NPL grand final: Daniel McBreen welcomed back for edgy Eagles

HEADING HOME: Daniel McBreen contests a header against Broadmeadow in their first clash this season. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

HEADING HOME: Daniel McBreen contests a header against Broadmeadow in their first clash this season. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Edgeworth coach Damian Zane was worried his team would miss the presence of big-game player Daniel McBreen in the two-leg semi-final against Lambton Jaffas.

In the end, McBreen’s former Mariner teammate Josh Rose stepped up as their go-to man in an epic 3-2, extra-time second-leg win on Saturday at Jack McLaughlan Oval after a 1-all first match.

Rose, who scored in the first semi, slotted the 90th-minute equaliser to send the tie to extra-time, his free kick was eventually headed in by Dom Bizzarri in the 114th for another leveller and his shot was blocked before Jose Atayde knocked in the rebound for the 121st-minute winner.

Needless to say, after the thrilling comeback victory, Zane was keen to regain the extra experience and strike power of McBreen for the grand final against Broadmeadow on Saturday night.

The 41-year-old is with the Guam national team as an assistant coach for the East Asian Cup but is due back on Saturday morning.

Zane gave other players more time and used McBreen sparingly late in the regular season knowing the 2012-13 A-League golden boot would not feature in the semis. Illness, injury and other commitments also restricted McBreen to only 10 starts and six appearances off the bench this season.

However, McBreen has still shown his match-winning abilities, scoring the premiership-sealing goal against Lake Macquarie in the penultimate round and bagging a late brace to beat Hamilton in April, both times as a substitute. He also played a midfield role at times with success and Zane was looking forward to having McBreen as an option off the bench.

“That game the other night was made for Macca,” Zane said.

“We were crying out for him. We just needed someone to put their foot on the ball and calm it down. We gave away so much possession when there was the opportunity to play.

“We defended really well, except for that second goal, but we were a bit nervous with the ball.

“We’ve got a lot of guys playing in their first finals series so just his persona in the sheds will be good for the boys. They just need to relax more.”

Zane has been in contact with McBreen, who said he had stayed sharp taking part in Guam training sessions.

“He reckons he’s fitter now,” he said.

McBreen, who is undecided about playing on next season, also has coaching duties on the day with the Jets Academy under-16s, who play Lake Macquarie in the under-18 decider.

The only other possible change for Edgeworth is the addition of Aaron McLoughlin, who was an unused substitute on Saturday night in his battle back from injury.

Zane said the Eagles were injury free after the semi, but the likes of Dylan Holz will have an easy week.

“Dylan got through 120 minutes on Saturday night just on pure heart,” he said.

“He’s coming back from injury and his body was not ready for 120 minutes but we needed him.”

“The amount of work he got through was unbelievable.”