PS4 NPL Grand Final Preview
Zane’s Young Eagles Seek the Double
Edgeworth Eagles are the first of two sides to contest the Northern New South Wales PS4 National Premier Leagues Grand Final.
In 2015 Edgeworth are looking to become just the second side to win the top flight double in 17 years
Since 1999 the only side who has ‘done the double’, that is finish the season first and win the Grand Final, is Broadmeadow Magic who achieved it three times; in 2013, 2008 and 2005.
Edgeworth’s form this season has been incredible. Two losses in their first three rounds at the hands of Broadmeadow and Hamilton threatened to derail their season however they bounced back with twelve wins from 15 games to finish first.
In total they won 13 games, drew once and lost just four on their way to 40 points and the first placed finish.
In the Semi Final they did not win either of their two matches against Broadmedow. All of the six goals of the 3-3 aggregate score came in the first leg at Magic Park however, which meant the Eagles progressed to the Grand Final on the away goals rule.
Their end of season form prior to the Semi Finals has been impeccable, as they spent the final seven rounds of the competition in first place. In fact they have only lost one of their last eleven matches.
The Eagles have match-winners all over the park, however their key man is certainly Josh Evans. In the heart of defence Evans is largely responsible for his side’s equal competition best 22 conceded, which is just over one per game. He has a huge job in this match in containing Kane Goodchild and Simon Mooney but this is definitely a job he can handle.
In the middle of the park Luke Walker dominates for the Eagles, and provides leadership and experience that has benefitted the large number of younger players Edgeworth possesses. Walker missed the first half of the season through injury, and it is no coincidence that two weeks after his return Edgeworth moved into first where they stayed for the rest of the season.
In the front third Edgeworth boast a number of key players in Keanu Moore, Dylan Holz, Brenton Olzomer and Brody Taylor.
Each of these players are game changers, but none more than Holz who showed his class and ability to perform in big games with a superb finish in the first leg of their Semi Final against Broadmeadow, and who earnt the tag from coach Damian Zane as the Eagles best player in the last third of the season and in the Semi Finals.
Zane has some crucial experience that he has been able to share with his side, as he was a part of Edgeworth’s last Grand Final winning side in 2010.
‘I told the boys to enjoy the week because an opportunity like this might not come around again,’ he said.
‘I feel lucky, it’s my first year as coach and to coach this amazing young team with the atmosphere that’s at the club is really special’.
Zane went on to say that although the win was amazing as a player, it would be more special to achieve as a coach.
The club has so much to be proud of in 2015; finishing Club Champions, Premiers in First Grade and 22 Years, a narrow Westfield FFA Cup Round of 32 loss to Melbourne City, and featuring in the Grand Finals of all three grades.
The ultimate goal for any club is to win the Premiership and the Grand Final in First Grade however, so victory for the Eagles today would be the icing on the cake for Damien Zane and his men.
Bolch Hoping for ‘Third Time Lucky’ Effect
The second of the two sides in the Northern New South Wales PS4 National Premier Leagues is Hamilton Olympic.
Hamilton spent four rounds in the middle of the season at the top of the table, however Edgeworth finished the season the stronger of the pair, and a last round loss to Maitland saw them fall behind Lambton Jaffas to finish third.
They won ten matches this season, and lost a competition best two. Six draws hit the side in Blue and White extremely hard, as it saw them drop twelve points, which was ultimately their downfall in terms of the Premiership.
They still have a chance of success in 2015 as they look to defeat the high-flying Eagles, something they already achieved in a 2-0 victory back in Round 2 in April.
In the return fixture in Round 12 they were defeated 3-1 by Edgeworth, making the Eagles one of just two sides that have defeated them this year.
In 2012 Hamilton Olympic finished the season in first place, however lost the Grand Final 4-1 in a disappointing day for the club. Three years prior they won their most recent Grand Final, defeating Valentine 2-0.
Those two matches have one thing in common: Mick Bolch was the losing coach on both occasions.
Each of his last three Grand Finals, including 2015, have been three years apart, and he will be hoping that this year it is third time lucky and his side can pick up a win.
One look at the players at his disposal and their 2015 form suggests this year is his best chance yet.
Jacob Bailey has been one of Olympic’s standouts best this season, with Bolch describing him as ‘a rock in the middle of the park’. Most of Olympic’s play goes through Bailey, and he managed seven goals this season which is a huge effort from a holding midfielder.
Another key player for Olympic in 2015 has been Kyle Hodges. His season was delayed due to injury, however his presence was felt as Hamilton boasted the equal best defensive record in the competition. Hodges leads by example and will have a huge part to play in the Grand Final, going up against Edgeworth’s young and enthusiastic front third.
In Olympic’s own front third stand two new faces, who have formed a deadly partnership. The acquisition of 2014 leading goal scorer Kane Goodchild from Charlestown City Blues turned out to be one of the signings of the season. Simon Mooney signed for Hamilton at the end of 2013 but missed all of 2014 through injury. The pair scored 22 of the side’s 46 goals this season, and will have to step up in the biggest game of the year against the likes of Pat Wheeler, Josh Evans and Ayden Brice who have been sensational this year at the back for Edgeworth.
Within the Olympic ranks are two of the brightest young talents in the Northern New South Wales PS4 National Premier Leagues in midfielder Rhys Cooper and defender Tom Davies. Both Cooper and Davies have shown maturity beyond their ages in Olympic colours both in this season, and in previous seasons, and will need to play key roles if the side are to take out the 2015 Grand Final.
Olympic have improved drastically on their 2014 season which saw them finish sixth. No matter the result in the Grand Final they should feel proud of their efforts this season, however nothing could top it off better than a Grand Final medal and trophy.
Can't make it to the game? Thanks to PS4 NPL NNSW media partner NBN Television, you can catch all the action live right here.
19 Years Preview
In the opening match of the day Broadmeadow Magic challenges the first of three Edgeworth Eagles sides involved in the 2015 PS4 National Premier Leagues Grand Finals.
Magic did almost everything they could this season to finish as Premiers, however they missed out by just four goals. Incredibly, they and Weston both won twelve, drew three and lost three, and had a goal difference of 27. The Bears scored 47 compared to Broadmeadow’s 43, so the Magic finished second.
In their Semi Final they trailed after the first leg 2-1 against Hamilton, but won 2-0 in the return leg to book their spot in the biggest game of the year.
Their opponents, Edgeworth, finished the season in fourth place. Following eight wins, five losses and five draws they defeated Premiers Weston 2-1 on aggregate over the two legs to earn their spot in the Grand Final.
The Eagles have slightly better form than Magic despite finishing below them on the table. The Eagles lost just two of their last twelve matches including their two Semi Final matches, whereas Magic lost three of theirs.
The two sides have met twice this season, with a win to both sides. In Round 3 Broadmeadow won 2-1, and in Round 11 Edgeworth beat Magic 4-1 at Magic Park, the destination of this match.
Expect this match to be a lot closer than their Round 11 encounter. Both sides will come out with nothing to lose, and give their all in the most important match of the season.
It would be a fitting finish for Magic to win the trophy on their home soil, however Edgeworth will be desperate to spoil the party, and win the first of three Grand Final the club are featuring in on the day.
22 Years Preview
In the curtain raiser to the First Grade fixture, Edgeworth Eagles take on the 18 Years Emerging Jets in the 22 Years Grand Final.
This match is the only one of the day where first place plays second, and it should be a fast paced match between two sides who are lethal in the front third.
Like their First Grade side, Edgeworth finished the season in first place, they won 13 of their 18 games, drawing four and losing a competition best one to win the Premiership by seven points.
They scored 39 goals which is less than the four sides below them, however they boast the best defensive record in the competition, conceding just 16 goals at less than one per game.
The 18 Years Emerging Jets won eleven matches in 2015, drawing three and losing four. They finished second place and are Edgeworth’s biggest rival.
The two sides had a similar run into the Grand Final cruising past their Semi Final opponents. Edgeworth defeated Broadmeadow 7-1 on aggregate, whilst the 18 Years Emerging Jets went one better, downing Hamilton 8-1 over the two legs.
Both sides enter the match with brilliant form behind them. The 18 Years Emerging Jets have lost just one of their last twelve games, whereas Edgeworth were undefeated in their last 17, their only loss occurring back in Round 3 against Broadmeadow.
These two sides met twice this season with Edgeworth victorious 2-0 in Round 8, and the pair playing out a 2-2 draw in Round 17.
This match should be just as close and competitive, as the two best sides in the competition go head to head one last time for the year.
Expect an enthralling game that will showcase some of the best youth players the region has to offer. Goals may be scarce, however attractive football will be present for 80 minutes.