Broadmeadow star Mitch Oxborrow was unsuccessful with his appeal against a five-game suspension for spitting on Friday night.
Oxborrow, who has already served two games, was charged with bringing the game into disrepute after allegations he spat at an Adamstown player in round 17. The appeal decision means he will miss Saturday night’s final-round Northern NSW NPL clash with Maitland, the round of 16 FFA Cup home clash with Bentleigh Greens on Tuesday night and one NPL semi-final.
Maitland, though, are taking nothing for granted as they prepare to meet a weakened Broadmeadow at Cooks Square Park with their semi-final hopes on the line.
The Magpies are fourth, a point clear of Hamilton, in the fight for the last spot in next week’s finals. Magic are in the play-offs and managing their squad ahead of perhaps the club’s biggest-ever match on Tuesday night.
Shane Paul and Luke Virgili face a two-match ban if they are booked again, meaning they are almost certain to miss the Maitland game. James Virgili (hamstring) is also still sidelined.
Broadmeadow coach Ruben Zadkovich said other players had missed training with soreness and tightness and he was unsure who would take the field Saturday night. Adding to the equation is the battle in under 20s, where Magic and Maitland are equal top on points and goal difference, with Hamilton a point behind.
“We’ve spoken about going through the processes we need to to get ready for those big games, and tomorrow night is important in that regard,” Zadkovich said Friday night. “But we’ve got a bit of a mixed bag. We’ve got a few sore bodies, a few carrying injuries, so we’ve also got to be smart. We’ll still put out a decent line-up, we’ve still got boys with points to prove and we want to win both games.”
Magpies coach Michael Bolch said he had the same squad who beat Lambton Jaffas 1-0 last week. Maitland are unbeaten their past eight games and have conceded two goals in their past six.
“We’ve always spoken about keeping it in our own hands and tomorrow it’s still there,” Bolch said. “I’m sure Magic will put out the strongest team they can but if you’ve qualified for the finals, you are not risking players who could get suspended. Luke Virgili and Shane Paul are on card trouble, so you would sit them out, but I’m expecting them to play the rest of their team.
“You hear all the rumours and gossip, but I’m just concerned about us and doing our job. We beat Jaffas last week and if we can beat Magic, we deserve to be there.”
Hamilton, who trail Maitland by seven goals, host Weston at Darling Street Oval, also from 6pm. Olympic coach Peter McGuinness said his re-signed squad was full strength and focused on controlling what they could against the Bears.
Earlier Saturday, Charlestown take on the Jets Youth and Lake Macquarie host Lambton Jaffas. Charlestown (28 points) are out of the finals race on goals. Jaffas (34) are assured of play-offs. Premiers Edgeworth play wooden spooners Valentine at CB Complex on Sunday.