Broadmeadow defender Jon Griffiths believes a “tough call” has ruled him out of the Northern NSW NPL grand final against Edgeworth on Saturday night.
Griffiths was given a straight red card for a foul in the 51st minute of Broadmeadow’s 1-0 second leg loss to Maitland on Sunday at Magic Park which secured a 3-2 aggregate win and clash with Edgeworth in the decider at McDonald Jones Stadium.
The 27-year-old was the last man in the defence when he brought down a runaway Alex Read about 25 metres out from goal. The pair were clearly ahead of Magic’s Luke Virgili and Matt Hoole in the race towards the Broadmeadow goal. Magic were already down 1-0 at the time.
The red card, which can be given when a foul denies a player a goal-scoring opportunity, brings with it an automatic one-game ban.
Griffiths said he watched a replay of the incident “30 to 40 times” on Sunday night.
“To be honest, I thought I got a touch on the ball, and I might have taken the player after that,” Griffiths said. “I thought a yellow card might have probably been fair.
“I’ve watched the replay a few times and it’s hard to see from that angle, and the ref was standing behind as well. It’s a tough call and a little bit harsh, but at the end of the day, what can you do?
“You’ve only got a split second to make a decision. You either tackle him there or let him go and hopefully the goalkeeper saves it.”
As of last week, video footage can be used in reviewing judiciary matters, but Broadmeadow were not challenging the call and Griffiths believed the ban was “pretty much a done deal”.
“I’ve watched the footage and it’s so hard to tell, with the camera angle where it is, I don’t think we would have a case,” he said.
Griiffiths played in Magic's hat-trick of grand final wins in 2011-13 and when they lost to Edgeworth in 2016.
“It will definitely be hard to watch from the stands, that’s for sure,” he said.
“That winning feeling you get after a grand final, walking off with all of your mates ... it will be tough to take.
“Hopefully I’ll go around next year and we can make the grand final again and I get to play in another one.”
Magic coach Ruben Zadkovich said Griffiths had been “fantastic for us this year” and it was unfair for him to miss the “pinnacle of the season”.
Griffiths played in 19 off 22 NPL games for Magic this season and helped them post the second-best defensive record of just 22 goals conceded. He was confident, though, Broadmeadow had the talent to fill the void.
“It’s the best it’s been for a while,” he said of Magic’s defence. “We’ve kept a lot of clean sheets this year and have been playing a little bit different formation and with a few different ideas from Ruben. I think the boys at the back have been at the top of their game and we’ve got enough depth to cover me.
“[Takumi Sunada] played in the FFA Cup game against Bentleigh and did exceptionally well I thought. I think he will step in for me and he’ll do a good job.”
Edgeworth came through their epic extra-time win on Saturday over Lambton Jaffas unscathed. Veteran striker Daniel McBreen will return from overseas Saturday morning and will be added to the Eagles squad.
Griffiths believed Broadmeadow were due for a win against the Eagles, who knocked them out of the semi-finals on penalties last year.
“I’ll be cheering on the boys in the sheds, revving them up before the game and wishing them all the best. Hopefully they come out with the win,” he said.
“We haven’t beaten Edgy in about three years or something. We’re definitely not far away and I think the odds are in our favour, if anything.
“I thought we were a bit flat on the weekend but the weekend before at Maitland, I thought we did really well. We kept the ball well and we’ve been doing pretty well of late.”