Broadmeadow coach Ruben Zadkovich praised the toughness of captain Josh Piddington after his side took a 3-1 lead over Maitland in the Northern NSW NPL semi-finals on Sunday.
Magic, after a 4-0 FFA Cup loss to Bentleigh on Tuesday night, took a huge step towards a grand final berth with three goals in the first half at Cooks Square Park.
John Majurovski exposed poor marking close to goal when he controlled a ball in from Kale Bradbery before striking the opener in the 10th minute. Bradbery ran onto touches from Majurovski and Dino Fajkovic to strike in the 35th before hitting a stunner in first-half injury time from the top of the 18-yard box.
A Matt Thompson free kick in the 54th minute was deflected in to give the Magpies hope heading to the second leg at Magic Park on Sunday.
“I thought the boys were fantastic,” Zadkovich said. “Their first half today was pretty much like theirs against Bentleigh, except today we scored with all three chances. It was nice for them to get some reward and some belief in what we’re doing.”
While Magic’s attack fired, veteran centre-back Piddington was inspirational.
“He’s got a ruptured AC joint from last week and he couldn’t move his neck or train all week,” Zadkovich said. “Then he goes out there with it strapped. He can’t even feel his palm. But he’s been doing that for years and knows how to play with injuries.”
The early goals on Sunday meant Magic were able to rest James Virgili (hamstring) on the bench. He and Mitch Oxborrow (suspension) return next week.
“We’ve managed the boys nicely because next week we get our two X-factor, ex-A-League players back and we can get some minutes into those boys, and we should have a full squad going into the grand final if we're good enough to get there,” the coach said. “But we know we’ve only done half the job.”
Luke Virgili was the other injury concern. He had a lump on his head after colliding with a metal pole following a sideline challenge, but he finished the match.