NNSW NPL: Never-say-die Eagles edge past Jaffas in extra-time thriller

ALL SMILES: Edgeworth captain Josh Evans and coach Damian Zane. Picture: Jonathan Carroll
ALL SMILES: Edgeworth captain Josh Evans and coach Damian Zane. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

EDGEWORTH came back from the dead twice to beat Lambton Jaffas 3-2 in extra-time at Jack McLaughlan Oval on Saturday and book a place in their fourth straight Northern NSW National Premier League grand final.

In a thrilling end-to-end contest, the Jaffas came within seconds of victory and a chance at a second straight championship.

After a scoreless first half, Bren Hammel put the visitors ahead in the 56th minute with a deflected goal.

It stayed that way until the final seconds of regulation time when former Central Coast Mariner Josh Rose pounced on a goalmouth scramble to earn the Eagles their first lifeline.

With the first leg having also ended in a 1-all draw, the match went to extra-time.

The Jaffas grabbed the ascendancy for a second time 13 minutes into the first period when Jobe Wheelhouse drilled home a Joel Griffiths header into the box.

Again the Eagles found a way back. Dom Bizzarri headed into the top right corner in the 114th minute after Jaffas keeper Brad Swancott was unable to punch clear a Josh Rose freekick.

The match appeared headed for penalties, but with seconds remaining the ball fell to Edgeworth midfielder Jose Atayde inside the six-yard box and he poked home.

“Edgeworth is a blue-collar suburb and I think we resemble the suburb,” Eagles coach Damian Zane told Bar TV Sports. 

“Especially at home, you can never ever doubt our effort.”

“We are not at our best all the time but we keep working. For the boys, the grand final is massive. This is for them.”

It is the first time Edgeworth have qualified for four straight grand finals.

“To go 120 minutes is nerve racking,” Zane said. “Credit to Lambton they played exceptional. We were very nervous and jittery. That is what is special about this group. They hang in there. They are mentally tough and credit to them.”