On a weekend when two big-name recruits were the talk of the league, Edgeworth coach Damian Zane was more than pleased to see an Eagles product star in a 3-0 win over Adamstown on Sunday.
Edgeworth, backing up from their 1-0 FFA Cup win on Tuesday night, jumped over Valentine into second in the NNSW National Premier League after 14 rounds with the comfortable victory on a muddy Adamstown Oval.
Will Bower gave import Kieran Sanders the easiest of tap-ins with a pinpoint cross in the 16th minute then was on the spot himself to knock in a rebounded shot in the 18th. From there, the Eagles were in control. Sanders dazzled the defence before crossing for Brody Taylor to score with a diving header in the 54th minute to seal it.
While Sanders was a standout, Zane "got more of a kick out of” seeing Bower make the most of his chance.
“He’s making strides,” Zane said. “He played in the cup game and scored a couple against Belswans, then did well against Valentine. We are looking at him as one of those players that springs up and does some damage for us off the bench in the back-end of the season. He’s a good kid and he listens.”
Caretaker Adamstown coach Nick Webb, in his second game in charge after the axing of Peter McGuinness, was pleased with his side’s second-half resolve.
“I’m just trying to get the mentality right, more than anything,” Webb said. “They can all play but it’s about getting a winning mentality because they are last and used to it. But we’re working on that and we showed some resilience in the second half and had quite a few shots towards the end.”
Maitland also backed up with success on Sunday, smashing the Jets Youth 6-1 on a rain-battered Cooks Square Park, to be a point shy of fourth-placed Hamilton.
Josh Dutton-Black and Carl Thornton provided the highlights, scoring with a stunning free kick and long-range shot in the ninth and 66th minutes respectively. Liam Thornton, Ben Martin, Matt Comerford and Chris Fayers also scored. Ryhan Smith struck late for the Jets.
It was a tough day for the Jets, who played 16-year-old Tristan Esquilant in goals after losing Pierce Clark and Noah James to injury.
“I wasn’t too upset with the way we played with the ball, considering the conditions,” Jets coach Clayton Zane said. “We had some good moments, but always against Maitland we struggle physically. And we struggle on set pieces.”
The other game on Sunday, between Lake Macquarie and Charlestown at Macquarie Field, was called off when the referee deemed the pitch unsuitable after the lower grade matches.
Maitland coach Phil Dando was happy with how his side shut down the Jets and finished the job after leading 3-0 at half-time.
“If you let the Jets play, they’ll play all around you and play you off the park, so we imposed ourselves and set up to stop them playing through us," Dando said.
“And when we had it, we knocked it around really well.”
The rain-marred day followed surprise debuts from two former Jets on Saturday. Mitch Oxborrow starred for Broadmeadow in their 3-1 win over Valentine, while Kristian Brymora scored off the bench for leaders Lambton Jaffas in their 5-0 victory against Weston on Saturday.
The results kept the Eagles two points behind Jaffas, but they are now two clear of Valentine with seven games to play. Edgeworth were in a similar position last year before overrunning Hamilton late to take the title.
“We’ve just got to take care of our own,” Damian Zane said.
“Essentially it’s not in our hands. If you win all your games from here, you’d probably be an unlucky second, so we’ve just got to concentrate on ourselves.”
Zane took Brody Taylor off after his goal and rested defender Pat Wheeler against Adamstown.
“I was happy with the clean sheet and it was a pretty professional performance,” he said.
“We got in and got the job done on an ugly day.
“I said to the boys that this was the type of weather for an upset, and they went out and went bang, bang. At halftime, it was just about going on to get that next goal, and it’s just been a really good week.
“We didn’t finish off the game but we’ve had a big week.”