NPL: Hamilton count on Magic revival after keeping hopes alive

Broadmeadow coach Ruben Zadkovich said his side “weren’t at the races” on Sunday as Hamilton kept their Northern NSW NPL finals hopes alive with a 3-0 win at Magic Park.

The bad news for Hamilton, though, was Zadkovich admitted “there’s not much for us to play for next week”.

The win kept Olympic (30) a point behind fourth-placed Maitland (31), who beat third-placed Lambton Jaffas (34) 1-0 on Saturday at Edden Oval and host Broadmeadow (35) next Saturday in the last round. Hamilton need to beat Weston away and have Magic get a result against Maitland for them to make the play-offs. Magic and Jaffas were safely in the finals before the weekend, while Edgeworth (43) secured top spot on Sunday with a 1-0 win over Lake Macquarie.

Broadmeadow also have their home round of 16 FFA Cup match against Bentleigh on August 21 and Zadkovich admitted that game and NPL finals were their focus.

“It was always a bit of a worry for us, having that Jets game and not really a chance to prepare,” Zadkovich said of their 5-1 win Tuesday night. “Then we had a few boys who were crook and it showed today. Most of the boys weren’t mentally there. 

“Hamilton had everything to play for and we had realistically not as much. We knew Edgeworth would do the job over there. It’s been a tricky period, knowing how to play it and manage it. We’ve probably lost sight a little bit with the premiership race gone, and they’ve all got their eyes on that Bentleigh game, because it means so much to them, and the finals.

“It’s a difficult one, but there’s not much for us to play for next week. I’m not really worried about the Maitland game at all.”

He added that Luke Virgili and Shane Paul, who are one yellow card away from a two-game suspension taking in the Cup game, were restricted in defence on Sunday and unlikely to feature next week.

Hamilton coach Peter McGuinness hoped Magic could turn it around.

“It’s Ruben’s job to work out what’s the best combinations,” McGuinness said. “All I’ll say is I wouldn’t want to go into a finals off the back of two losses.”

McGuinness was proud of the defensive effort on Sunday as his side at least stayed in the race. Scott Pettit tapped in from a Leo Bertos cross in the fifth minute. An 11th minute own goal off a Bertos free kick and Reece Papas’ strike in the 73rd off a corner sealed the win. 

“It’s one of our more professional performances. It had a bit of common understanding about what we were trying to achieve and we had everyone on the same page,” he said.

“We’re the second highest scoring team in the league, but we obviously conceded too many, but that’s changed second round and that’s put us in more games.

“I’ll only talk about missed opportunities if we don’t make it. We’ve given ourselves a chance and we’ve got to win, and then they’ve got to win as well.”