PHOTO: VALENTINE SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
Match of the Round
Belmont Swansea United FC 2 (Harvey 21’, Harper 30’) def. South Cardiff FC 1 (Nicholas 62’)
Sunday 30th July, 2:30pm at Blacksmiths Oval
South Cardiff had their finals hopes dashed by a dominant Belswans side, who kept their faint title hopes alive with a 2-1 win at Blacksmiths on Sunday.
Brett Cowling got caught in possession by Steele Harvey, who played it off and ended up seizing on a loose ball at the back stick in the 21st minute, and turned it in with his left foot to give Belswans an early advantage.
Chris Gazzard stepped up to a free kick in the 30th minute, and the dead ball specialist whipped a special ball into the box. Mitch Cook headed it back across the face, and Mitch Harper tapped in to double Belmont-Swansea’s lead.
The Gunners would claw one back in the 62nd minute through captain Corey Nicholas. The commanding centre-back curled in a free kick from a very tight angle against an unsuspecting Ben Parmenter to make it 2-1.
South Cardiff kept pressing, and nearly had one in the dying minutes. Brett Cowling was unleashed, but his attempted chip went just over the bar and meant the Gunners wouldn’t manage to complete their comeback. Belswans keep their place in the top four, while South Cardiff are now six points adrift of the top four with only one game to play.
It’s a big win for Belswans, and given their form at the back end of this season it brings into stark contrast just how much they gave away at the beginning of the year. Of the last 30 points on offer, Josh Rufo’s side has taken 25 points – a loss to South Cardiff in May and a draw to Westy the only blemishes on an otherwise solid ten game run.
Cessnock City FC 0 def. by Kahibah FC 1 (Trummel 25’)
Saturday 29th July, 2:30pm at Turner Park
It was a struggle for just about everyone at Turner Park, but Kahibah did just enough to get the three points and keep the pressure on at the top with a 1-0 win on Saturday.
Cessnock started strong, with youngster James Collins flicking a shot over in the 10th minute which may have been finished by Brodie Williams in his shadow.
The Hornets had a golden chance to go ahead in the 15th minute after a Matt Parker handball in the box earned them a penalty, but Travas McCabe missed his second penalty in as many weeks to ensure the scores stayed level.
Kahibah made them pay ten minutes later – Brendan Trummel broke through the line and beat Dylan Cheetham with a low shot to the keeper’s left to make it 1-0. They should have doubled their lead a minute later, but Matt Lee missed his chance at the back post.
The second half was a dull affair – Kahibah had a pair of chances in the opening five minutes, but couldn’t make them pay. They had the better of the play in the second half, but weren’t able to create anything of note. Cessnock weren’t either, and Kahibah were able to grind out a crucial 1-0 win.
Singleton Strikers FC 1 (Balcombe OG 86’) def. by Cooks Hill United FC 3 (Skinner OG 21’, Lewis 30’, Ashton 85’)
Saturday 29th July, 2:30pm at Howe Park
Cooks Hill maintained their slim lead at the top of the ladder intact with a slim 3-1 win over Singleton on Saturday.
It was an extremely young Singleton side which took the field, and one of the youngest would open the scoring – but not at the right end. Jack Skinner turned the ball into his own net in the 21st minute to give the visitors an early advantage.
Cal Lewis scored just under ten minutes later, his tenth of the season, to stretch his side’s advantage to two goals at the break. The score would remain the same until late in the second half, when Lee Ashton burst forward and scored his 14th goal of the season. An own goal from Cooks Hill’s Ash Balcombe a minute later proved only a consolation for Singleton, who fell to their third loss on the trot.
It was Cooks Hill’s second win in a row, but the late goal against them means they have kept a clean sheet since the 6th of May in a 3-0 win over South Cardiff. They’ve been able to outscore their opponents on most occasions, but with finals approaching it may be something coach Graham Law draws close attention to.
New Lambton FC 3 (Taylor 7’, 60’, Hand 24’) drew Toronto Awaba 3 (Roberts 18’, 61’, Williams 82’)
Sunday 30th July, 2:30pm at Alder Park
Toronto had a chance to finish their season with six league wins for the first time since 2013. They weren’t able to do that, but they certainly put on a show with a 3-all draw against New Lambton at Alder Park.
Riley Taylor opened the scoring for the Eagles in the 7th minute, but Toronto’s leading goal scorer Nick Roberts hit back with a goal in the 18th minute. The Stags wouldn’t maintain parity for long though – Zane Hand was on hand to hit back for New Lambton in the 24th minute, which would send the Eagles to the sheds with the advantage.
Fifteen minutes into the second half, a Riley Taylor goal looked like it may have gone a long way in securing his New Lambton side a win. However, Nick Roberts hit back just a minute later with his 13th of the season to bring his side within a goal once again.
Then, handbags. Steve Shute came on to the park, and wasn’t afraid to get his body about in front of the Old Boys at Alder Park. His conduct sparked a flashpoint in the match, which resulted in three yellow cards and a ripped jersey. Shortly after, Dan Williams scored his first of the season from outside the area to square the ledger, and it finished 3-all.
New Lambton coach Andrew Packer said his side paid for their wastefulness.
“Happy with the performance side of things but not clinical enough in front of goal,” he said.
“Overall it pretty much summed up our season, we do create a lot but unfortunately it takes a lot for us to finish them. If we’d taken the majority of our chances the score line could have been a lot bigger, but it wasn’t to be.
“It was disappointing for the first team, but we’ve got a big game on Saturday (against Cooks Hill) so we’re looking forward to that.”
Wallsend FC 0 def. by Thornton Redbacks FC 3 (Penglaze 8’, McAllister 43’, 64’)
Sunday 30th July, 2:30pm at The Gardens
Thornton maintained their good run home and Nathan McAllister chipped in with two goals with a dominant 3-0 win over Wallsend on Sunday afternoon.
Liam Penglaze opened the scoring early on – he lost his marker following a switch from right to left, and picked up his fourth of the season in the 8th minute. A short corner paid dividends for the Redbacks just before half time, when Nathan McAllister chose to shoot rather than cross while on the byline. The shot tricked an unsuspecting James Wand in goal, and made it 2-0 Thornton.
McAllister finished the rout in the 64th minute with his second of the day and his 18th goal of the season after he was found on the penalty spot by Jamie Subat. The win made sure Thornton held on to second place – for now.
According to Thornton boss Darrel McAllister, the prize of finals drove his side on.
“The motivation was to make the semis,” he said.
“If Southy had beat Belswans and we lost, we play Belswans next week… our goal all year was to make semis, (the motivation was) get second spot back, we got it on Wednesday and lost it when Kahibah won on Saturday, but we got it back.
“This weekend, the motivation depends on what happens on Saturday… if Cooks Hill slip up, then we can be minor premiers.”