Maitland FC 3 (M. Swan 4’, Clarke 69’, Cowburn 85’) def. Hamilton Olympic 0
Sunday 4 August, 2:30pm, Cooks Square Park
Concluding what has been one of the biggest weeks in Maitland’s club history, the Magpies put on a solid display to shut-out Hamilton and stake their claim at both playing finals once again, but also at a chance to win their second-ever premiership.
In the reverse fixture, Olympic put on a clinic to win 4-0, but this time around, the hosts were focused on getting on the offensive early and it led to a goal in the first five minutes after some delicate passing being finished off with a Matt Swan header from close range thanks to a pinpoint cross from Ryan Clarke.
The visitors struggled to gather any momentum that resulted in chances in the final third as the Magpies’ strong defence kept them at bay throughout the first half.
In the second stanza, the hosts looked to pile on the pressure for their opponents and James Thompson proved to be a constant threat, as was Clarke who, after having a golden chance saved not long earlier, had his persistence pay off weaving his way onto a bouncing through ball and popping into the top of the net to double the lead.
Nothing was working out for Olympic and it was typified in the play that saw Rhys Cooper’s rocketing volley only kept out by some desperate defending from Maitland captain Carl Thornton who threw his body in front of the ball to keep a clean sheet.
The Magpies would seal the game not long later through their former Newcastle Jets star Nick Cowburn who curled a shot in the bottom corner of the goal to pick up his first since linking up with the Coalfields club mid-season and extend their winning margin to three.
Maitland now move into third place on the table despite playing a game or two less than their fellow top four compatriots and are beginning to firm as potential favourites to take out the premiership title if they can continue their red-hot form.
Magpies’ coach Mick Bolch was impressed with his team’s performance following an challenging midweek battle against the Central Coast Mariners.
“I couldn’t be happier with the effort today. I thought we were pretty comfortable,” Bolch said.
“We were pretty banged up after the Wednesday night’s game. There were a lot of sore boys and it’s probably hard to get up the next day after playing in front of a crowd of 3,000 in that sort of atmosphere.
“Olympic have nothing to play for except to spoil a few sides in the semis, so for me it was a big banana-skin type of game.”
With the side sitting in the drivers’ seat for an incredible premiership run, the former Hamilton coach admitted the team weren’t getting ahead of themselves and instead were putting in the effort to make sure no points slipped especially in their important game coming during the week.
“We’re starting to get a lot stronger across our squad now,” he said.
“The group are putting a lot of pressure on themselves. They’re fighting for semi-finals spots so there’s a lot of competition amongst themselves.
“There’s plenty of experience that keep the boys with level heads.
“For me, realistically, our game against Jaffas on Wednesday night is massive. Whoever wins Wednesday night has a massive foot in the door.”
For Hamilton, they continue to squander well below the top six in eighth and will finish their year in a mid-table position in what can only be described as a lacklustre year for the boys in blue, however, they do have a chance of creating a highlight in their season when they take on arch-rivals Broadmeadow Magic in the Red and Blue Derby next weekend.
Under 20s Olympic won 2-0
Under 18s Olympic won 7-1
Maitland vs Olympic
Under 16s Olympic won 2-0
Under 15s Olympic won 3-2
Under 14s drew 0-0
Under 13s Olympic won 13-0
Zone League 2
Olympic vs Merewether
1st Grade Merewether won 2-3
2nd Grade Olympic won 2-0
IN OTHER GAMES:
Lambton Jaffas 2 (Sutton 67, Crowley 90+1’) def. Broadmeadow Magic 0
Saturday 3 August, 2:30pm, Arthur Edden Oval
Lambton have made a major impression on the top four and premiership race after taking down Broadmeadow in a terrific match where both goalkeepers shined.
Jaffas’ keeper Brad Swancott proved why he’s still getting starts despite the arrival of former Newcastle Jets gloveman Ben Kennedy, stopping two early shots from Magic’s James Virgili and Josh Piddington from inside the box.
His side weren’t able to create many worthwhile opportunities in the first half, but in the second, the hosts came alive.
Josh Sutton was looming as a threat on the right-hand side, as was Braedyn Crowley in the middle, however down the other end of the field, Swancott was once again called upon to save a shot from James Virgili, before Will McFarlane showed some desperation to clear the rebound off the line.
Moments later, it looked like the breakthrough would come when the Jaffas were awarded one of two penalties of the game. Crowley stepped up, but his shot was well-parried by Paul Bitz to keep the game level although there would be nothing he could do on a later play that led to the first goal.
A goalmouth scramble where multiple clearances were attempted landed at the feet of an unmarked Sutton who blasted it into the bottom corner of the net.
The Magicians continued their barrage on goal looking to equalise, but were constantly met by the brilliant hands of Swancott denying Kristian Brymora, and Virgili twice more.
As stoppage time ticked over, a desperate Broadmeadow sent a large number of bodies forward looking for their goal, and it left a gaping defence of which Crowley exploited, dashing past tired legs and burying it past Bitz in goal.
As was the trend of the day, a very late penalty for the visitors looked as though it may spell at least one goal for the day, but Lambton’s veteran goalkeeper had other ideas, saving Virgili’s shot from the spot expertly.
Although Lambton still sit on the outside of the top four, they are now just two points away from Broadmeadow above them but have a game in hand and in addition to that, sit just five points away from the current league leaders Edgeworth who they have two games in hand of.
The defending Grand Final winners are still within a shout of the premiership despite experiencing just their third loss of the year, but, exemplifying how close the competition is this year, they also are at strong risk of missing out on finals if they aren’t able to bounce back.
Newcastle Jets Youth 1 (Petratos 2’) drew with Adamstown Rosebud 1 (Keogh 16’)
Saturday 3 August, 2:30pm, Adamstown Oval
For the third game in a row, Adamstown have picked up points this weekend getting a tight draw against the young Newcastle Jets Youth.
The game didn’t start in the hosts’ favour though as Maki Petratos let loose with a long shot that found its way past Daniel Eisenhauer in goals and into the back of the net after 90 seconds of football.
The Rosebuds weren’t fazed by the early deficit though and worked their way back into the game as Finn Beasley came close to scoring, before Mat Keogh got his second goal for the year with a strong, looping header to equalise.
Petratos continued to trouble the defence of Adamstown, but Eisenhauer was fit for the task pulling off multiple saves to deny Petratos and his teammates.
That continued to be the case in the second half as Eisenhaur was called upon again for his side, even making three saves in rapid succession to deny Petratos, Joey O’Connor and Jack Simmons, all from close range.
Neither side were able to find the killing blow to their opposition leaving both with a frustrating draw as the season nears an end.
The Rosebuds are still in the dogfight going on to avoid the wooden spoon and currently sit in equal last-place but are ahead of their low-tabled rivals on goal difference.
The Jets continue to squander in mid-table obscurity for 2019 and can only finish in seventh or eighth over the last few games.
Valentine Phoenix 3 (Garland 45+1’, Pearson 90’, Paul 90+1) def. Edgeworth Eagles 1 (Rose 78’)
Sunday 4 August, 2:30pm, CB Complex
In arguably the biggest upset of the season, Valentine pulled out two late goals to overcome an in-form Edgeworth side in their hopes of avoiding a second consecutive wooden spoon.
As many would have expected, the Eagles took the ascendancy early with the majority of possession and created two golden opportunities in the first half.
The first came from a goalmouth scramble that ended with Josh Rose having his shot saved and cleared off the line by Perry Budeen, Valentine’s goalkeeper, before Aden Gardner then had his hit headed over the bar by Josh Murray stopping a certain goal.
Despite the large time the Phoenix spent defending the league-leaders, the first goal of the game actually came courtesy of the hosts on the brink of half-time following a huge goalkeeping blunder by Josh Low that gifted Bailey Garland an easy finish into an open net.
Trailing in the second-half, Edgeworth’s task would only get more challenging as the team fell to 10-men after what can only be considered a brain-snap by key forward Oliver Smith who was shown his second yellow card for a reckless challenge, and just seconds later, proceeded to head-butt Jacob Bailey as he left the field – an action that could see him missing from the side for some time.
In famous Edgeworth fashion though, the visitors didn’t give up hope despite the numbers disadvantage and with just over ten minutes left in the game, the Eagles notched up an equaliser through their veteran defender as Rose skilfully controlled a cross from Gardner and clinically tucking it into the side of the goal.
The drama at Croudace Bay wouldn’t stop there though, as Valentine youngster Kaleb Pearson provided an epic twist in the tale, latching himself onto a through ball that saw him in acres of space, before beating a defender and toeing it into the bottom of the goal right on the stroke of stoppage time.
One of the hosts’ star men Matt Paul put the cherry on top just a minute later, striking the ball from distance past Low to seal one of the most surprising results of the year as the Phoenix knocked off the defending premiers.
The victory for Valentine snaps a seven-game losing streak as well as a 12-game losing run against Edgeworth, but more importantly puts them within a chance of avoiding the dreaded last-place as they enter the last few weeks of the competition.
Coach of the Phoenix Sam Griffin, was over the moon with the major upset and stating the result was a compensation for the effort the team had been putting in over the year.
“It’s been a very tough year… but I’m just so happy for them because they deserve it – they deserved some reward for what they’re putting in,” Griffin said.
“We needed everything to go right to beat them, and it did.
“There’s obviously some luck there as well, but that’s the game. We took our chances, and they didn’t.”
“We definitely matched them physically and in parts were dominant in that way.
“We’ve threatened to do this in so many games that it’s not a surprise but when they scored an equaliser in the last ten minutes, we’ve been guilty of giving it away previously, so to have the mental fortitude to say ‘no, we’re not going to let it happen again’… I couldn’t fault any of the boys today.”
Near the top of the table, with the two teams below them dropping points over the weekend, the Eagles will be kicking themselves after missing out on the chance to put one hand on the premiership trophy, and now, the title is once again anyone’s to take.
Weston Bears 2 (Morris 18’, Tjien-Fooh 86’) drew with Charlestown City Blues 2 (Goodchild 26’, Ferguson 72’)
Sunday 4 August, 2:30pm, Rockwell Automation Park
Going by the purple patch in form from these two sides heading into this match, there didn’t look to be anything that would separate them and that’s exactly how it turned out as Weston and Charlestown traded leads to finish all square.
The Bears were the first to get onto the scoresheet thanks to their captain Nathan Morris who made a searching run forward from the backline and ended up smashing in a volley low into the goal, but their early lead wouldn’t stay around for long.
Charlestown defender Riley McNaughton made a strong, sliding challenge and the rebound fell perfectly for an on-running Kane Goodchild who made no mistakes slotting it into the side of the goal scoring his fourth of the year and equalising the game.
The second half saw much of the same frantic football that was displayed in the first, and both sides went close to nabbing the lead early on. Rio Nishuira launched a shot from distance that was saved, then Jason Tjien-Fooh had his volley denied by the woodwork.
Both teams were knocking on the door but it would be the visitors who found the second-half breakthrough after some lovely work by Rene Ferguson who did well to chest down a cross and smack a volley on his turn high in the goal over the head of Weston goalkeeper Tristian Esquiliant.
The Blues looked in control and had two great chances to double their lead and possibly seal the game, but Esquiliant pulled off two terrific saves – one from point blank range to deny Ferguson of a double.
With the game looking in favour of Charlestown, up stepped the Bears’ Dutchman, as Tjien-Fooh showed some skill and class to beat a defender and smash home a goal into the bottom corner with just under five minutes remaining.
Drama continued to ensue at Bear Park though as the two teams traded goal-scoring chances in the five minutes of stoppage time.
First Tjien-Fooh was denied of a second goal by the feet of Nate Archibold in goals and seconds later, the ball was cleared off the line by defender Kevin Davison, while down the other end, a last minute free-kick from McNaughton looked destined to perch itself in the top corner had it not been for a diving effort from Esquilant.
Fans were able to finally breathe as the full-time whistle sounded, but both coaches will feel they could have taken all three points in one of the more exciting games seen this season.
Charlestown’s finals hopes have taken a slight hit, but they are still well and truly in the fight for a top four spot and are only six points off the top with two games in hand of the top two teams, while for the Bears they’ve let a golden opportunity slip.
A win for Weston would have seen them take first place back from Edgeworth, but instead they remain stuck behind by one point and locked in a six-way battle for the ultimate prize.
Lake Macquarie City Roosters had the bye.