NPL finals: Edgeworth bracing for Lions assault

Edgeworth's Daniel McBreen after coming off the bench in the grand final loss to Broadmeadow. McBreen is expected to start against the Lions. Picture: Jonathan Carroll
Edgeworth's Daniel McBreen after coming off the bench in the grand final loss to Broadmeadow. McBreen is expected to start against the Lions. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

A battered Edgeworth will try to revive their underdog spirit of 2016 when they take on Queensland powerhouses the Lions away on Saturday night in the National Premier Leagues finals.

The Eagles are hurting after a 3-0 grand final defeat last Saturday night to Broadmeadow, where they lost Dom Bizzarri and Tyson Jackson to injury in the second half. Jackson has had scans on his ankle which revealed tendon damage and a small fracture, while Bizzarri (hamstring) is also out. Dylan Holz (groin) is struggling but will travel with the team on Saturday and possibly play in the 7.30pm game.

Daniel McBreen, Aaron McLoughlin and Aaron Oppedisano will give Edgeworth fresh legs but they go in as long-shots at Lions Stadium against a side who clinched the Queensland NPL double and have former A-League players Josh Brindell-South, Jean Carlos Solorzano and Jonti Richter.

Edgeworth coach Damian Zane said the Lions were a "very good team and a massive club" but he was confident his side could rise to the challenge again. They defied the odds to beat Bentleigh and Perth FC away to make the NPL decider in 2016, when they also did the NNSW double and made the FFA Cup round of 16.

"It's feeling like we're going there to get beat, but that's when we are at our best," Zane said. "When we went to Bentleigh, we weren't expected to win. They bombarded us and we held them out and then finished over the top of them.” 

"It's another exciting game for the group. We didn't have [round of 32] FFA Cup this year, so for some of the young guys, it will be a good experience for them to get exposure on the national stage."

Zane has given the Eagles a light week of training and he believed they had overcome their grand final disappointment.

"It was quite high spirits the next day," he said.

"It is what it is. It's one day, it's a grand final. You rock up and if you don't play well, you don't win. And to their credit, they were very good and we weren't.

"But the boys will be all right, they will bounce back."

Zane has followed the Lions' progress, especially after doing his A-licence course alongside their coach, Warren Moon.

He said Marek Madle was a key man for the Lions. Madle scored 19 goals this year, including the extra-time winner against Olympic FC in their 2-1 grand final triumph.

"They started well and then they signed this striker partway through the season," Zane said.

"He's a real goalscorer and since they signed him, they've really taken off."

It will be Edgeworth's fourth consecutive finals appearance. They defeated Canberra Olympic last year before losing to Brisbane Strikers. They lost first-up to Moreton Bay in 2015.

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