EDGEWORTH coach Damian Zane again hailed the influence of new signing Daniel McBreen after his side stayed on track to repeat their 2015 FFA Cup heroics.
The Eagles, who lost 2-1 to A-League club Melbourne City in the round of 32 last season, beat Northern NSW NPL rivals Broadmeadow Magic 4-2 on penalties on Saturday at Jack McLaughlan Oval after the scores were level 1-1 at half-time.
Former A-League striker McBreen, 38, continued his good pre-season form by giving the home side the lead in the 17th minute with a neat dink over the keeper off a Bren Hammel through-ball.
Last year’s NPL minor and major premiers led until the final 10 seconds, when Magic veteran Peter Haynes scored from a free kick on the edge of the box.
Haynes then skied Broadmeadow’s first penalty and Eagles keeper Jim Fogarty made a save off Ben Higgins to help Edgeworth stay alive in the competition.
“It was a stressful one, for coaches, at any rate,” a relieved Zane said.
“I don’t really want to go through penalties again.
“I think we deserved to win, and I prayed to god that in the penalty shootout he would reward the team that deserved to win, and it happened that way.”
Zane praised McBreen’s ability to hold up the ball and create opportunities.
“He just didn’t lose the ball. No one can even get a toe in. It’s good for us. He was great again.”
Zane said the FFA Cup was a big part of the club’s season and he was glad to have negotiated one of the toughest hurdles in the Northern NSW division of the national knockout.
“It’s massive. The boys realise. When I took over last year I said the FFA Cup was a big goal for us, and they realise that again. You can just tell at the end of the game it felt like a competition win.
“I don’t know whether we should be playing against Broadmeadow at this stage of the competition, but that’s another story.”
In the earlier games at Jack McLaughlan Oval, Hamilton Olympic beat promoted Valentine in another clash of NPL top-division clubs.
Singleton beat Dudley 4-3 on penalties after a 1-1 draw after 90 minutes.
Weston lost 2-1 to fellow NPL club Charlestown City Blues at Cooks Square Park at Maitland.
Adamstown Rosebud beat Maitland 2-1 and the Lambton Jaffas flogged depleted Zone Premier League club Beresfield 10-1.
In the two remaining Northern NSW southern pool games, Belmont-Swansea host Jesmond at Blacksmiths on Tuesday night and West Wallsend entertain the Thornton Redbacks at Johnston Park on Wednesday night, both at 7pm.