Photo: Sproule Sports Focus
Match of the Round
Maitland Magpies v Edgeworth Eagles
2.30pm Saturday 20th August
Cooks Square Park
Round 8: Edgeworth 3 (Trott OG 12’, McBreen 34’, McLoughlin 49’) defeated Maitland 1 (B.Thompson 70’ p) at Cooks Square Park.
Round 17: Edgeworth 2 (Holz 38’, McBreen 68’) defeated Maitland 1 (L.Thornton 21’) at Jack McLaughlan Oval.
Ladder: Maitland 4th (29pts) Edgeworth 1st (46)
Past 3 Starts (Most Recent First):
Maitland – Lost Magic 2-0 (h), Lost Eagles 2-1 (a), Won Bears 3-2 (h)
Edgeworth – Won Rosebuds 3-1 (a), Won Magpies 2-1 (h) Won Phoenix 4-2 (h)
In saying it has been a long time since Maitland have been in the top grade Northern NSW finals is very much an understatement; it has been 16 years up to this point. This is where the drought ends though and they will take confidence from that finals showing way back in 2000. That season they finished in 4th, in the then five-team finals series.
They cleaned up Broadmeadow Magic 4-0 in week one to send them packing, but week two was where their journey ended when Hamilton Olympic knocked them out 4-1 at Darling Street. It may not be such a bad thing that they won’t be playing the boys from Darling Street over the next two weekends.
It has been a year to remember for the Magpies, although there have been some rocky patches, they have ridden the bumps that have resulted in them having an overall positive season.
This Saturday will present an exciting match up between the two sides. Maitland will meet a side who is at the peak of their powers. Since 1997, Maitland has been unable to beat the Eagles and their dominance could extend further, as results are hard to find after then.
Of their last 16 matches, dating back to 1997, in the top grade, it makes for very dire reading if you are a Magpies fan. Fifteen wins for Edgeworth and a solitary 2-2 draw,in 1998. History is there to be defeated and that is certainly the attitude the home side will take into this contest.
In 2016, Maitland has an outstanding defensive record, conceding just 23 goals to be the third best side in the competition. In this regard, that is where they can really challenge Edgeworth. The likes of Carl Thornton, Brock Oakley and Liam Thornton will be key, as will the experience of Dean Heffernan. But, the Thornton brothers and Oakley have done something Heffernan and a majority of the Magpies side haven’t – they have beaten Edgeworth – last year in round nine with Weston, 1-0. Could that count over the next two weekends?
For The Eagles, what a season it has been for Damian Zane yet again. While they faltered twice against Hamilton during the regular season, they didn’t lose to anyone else, and that should give them bucket loads of confidence going into their match with Maitland.
Last weekend, with five of their regular first-grade starters out of the side, their youngsters put out a very impressive performance; although it was against 9th placed Adamstown it shouldn’t take anything away from their display.
If the next two weekends between these sides become a goal-fest, the Eagles will win. They have scored 15 more goals than Maitland in the regular season and have so many attacking weapons to choose from. Take your pick out of Daniel McBreen, Keigo Moriyasu, Bren Hammel, Brody Taylor and we haven’t even got to Keanu Moore or Dylan Holz. Aaron McLoughlin also scored against Maitland earlier this season.
Maitland has firepower in Ryan Clarke and Matt Comerford but definitely not the same amount as Edgeworth and they will be relying on their defence to keep the Eagles out this weekend and not concede any crucial away goals. If they can keep Edgeworth quiet and jag themselves a goal or two, the Magpies could be soaring towards a Grand Final berth. If Edgeworth scores some goals, though, it may be a bridge too far for Maitland.
Maitland’s key attacking trio of Ben Martin, Ryan Clarke and Matt Comerford are all in doubt for the clash with niggles but will be given the right to kick-off to prove their fitness. For Edgeworth, the five players rested from the weekends 3-1 win over Adamstown, Dom Bizzarri, Ayden Brice, Lachie Pasquale, Bren Hammel and Brody Taylor will all be available this weekend.
What the Coaches Said:
Reece Thompson (Maitland Assistant)
“Edgeworth are the top team in the competition, there is no doubt about that. But, they have also got one eye on the FFA Cup so we are going to try and take it to them. They have got quality around all of the park,v but instead of focusing on them we need to focus on ourselves to make sure we get the right result. We didn’t give too much away two weeks ago when we played them because we thought we would meet in the semi-finals, knowing that we thought we would keep a little bit in our back-pocket and not give too much away.”
“It’s been 16 years since we were last in the Northern NSW semi-finals. I spoke to the captain from 2000 on Wednesday, and he was telling me all of his old boys are going to be up there, so I’m hoping there is a massive crowd. I know the local community is getting right behind us which is great.”
Damian Zane (Edgeworth)
“We’ll be going all out this weekend, obviously we have got another game [FFA Cup match against the Wanderers] which will be straight after the second leg, so we’ll be going out to try and end it as quick as we can, whether that is early in the second leg or whatever. We want to get a good platform for next week, so we will be going at them from the first minute.”
“Obviously, the three players [we need to look out for] are Ryan Clarke, Matt Comerford and Matt Thompson. Clarkey and Comerford with their speed and skill. I thought Clarkey was pretty good against us last game. That probably stems from Matt Thompson. He’s a big part of their play and he has had a great year. First and foremost, though we’ll probably just make sure we are right and I think if we turn up in the right frame of might we will be right. We play to dominate not to be dominated. If we are on our game, they will have more to worry about than us.”
Key: Defence. Maitland needs a good defensive performance over the next two weeks if they are to make the Grand Final for the first time since 1981.
Broadmeadow Magic v Hamilton Olympic
2.30pm, Sunday 21st August
Round 6: Hamilton 3 (Mooney 38’, Bird 45+1’, Bertos 70’ p) defeated Broadmeadow 1 (J.Virgili 7’) at Darling Street Oval.
Round 15: Broadmeadow 1 (Bradbury 37’) drew with Hamilton 1 (Bird 15’) at Magic Park.
Ladder: Broadmeadow 3rd (32) Hamilton 2nd (42)
Past 3 Starts (Most Recent First):
Broadmeadow – Won Magpies 2-0 (a), Lost Blues 3-2 (a), Lost Phoenix 2-1 (a)
Hamilton – Won Blues 3-0 (a), Drew Phoenix 2-2 (h), Won Jets 1-0 (h)
Another nail-biting derby awaits us when Broadmeadow meet Hamilton over the next two weekends and if the next two clashes come even close to the excitement of their round 15 battle we are in for something special.
For the first time since the 2012 Grand Final, these two sides will meet. That afternoon was one Olympic fans would rather forget; it was when Damien Smith coached Magic and the side got the job done beating Mick Bolch’s Olmypic side, 4-1. The site of that Grand Final is where the two sides will meet this weekend.
A state which proves just how close these two sides are is their head to head statistics. Since 1995, the sides have met 54 times, of these matches, that have been played at Hamilton’s home ground, Olympic have won 12, there have been 5 draws and 10 wins to Broadmeadow. Away from Darling Street, the stats are identical, 12 wins for Hamilton, 5 draws and 10 wins for Broadmeadow. However something will have to give this weekend.
Of late though, it has been all Hamilton. Since round eight in 2013 – when Peter Haynes scored a goal that many will never forget – and Magic won 6-5 – the men from Broadmeadow have not tasted victory over their rivals from Olympic since. It has been seven matches and more than three years. Of those seven matches, Olympic has won five, along with two draws, which have come in the last four matches the two sides have played.
In those last seven matches, Broadmeadow has scored just four goals, an average of just over half a goal a game. That would give Hamilton’s miserly backline, led by the experienced Kyle Hodges, plenty of confidence going into the weekend. This season Hamilton have conceded an average of just over 0.7 goals per game, and if they keep that going they will be almost impossible to beat.
James Virgili will provide a huge boost for the home side this weekend and his attacking prowess will be crucial this weekend given Olympic will be missing two key players at the back in Grant Brown who is suspended and Danny Ireland who is still injured. If he gets on a role and can score some goals, it may be a bridge too far for Olympic. While you can’t win the semi-final in week one, you can definitely lose it and neither side will want to concede many goals on Sunday.
For Hamilton, the loss of Jacob Bailey for the season will certainly be a huge loss as will be Ireland who in all likelihood will not play until the Grand Final – if Hamilton makes it. But, Kane Goodchild has been in outstanding form of late, scoring three goals in his last two matches including two on the weekend. Magic’s centre backs Jon Griffiths and Josh Piddington will have to be on their game to keep the Golden Boot quiet.
The next two weekends will come down to whoever wins the little moments. In their last clash, both sides had chances to win the match in the second half and somehow no one could. It will be tight over the two legs, and even though Magic has conceded twice as many goals as Hamilton during the regular season; over the next two weeks it is difficult seeing them conceding many more than Olympic.
In these sort of matches, it really is a flip of the coin to see who wins it. There will be plenty of heart, desire and a never-say-die attitude. Extra-time and even a penalty shoot-out may even have to decide these two sides seasons come next weekend at Darling Street.
Shane Paul will miss the match for Broadmeadow as his is going away this weekend, while James Virgili (shoulder), Luke Virgili (leg) and Michael Finlayson (knee) will all return. Jacob Bailey (knee), Danny Ireland (ankle) and Grant Brown (suspended) will miss the match for Hamilton.
What the Coaches Said:
Bobby Naumov (Broadmeadow)
“They are undefeated, so they are obviously going in as favourites and they are the form side. However, if Danny Ireland doesn’t play that would psychologically make a massive difference because I think he is the best goalkeeper in the league. Having said that the law of averages says your loss has got to come somewhere along the way. We’ve got two games; you’d like to think they are going to lose one if not two games.”
“At the end of the day, we’ve got to be really tight because they have got some guys that are quick, their mobile and they have done really well along with [Kane] Goodchild up front. Everything points to them, including the stats, but those things don’t mean much at the end of the day. We know what we are capable of, we can beat Edgeworth and Olympic. But, at the end of the day if you don’t play to your full potential both those sides will be hard to beat.”
Mick Bolch (Hamilton)
“The key is obviously shutting down their front third, containing, Kale Bradbury and Peter Haynes, as well as James Virgili if he plays. James Virgili and Bradbury have scored a good portion of their goals so if we can keep them quiet that will go a long way to getting the result. It’s a different beast now the finals and I’m sure Chilly [Rob Virgili] and Bobby [Naumov] will come up with a game plan to try and rectify what has been going on the last few games.”
“If you take a Danny Ireland out of any side it obviously weakens the side. We have just got to be better as a team. Realistically, defensively we have been good as a unit all year. Obviously, Danny is the best goalkeeper in the competition by a fair stretch, but we have got confidence in ourselves as a defensive unit. We just have to limit their scoring opportunities and Tom [Pullin] will do the rest.”
Key: Whoever takes their opportunities. It will be close over the next two weekends, and whoever wins the big moments will go through to the Grand Final.