KEY MAN: Marquee Matt Thompson also helps coach Maitland.
MATT Thompson believes Maitland are better this year, but they will need to be if they are going to challenge Edgeworth at Jack McLaughlan Oval on Saturday night.
The Magpies beat Newcastle Jets Youth 4-2 on Wednesday night at Speers Pointto belatedly open their NNSW NPL season after four washouts. Thompson scored the go-ahead goal early in the second half and Matt Comerford struck in injury time after it was 2-2 at half-time.
“It was just a good result, to get a game in and get through it unscathed,” Thompson said.“It’s not easy playing on that surface against a team that runs around a bit, after not playing for three weeks.”
They meet an Eagles sideon Saturday (7.30pm) in round five coming off the bye and smarting from a 2-1 loss to Lambton Jaffas. Maitland lost 4-3 to Edgeworth in the semi-finals last year and Thompson said they would need to improve.
“We talk about how we nearly beat them, but at the end of the day, they won and they probably never felt like they weregoing to lose it,” he said. “No doubt, we need to be better. We haven’t really lost in terms of personnel fromlast year. Obviously we lost [Dean] Heffernan, but we gained Shane [Cansdell-Sherriff], Andrew Pawiak and Josh Dutton-Black.I think we’re in better position than last year in that we have a strong 16, 17 players.”
Also Saturday, Valentine host Adamstown (2.30pm) and Hamilton welcome the Jets Youth (6pm). On Sunday, Charlestown host Broadmeadow and the Jaffas are away to Lake Macquarie.
* Go totheheralor the BarTV Sports livestream of Lake Macquarie v Lambton JaffasEdgeworth coacamian Zane, meanwhile, said attacking UK recruit Kieran Sanders would play under 20s on Saturday after serving a three-match ban carried over from his time with Far North Queensland Heat.
Zane said the Eagles had responded on the training paddock to the midweek loss to Jaffas.
“We trained on Saturday and it was quite a heavy and intense session,” Zane said.
”You can just seenow, all the cattle are back andplayers are looking around and seeing there’s a battle on now for spots.
“They are proud of what they have done the last couple of years and that loss stung them. It was a tad harsh to lose, but losing away to Lambton, there’s noshame in that. It was good for us, it’s got us going and I’ve seen it at training.
“I think the game showed up a couple of players who were a yard off as well. We’vegot a fair bit of work into them over the last week and a bit, so I expect a big performance from them.”
Thompson said “Edgy, for me, are the team to beat again”.
“Even though they had a loss to Lambton the other week, they have proven themselves over the last few years and they are a quality side,” he said.
Thompson said Ryan Clarke, who missed the win over Jets Youth with a hamstring problem, would likely return against Edgeworth.
Thompson, Maitland keeper Matt Trott, Adamstown’s Stuart Musialikand Edgeworth striker Daniel McBreen will back up on Sunday in the F3 Derby Legends Game at Central Coast Stadium before the A-League clash between Newcastle and the Mariners.
McBreen and Trott will play for the Mariners, whileThompson and Musialik will be in Newcastle’s line up for the seven-a-side exhibition.
“I’m not sure which one’s more important to be honest,” Thompson laughed about the two clashes this weekend with McBreen, who has been talking up the Legends Games rivalry.
“Hopefully we can get the win in both, that’s the plan.”