MAGIC coach Ruben Zadkovich expects Steve Piggott’s Weston squad to spring a few surprises this year after his side escaped with a 2-0 win on Saturday night.
Broadmeadow hosted the Bears at Magic Park in the only Northern NSW National Premier League round two game to survive the wet weekend.
A Shane Paul tap-in in the 53rd minute off a Lawrence Foteff header and James Virgili’s breakaway goal deep in injury time proved the difference against Weston, who had Jordan Jackson sent off for a second yellow card foul with 20 minutes remaining.
The Bears finished with nine men after substitute Jacob Golding came off injured in early in time added on.
The result followed a 1-1 draw with two-time defending premiers Edgeworth for Magic and a 2-2 stalemate with newly promoted Lake Macquarie for Weston, who finished last in 2016.
Former Jets captain and Socceroo Zadkovich, who is making his senior coaching debut with the beaten 2016 grand finalists, was pleased with his side’s attitude but also impressed with the intensity of Weston’s new line-up.
“I think Piggo is doing a really good job with such a young squad,” Zadkovich said. “I was really impressed with their younger boys, Jake Millsteed in midfield, Dane Johnson and a few others. The way he’s got them playing, it was quite impressive.”
He praised the work of the Bears’ frontline without the ball.
“They way they pressed, they didn’t do it against Lakes, but they did it against us really well,” he said. “It suits them and they looked a much better team.”
The win takes Magic to the top of the table, and while their attack needs to improve, Zadkovich was pleased with their work rate and attitude.
“We were hard to beat again, which is what I’m looking for,” he said. “We know teams will come to our ground and lift and I told the boys we need to lift with them. It was a pretty even match but in the end I think it was more of a mental thing and a bit of quality that got us over the line.”
Piggott was proud of the effort from his side but lamented their missed chances.
“We limited their areas, played 4-4-2, pressed them high and took the game to them,” Piggott said.
“They had to kick a little bit more and we made it uncomfortable at times. We had a plan and we worked to it for 94 minutes. To get beat 2-0 hurts a bit because the second goal came in the 94th minute when we were down to nine men.
“It takes a little bit a gloss off it and 2-0 doesn’t really tell the story. We were still down in the corner attacking trying to win and they go 95 metres to score.
“We were still naive in a few areas and had probably three quality chances, two shots in the first half over the bar and Jamie Byrnes’ header from two yards out at the keeper’s feet. It was a good header and most days it beats the keeper and it’s one all, but as I said last week, if you can’t execute in front of goals, you can’t win games.”
** All round two Herald Women’s Premier League matches were washed out.