EDGEWORTH coach Damian Zane found it hard to celebrate, even after the Eagles’ negotiated their third consecutive and toughest path to the FFA Cup round of 32.
“We just weren’t ourselves the whole match, and red cards, that’s not us,” Zane said after a 10-man Eagles beat Maitland 1-0 at Speers Point on Tuesday night.
Adam Cawley scored the winner in the 28th minute of a pulsating match which ended in drama after Ayden Brice was shown a straight red card in the 89th minute. Footage showed Brice being checked off the ball by James Tassell but not the ensuing altercation. A witness told the Herald Brice charged head first into Tassell in retaliation. Brice faces a likely two-match ban which should be served in National Premier League games before the Cup in late July.
The Brice incident threw fuel on the fire for Zane, who was already disappointed with the performance.
“We looked likely even though I thought they were in control of the second half, we just couldn’t get that second goal,” Zane said. “The first half, it was just unlike us, the discipline wasn’t there. I know we where on top, but it just wasn’t us.”
Edgeworth join Broadmeadow, who beat Coffs City 3-1 on Monday, in the nationwide section of the knockout. Both clubs have made it to the round of 32, which is drawn June 29, for the third time in four years.
Edgeworth defeated NPL leaders Lambton Jaffas 5-0 on Saturday to set up the clash with Maitland, who beat Byron Bay 3-2. Despite his criticism, Zane believed the Eagles, who also beat fourth-placed Hamilton in the Cup, had earned their spot given it was their toughest Cup run.
“The boys are really happy and the draw we got, we probably deserve it,” he said. “Maitland played Byron Bay and it went to extra-time but I watched that game and our under 20s would roll them. Our game against Jaffas, I know it ended up 5-0, but it was quite intense.
“The first year we beat Hamilton and Magic, but Hamilton and Lambton are probably the two teams who are going to make a charge for the premiership this year, and Maitland are possibly going to make a run for the semis. So the boys deserve it.”
Maitland coach Phil Dando lamented his side’s missed chances, especially early in the second half, but praised their fighting effort.
“We knew it would be a battle and after playing extra-time on Saturday, after averaging a game every four and a half days or whatever, it was tough,” Dando said. “I think we were just running on adrenaline at the end.”
“We are disappointed obviously and Edgeworth are the yardstick, but I’ve told these boys that at their best they are a match for anyone in this league.”
Matt Thompson was courageous for Maitland, playing through illness and wearing head-gear to protect stitches, after missing Saturday’s clash.