PS4 NPL Semi Finals Leg 1 Preview
Broadmeadow Magic FC (4) vs. Edgeworth Eagles FC (1)
Semi Final 1 Leg 1
Sat 22 August 2:30 PM
The first of the two Northern NSW PlayStation® 4 National Premier Leagues (PS4 NPL) Semi Finals takes place at Magic Park, as the fourth ranked Broadmeadow host Premiers Edgeworth in the first of their two-leg tie.
Magic has done extremely well to make the finals, after trailing the fourth placed Weston by a significant six points in Round 15. Magic won their last three, including a win over Weston who lost their last three, meaning Magic finished the season fourth by three points.
This season has been a significant improvement on their ninth placed finish in 2014. They have won ten, drawn two and lost six PS4 NPL games in 2015.
Magic will also be proud to boast the top the top three scorers in the competition in Kale Bradbury (14), and Peter Haynes and Dino Fajkovic (11).
Followed by Kane Goodchild, John Majurovski, Simon Mooney, Alex Palozzi, Nick Bale and Luke Remington; seven of the top eight goal scorers are from the second to fourth sides, Lambton, Hamilton and Magic. Adamstown’s Bale is the only of the eight to miss out on a Semi Final spot.
The Eagles have no players in the top eight, with the closest being Brenton Olzomer and Brody Taylor who are sitting tenth and eleventh respectively on five each.
This will not bother the Premiers, after they recorded a competition best 13 wins. Alongside one draw and four losses they ended the season on 40 points, a tally that has not been reached in four seasons since the competition changed to ten teams in 2012.
The Eagles have a significant headache this weekend with key player, central defender Pat Wheeler missing, as he is suspended due to acquiring too many yellow cards.
Edgeworth coach Damien Zane has a number of defensive options to replace Wheeler however, but will choose the replacement carefully as he is fully aware the side is coming up against the top three scorers in the league.
Zane is looking forward to the finals series after a season where he feels his side was impressive in every department.
‘They’ve been a real easy group of players to work with, they bought into what we wanted to do early, they trained hard and performed accordingly,’ he said about his Premiership winning side.
‘Magic are very dangerous on their day and you can’t afford to not turn up, otherwise you may as well not turn up’.
‘I don’t think there is much between all four teams’.
These two sides have battled twice this year. In the only Round 3 match to be played on schedule, on a wet Friday night back in April, Magic hammered Edgeworth 4-1 away from home, however Edgeworth returned with confidence in Round 11 and defeated Broadmeadow 2-1 at Magic Park.
Both sides have won three of their last five matches, and after two intriguing games this season the pair are set to put on a spectacle on Saturday afternoon. Expect desperate defence, creativity in the midfield and class in the front third in what should be a highly entertaining match.
Hamilton Olympic FC (3) vs. Lambton Jaffas FC (2)
Semi Final 2 Leg 1
Sun 23 August 2:30 PM
Darling Street Oval
The second Semi Final clash this weekend sees second placed Lambton Jaffas travel to Darling Street Oval to challenge third placed Hamilton Olympic, in the first of their two-leg tie.
Hamilton blew the chance to finish second, last week going down to Maitland 2-0 at home. It was just their second loss of the season, a competition best. Combined with ten wins and six draws they recorded a tally of 36 points to finish third.
The Jaffas finished one point in front of Olympic, on 37 points, having won eleven, drawn four, and lost three games this season.
Both of these sides finished on a points total that would have seen them finish as Premiers in 2014, however Edgeworth were simply near-perfect this season.
Despite the Eagles finishing first both the Jaffas (three) and Hamilton (two) recorded less losses then Edgeworth (four). As Hamilton coach Mick Bolch suggested mid-season it was the draws that were letting his side down, which ended as the case for both Olympic and the Jaffas.
Lambton go into the first leg of their Semi Final at full strength, which is a positive for Coach David Tanchevski.
The injured Grant Brown was rested last weekend in the 2-1 win over South Cardiff, and midfielders Riley McNaughton and Jobe Wheelhouse only played 45 minutes each, so both will be refreshed.
Tanchevski joked that he and Olympic coach Mick Bolch are sick of playing each other in Semi Finals matches after meeting twice in 2013, both of which Lambton won in shootouts, but is looking forward to the match.
‘Hamilton are a very good team. We always have tight games with them and there’s usually only a goal in it at full time,’ he said.
‘Since coming up from the NEWFM comp we have had a good record against them. Like us they have only lost one at the back end of the season though so they will be tough’.
Tanchevski went on to label their second place finish as ‘exciting’ suggesting that their goal is to make the top four, however since promotion they have finished as a top three side three times in three seasons.
Lambton and Hamilton have met twice this season, producing two low scoring draws. In Round 4 Jobe Wheelhouse opened the scoring before Kane Goodchild leveled, and the match finished 1-1. In Round 13 they then played out a scoreless stalemate.
The Jaffas go into the match with superior recent form, winning four of their last five compared to Olympic’s three. In fact they have won nine of their last eleven matches in which they have kept four clean sheets and scored 30 goals. Hamilton have won six of their last eleven, scoring 31 goals.
Although the sides produced two low scoring affairs in their two matches this season, expect goals this Sunday. With both sides averaging three goals a game in the last three months, and desperate to go into the second leg of the Semi Final with a clear advantage, this match should be an intriguing affair.