It was a nervy return to competitive action for Melbourne City FC in the Westfield FFA Cup as John van’t Schip’s side avoided an early exit with a narrow 2-1 win over a valiant Edgeworth Eagles outfit.
City looked destined to fall victim to a giant Cup upset when financial advisor Bren Abbot-Hammell fired the plucky Northern NSW NPL club into the lead from the penalty spot, sending the 2430 strong crowd at Magic Park into raptures.
But it took the super-boot of Aaron Mooy to bail the A-League outfit out of jail, with the Socceroos midfielder netting two stunning free kicks – including one in second half injury time – to drag City through to the Round of 16.
Matt Windley of the Herald Sun highlighted the sense of relief produced by Mooy’s set-piece heroics, after City nearly fell victim to one of Australian football’s grandest upsets.
“The result itself, considering its opponent was lowly Edgeworth FC, a club based about 25 minutes out of Newcastle, was no surprise,” Windley said.
“But what the 2-1 scoreline didn’t demonstrate is the almighty fright the A-League semi-finalists copped last night.”
“Their blushes saved by a stunning 93rd minute free kick from Aaron Mooy – his second of the night – City was at risk of suffering one of the biggest upset defeats in the history of Australian football.”
Meanwhile, Edgeworth coach Damian Zane told the Newcastle Herald’s Craig Kerry of his pride at his charges valiant performance.
“What can you say? I’m just gutted for them, the way it panned out in the last minute,” Zane said.
“But I’m just so proud of them. The work they put in, and to still look dangerous and to find that extra effort to play forward like we did.”
“The way they worked together and defensively, they did exactly what I asked of them, but in the end they [City] were too good.”
Kerry reserved special praise for 18-year-old Aiden Brice, who turned in an excellent performance in the heart of defence for the Eagles.
“Bryce was a standout for Edgeworth as they pushed A-League side Melbourne City all the way in their 2-1 round-of-32 FFA Cup loss at Magic Park on Tuesday night,” Kerry said.
“The 195cm defender played a key role in keeping a team featuring Socceroos Aaron Mooy, Michael Zullo, Patrick Kisnorbo and Erik Paartalu, as well as Martinique international striker Harry Novillo, at bay in general play.”
Although disappointed with the result, Bryce was pleased with his overall performance.
“I was pretty composed. I was a bit nervous before the game, but once I got out there and got the hang of it, I came along pretty well,” Brice said.
“It was like a dream come true playing against an A-League team, and marking some of the best strikers in the A-League was quite good.”