Photo: Sproule Sports Focus
Match of The Round
Broadmeadow Magic 2 (Bradbury 90’, Virgili 90+4’) defeated Hamilton Olympic 1 (Mooney 57’) at Darling Street Oval, Saturday 27th August 6.30pm
Broadmeadow Magic sent Hamilton Olympic out of the finals on a dramatic Saturday night, where two late goals from James Virgili and Kale Bradbury extinguished Olympic’s hope of a second Grand Final appearance in as many years.
Hamilton came into the match down 3-1 on aggregate and needed a two-goal victory at least to make it through to next weekend.
The first half was a tight affair, James Virgili fizzing his early shot to the left of goal inside the opening ten minutes. Olympic had a couple of half-chances, but neither side could break the deadlock, and went in at 0-0.
After the break, Hamilton needed a goal and needed one quickly. Tommy Spencer played a low cross to Kane Goodchild who touched onto Simon Mooney. Mooney smashed his shot into the roof of the net and the battle was back on. Minutes later Tommy Spencer had a great chance to break the deadlock, but couldn’t do so.
Then the controversial chapter of the evening’s proceedings was written when Cody Lucas played a long ball from inside his own half, against the sideline on the right side. It bounced over the head of Kane Goodchild, and Matt Swan thundered the volley into the roof of the net to send Hamilton fans into delirium, only for the lineswomen to raise her flag for offside.
Olympic kept fighting though, as they pushed forward for the goal which would send them to the Grand Final. But, on the break with limited numbers in defence, Magic struck, as Kale Bradbury went one-on-one with Hamilton keeper Tom Pullin and all but ended Olympic’s hopes of a Grand Final appearance, when he thumped his shot home. It was a cruel blow, but not as cruel as the one to come…
Hamilton’s Grant Brown limped down Olympic’s right side and played a pass back to keeper Tom Pullin, which had little power behind it. Michael Finlayson sped onto the ball, drew in keeper Pullin and passed to James Virgili who put the icing on the cake to win the match 2-1. An aggregate score line of 5-2 didn’t reflect how tight the two legs were.
After being knocked out in the finals after an undefeated season Hamilton coach Mick Bolch said he “couldn’t be prouder of the boys.”
“We threw everything at them that we could. They boys left nothing out there. We went out with a game plan and I thought we executed it really well. We finished all over the top of them and if the second goal stands I think we go on and win the game,” Bolch said.
“Realistically over two legs, Magic beat us. The third goal last week probably cost us. It is good achievement going through the regular season undefeated but we haven’t won anything so it is a disappointing end to the season in my books. I can’t fault the players; it just wasn’t to be.”
For the victorious Broadmeadow Magic and Bobby Naumov they “did what they had to do.”
“The first half we said worse case scenario 0-0, if we can’t score at least we keep a clean sheet and we achieved that. The script didn’t go according to plan when they scored the goal, but credit to the boys again, down 1-0 and we go on to win 2-1,” a pleased Naumov said.
“Chances wise I think we had the better of them but in the balance of the game it was a pretty even game. When they scored that goal they started getting on top of us for a period there, but again credit to the boys and they fought back again.”
Edgeworth Eagles 2 (Hammel 14’, Moriyasu 90+3’) defeated Maitland Magpies 1 (Martin 19’) at Jack McLaughlan Oval, Saturday 27th August 2pm
The Edgeworth Eagles will go through to their second Grand Final, after a nail-biting 2-1 victory over the Maitland Magpies on Saturday afternoon at Jack McLaughlan Oval. They will aim to be the first side since Highfields Azzurri in 1993/94 to be back to back Premiers and Grand Final Champions in a Northern NSW competition.
The Eagles were made to work for it though, with a goal late in stoppage time from Japanese sensation Keigo Moriyasu.
It was the Eagles though who opened the scoring when Bren Hammel whipped a lovely free-kick over the wall and into the top left corner, as the home side took the lead inside 15 minutes.
However, as they have proved over the two legs, the Magpies were fighters, and they fought hard, when Ryan Clarke surged down the left-hand edge, cutting into the box and delivering a pinpoint cross onto the head of striker Ben Martin for his third, and most important goal of the season.
That was when the match tightened up, with both sides having limited opportunities before half-time and going in locked up, a one a piece.
After the break, Edgeworth created the best chances, as Ayden Brice put his header wide after Daniel McBreen charged down the right side. Aiden Gardner then had the Eagles next best chance, putting a shot from just inside the box, wide to the right off his curling right foot shot.
Disaster the struck for the visitors when Matt Thompson rolled his ankle on the ball as he ran into the box, and had to limp from the field. Many would have thought at that point Maitland’s hopes were gone, no one told the Magpies though, as Matt Comerford entered the fray.
And immediately Comerford almost put the visiting Magpies in the lead, with a long range shot which seared towards the top right corner. Edgeworth keeper Jim Fogarty had to dive to his left to save and keep the Eagles alive.
Moments later a corner then caused a pinball in Edgeworth’s box, with the ball being cleared off the line by the Eagles and to safety. That would be the final golden chance the Magpies needed to take.
Keigo Moriyasu, brought on in the second minute of stoppage time the broke down the left side, with Maitland playing only three at the back. He went one on one with Magpies keeper Matt Trott and finished to ensure the Eagles would head back to Magic Park on Grand Final Day in 2016.
Edgeworth coach Damian Zane praised the Magpies.
“They’re a good team. They didn’t just make the semis from the luck of the draw. I just think people were underestimating them, and I definitely wasn’t. I did have nerves for the game as they have players with A-League experience and numerous Weston players who were in the Grand Final two years ago. I think people underestimated them a bit.”
“We conceded again which is a bit of a worrying trend, and they only had one chance in the first half and they scored. If we can fix that we should be fine. But, I don’t necessarily think that we didn’t play well, I think Maitland are a good team and they deserved to be in the finals,” Zane said.
Understandably, Maitland’s Reece Thompson was gutted and said it ‘was a bitter pill to swallow.’
“We came with a game plan and I thought we executed it well. We threw everything at them in the last 20-25 minutes to take the lead and we had some great chances too. Matt Comerford’s shot when Jim Fogarty made a great save and Sam Rossi’s header and they cleared one off the line,” a dejected Thompson said.
“Over the last two weeks I think the game plan we have executed has been bang on, we were never going to be able to pay an expansive style to beat Edgeworth. 1-1 at halftime and we were confident and we got more confident as they game went on. We gave them a real shake.”