FFA Cup: Hamilton skipper relishes return clash with Broadmeadow

ON THE BALL: Hamilton Olympic skipper Kyle Hodges remains one of the Northern NSW top division's best central defenders. Picture: Marina Neil
ON THE BALL: Hamilton Olympic skipper Kyle Hodges remains one of the Northern NSW top division's best central defenders. Picture: Marina Neil

HAMILTON captain Kyle Hodges would love to finally lead his club out on the national stage in the FFA Cup.

And after a controversial NPL loss to Broadmeadow last month, Hodges was hoping to meet Magic in the match to make that a reality.

The centre-back’s wish was granted when Olympic drew Broadmeadow for round seven of the Cup on Wednesday night at Adamstown Oval. Charlestown play Lambton Jaffas at Lisle Carr Oval. The two winners progress to the FFA Cup’s nationwide round of 32.

Hodges and Broadmeadow midfielder Shane Paul had a spirited debate on Facebook over the final goal in Magic’s 4-2 win over Hamilton on May 20.

Broadmeadow played on and scored with Hodges out of position after he stopped alongside fallen Magic player Dino Fajkovic. Hodges said it was the ‘worst sportsmanship I’ve ever seen’. It sparked a debate with Paul, who defended the goal and criticised Hodges for kicking the ball at Magic’s celebrations.

Ahead of the Cup clash, Hodges said: “It was anger and heated on the field, but we’re all still mates. It’s just a game at the end of the day”.

“I said to him a week or so after the game that it will be good if we draw you guys in the final round to get into the FFA Cup, so it’s all worked it. It should be a blockbuster.”

Hodges was sticking to his guns over the goal and believed the incident would add spice to the Cup game. 

“It was the second time he had gone down injured, the ball was in their half. If it was in our half and they were attacking, fair enough,” he said. “They had plenty of time to kick it out, but it’s all good. We’ve moved on and hopefully we can get a win on Wednesday.

“I think it will all lead to a bit of a build-up. It will make it more intense, definitely.”

Hamilton have yet to feature in the round of 32 but defeated NNSW cup kings Edgeworth on Saturday 3-2 to give themselves a chance.

Olympic sit eighth, six points off the top four, in the NPL after 10 games under new coach Peter McGuinness and with a rebuilt squad. With three wins in their past four matches, they loom as play-off contenders.​

”I think we’ve all started to click now,” said Hodges, one of just a few players left from last year's team. 

“We lost a lot of players, a new coach coming in, a different style of play. It was quite a bit to get used to, but it’s worked out well.

“I knew we always had a good enough team to compete and get wins, and all the games we’ve lost have been really close. I don’t think we’ve ever been outplayed. It’s just been a few defensive errors and things like that that have cost us games.”

He hopes to overcome a rib injury to play Wednesday. Scott Pettit (groin) and Jed Hornery (hamstring) were other concerns for Hamilton.

“I’d love to make the round of 32,” Hodges said.

“I haven’t too many more years left in me, so it would be awesome to make it and get to travel somewhere and play a big team.”

Hodges, though, said Hamilton were “not putting all our eggs into one basket” and making the NPL finals was still a focus.

“We’re six points off the top four and if we get lucky and a few results go our way, I’m confident we can get up there,” he said.

“We’re good enough.”

He said Hamilton had an intense pre-season, involving training three nights a week and weekly trial games, under McGuinness.

“A lot of people might not know how full-on it was,” he said.

“It’s eased off a bit now, but I don’t mind taking myself out of my comfort zone a bit and testing myself, it’s been really good.

“It was a longer pre-season and with more focus on structure and playing out.

“We went down to Sydney for quite a few trials games, so it was a bit of a wake-up call playing against teams of the next calibre.”