NPL Northern NSW Semi Finals 2nd Leg Preview
Match of the Round
Broadmeadow Magic (3) v Maitland Magpies (1)
Sunday 2nd September, 2:30 pm at Magic Park
There aren’t many people in local football who would have predicted what happened up at Cooks Square Park last Sunday.
The home side had conceded just two goals in seven matches, while their Broadmeadow visitors hadn’t scored in their last three matches and were without two of their key attacking personnel.
Magic shocked the big Cooks Square Park crowd though, with a first-half flurry which seen them score three invaluable away goals which they’ll now take back home to Magic Park on Sunday afternoon.
Maitland’s task is a tough one: they’ll have to beat Broadmeadow by three goals, or in the case of an aggregate draw at the end of full-time ensure they have scored three goals on Sunday.
They haven’t struggled for goals this year, with 38 in the regular season. You might remember where nine of those goals came from, in the 9-1 demolition of Adamstown back on Good Friday.
The Magpies certainly have the attacking personnel to make things happen, and the likes of Ryan Clarke and Matt Thompson looked threatening at times last Sunday. Justin Micallef also helped put an extra spring in Maitland’s step when he came off the bench with twenty minutes to go.
While they’ll know goals are a necessity, things must remain tight at the back for Maitland. Miscommunication played a hand in the first two of Broadmeadow’s goals on Sunday.
That won’t exactly be an easy task though, because Broadmeadow’s incredible depth will be on full display come Sunday afternoon with the anticipated return of two gun attackers.
James Virgili was a good chance of playing last Sunday and may have come on if Magic needed a goal late, but a good first half meant he wasn’t risked. Also coming back in is Mitch Oxborrow, who has served his five-game suspension.
It means Broadmeadow has just about a full-strength squad to pick from and one which could be even more dangerous in the front third of the park. They’ve scored 47 goals in the NPL Northern NSW this season.
Magic has traditionally had a good record in finals matches, too. In their last seven finals matches, they’ve lost just twice. Add in the experience and the camaraderie amongst the Magic squad, and things bode well for them come Sunday.
What the coaches said
Ruben Zadkovich (Magic)
“The boys are confident, but not overly confident. We’ve only done half a job, we know that Maitland is a quality team and they’re going to throw the kitchen sink at us this weekend. We’ll have to be prepared to work really hard and execute well again. My boys are really looking good, training has been tip-top, we’ve got all our boys back… we’re looking strong.
“We’ll put out a lineup that’s going to work really really hard and can get the job done. We always look at where we can be better, each game we might change things tactically just a little bit but we’ve got a fair bit of variation in the way we line up. It’s a nice headache to have everyone fit, and we’ll have a plan that is the best one to play Maitland at home this weekend.
“It’s about picking the best team possible for the tactics we want to execute on the day. We plan to make sure we get to the grand final, and that’s how we’ll play.
“All the boys are fantastic, and I think there are a few unsung heroes in there at the moment. Jon Griffiths, Justin Broadley, Matt Hoole, they’ve all been fantastic and there are guys in there doing a really solid job, working really hard and setting an example for the rest of the boys.
“The leaders in our team like Josh Piddington and Luke Virgili set the platform and the tone for everything else. We’re looking good, we’ve got a strong squad at the moment coming into this game. We’ve done half a job, and now we’ve got another game to give ourselves a chance at that grand final. It won’t be easy, even though we’ve got a full squad. Maitland has a strong squad also… we’re in for a real battle this weekend.”
Edgeworth Eagles (1) v Lambton Jaffas (1)
Saturday 1st September, 3:30 pm at Jack McLaughlan Oval
It’s a battle of two of the league’s heavyweights, and it’s still anyone’s game after the two couldn’t be separated after ninety minutes of action last weekend.
In a match where Lambton scored early and dominated the opening stages and Edgeworth on top in the final hour, in the words of Jaffas coach James Pascoe, it leaves both coaches with a lot to ponder.
With both squads expected to be as near to full-strength as they have been, this is shaping as one of the matches of the season.
If Lambton can replicate the level of performance and the attacking threats which they posed in the opening stages of last Saturday’s match, one would think they’re in with a brilliant chance.
Ryan Griffiths and Luke Remington were two of the key creative men for the Jaffas, who did look good going forward and perhaps were unlucky not to have another goal.
It could be argued that the weather last weekend played some impact on the game slipping out of Lambton’s control, but it’s certainly not being used as an excuse.
The fact that Edgeworth has an away goal under their belts may play on Lambton minds, but the Jaffas have 90 minutes to grab one (or more) of their own and an early goal would help put minds at ease.
The approach from the Eagles will be an interesting one, but it’s likely to be an attacking one as they’ll know that all it takes is one Lambton goal to square that away goals ledger.
In the past four seasons of Edgeworth reigning near-supreme in the NPL Northern NSW, they’ve only lost once in ten finals appearances. The side to inflict that defeat was Lambton.
Where the Eagles will have to improve this weekend is in the final third. Their finishing wasn’t at it’s highest standard last Saturday, and the likes of Bailey Garland and Jamie Byrnes will have to step up in order to help lock up a grand final berth.
Especially so if Lambton is to grab a goal. That’d force the Eagles into going on the attack, as their away goal advantage would disappear and it’d become a case of win at all costs.