PHOTO: HUNTER SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
Match of the Round
Wallsend FC 2 (Sam Bradshaw, Ty Goldsmith) drew with South Cardiff FC 2 (Jock Thompson, Riley Taylor)
Sunday 25th March, 4:30 pm
South Cardiff kicked off their 2018 season with a physical, heated and controversial draw in a match that was technically an away match despite being played at their home ground after Wallsend were unable to host at The Gardens.
Donning their purple away shirts to raise awareness for the Cure Cancer Foundation, Wallsend had the first couple of chances to take the lead but new signing Ty Goldsmith was unable to find a clear way through the Gunners’ tight defence on both occasions.
Nathan McCallister, who was playing his first game for the club, seemed to struggle to combine with his new team early on, however, he did deliver a nice pass finding Daniel Wells who then shot from distance, but didn’t trouble Wallsend goalkeeper Joel Magnee.
After a tense first half where neither side could break the deadlock, the second half was only five minutes old when South Cardiff’s Jock Thompson leapt above Wallsend’s captain Ash Watts to grab the first goal for 2018 for his team.
Wallsend refused to lie down though and after a few close chances, they finally found an equaliser after Goldsmith’s crooked, low shot ran perfectly onto the back post for Sam Bradshaw to tap in.
With all the momentum in their favour, Bradshaw and Goldsmith connected again just minutes after their first goal as Bradshaw flicked on a header in behind the defence for his fellow front-man Goldsmith to run onto and put his side into the lead, making no mistakes when one-on-one with Kyle Furness.
With the Gunners finding themselves shockingly behind, desperation began to show, especially in the final third of the field.
McCallister and Runge both missed great opportunities to get their side level and their chances of equalising took another hit when centre-back Cameron Herring needed to leave the field for the ‘blood-bin’ and left his side a man down for over five minutes.
As the game entered the last ten minutes, confusion and controversy reigned when it seemed Wallsend expected to receive the ball following a drop-ball after originally kicking the ball out for an injured player. But the Gunners didn’t agree.
After a few short moments of deliberation and questions, South Cardiff attacked and it was young new signing Riley Taylor, who pounced on a loose pass and buried the ball into the bottom corner of the net.
As the South Cardiff personnel celebrated, Wallsend players and coaches adamantly contested the goal, building up a hot, tense finish to the game involving multiple altercations amongst players and yellow cards being shown.
Just moments before the final whistle, Bradshaw came agonisingly close to a second goal and the winner, but in the end, both sides left Ulinga Oval with a point each.
Wallsend coach Ben Edwards described the result as “frustrating and disappointing” and his anguish came from the controversial South Cardiff goal.
“I’m frustrated and disappointed.”
“It was something in football you just don’t expect.”
“I’m happy to concede and maybe lose to ‘football’, but when it’s a sportsmanship thing, that hurts a lot.”
Although his side was unable to achieve the three points, Edwards admitted he was still pleased with the way his team played, particularly how they came back from being a goal down.
“I was quite impressed with the way the boys reacted when South Cardiff scored. It showed good character.”
“The way they fought back was quite good to see.”
“I was happy all round with it in the end, apart from the result.”
Cooks Hill United 5 (Nick Russell x2, Jarryd Johnson, Reid Murray, Daniel Johnson) def. Singleton Strikers 0
Saturday 24th March, 2:30 pm
Newcastle Athletics Field
Last year’s premiers and champions Cooks Hill United showed their dominance with a convincing victory against a depleted Singleton team at the AthField.
Similar to last weekend against Belmont-Swansea, it didn’t take long for the Cookers to find their first goal after Jarryd Johnson somehow got a foot to the ball in a scrambling effort and not long after Nick Russell doubled his team’s lead.
Cooks Hill continued their supremacy into the second half as Nick Russell again found the back of the net, however, this time with a stunning volley that sent the home crowd into a frenzy.
With the Strikers missing four of their starting eleven, including star forward Joe Civello, they were unable to find any momentum and two late goals to substitute Reid Murray and captain Daniel Johnson put an exclamation mark on a great result for Cooks Hill that sees them return back to the top of the table.
Next weekend, Singleton will get to host their first match in a Good Friday night battle with Toronto-Awaba – match they will need to win if they’re looking to have a competitive season.
Cessnock City Hornets 2 (Kyle Williams, Isaac Peek) def. New Lambton FC 1 (Riley Taylor)
Sunday 25th March, 2:30 pm
Heavy rainfall may have covered the field during the week, but it was pure elation that flooded across Turner Park on Sunday, as the Hornets finally ended their 637-day winless streak in a tough encounter with New Lambton.
After only six minutes, Cessnock scored their first goal of the season after Blake Roy slotted in young Kyle Williams who buried the opportunity in the bottom corner to give the home team the early lead.
After missing Round One due to heat concerns, New Lambton was slow to get going and struggled to make any decent chances in the first half.
Despite defending a narrow lead, Cessnock continued to attack, and after being denied by the woodwork twice in the space of minutes, the Hornets finally found their brace through new boy Isaac Peek, scoring his first for the club.
Immediately following the goal, New Lambton sparked into action and began posing a tough test for Cessnock’s defence.
As the final whistle neared, Eagles’ star Riley Taylor managed to get his head onto a Justin Maddalena corner and put the ball into the goal, putting his side to within a goal.
But it was all too little too late for New Lambton, as Cessnock triumphed as victors – a concept they’ve been unfortunately unfamiliar with for a long time.
Coach Brendan Slade said it was a result the whole club was excited about.
“We got the younger players, the ball boys and parents into the sheds and we sang the song loud and proud.”
“We had a really good start right from the whistle.”
“It was a fantastic feeling.”
Slade suggested that although their focus is shifted back to next weekend again, that the confidence and comradery throughout the club is lifting everyone.
“We’re only taking it game by game…but there’s a really good buzz and feel amongst the team.”
“Everyone’s really tight-knit and really work hard for each other.”
“There’s good vibes and good morale in the club.”
Belmont-Swansea United 5 (Cameron Lodge x2, Luke Lethbridge, Sean Matthews, Corey Wilson) def. Toronto-Awaba Stags FC 1 (Nick Roberts)
Sunday 25th March, 2:30 pm
Their defence would once again be the problem for the Stags this week as they went down in a big loss to Belswans at Blacksmiths Oval, in a game between the two sides that lost in Round One.
It seemed Toronto would deliver the first breakthrough goal after being awarded a penalty early in the first half, however, a terrific save from Belswans goalkeeper Ben Parmenter, followed by a nice goal from Cameron Lodge, meant they would be chasing the lead for a second consecutive week.
Nick Roberts tied the game and opened his goal-scoring account for the year with a lovely header just before half-time, but the boys from Blacksmiths came out in the second half showcasing some great attacking football.
Luke Lethbridge returned his side to the lead with his first goal in the top grade, before Sean Matthews jumped onto a low cross from Chris Gazzard to give them a brace.
Belswans wouldn’t take their foot off the accelerator though, as Lodge, who doubled up with another goal, and defender Corey Wilson scored late goals to give them a resounding, first win of the season.
Belswans coach Josh Rufo, suggested although scoring five goals and winning was great, there’s still a lot his team need to improve on to get where they want to be.
“We’ve still got a lot to work on. We’ve still got to get better with the football, better with transitioning from attack into defence, we’ve still got a long way to go to playing a consistent 90 minutes.”
“Cam Lodge was great today, scoring two goals, but I thought Josh Hall and Sean Matthews really wound back the clock today too.”
“Overall, I’m pretty happy with the result, but we’ve still got a long way to go.”
West Wallsend vs. Kahibah was postponed due to wet weather.