Premiers Edgeworth FC and second placed Hamilton Olympic have secured their respective starts in the PlayStation® 4 NPL 2015 Northern NSW Grand Final on Sunday.
Edgeworth claimed its place following two draws against Broadmeadow Magic, the away goals during Leg 1 proving the difference between bowing out in the Semi Finals and a Grand Final appearance.
With a one goal lead ahead of the second leg of the Semi Finals, Hamilton Olympic’s clash against Lambton Jaffas went into extra time as the result at the end of 90 minutes stood at 2-1, identical to the previous week’s result. An Olympic goal in the eleventh hour as the fulltime whistle blew stopped the match moving into penalties, with Hamilton’s position in the Grand Final booked.
Edgeworth FC 0 drew Broadmeadow Magic FC 0
Semi Final 1 Leg 2 (Edgeworth win 3-3 on aggregate)
Sat 29 August 2:30 PM
Jack McLaughlan Oval
The first of two matches in the second leg of the 2015 PS4 NPL Semi Finals was played at Jack McLaughlan Oval on Saturday as Edgeworth Eagles hosted Broadmeadow Magic.
The sides went into the match locked at 3-3 after a fascinating match in the first leg. Although the pair were even, Edgeworth had the advantage in the tie having three away goals to their name.
Edgeworth welcomed back Pat Wheeler to their line-up, a valuable addition to the back line who were going up against one of the best strike forces in the competition.
At half time neither sides had troubled the scorers, with the score locked at 0-0.
Immediately after the break Dylan Holz forced a great save out of Magic keeper Nathan Archbold which he deflected onto the cross bar.
Archbold was called into action again shortly after, denying a Brenton Olzomer one-on-one.
Both sides were reduced to ten men late in the match after both Jon Griffiths of Magic and Aaron Pritchard of Edgeworth were sent off for two yellow cards.
There was controversy late in the match as a call for a handball by Edgeworth centre back Josh Evans inside the box was waved away, and Peter Haynes had a sublimed effort from a free kick saved by Jim Fogarty.
Edgeworth survived the late onslaught to hold on for a 0-0 draw and progress to the Grand Final on away goals.
Lambton Jaffas FC 2 drew Hamilton Olympic FC 2
Semi Final 2 Leg 2 (Hamilton win 4-3 on aggregate)
Sun 30 August 2:30 PM
Arthur Edden Oval
In the second leg of the second Semi Final the Lambton Jaffas hosted Hamilton Olympic at Arthur Edden Oval.
Olympic entered the match with a 2-1 advantage, after Jacob Bailey and Kane Goodchild headers put them in the lead in the first leg. Peter McPherson’s late strike gave the Jaffas a valuable away goal.
Lambton were without several key players in Hakan Canli, Kevin Davidson and Jobe Wheelhouse, but ex Hyundai A-League and English Premier League star Michael Bridges started for the side.
Hamilton were at full strength however illness to Simon Mooney and a hamstring injury to Matt Swan threatened both players’ chances of performing at one hundred percent.
Both sides pushed for an early goal, however 45 minutes into the match the score was still 0-0.
A minute before the break however, Luke Remington charged onto a Michael Bridges pass down the left hand side, steaming into the box with an eye for goal. He struck a powerful shot past Danny Ireland and into the back of the net to make the score 1-0 to the Jaffas going into the break.
Nine minutes into the second half Lambton doubled their lead. A Jamie Byrnes cross from the right hand side aimed for Remington was parried by Ireland, then a John Majurovski follow up attempt was blocked. The ball fell perfectly to Riley McNaughton who struck a thunderous volley into the bottom left hand corner.
In the 77th minute Olympic struck, as Pat Brown headed home an Andrew Swan cross from close range to pull a goal back in the match, and level the scores 3-3 on aggregate.
The only way the match could go into extra time was if the Jaffas won 2-1, so the current score line would see the sides force an extra half an hour.
Both pushed on for an aggregate winner, with the best chance coming in the 88th minute. A Swan free kick from the left hand side was whipped into the box, and Bailey rose above the Jaffas defence and headed towards goal from close range, however Brad Swancott produced a magnificent reflex save to deny his former teammate.
Neither side could add an extra goal and the match went into extra time. By the halfway point of the extra 30 minutes neither side had scored, and the match looked destined to go to penalties just like their two finals matches in 2013 did.
Rhys Cooper had other ideas, standing up for the away side, netting the winner in the 111th minute. Tom Davies found Goodchild with a long ball from inside his own half, then the target man laid off a pass to Cooper who ran 20 metres and fired into the bottom left hand corner.
It was the final goal of the game as Olympic held on for a 2-2 draw, winning 4-3 on aggregate.
Olympic joins Edgeworth in the PS4 NPL Grand Final next Sunday, their first top flight Grand Final since a loss to Broadmeadow in 2012, with their last Grand Final victory six years ago in 2009.
Click here for a full rundown of both results.