NNSW NPL: Edgeworth understrength for Adamstown test

BIG LOSS: Edgeworth defender Josh Evans holds Wayne Brown in a trial against the Jets last year. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

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Edgeworth coach Damian Zane has issued the challenge to Heritage Cup champions Adamstown after losing three key defenders for their round-three NPL clash on Saturday night.

“The pressure is on them,” Zane said.“If they can’t beat us now, they never will.We’ve got three out who are part of the best back four in the league.”

The two-time defending Northern NSW dual premiers will be missing skipper Josh Evans (work), Dom Bizzarri (away) and Ayden Brice (suspended) for the 6pm game atJack McLaughlan Oval.

Zane, who is also without Kieran Sanders (suspended),said the losses left him with Sam Maxwell, Aaron McLoughlin andPat Wheeler in defence and “more midfielders and attackers we can chop and change”.

“We’vegot eight players out across the top two grades,” he said. “It’s a weekend where pretty football isn’tgoing to count for anything. It’s just grind away.”

Adamstown, rebuilt under new coach Peter McGuinness, shocked Edgeworth to take the inaugural Heritage Cup this month and struck late to draw 4-4 with the Jets Youth in round one. They haveJustin Tannock, Dayne Pawlik and Owen Littlewood back but Robbie Turnbull out suspended. Mitch Hunter (groin) was in doubt.

McGuinness was not taking the Eagles lightly.

“They haven’t gone through two years of what they’ve done without having depth,” he said.“They’ve rotated their squad all the time, so they’d still be confident.”

Also Saturday, a Maitland side missing Matt Thompson, Shane Candsell-Sherriff andRyan Clarke take on the Jets Youth at2.30pm.Broadmeadow host Valentine (7pm).On Sunday, Charlestown welcome Lake Macquarie and Lambton Jaffas travel to Weston (2.30pm).

Despite the losses, Zane was keen to get the game against Adamstown on as rain threatened again on Friday. Only Broadmeadow’s 2-0 win over Weston at Magic Park escaped a washout in round two last weekend.

“Back in the day, this is a game where you used to call it off,” Zane said.

“But we don’t do that because I always felt when you call a game off, you are pretty much saying to the next guys, you’re not going to cut it for us.

“It’s more character-building. When your back’s against the wall and you win, it grows you and builds your team morale and that’s what we’ve done over the past two years.”