GOALKEEPER Danny Ireland was the hero as Charlestown defeated Lambton Jaffas on penalties on Wednesday night to go through with Broadmeadow to represent Northern NSW in the FFA Cup round of 32.
Ireland made quality saves late in the regular time and in extra-time, including diving efforts to deny Joel Griffiths twice and Luke Remington, and keep the round seven game scoreless at Lisle Carr Oval.
The former Jaffas and Hamilton shot-stopper then starred in the penalty shoot-out, diving to stop shots from Griffiths, Michael Sessions and Ben Hay. Jaffas keeper Brad Swancott grabbed Charlestown’s opening strike from Scott Smith, but Kev Davison, Daniel Minors and Zac Lloyd converted their chances to give the Blues the win 3-2 when Ireland denied Hay.
It marks the first time Charlestown have reached the main draw of the FFA Cup and coach David Tanchevski was proud of the effort to hang on and force penalties.
“I thought we were the better team in the first half but they were better in the second, then we were gone in extra-time,” Tanchevski said.
“We tried to play defensively and limit their chances because we were out on our feet. They played better and probably deserved to win, but Danny was great.”
Ireland missed most of last season with illness while at Hamilton but was one of Charlestown’s major recruits.
“It’s great for Danny’s confidence,” Tanchevski said.
“He showed he’s back to his best form and he’s always been great in penalty shootouts.”
In regular time, tensions threatened to boilover when a challenge from Tom Smart put Griffiths into the fence in the 62nd minute. They then pushed each other before teammates separated the pair.
Pat Brown found the back of the net in the 87th minute for Jaffas but he was called offside.
At Adamstown Oval, veteran striker John Majurovski proved the match-winner as Broadmeadow beat Hamilton 2-1 to qualify for the round of 32 for a fourth time.
Magic led in the 42nd minute when Mitch Oxborrow, who earlier hit the woodwork, scored with a low free kick through traffic.
Hamilton, though, had threatened regularly and gained a deserved equaliser in the third minute of first-half injury time through Jed Hornery off a Tom Davies cross. Hornery, battling hamstring tightness, had come off the bench after Simon Mooney went down with a serious knee injury in the seventh minute.
Broadmeadow had the better of the second half and peppered the Olympic goal. James Virgili and Kale Bradbery both hit the post with shots before substitute Majurovski scored with a lunging header off a Matt Hoole ball in the 81st minute.
Magic coach Ruben Zadkovich said a tactical change just after half-time “spun the game on its head”.
He was proud of their fighting effort late but said his side “didn’t play very well”.
The round of 32 draw will be shown live on Fox Sports on Tuesday, June 26.
Hamilton coach Peter McGuinness said his players were “hurting big time. It means a lot to them”.
“There was a period there in the second half where we turned over a lot of possession, but just when I thought we’d rode it out, they scored that second goal,” McGuinness said.
“I thought we had our fair share of chances.
“It’s disappointing to lose but we’re getting better. We gave a good account of ourselves.”