The Maitland Magpies beat reigning NPL champions Lambton Jaffas 2-1 in a trial match at Cooks Square Park on Tuesday night.
It was the club’s final hit-out before their opening round local derby against Weston Bears and coach Mick Bolch would have found plenty to like against a team which will once again be the competition benchmark.
Former Socceroo Matt Thompson was in fine touch for the Magpies scoring both goals in a free-flowing first-half.
Thompson converted a penalty and then calmly slotted home his second after being on the end of a lightning break by Ryan Clarke.
Thompson’s second goal restored the lead after a breakaway move by Lambton caught the Magpies defenders out on a rare occasion for the night.
Clarke was full of run and looked dangerous with the ball and the defence was solid and played with more cohesion as the game progressed.
Bolch said it was just the run his side needed and he could tell at the 70 minute mark that players were tiring.
He said the defence was on top in the second half in particular, despite Lambton having more of the ball.
“Matt Trott only had to make one save in the second half. They never really looked like scoring,” he said.
“We looked dangerous on the counter and the boys who came in at the end did a terrific job and all looked comfortable at that level.
“Both teams were probably three certain starters short, but I think it was a good effort by our boys to get a win.
“We have stuff to work on until the start of the season. We’ll have the weekend off now and prepare ourselves for the Bears in round one.”
A heavy downpour at the start of the second half made playing conditions slippery, but both teams, who were without several first grade starters, adapted well.
Just as importantly the ground looked pristine with the new drainage works doing the job. Several wash-outs delayed Maitland’s start to the season last year and thrust them into a catch-up game schedule that ultimately told at the business end of the year.
Maitland hosts Weston in the local derby at Cooks Square Park under lights on Saturday, March 17.