This year’s performance in the FFA Cup is vital for Northern NSW. After both of last year’s representatives crashed out in the first round of the competition proper, there is considerable pressure on the region’s teams to progress beyond the Round of 32.
Northern NSW National Premier League leaders Edgeworth FC will be extreme underdogs when they face the A-League’s richest club Melbourne City in the FFA CUP Round of 32. That match a virtual write off for NNSW, the region will look to Broadmeadow Magic who have been drawn against Victorian NPL club Heidelberg United.
Broadmeadow is currently running 5th in the Northern NSW NPL, seven points adrift of in form Edgeworth FC. The Magic wont be lacking motivation after crashing out of the Round of 32 in extra time last year. The suburban Newcastle outfit hosted Brisbane Strikers and took a 1-nil lead in the 58th minute but the Queenslanders struck back two minutes later, and crushed the hosts with a goal in the 103rd minute.
Broadmeadow’s opponents Heidelberg are sitting second in the highly regarded Victorian NPL, and will be favourites despite travelling to Newcastle’s Magic Park on July 29th. The ‘Bergers’ as they’re nicknamed have a couple of former fringe Melbourne Victory players in Steven Pace and Daniel Vasilevski. Heidelberg have also recruited former Southampton reserves player Luke Byles into defence, while 21 year old Kaine Sheppard, another English lower league player is top scorer at the club. Adding some more A-League flavour is Griffin McMaster between the sticks.
Though both Heidelberg and Melbourne City are expected to win, there is pressure on Edgeworth and Broadmeadow as continued failings will lead to questioning of the merits of Northern NSW being granted two automatic entrants into the Round of 32.
Already this year the NSW NPL’s quota of seven entrants has been cut to five. This move has allowed the Northern Territory to gain one entrant, that being Darwin Olympic. Meanwhile, Australian NPL Champions Metro Stars SC have also gained automatic entry at the expense of the NSW NPL.
The fact that a South Australian club has the Australian NPL title, yet is only designated one automatic entrant won’t be lost on many crow-eaters, and the folk at FFA should brace for maximum tweetage, if a repeat performance is acted out.