Magic close in on NPL top four | photos ALL LOCKED UP: Hamilton Olympic striker Kane Goodchild and Maitland midfielder Ryan Broadley fight for the ball at Darling St Oval on Sunday. Picture: Marina Neil
TweetFacebook Hamilton Olympic 2 v Maitland 2Pictures: Marina NeilBroadmeadow emerged as the big winners in the Northern NSW NPL on Sunday, suddenly only a point outside the top four after a 3-0 win over Lake Macquarie.
Magic were six points behind fourth-placed Hamilton Olympic two games ago but have beaten Valentine 3-1 and the Roosters to sit level on 21 points with fifth-placed Maitland.
Olympic, who had a bye the previous week, scored two late goals to share the spoils with Maitland on Sunday afternoon but are now in a dogfight with their resurgentlocal rivals andthe Magpies for the lastfinals spot.
Maitland appeared to be cruising to victory at Darling St Oval after winger Matt Comerford finished off a delightful one-two with Matt Thompson by clipping the ball over the advancing Tyler Warren in the 30th minute.
Thompson made it 2-0 from spot in the 49th minute after Marcus Duncan lost the ball to Comerford on halfway then brought him down inside the box.
But Olympic, who had spurned several chances early in the game, pulled a goal back when Scott Smith curled a left-foot shot over Magpies keeper Matthew Trott with 15 minutes to go.
Sean Pratt equalised moments later with a fierce volley into the top right corner.
Tom Spencer had a chance to grab a winner for the home side, but Trott’s reflex save with an outstretched leg kept the scores level.
Hamilton coach Michael Bolch, who moves to Maitland next year, was happy with thecomeback after a hot-and-cold performance.
“Really good first 25, really good last 15, terrible middle 45,” he said.
“First time they get in our box they score a goal. They shut it up through the middle, and we couldn’t string five passes together for the next 30 minutes.Clear-cut chances we created a lot more, but for 40 minutes they had the game.”
Maitland coach Phil Dando was left lamenting the two late goals.
“The second one, the equaliser, he probably won’t hit another one like that in his career,” he said. “We had the chances to be out of sight.We just got caught with a couple of sucker punches.”
At Macquarie Field, Lake Macquarie made Magic’s job easier when a comical error from keeper Benn Kelly allowed Dino Fajkovic to stroke the ball into an empty net.
The Roosters then had Justin Broadley sent off in the 30th minute for his second yellow-card foul on former Jets and Perth Glory midfielder Mitch Oxborrow.
Oxborrow picked himself up and scored a contender for goal of the year on 53minutes when he engineered a passing sequence from wide on the right then finished it off with a sublime backheel.
Kale Bradbery scored with a low shot from just outside the box in the 72ndminute.
At Weston Park, former Jets youth teammates Ryan Ensor and Cameron Holzheimer scored long-range goals to bookend a 2-0 win over the Bears.