MITCH Oxborrow has pushed aside the disappointment of a five-match suspension for spitting and is focused on helping Broadmeadow Magic win a title – the motivation behind the former Brisbane Roar midfielder’s return to Newcastle.
Oxborrow was found guilty of bringing the game into disrepute for spitting at an Adamstown player in round 17. He appealed unsuccessfully against the ban and was forced to sit out the final three rounds, the loss to Bentleigh Greens in the FFA Cup and the first leg of the semi-final against Maitland.
He returns for the second leg against Maitland at Magic Park on Sunday, with Broadmeadow in control after a 3-1 win at Cooks Square Park.
“I have my own opinion on what happened, but you just try to forget about it and focus on helping the team,” Oxborrow said. “Now I just can’t wait to start playing. I was running after every session to try and keep the kilometres in my legs. I just have to ease myself in, make sure my first few passes stick. Then, obviously, we have the two speedsters Kale Bradbery and James Virgili up top and John Majurovski in between. If I can find James or Kale, find their feet, that is the first thing I will do. If not, play simple.”
Oxborrow, who is from Perth and played alongside coach Ruben Zadkovich in the A-League, said it was “tough” watching from the stands, especially the 4-0 loss to Bentleigh Greens.
“It just adds to the motivation,” he said. “That’s why I came back; to help the club win some silverware. Hopefully I can do that.”
Maitland duo Andrew Swan (head knock) and Matthew Thompson (calf) are expected to play despite picking up knocks.
Zadkovich is yet to decide where he will deploy Oxborrow and Virgili, who has recovered from a hamstring injury.
Virgili, who has scored 14 goals, hasn’t played since Magic’s 4-1 win over Canberra in the FFA Cup round of 32 on July 25.
“Chill (Virgili) has been going really well and looks almost right,” the coach said. “I haven’t decided how I am going to use him or Mitch. We have a couple of options. Mitch has played behind the front three as a 10 in some games, in others games he played as a holder. He has bundles of ability with his passing but he is also a worker. He grinds and tackles and gets around the pitch well. That is one side of his game which is under-rated.”
A close friend as well as coach, Zadkovich is confident Oxborrow will handle the emotion of his return.
“He is pretty sound,” Zadkovich said. “I don’t think he had ever been sent off before. His emotions are good on the field. He will have a point to prove for sure and he will do that in his work rate and effort.”
Maitland need to win and score at least three goals to overhaul Magic and win a place in the grand final.
“They are going to throw everything at us,” Zadkovich said. “The Swans boys work hard and are clever players. Then they have Thommo who is top shelf, one of the best players in this comp. We have to hard to beat but we can’t just sit in and camp. We also have to push forward and put them on the back foot. If it becomes and end-to-end open game it suits us. If you look at their results in the league, they conceded two goals in the last eight games. They are compact and narrow and work really hard for each other. This game they don’t really have that luxury of sitting in and being compact. They have to throw things at us.”