Maitland are down 3-1 but coach Michael Bolch believes all the pressure is on Broadmeadow heading into their second leg Northern NSW NPL semi-final at Magic Park on Sunday.
The Magpies defence, which had been the key to their run to third place, faltered in the first half last Sunday at Cooks Square Park as John Majurovski and then a double from Kale Bradbery put the visitors 3-0 up.
An own goal off a Matt Thompson free kick early in the second half gave Maitland hope but missed chances late left them needing to score at least three goals in the return leg to progress to the grand final.
Bolch, though, said the weight of expectation would be on Broadmeadow.
“I think the pressure is on them,” Bolch said. “No one expects us to go there and score three goals. I can just give my players a licence to go out there and attack.
“The pressure is on them to defend their lead at their ground.”
However, Bolch could not hide his disappointment in Maitland’s first-half defence at home after they had conceded just two goals in their previous seven matches.
“It was disgraceful,” he said. “The first two goals came from schoolboys errors that could end up costing us a spot in the grand final.
“You can’t afford to give players like Maj and Kale space like that in the box. It was our worst 45 minutes of the whole second round but we did well second half.”
He expected Matt Thompson (calf) and Andrew Swan (head knock) to overcome injury and play Sunday.