Following a decade in the wilderness, Maitland’s rapid rise will hit a crescendo when they welcome Hyundai A-League opposition Central Coast Mariners to the banks of the Hunter River.
A 2-1 triumph against Hamilton Olympic in FFA Cup Preliminary Round 7 capped a sparkling five years for the club entrenched deep in the rugby league heartlands of northern New South Wales.
After being relegated from the NPL Northern NSW Premier Division in 2002, it took until 2014 for the Magpies to soar back and establish themselves in the top flight.
Since that fateful season, Maitland have punched above their weight to make two NPL Northern NSW semi-finals in the past four years and now have finally written their name up in the bright lights of the FFA Cup Round of 32 for the first time.
Their opponents, Alen Stajcic’s Mariners, will travel just 95km to attend the biggest day in the football history of the little town in the coal fields. No doubt a good portion of the 78,000 population will be out in force dreaming of an FFA Cup upset.
Competition: National Premier Leagues Northern NSW
Home ground: Cooks Square Park
Former Caltex Socceroo Matt Thompson provides veteran experience, while classy operator Zach Thomas, who was awarded man of the match against Hamilton in the previous round, and skipper Carl Thornton add defensive steel.
The midfield is patrolled by the Swan twins. The identical duo, Andrew and Matt, are a pair of work horses offering relentless efforts on and off the ball.
Goalkeeper and club stalwart Matt Trott will need to produce a display of the highest quality against the Hyundai A-League heavyweights and hope for some FFA Cup magic from set-piece specialist Liam Thornton.
Leading goalscorer Joel Wood is another one to watch. As well as scoring against Hamilton, he also netted a crucial goal in Maitland's 3-1 win against local rivals Weston Bears, the derby amusingly dubbed 'El Clasicoal'.
Round of 32 Match Details
Maitland FC v Central Coast Mariners
Date: Wednesday, 31 July 2019
Venue: Maitland Sportsground
Kick-off: 7.30pm AEST
Click here for ticket details