EDGEWORTH coach Damian Zane rates the FFA Cup the most important competition of the season and was thrilled after the Eagles produced a sizzling second half to smash Lambton Jaffas 5-0 on Saturday.
The Northern NSW heavyweights were locked nil-all at half-time before the Eagles exploded with three goals in five minutes to take control at Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility, Speers Point.
Edgeworth meet Maitland at Jack McLaughlan Oval on Tuesday at 7pm in a final four NNSW qualifier. Broadmeadow, who beat Valentine 4-0, play Coffs City at LMRFF on Monday at 10am in the other game to decide which two clubs join the Newcastle Jets from NNSW in the round of 32 nationwide section of the knockout.
Edgeworth became the region's best performers in the competition when they progressed to the round of 16 last year, where they went down 5-1 to A-League side Western Sydney Wanderers.
"The FFA Cup is number one, pure and simple," Zane said. "We have seen what it has done for our club. If you can make the round of 32 you have some big nights and memorable nights. We want to win the league as well, but when it's FFA Cup day you know it because the boys lift and go to another level."
The Jaffas suffered a blow just before half-time when skipper Jobe Wheelhouse injured his ankle in a tangle with Ayden Brice and was replaced.
After creating the majority of chances in the opening 45 minutes, Edgeworth finally made one count six minutes after the break when Dylan Holz unleashed a thunderbolt with his left foot.
Two minutes later Brice converted from the spot after Adam Cawley was brought down by keeper Brad Swancott. Cawley completed the blitz a minute later before Daniel McBreen and Kieran Sanders rubbed salt into the wound
"We know they do very well in the 15 minutes after half-time," Zane said. "The boys stepped it up and went bang, bang, bang. It was very pleasing. Dylan Holz was fantastic again. Macca had that passion back. His enthusiasm was there and the boys feed off that. Kieran Sanders scored with a brilliant chip. He has some quality and we haven't see the best of him yet. That is what we have been lacking, a bit of composure around goal."
The result was a reverse of the NPL game last Sunday, which Jaffas won 2-0.
"We just didn't turn up this week to be honest and were behind the eight ball from the start," Jaffas defender Michael Sessions said. "We got a few injuries which didn't help our cause. It was Edgworth's day. They were just a bit sharper. Every second ball, they won."
James Virgili opened the scoring for Broadmeadow in the 13th minute against Valentine but Magic didn't seal the win until a late blitz, highlight by a spectacular back-heel from Peter Haynes on 83 minutes. Sam Webb and Shane Paul scored late for Magic.
Third-tier Cardiff City suffered a heart-breaking loss to Coffs City on penalties 4-2 after the scores were locked at 1-1 following 120 minutes.
In the final game, Maitland edged past Byron Bay 3-2 in extra-time.