The Maitland Magpies 4-3 loss to the Lambton Jaffas in Sunday’s top-of-the-table First Division clash has been compared to losing a grand final.
With the minor premiership and State League promotion on the line at Cooks Square Park, such a narrow loss to a 10-man outfit was a tough pill for the Magpies to swallow.
“Life goes on but the boys were shattered after the game,” Magpies coach Anthony Richards said.
“One of the guys said that it felt like losing a grand final and it certainly was one of those emotionally charged games.
“The premiership and promotion mean more than the grand final as far as prestige goes.”
There was little that could separate the combatants going into the round eight fixture – undefeated on 16 competition points after playing out a 0-all draw in the season opener, the only difference being two goals on for and against records.
And there was little that could separate the combatants after the round eight fixture either, but a sole goal was the difference in the end.
Richards labelled the see-sawing encounter a “thriller”, with the lead changing four times throughout the
The Magpies opened the scoring through striker Luke Lawless with a header about 10 minutes in.
The Jaffas then struck back with two of their own during the first stanza before, on the brink of the main break, the visitors had a man sent off for a bad challenge and talking back to officials.
In the following 20 minutes the Magpies went from 2-1 down to 3-2 ahead courtesy of goals to Lawless, his second of the afternoon and substitute Daniel McGovern.
But the final 10 minutes proved costly for the Magpies as the Jaffas, in a similar comeback staged by the same opponents in last year’s semi-final, netted two and regained the advantage when it mattered most.
“A couple of late defensive lapses cost us, which was disappointing,” Richards said.
“We also hit the cross bar twice in the last five minutes, which would have equalised for us, but three goals against 10 men is enough to win a game in anyone’s language.
“They didn’t have that many chances but when they did they took them, so I suppose the secret is not to give them any chances in the first place.
“The positives to take out of it were scoring three goals against a team that hadn’t conceded all year, Lawlo [Lawless] played well and [on the comeback from injury] Jordan Elphick played the last 15 minutes in first grade.”
Richards said Chris Dawes was outstanding for the Magpies.
In other round eight results, the Thornton Redbacks opened their account for the season with a 1-all draw with Belmont Swansea at home on Saturday night, Singleton upstaged Cessnock 2-1 at Turner Park on the same day, while Toronto Awaba successfully tackled the Rosebuds 2-1 at Adamstown Oval on Sunday.
Fourth-placed Adamstown will travel to Cooks Square Park tomorrow night for a crucial catch up match against the Magpies while Redbacks host competition leaders the Jaffas at Thornton Park.
Kick-off is 7pm for both matches.