Grand final hero Daniel Fabrizio left the Edgeworth Eagles with a bang after scoring an 85th-minute winner in a 1-0 victory over Broadmeadow at Magic Park on Sunday.
In his return to where he scored twice in Edgeworth's 2-0 grand final over Maitland last season, Fabrizio came off the bench for newly installed player-coach Josh Rose in the 62nd minute of the round four top-of-the-table Northern NSW NPL clash.
In a game of few chances, Fabrizio provided the class finish after finding space close to goal from a throw-in. Fabrizio propped and spun to beat a defender before hitting his shot on the turn and in off the left post.
The win took Edgeworth's streak to four to start a season which has been marred by drama off the pitch. Coach Damian Zane quit on the season's eve after revealing he was heading to Magic next year. His replacement, Keelan Hamilton, and reserve grade coach Alex Butt stepped down this week.
Fabrizio, who had lived with Zane after moving to the region from Canberra, is the latest departure after taking an offer from Queensland NPL side Brisbane City.
"I had to leave on a good note, because this is my last week in Newcastle," Fabrizio said. "I'm heading up to Brisbane City to play. There's more opportunities up there to further my career. It's a very strong comp."
Fabrizio had trialled overseas, then with Central Coast Mariners and in Sydney in the off-season before returning to the Eagles.
"There's been a few changes within the club, three coaches in three weeks, so I decided it was a good opportunity for me to move," he added.
The first half was devoid of clear chances before Broadmeadow's Jacob Dowse had a shot saved just before the break.
Eagles striker Kristian Brymora had a close-range one-on-one chance denied in the 51st minute and a header in the 66th. Magic keeper Lachlan Watson was again up to the challenge, tipping a Jose Atayde free kick around the post in the 63rd.
Magic had a flurry of shots blocked in stoppage time to end a frustrating match.
"They are a good side and it's good for our boys to prove they can match it with them. It was only a super strike to win it for them," Magic coach Anthony Richards said. "I think a draw at the end would have been deserved, but I was proud of the effort."
Also Sunday, Lake Macquarie and Charlestown earned their first point of the season with a 1-1 draw at Lisle Carr Oval.
The Roosters led in the sixth minute through Chris Berlin and Azzurri levelled via Jackson Frendo in the 43rd. Lakes had Beau Wilkins sent off in the 80th for a second yellow card.
A 10-man Weston drew 1-1 away to Adamstown, who led in the 12th minute. The Bears equalised in the 47th minute through Aaron Niyonkuru but they lost Jordan Jackson in the 51st to a red card for a dangerous tackle.
At Cooks Square Park, Joel Wood bagged a hat-trick as Maitland sent Valentine to last spot with a 5-1 win after a goalless first half. Wood scored in the 47th, 50th and 83rd minutes. Braedyn Crowley (79th) and Sam Webb (92nd) also scored for the hosts. Phoenix's goal came from Ben Higgins in the 64th.
On Saturday, Newcastle Olympic came back from two goals down to draw 2-2 for the second game in a row, this time against Lambton Jaffas at Edden Oval.
Olympic, who drew with Valentine in round two, equalised with a strike from Dino Fajkovic in the 68th minute. Jared Muller had scored with a lunging header in the 43rd to give the visitors hope.
Jaffas led via a 23rd minute penalty from Scott Pettit, who was fouled by Jakob Cresnar, and a deflection off Kale Bradbery in the 29th.
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