Match of the Round
Cooks Hill United 2 (Lee Ashton x2) def. New Lambton FC 1 (Riley Taylor)
Saturday 14th April, 2:30 pm, Newcastle Athletics Field
After the late mid-week announcement that New Lambton coach Andrew Packer was immediately stepping down from his position as head coach of the club, any chance of winning against league-leaders Cooks Hill looked slim.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, it spelt out that way as the home team kept them anchored to the bottom of the table with zero points.
As Tony Gascoine stepped up as the interim coach on the New Lambton sideline, Cooks Hill also didn’t have their usual man on the bench as Graham Law’s replacement Glen Chapman, looked for his first win since temporarily taking over the side while Law is away in Scotland.
Last season, New Lambton scored more goals against the champions than any other team, and they started the game in the same trend as Riley Taylor found the back of the net to grab his fifth goal of the year, and give the Eagles the surprising early lead.
However, their lead wasn’t long-lived as Cooks Hill’s prolific attacker Lee Ashton scored only ten minutes later and from there, the Cookers began to seize control as they quite often do.
The second half started off the way it finished as Ashton grabbed a brace to put the home side into the lead for the first time and, despite a few threating opportunities to New Lambton, finished the game with a win and retained their spot at the top of the ladder.
That loss signals the first time New Lambton have been winless after five games since their Zone Premier League season in 2013, and also means it’s been almost nine months since they last experienced a victory.
Belmont-Swansea United 0 drew with Kahibah FC 0
Saturday 14th April, 2:30 pm, Blacksmiths Oval
In a fixture that has become a quite tense and heated affair over the last few years, both Belswans and Kahibah continued their struggling starts to the season as neither team were able to find a goal and ended up sharing the points.
One of the major stories heading into the match would be how David Hodgson would find facing off against his former club, however, fans would have to wait to see that confrontation as Hodgson was ruled out during the warm-up.
As a result, Belswans lined up rather differently to usual, starting players in unfamiliar positions, yet they were the ones to put the pressure on early with chances coming to a normally-defending Corey Wilson and newly included Matt Ellis, though neither player was able to get past Brady McRitchie in goal.
Both teams battled over control and momentum for the rest of the first half and it seemed as though their structured styles of play cancelled one another out.
The same manner was seen in the second half, with the only real opportunities falling to Belmont-Swansea’s Mitch Harper and Kahibah’s Jye Hodson, but in the end, neither team could break the deadlock.
Belswans coach Josh Rufo said that despite not getting the three points, he was still happy and impressed with areas of his team’s performance.
“It was a really competitive game,” Rufo said.
“From our end, I thought the clean sheet was really positive.
“Football-wise, it was probably some of the best passages of football we’ve played.”
Promising forward Cameron Lodge was another key name that was missing from Belmont-Swansea’s line-up and after going two weeks without scoring.
Rufo admitted that although having Lodge in the side may have made a difference to the result, the players replacing him need to step up in his absence as he recovers from having his appendix removed.
“You don’t miss what you don’t have.
“He’s very important to us, but a football team is made up of eleven players.
“Hopefully if he’s not there to do the job, then there’s some other people who can take that opportunity and try and make that position their own.”
West Wallsend Bluebells SFC 2 (Ryan Cole, Bailey Maxton) def. South Cardiff FC 1 (Nathan McCallister)
Saturday 14th April, 2:30 pm, Johnston Park
After achieving their first victory of the season away from home last week, West Wallsend built on their performance to make it two-in-a-row by defeating South Cardiff in a solid performance and extending their winning streak against the Gunners to six games.
Neither side could gain control in a tense first half tussle, but the second half substitutions opened up the game.
For the second consecutive week, West Wallsend’s Ryan Cole found the back of the net after coming on from the bench to open the scoring, however only minutes later, South Cardiff’s new star forward, Nathan McCallister would level up the game to create a hotly contested finish to the match.
Both sides created chances to take the lead, but the scores would finally be split when Bailey Maxton jumped onto a Brad Andrews free kick to give the Bluebells the late lead and the eventual victory.
Gary Rowe, West Wallsend coach, admitted that confidence amongst his team was high following back-to-back wins.
“The boys are pretty happy with themselves at the moment,” Rowe said.
“Their effort to keep going towards the ends of games has been impressive.
“They’re still fighting to the death every game which is a big positive to us.”
Rowe also significantly praised his defence for their performances in the last two weeks after initially starting off shakily.
“The defence did really well. They followed the plan pretty well and were able to handle most of the threats we were presented with.
“We’re focusing on being nice and tight defensively because that’s definitely helping our form.”
Wallsend FC 2 (Ty Goldsmith x2) drew Singleton Strikers 2 (Jordan Phelan, Tom Hume)
Sunday 15th April, 2:30 pm, The Gardens
For the first time this year, Wallsend would finally get the chance to play at their home ground, The Gardens, however, although they continued their undefeated start to the season, they weren’t able to take all three points after an exciting battle with Singleton in a heated game that saw four penalties given just in the first half.
Wallsend was granted a bonus with the mid-week decision that formidable forward Ty Goldsmith was able to escape a second match suspension and play the match, but it was their opposition who started the match on top.
The Strikers pulled off a fantastic upset last weekend against Belswans, and they looked like they would again surprise onlookers with a hot start to the match when Joe Civello was awarded an early penalty kick, however, Jae Dawes regretfully pushed the ball wide of the upright.
No similar mistakes were made by his teammate Jordan Phelan though, who headed in a Jackson Cox free-kick unopposed minutes later, to put the away team into the lead.
Wallsend heightened their pressure though, and it lead to two penalties being given in quick succession to the home side, both of which were successfully knocked in by Goldsmith, taking his season tally to five.
This happened all before the Strikers were incredibly awarded yet another penalty that unfortunately saw disaster strike twice for Dawes, as he was unable to find the back of the net again, this time due to a reaching save from Red Devils’ goalkeeper Joel Magnee.
The second half kicked off with a game-changing moment as Matt Williams was shown a straight red card for elbowing, leaving Wallsend with ten men and from there, Singleton began to increase their intensity with the extra-man advantage.
Their efforts would finally see some fruition as Tom Hume was able to put away a scrambling goal that had already been saved on the goal-line twice to equal the game up.
Despite both teams having chances to win the game late-on, the game finished in a draw.
Wallsend FC coach Ben Edwards admitted his team didn’t play to their potential and that there were some definite areas that they needed to improve on before their next match in two weeks.
“We can definitely be a lot better,” Edwards said.
“We definitely need to work on the midfield and just closing that space more.
“We were a bit on our heels and needed to pick up the energy a bit more.”
Despite the draw though, Edwards confessed he was impressed with his side’s early form and was confident they can continue improving.
“I think we’ve done exceptionally well, especially for a team that was ranked to come near last by some people.
“As a whole, even with the changes and the suspensions, we’ve come through pretty much unscathed, so I’m pretty happy with what we’ve done.”
Toronto Awaba Stags FC 1 (Jarrod Penfold) drew with Thornton Redbacks 1 (Jye MacKellar)
Sunday 15th April, 2:30 pm, Lyall Peacock Field
Round 4 saw the Stags and the Redbacks triumph with major victories, and although both sides would have been highly confident heading into this match, the two teams would have to share the points following a tight, drawn contest.
The first half saw Thornton take power and create most of the opportunities, however, despite scoring ten goals in their last two games, the Redbacks’ attack couldn’t break through Toronto’s defence and instead saw them waste their chances.
In the second half, the Stags found their way back into the flow of the match to create a back-and-forth contest, but it was the away side that finally opened the scoring through in-form forward Jye MacKellar with twenty minutes remaining.
With the result seeming as though it’d end in Thornton’s favour, Toronto refused to lie down.
With only seven minutes left in the match the Stags’ productive attacker Jarrod Penfold, scored from a free-kick to equalise the match and give his side at least a point from the game.
Thornton Redbacks’ coach Gary Wand admitted it was a frustrating result for his side.
“It was one of those games,” Wand said.
“They [Toronto] made it very difficult for us.
“We created plenty of chances. We just needed a little bit of composure.
“The team was pretty gutted after the game. It felt like a loss to them and from a coach’s perspective, you like to see that. They were really disappointed by it.”
Cessnock City Hornets had the bye.