NPL Men's NNSW Finals Week Three Review: Magic edge out Azzurri to join Jaffas in the decider

Preliminary Final 
Broadmeadow Magic FC 1-0 Charlestown Azzurri FC 

Broadmeadow Magic have joined Lambton Jaffas in this Saturday night’s NNSW NPL Men’s grand final at Jack McLaughlan Oval following a hard-fought 1-0 victory against Charlestown Azzurri at Magic Park in the preliminary final on Sunday afternoon. 

A 30th-minute Ben Diamond goal was the difference in a match that was largely played in the middle third of the field as both defences were quite impressive and limited their opponents’ chances. 

The goal was quite an unfortunate one for Azzurri who were rock solid in defence during the opening half an hour. They conceded a free kick right in the middle of their half and defender Taylor Regan rose highest to meet the Bailey Wells cross but the ball struck Diamond and crept past goalkeeper Ben McNamara and into the bottom left corner. 

The hosts should have doubled their lead three minutes after they went ahead when James Cresnar pinched the ball off Boogaard on the edge of the 18-yard box to put Riley Smith one-on-one with McNamara but the striker uncharacteristically sprayed his shot high and wide. 

Charlestown had a brilliant chance to equalise in the 40th minute when Magic’s goalkeeper Jack Pandel failed to claim a Dean Pettit cross but his slight touch on the ball saw Regan Lundy unable to establish a proper connection from close range. 

Magic entered the break with a 1-0 lead and they looked to double their advantage seven minutes into the second stanza when another Wells free kick caused havoc. 

This time, the ball was headed away, but only as far as Will Ingram whose powerful left-footed volley flew across the goal just wide. 

Azzurri also almost equalised from a similar scenario in the 83rd minute when a curling Luke Callen cross from a free kick was headed away and fell to Corey Edwards, whose powerful volley was superbly saved by Pandel. 

Charlestown’s chances of finding an equaliser suffered a significant blow in the 85th minute when Jackson Frendo received a second yellow card and the visitors went down to 10 men.  

Magic were able to hold onto their 1-0 lead despite the desperate attempts of the visitors to force extra time. 

Broadmeadow Magic’s coach John Bennis thought that the game was the perfect illustration of typical finals football. 

“Everything is on the line and every challenge means something in these games,” Bennis said. 

“I don’t think we were as fluent as we were in previous weeks but we still had good passages in the game that I was happy with. 

“Charlestown, defensively, they were very competent. They played with a back five and made things difficult and restricted space. They were hard to break down, and on the flip side, they broke with pace too. 

“It was a 1-0 win and that’s something that I don’t think we’ve done all year. I’m extremely proud to have gotten the clean sheet. I thought our boys competed and stood up when it counted.” 

Broadmeadow’s pursuit of a first championship since 2018 continues this Saturday in the decider against Lambton. They have lost on all three occasions against the Jaffas this year but are determined to win the game that counts when they challenge the defending champions at Jack McLaughlan Oval.