Edgeworth goalscorers Brody Taylor and Daniel McBreenValentine coach Darren Sills believes Edgeworth will power to their third consecutive Northern NSW NPL premiership double after they made his side “look second-rate” in a 5-0 drubbing on Saturday.
Fifth-placed Phoenix were desperate for a win in the penultimate-round game at Cahill Oval to keep their finals hopes afloatbut they paid the price for errors in the first half to trail the ladder leaders 2-0 at the break.
Brody Taylor put the Eagles ahead in the 32ndminute with a header off a Dom Bizzarri cross, whichwas put over goalkeeper Scott Carter who had rushed out of his area.
Dylan Holz then hit a shot from an acute angle which came off Carter’s hands into goals as he dived back towards the goalline.
Will Bower made it 3-0 in the 84thminute after Carter spilled a cross, Daniel McBreen hit a powerful strike on the run from range in the 90thand Keigo Moriyasu cleverly chipped the keeper in the 94th.
The win and third-placed Lambton Jaffas’ 2-1 loss to Maitland at Edden Oval on Saturday means only Hamilton Olympic can now stop Edgeworth from claiming the minor premiership. Olympic are two points behind the Eagles. Hamilton play Broadmeadow in the last round, while Edgeworth host Lakes.
Regardless of what Hamilton can do, Sills believed the Eagles were on track for another title double. Valentine are out of the finals race after Broadmeadow won on Sunday.
“There were a couple of mistakes in the first half that meant we had to change game plan and that didn’t help,” Sills said.“But, in the end, we were totally outclassed and on that performance I can’t see anyone beating them. They made us look second-rate today.”
To make matters worse, Valentine’s league-leading goalscorer and player of the year contender, Jalon Brown, went down late with a hamstring tear and looks unlikely to feature again this year.
Edgeworth coach Damian Zane could just about touch the premiership trophy.
“It sort of half feels like we’ve won it, but we haven’t,” Zane said. “But gee, it would be hard to see us losing it from here.”
The result meansEdgeworth are now eight goals better than Hamilton, meaning a draw next week should be enough to guarantee the premiership.
At Edden Oval, the Jaffas went ahead in the second minute when the ball fell in the box to an unmarked Ryan Griffiths, whoburied his left-foot shot.
Lambton were in control for the rest of the half without extending their lead, but Maitland took over in the second half and led in the 59th minute afterLiam Thornton’s header from a corner and Jye Mackellar’s finish from a rebounded.
The win kept Maitland’s finals hopes alive on Saturday alive but Broadmeadow ended them on Sunday.
Maitland coach Phil Dando said his side rolled their sleeves up andgot the job done.
“The strong wind made a difference and we ran with it second half,” Dando said.
“But we were really sloppy two minutes in to concede and we just weren’t desperate enough.
“But as the half went on I thought we coped with the bumpy pitch and defended well, even though they had some good chances.
“We had to take Matt Sokulsky off in the first half and we changed from 4-4-3 to 4-4-2 and it worked quite well.
“We defended well and created some chances in the second half.
“Then we hung on and didn’t concede a late goal as we’ve been prone to do. We grafted hard which we don’t always do as well as we might.”
Dando was full of praise for Trott, whomade acrucial save late, and centre-backs Shane Cansdell-Sherriff and Zac Hill.