Lambton Jaffas 2 (Sessions 80’, Brown 87’) defeated Hamilton Olympic (A.Swan 64’) 1 at Darling Street Oval. Lambton won 4-2 on aggregate.
Former Hamilton striker Pat Brown came back to haunt his former side, as Lambton Jaffas were the first side to book their place in the 2017 PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues (NPL) NNSW decider.
Brown struck the fatal blow for the Jaffas late in the second half, as Lambton qualified for their first Grand Final since 2014.
The Jaffas took a slender 2-1 advantage into the second leg and immediately began looking to extend their lead. Assistant coach Scott McCarter was calling the shots from the sideline, with Lambton coach James Pascoe bedridden with the illness.
Joel Griffiths forced Olympic keeper Tyler Warren down sharply to his left as Griffiths broke free down the right edge of the box, and minutes later Ben Hay fired off a couple of warning shots which Hamilton’s defence did well to block.
Olympic weren’t without chances of their own in the first half with the experienced duo of Kane Goodchild and Scott Smith linking up superbly. 2017 Golden Boot Goodchild just couldn’t get his radar on in the first half as the sides headed to half-time locked at 0-0.
However, in the second half, the match started to heat up. Just 60 seconds into the half and Olympic received a penalty when Scott Smith was adjudged to have been fouled in the box by Nathan Morris, in what looked to be a tough call against the Jaffas defender.
Goodchild stepped up and thumped his spot-kick into the top of the cross-bar and it sailed over as Lambton breathed a sigh of relief.
Although, the real drama was yet to come.
In the 64th minute after a lovely interplay of passing Kane Goodchild played Andrew Swan in on goal and he made no mistake from the right edge of the box, chipping over Brad Swancott in the Lambton goal to give Olympic the lead in the match and on aggregate.
But, after the goal was scored Olympic midfielder Daniel Bird allegedly made an obscene gesture to Jaffas defender Luke O’Dell – the two had been at each other all afternoon – and was subsequently given a straight red card by referee James Cleal.
Down to ten men, it was always going to be tough for Hamilton and in the 80th minute Michael Sessions put Lambton but in front on aggregate. Nathan Morris swung in a pinpoint corner and the Jaffas vice-captain broke free of his marker and powered his header past Warren.
And like they have done already this season against Olympic, Lambton backed up one goal with another as Pat Brown put the nail in Hamilton’s coffin.
In the 87th minute, Luke Remington darted along the byline for Lambton, cut back a pass for Michael Kantarovski who squared to Brown. The striker turned and slid his shot perfectly inside the far post as Lambton sealed their spot in the Grand Final.
While admitting to having “a little bit of nerves” after James Pascoe told him he wouldn’t be at the game, Lambton Jaffas Assistant Scott McCarter enjoyed his afternoon.
He simply said post-match, “the big moments probably went in our favour today”.
“We haven’t had too many of them all year so we’ll take them.”
McCarter was also full of praise for Jaffas skipper Jobe Wheelhouse.
“[Jobe] has been massive,” McCarter said. “We’ve won two games of football since he has been back. He knows how to control the tempo in big games. He was good today and he will be an important player next week.”
“[Reaching the] Grand Final is most important, that was one of our goals at the start of the year to make that game. It’ll be a good occasion.”
Olympic coach Michael Bolch felt his side had enough chances to win the match.
“Realistically, they took their chances and we didn’t take ours. We’ve played them four times this year and they have beaten us four times. Over two legs they have beaten us 4-2, so they were the better side over the two legs.”
However, Bolch said the send-off changed the match.
“The turning point is the send-off. In hindsight, after rewatching it the referee probably got it right. It was just dumb play really.”
With his eight years wrapping up at Hamilton after the match Bolch reflected briefly about his time at the club.
“As a coach, you always want to think that you leave a club in a better position than when you came there.
“We’ve won the club championship three of the last four years, we’ve got a lot of good young kids coming through. We got one game from the Grand Final, so you’d like to think the club is in a good position moving forward.”
PS4 NPL NNSW Semi Final 2nd Leg
Olympic 1 Lambton 2
Lambton win 2-4 on aggregate
Olympic 2 Edgeworth 1
Olympic win 5-1 on aggregate and progress to next weeks Grand Final 🏆
Olympic 4 Charlestown 0
Olympic win 7-2 on aggregate and progress to next weeks Grand Final 🏆
NPL Youth GRAND FINAL
🏆 Under 15s
OLYMPIC GRAND FINAL WINNERS🏆
Olympic 4 Magic 0
Zone League 2 Semi Final 1st Leg
Kahibah 0 Olympic 3
Community Juniors Preliminary Final
Olympic 4 Cooks Hill 0
The 16s progress to next weeks Grand Final 🏆
Olympic 0 Kotara 4
Olympic 1 Maitland 0
The 13s progress to next weeks Grand Final 🏆
Olympic 0(5) Valentine 0(4)
The 12As progress to next weeks Grand Final 🏆
Olympic 1 Adamstown 2 (aet)