorer did the rest stepping onto his right foot and calmly slotting the ball in the right corner.
Both sides pushed for the winner and both came close, with the Phoenix probably the closer. Brown again sped down the left and teed up skipper Scott McGinley, but he couldn’t keep his shot down.
Olympic’s Daniel Bird wouldn’t make the same mistake and he ultimately landed the knockout blow.
Intense pressure from Goodchild and Andrew Swan forced a rushed pass from Phoenix centre-back Reece Pettit, who played his pass towards Wilson Edwards on the right.
Bird was too quick flying forward and intercepting the pass, before chipping Phoenix keeper Scott Carter to make it 2-1.
The match was far from over though with Valentine having a late penalty shout, as Luke Willard went down in the box, but referee Trent Nash waved the appeals away as Hamilton held on for a crucial victory.
“Heartbreaking” was the word used by Phoenix coach Darren Sills to describe the result.
“It’s the first time we are out of the [top] four all year. It’s disappointing. We’ve got to lift now and get the result against Edgeworth [next week].”
Sills conceded missed chances were the difference in the end.
“Chris Brown’s miss, all he had to do was lob it over the top of Tyler Warren and then Jalon’s got in behind and just unfortunately hit it straight at Tyler’s foot.”
“Those chances came and went and you’ve got to take them.”
After yet another late win Olympic coach Michael Bolch said “he doesn’t know how the heart will hold out,” but he said as long as they take home three points he doesn’t care how they do it.
“It’s like finals football, Valo [Valentine] are playing for their season and so are we. Everyone knew what was on the line. We probably had a bit better of the game in the first half but we just kept pushing that last pass.”
“We just needed to adjust a bit. We dropped Rhys Cooper a bit deeper and played with two tens for the first 15 minutes of the second half, but I thought the turning point was when Kane Goodchild came on.”
Bolch also praised the Phoenix post-match.
“They are definitely good enough [to play finals]. It’s one of those heartbreaking things, they have been in the top four for 20 weeks are there are two weeks left in the season.
“Next week will be whether they are good enough or not, and I think there are plenty of twists to come next weekend.”
Edgeworth Eagles 3 (Taylor 2’, Moriyasu 25’, Brice 90’) defeated Weston Bears 0 at Jack McLaughlan Oval.
Edgeworth bounced back from their FFA Cup heartbreak with a 3-0 victory at home, in a match that never reached any great heights against bottom-placed Weston.
Brody Taylor, Keigo Moriyasu and Ayden Brice all found the back of the net as Edgeworth moved a step closer to their third-straight minor premiership.
The Eagles didn’t take long at all to get the scoring started – 62 seconds in fact – as Aaron McLoughlin curled in a cross from against the left touchline onto the head of Taylor at the back post who made it 1-0.
Moriyasu doubled the lead in the 25th minute as Kieran Sanders played a classy ball over the top of Weston’s defence with the outside of his right boot to the Japanese import who finished with a delicate touch.
The Eagles sealed the match in the 90th minute via Ayden Brice and it couldn’t have been more ironic. Moriyasu curled in a corner from the right edge and it fell to Brice who tapped home to make it 3-0 – in similar circumstances to Wednesday night.
Edgeworth moved three points ahead of second placed Lambton with the victory and took a huge stride closer to a third consecutive minor premiership.
“The boys were flat to be honest,” Eagles coach Damian Zane said, describing it as an “ugly” contest.
But, he was happy with his side’s ball movement.
“Honestly, the pace we played at if we were fresh it might have been anything.”
“The first minute when we got in and when we got the second one, I was like ‘we ain’t conceding two and we are definitely not conceding three’.
“Brody [Taylor] and Lachy [Pasquale] were exceptional and they actually played 90 minutes the other day [in the Cup].”
In the race for the minor premiership Zane thinks “four points will get us home”.
Bears coach Steve Piggott called it an “ordinary display”.
“I’m a bit filthy on my own team this week for the first time this year,” Piggott said.
“They didn’t give me enough, they didn’t give the club enough and they didn’t give themselves enough.
“I wouldn’t say it’s the worst performance but it has really dented my confidence about their ability to shine when you give them a bit of freedom.
“When you give them the freedom and they come up with blanks, that hurts.”
Adamstown Rosebud 1 (Berlin 36’) defeated Charlestown City Blues 0 at Adamstown Oval.
Old Boys’ Day and a return to Adamstown Oval proved to be just the lucky charm the Rosebuds needed as they recorded their third victory under interim coach Nick Webb.
It was Adamstown’s first win in nearly a month after three straight defeats.
The only goal of the match came in the 36th minute when Matt Tull was harassed and harried into playing a stray pass straight to Rosebud Charlie Horsley.
From the left edge of the box, Horsley squared his pass to Mitch Hunter in the middle of the box, who played a ball inside to Justin Tannock.
Tannock then threaded a through ball across to the right and Chris Berlin finished expertly at the back post to make it 1-0.
The win moved the Rosebuds from 10th place on the ladder into 9th and level on points with the 8th placed Blues. With the bye next week, the Rosebuds could move as high as 8th with a victory over Maitland in the final round.
Rosebuds coach Nick Webb said his side “dominated for 90 minutes”.
“You can look at the game anyway you like but we should have won by eight or nine. The first half a dozen goals we should have put through them and the second half not far off it either.
“We trained really well. I brought in Paul Gomez [as assistant coach]. Paul and I work really well as coaches analysing games together and we worked out how we wanted to play against Charlestown and the boys set up, and did really well.”
Webb said the announcement by the club of the appointment of head coach Shane Cansdell-Sheriff for 2018 helped relax his side.
“I prompted them to start to look for a coach,” Webb said.
“I did that because the players were showing a lot of unrest and I didn’t want that.
“Then it has gone against me, that’s fine. But, now that that has happened they know where they want to be or they don’t want to be so they can just play normal.
“The club can sit on their hands as long as they like, but at the end of the day players are what matters and they weren’t showing players what I believe was the right amount of respect.”
Broadmeadow Magic 3 (Virgili 13’, Oxborrow 29’, Pettit 80’) defeated Maitland Magpies 1 (Comerford 51’) at Cooks Square Park.
Broadmeadow Magic continue to be an unstoppable force in the PlayStation®4 NPL Northern NSW, winning their seventh match in a row and all but ending Maitland’s finals hopes on Sunday.
Magic shot to a 2-0 lead within the opening half-hour at Maitland’s Cooks Square Park home and it proved too difficult a task to for the Magpies to run them down, minus injured skipper Matt Thompson, who left the field in the first half after a nasty head clash with Broadmeadow midfielder Alex Kantarovski.
The loss also came at a cost for Magic who lost Josh Piddington (knee) and Jon Griffiths (ankle) to injury, and both are now in doubt for their FFA Cup match in Queensland on Wednesday.
Broadmeadow opening the scoring in the 13th minute after Mitch Oxborrow threaded a pass down the right edge for a flying James Virgili.
Virgili raced onto the pass and stuck his shot across Magpies keeper Matt Trott, and with the aid of the post the ball bounced over the line and in.
Oxborrow doubled Magic’s lead in the 29th minute when Dino Fajkovic found him with a square pass from the right. Oxborrow’s first time shot from the top of the box nestled in the bottom left corner.
Broadmeadow led 2-0 at the interval and when they returned Maitland struck almost immediately.
Ryan Clarke weaved his way down the right before gliding into the centre of the park where he played a ball to Matt Comerford on the left. Comerford took on Magic’s defence and came out the other side, neatly finishing past Niko Giantsopoulos.
Soon after Comerford was forced from the park with a hamstring injury which was a blow for Maitland in the front third.
It wasn’t to be Maitland’s afternoon and Magic sealed the match 15 minutes from time when Scott Pettit scored his first goal of the season.
After some neat interplay Kale Bradbury’s shot was saved by Trott, with the rebound falling for Pettit who made no mistake.
The win pushes Magic inside the top four, for the first time since round four as they set their sights on a third consecutive finals berth.
Victorious coach Ruben Zadkovich felt his side was “just a bit too classy” for the Magpies.
“We were petty motivated for that and we knew what an opportunity it was going to be, Zadkovich said.
“We probably deserved it. There was a sticky patch after half-time where they came back into the game really, really strongly.
“We lost Jonny Griffiths at half-time to an ankle injury and were forced to make a substitution that I really didn’t want to make and then Josh Piddington hurt his knee and had to come off and before you knew it we didn’t have a centre-half on the pitch.
“It was a really tricky period for us but the boys saw it out for us really well.”
Zadkovich said he was happy with the desire and determination of his side after the injuries to both key defenders.
“I was really stoked to see their attitude and their willingness to fight and scrap and show the other side of our game which was nice, because lately all it’s been about is our football and us going forward and defending really well and then hurting teams.
“But, this time we were under the pump and we saw it out and then scored and started to dominate again.”
Magpies coach Phil Dando said Magic’s intensity early on was difficult to deal with.
“They were getting it knocked forward early to [James] Virgili and he was causing all sorts of problems and we didn’t really cope with it.”
“All credit to Magic since we played them in the last round Ruben [Zadkovich] has done a great job with them.
“They were a completely different team to the one we played in the first round with the intensity and the way they played. They passed it well and they stopped us from playing and they did really, really well.”