ROOKIE Edgeworth coach Michael Bridges was "absolutely delighted" - and relieved - after the Northern NSW NPL premiers made a statement with a clinical 2-0 shutdown of Lambton Jaffas at Edden Oval on Friday.
Bridges, after beginning his coaching career with a 1-0 loss to Maitland in the season-opener, feared "things could go pear-shaped" if the Eagles didn't bounce back.
"I have come to a a club that is used to winning," the former Premier League striker and Newcastle Jets captain said. "We lose round one and then have Jaffas in round two, and you start to think: 'bloody hell this could be a tough start'. The last thing I wanted was two defeats back to back. It can all go pear-shaped early doors. But you could see how much it hurt the lads last week and how much they wanted to work today."
Lambton were coming off a 7-1 rout of Weston, but it was clear from the first whistle that the Eagles were up for it and they had a plan to thwart the Jaffas' dangerman.
Josh Rose put the visitors ahead in the 12th minute when he surged to the near post and tucked away a low cross from James Scott.
Lambton had a golden chance to equalise early in the second half. Michael Kantarovski chased down a ball near the byline, but with Kale Bradbery unmarked and eyeing a tap-in, he went for goal and had his attempt cleared off the line.
Two minutes later Jeremy Brockie made it 2-0. Game over.
Jake McGuinness, after releasing Scott down the right for the first goal, was heavily involved again. The striker showed great touch to control a high pass, turn and play Brockie into the penalty box. The former Kiwi international did the rest, curling a shot into the right corner.
Scott and fellow wide man Lionel Glorieux were outstanding as were the back three of Josh Evans, Sam Maxwell and Pat Wheeler.
"[Assistant coach] Gaz Wilson and I analysed Jaffas' 7-1 win over Weston and worked out what Weston didn't do," Bridges said. " We wanted to nullify Jaffas in the wide areas, stop Benny Hay and Bren Hammel from getting on the ball.
"We went like-for-like. Jaffas went 5-4-1 without the ball and when they got it, they went to a 4-3-3. The lads executed the game plan to perfection."
Lambton's ball movement was sluggish in the first half. They threatened on the counter but couldn't find a killer pass. In defence they had some joy when they pressed, but weren't able to do it enough.
"To my eye, we looked a little bit leggy, which isn't unusual only having a five-day turnaround - Sunday to Friday - this early in the season," Lambton coach James Pascoe said. "The first half Edgey were up for it and were just that fraction sharper and physically a bit stronger.
"I was happy with the response in the second half. The chance we had at 1-0 .... then they go down the other end and make it 2-0.
"I can't fault the effort. There are just a few little things to tidy up tactically."
Player coach Joel Griffiths suffered a groin injury in Newcastle Olympics' 2-1 loss to arch rivals Broadmeadow Magic on Thursday night.
Mitch Rourke scored one goal and set up the other for Magic. He put the home side ahead with a stunning freekick in the 16th minute. His strike was cancelled out by Ryan Griffiths from a well-worked freekick on the half hour.
Rourke then chipped a ball for Luke Virgili to head home in the 52nd.
After losing Jacob Bailey (groin) two minutes into the second half, Griffiths was forced off on the hour.
In Saturday's games, Adamstown are at home to Azzurri (2.30pm), Weston welcome Valentine to Bear Park (4.30pm) and Lake Macquarie meet Maitland at Macquarle Field (4.30pm).
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