PHOTO: VALENTINE SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
Match of the Round
Thornton Redbacks FC 2 (Martin 25’, 86’) drew South Cardiff FC 2 (McCabe 97’, Wells 107’)
Saturday July 15th, 2:45pm at Thornton Park
A stirring comeback point to South Cardiff was overshadowed by a shocking injury to their captain Corey Nicholas, as Thornton failed to make any meaningful ground for the finals on Saturday.
South Cardiff controlled much of the opening play. Joey Grujevski hit the post with a vicious shot early on, while Troy Runge put a shot over in the 13th minute.
Thornton’s Jesse Smith put a chance over in the 20th minute before the Redbacks struck with the opener in the 25th minute – Tallan Martin nodding home a real poacher’s goal to make it 1-0 to the home side.
Steve Cummings missed a golden opportunity as he headed wide from a Thornton corner in the 35th minute, and an acrobatic Drew Olsen was all that prevented a goalbound Grujevski free kick from levelling the scores just before halftime.
The second half was developing into a good contest, before horrible scenes just ten minutes in. A collision in the box left South Cardiff captain Corey Nicholas in a bad way on the ground and had all players and officials alike calling for assistance. The game was delayed for nearly 25 minutes while Nicholas was down, but the captain eventually made his way to his feet and walked from to field to heavy applause from a relieved Thornton crowd.
Despite fears the match may have been abandoned due to the lengthy delay, both teams took to the pitch and resumed in what would have been the 80th minute of play. The match didn’t seem to be at quite the same intensity after the length break, but Tallan Martin was keen to take full advantage. He swooped in at the back post in the 86th minute to score another poacher’s goal, this time with his boot, to make it 2-0 Thornton.
South Cardiff were keen to push on without their captain, and Ben McCabe swooped on the afters of a corner in the 97th minute of play to put his Gunners back in with a shout. Daniel Wells brought the two sides level with an audacious chip in the 107th minute of play, but neither could break the deadlock as the clock ran out to a mammoth 70-minute half.
The result means the logjam in the top four remains just as tight as it was before a ball was kicked in round 19, but a little further down and Thornton’s finals hopes are now firmly in their own hands. They’re five points adrift, with Toronto and New Lambton their two opponents in their games in hand – win those, and finals football may be theirs.
West Wallsend SFC 2 (Knight 31’, Price 75’) drew Belmont-Swansea United FC 2 (Shearer 44’, Lodge 90’)
Saturday July 15th, 2:30pm at Johnston Park
Belswans had the chance to go into a share of first with a win yesterday but had to come from behind to scrape a point and remain in third as a hot-and-cold West Wallsend again proved consistency has been their biggest enemy in 2017.
The hero just three weeks ago, Josh Knight opened the scoring for the Bluebells again today, and it was through yet another counter attack – something West Wallsend are becoming renowned for. Joel Shearer responded for Belmont-Swansea, scoring a good goal after some classy build up just before the break.
West Wallsend went out in front again though, as Fletcher Price turned the ball in from the corner. Belswans would respond to pull the match back to 2-all after Cameron Lodge popped up at the back post to turn in a Tega Marcus cross late in the game. They’d have chances to win it late on but squandered a pair of golden opportunities and it finished 2-all.
The result means that places on the ladder, for Westy and Belswans at least, stays the same. Belswans missed the chance to take a share of first on Saturday, but Kahibah’s win on Sunday means that even with a victory, they’d still be third – albeit it within a point of first. As it stands, they’re three points away from top spot. Westy moves to 27 points but remains sixth and as fifth placed Thornton have three games in hand it’s unlikely they’ll move on up.
Belswans boss Josh Rufo was as dissatisfied with the result as his players.
“I think the feeling of the team after the game was a bit disappointed because the work-rate and our possession was high,” Rufo said.
“It was just one of those days, we had a thousand opportunities and only two goals to show for it… they touched the ball and scored twice but not to worry, we’ll put it right this weekend.”
Kahibah FC 4 (Leyland 1’, Lee 53’, Parkinson 62’, Trummel 65’) def. Singleton Strikers FC 1 (Civello 23’)
Sunday 16th July, 2:30pm at Kahibah Oval
Tipped for big things at the start of the season, Kahibah finally fired themselves to the top of the ladder for the first time in 2017 with a resounding win over a disappointing Singleton side on Sunday afternoon.
Murray Leyland opened the scoring for Kahibah with a goal in the first minute of the match, and they should have had another two with multiple chances in the next 15 minutes. Joe Civello made sure Kahibah paid for their lack of quality in front of goal, as he struck back for Singleton shortly after and the two sides went into the sheds level.
The race for first was on though, and Kahibah were determined to remain at the front. They went ahead once again through captain Matt Lee, before two goals in three minutes from the heads of Tom Parkinson and Brendan Trummel wrapped up the result for Kahibah.
The Strikers need four points from their remaining matches to better last year’s tally of 23 points but have a horrible run home (Thornton, Cooks Hill, and South Cardiff) if they want to achieve that. However, Kahibah jumps to top as a result of the win but they’ll have to do well against Belswans next weekend if they’re to hold on.
Singleton coach Dave Willoughby wasn’t disheartened by the heavy defeat.
“For nearly 75 minutes, we went blow for blow but just a couple of defensive lapses in the second half and we conceded three goals in about fifteen minutes,” Willoughby said.
“All eleven did the business, we went out to minimise their passing channels and we did that, but we weren’t good enough for the ninety minutes. Again, it’s a learning curve for us and I’ve been happy with us, and I’m not sure 4-1 should be a good thing (Andre) Gumprecht looks at… but it was a good outcome, outside getting the three points.
“Our performance was good, the second goal was a killer because we dropped our heads for the next ten minutes but had them up for the last twenty, I’m happy with it. We went toe to toe with the premiers, (at least) I think they’re going to be premiers… it’s theirs to lose now.”
New Lambton FC 7 (Taylor 6’, 13’, 30, 39’, Casey 49’, Ihlow 58’, Pepper 83’) def. Cessnock City FC 0
Sunday 16th July, 2:30pm at Alder Park
A new low? Cessnock conceded seven for the second match in a row as New Lambton roared back into form with a huge win over the struggling Hornets at Alder Park on Sunday.
A fantastic first-half foursome from Riley Taylor put the match out of reach. He scored in the 6th, 13th, 30th and 39th minutes – but the pick of the goals was his fourth goal, which came after some good lead up play in the middle of the park. A New Lambton player unleashed a shot on goal, and Taylor was on hand to turn in the rebound for his tenth of the season.
Josh Casey ensured the party continued after halftime as he chipped in with a goal in the 49th minute, followed by Alex Ihlow with another in the 58th. Nic Pepper finished up the rout with a goal in the 83rd minute and ensured that Cessnock are now mathematically a certainty to finish in the last place.
They’re now 13 points adrift at the bottom of the ladder and have conceded 57 goals this year at an average of 3 and a half a match. New Lambton closed the gap on Wallsend in seventh with the win, which did good things for their goal difference – it’s now at 6. They’ll be eyeing as high a finish as possible.
New Lambton coach Andrew Packer was pleased with the big win, and the flurry of goals.
“It was a great day, it’s the first time we (the club) has had five wins including 15s as well, a bit of a milestone for the club,” Packer said.
“It was good to get that this season, and with a couple of rounds left, touch wood, we’re in a good spot to get a couple of these teams into the finals… like I said a couple of weeks ago, we were always going to struggle over this period of time, we have five guys away on holidays and a couple of guys injured now because of the six games in 21 days.
“I think we were due for goals to go in, we’ve always created a bucketload of chances but we just haven’t been able to keep the goals out… it was a good day for the club and we’ll look forward to the last two rounds, we’ve also got Cooks Hill and Thornton so we may play a big part in how the top four finish up at the end of the year.”
Toronto Awaba FC 2 (Bruce 58’, 75’) def. Wallsend FC 1 (Oku 94’)
Sunday 16th July, 2:30pm at Lyall Peacock Field
The old boys provided enough inspiration for a Toronto side who had lost four on the trot – they hauled themselves to within two points of ninth place with an important win over a poor Wallsend outfit.
It was the Red Devils who had a number of chances early in the first half, as they squandered two 1-on-1’s. However, Toronto would make them pay early in the second half – Josh Bruce scored an astonishing half volley from outside the 18 to put his side in the lead.
He’d double his tally with 75 minutes gone, seizing on a loose ball in the box after a corner and finishing in front of a boisterous Lyall Peacock crowd. Wallsend would score one through Winstone Oku in the 94th minute, but it was only a consolation as Toronto recorded a famous win.
Toronto’s victory makes things a little more interesting in the middle of the ladder. They’re still tenth, but now only two points behind Singleton in ninth, and four behind New Lambton in eighth place. Wallsend remains next best in seventh, and they’ll have to be good against Westy next weekend if they want to stay there.
Stags boss Adam Routledge was pleased with a win, which he says was a long time coming.
“Any time is good to get a win, but to be honest we haven’t been far away from getting a win over the last four or five weeks to be fair, we’re moving in the right direction,” Routledge said.
“Wallsend had a few chances and we definitely had a few, we’ve been creating heaps of chances but not getting the end result, it’s been coming for a few weeks that’s for sure.”
Wallsend coach Chris Gallagher wasn’t too pleased with the result but was keen to move on quickly.
“It was disappointing, but Toronto had a game plan and they executed it well,” Gallagher said.
“If you don’t take your chances, you pay the price… once they went one in front, I wouldn’t say they parked the bus but they defended really well like I said through the week they were very physical so we’ve ended with up a couple more injuries.
“Derby day (next weekend), we lost the last derby pretty convincingly and it’s old boys day, so hopefully the boys show up ready to play… that’s the plan, anyway.”