PHOTO: VALENTINE SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
Thornton Redbacks FC 0 def. by Cooks Hill United 3 (Gillespie 19’, Balcombe 45’, Johnson 59’)
Saturday 12th August, 2:45pm at Thornton Park
Graham Law was insistent the league was his side’s target this season, but his players showed that they want the double as they cruised to a big three goal win at Thornton on Saturday.
Daniel Yaxley made Cooks’ intentions clear early with a sharp shot into the side netting in the 7th minute, before Tyson Fletcher and Will Whitelaw went close for Thornton in the following two.
Lee Ashton had a sharp shot saved in the 15th, before some tall timber made the breakthrough for Cooks Hill four minutes later. Alex Gillespie seized on the scraps from a corner, and slammed home to give the visitors the early lead.
Thornton continued to have their share of chances, even if the play was shaded by Cooks Hill. Fletcher and Nathan McAllister both went close, the latter flashing a shot across the face in the 27th minute after finding some space in the box.
On the stroke of halftime, Cooks Hill doubled their advantage and struck a killer blow to Thornton’s hopes. It was another corner that did the damage, but this time it was Ash Balcombe who glanced a header into the back of the net to double his side’s advantage at the break.
Josh Benacquista had a good chance go over the bar in the 54th minute, before Cooks Hill did their best to nail down the coffin in the 59th. A Daniel Johnson free kick to the left of goal somehow found its way in at the top of the far post, and Cooks Hill had a 3-0 lead.
There were a couple of chances for both sides later on – substitute Jack Halverson put one over the bar for Thornton, while Cooks’ Cal Lewis had a 1v1 saved but neither side could add another.
Thornton coach Darrel McAllister was counting the cost of a lack of experienced heads out there for his side.
“Missing players like Tallan [Martin] and Suey [Jamie Subat], they’re a good side and we probably just needed to wrestle the game back… three set piece goals and they scored one just before half time and one after, which are never good times to concede goals,” he said.
“Second half we’re more disappointed with, just how we probably looked at the scoreboard and seen 3-0 down, I was looking for a better reaction I guess.”
Despite the huge deficit, McAllister was confident his side could give it a real shake next weekend.
“We’ve banged in plenty of goals, I don’t think they’re [Cooks Hill] are the greatest defensive side… New Lambton scored three against them last week, there’s no reason why we can’t,” he said.
“Just get better at defending set pieces, our defence has been pretty good and we’d only conceded one in the last five… the challenge is there for us, but there’s no reason why we can’t.”
Belmont Swansea United FC 0 def. by Kahibah FC 2 (Hadlow 4’, 86’)
Sunday 13th August, 2:30pm at Kahibah Oval
It’s advantage Kahibah in the 2nd v 3rd semi-finals, as they cruised to a 2-nil win over a lacklustre Belmont Swansea side – thanks to a double from a former Belswan.
Brendan Hayes was a late inclusion for Kahibah, in for player/coach Andre Gumprecht who had been crossed off the team sheet. It didn’t worry the visitors though – they struck early on, as former Belswan Jamie Hadlow rifled in a wonder shot from outside the area which buried itself into the back of the net.
Kahibah had come to shut the home side out, and with the early advantage did just that. A Belswans side intent on not leaking away goals were sitting back too, and barely threatened in the opening stanza.
The visitors were weakened in the 24th minute, with Jarrod Penfold exiting early due to injury. Jayden Demir took his place.
Sean Matthews made Belswans’ second half intentions clear with a speculator in the 48th minute, before Hadlow almost scored his second a few minutes later. Belswans had a penalty shout waved away in the 54th minute.
Kahibah had their best chance of the game in the 70th minute of the match after Hadlow broke the offside trap and was 1 on 1 with Ben Parmenter. The ‘keeper did enough however, and Hadlow put his shot wide.
Murray Leyland had a good chance saved in the 77th minute, before tensions threatened to simmer over when Belswan Corey Wilson came in hard on Kahibah captain Matt Lee, which left the number 32 in a heap on the floor. He’d find his feet shortly after.
The killer blow came in the 86th minute, thanks once again to Jamie Hadlow. He pinched the ball from Belswans man Dan Rufo inside the area, after Rufo spent too long lingering on it. Hadlow made no mistake finishing off his chance from close in front, and grabbed Kahibah their second away goal.
That loss was Belswans’ first since the 21st of May, and their second to Kahibah this season. It’s Kahibah’s third win on the trot, and they’ve kept three clean sheets on the way – their last goal conceded was against Belswans.