Competitions

NEWFM Northern League One Round 3 Preview

March 29th, 2018
PHOTO: VALENTINE SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY

Quentin Conners

Match of the Round
Thornton Redbacks FC vs. West Wallsend Bluebells SFC
Saturday 31st March, 2:30 pm
Thornton Park 

Both teams have had almost identical starts to the season – both missed last weekend’s games due to wet weather and the bye, and both played out a draw in Round One.

Last season Thornton beat West Wallsend in both fixtures, in fact, the last time the Bluebells defeated the Redbacks was back in April 2014, a statistic Thornton will be hoping to continue on.

Back in Round One, both coaches admitted they felt they could have won if it hadn’t been for a lack of execution in front of goals. Look for that to be a main focal point for each team and the potential central difference between the winner and loser.

West Wallsend coach Gary Rowe believed that despite missing out on playing last week, that it won’t be the element that affects the result.

“We haven’t been able to train [due to rain] since we played against Singleton, so we may be a bit dusty,” said Rowe.

“I don’t think they’ll be sluggish. They might run out of puff after not playing for a while, but they should be fine.”

“It won’t be the reason we do or don’t win.”

Rowe also agreed that their finishing up-front is the main area of their game that needs to improve for this weekend.

“The only thing we really need to work on is taking our chances.”

“Defensively I’m happy…so we’ll just concentrate on the attacking areas to give us the best chance of scoring.”

For the opposition coach, Gary Wand admitted that he was relieved to be facing another side who didn’t play in Round Two after his side had the bye.

“I’m very happy to play a side that’s also missed a week as well.”

“It’ll be the usual Westy. They’ll be physical, it’ll be combative and they’re a good football team.”

 

Singleton Strikers vs. Toronto Awaba Stags FC
Friday 30th March, 6:30 pm
Howe Park

Round Two was a weekend to forget for both these teams following big losses courtesy of last year’s Grand Finalists and they’ll be looking to their Good Friday clash to get their season’s back on track when they face off in the first night game of the season at Howe Park.

Defensively, these teams have struggled in the first two games, posing the worst goal differential in the competition with -5 (Singleton) and -6 (Toronto) respectively.

Nick Roberts showed his class last week by nabbing a goal and keeping his side in the game for a moment, and his goal-scoring will once again be the key for the Stags if they want to move on up from the bottom of the table.

While Singleton’s star forward Joe Civello returns this week, which will be a massive boost for the Strikers, as does young back Jackson Skinner and midfielder Jake Ball.

Willoughby confessed Civello’s return will be eagerly awaited and that he was confident his side could get the win.

“Joey gives us some speed and his runs in behind are really, really good so it’ll good to have him back.”

“We’ll always go into every game quietly confident.”

Willoughby also stated that he felt that by having the match played at night, that it’ll actually improve the quality of the football played and that his side was eager to finally get to play at home.

“There is no better place to play at night than at Howe Park.”

“The ground is pristine at the moment…it’s going to be sensational.”

“We’re looking forward to the game, and with getting numbers back, I believe we’ll do very well on the weekend.”

 

Cooks Hill United vs. Kahibah FC
Saturday 31st March, 2:30 pm
Newcastle Athletics Field

In a match between two of the predicted title contenders, the table-topping Cooks Hill will play their third consecutive home game this weekend while Kahibah will play their first game of the season.

While it’s unknown exactly what we might see from Kahibah, it is known that Cooks Hill has once again authorised themselves as the team, scoring six goals whilst conceding none.

Last year when these two sides met, thrilling, high-scoring matches ensued with both teams grabbing a victory each which included a 4-3 Kahibah win when they battled at the AthField.

But considering one of the main focuses of both teams has been to continue improving their defence in 2018, coaches Graham Law and Andre Gumprecht, will be hoping their sides don’t concede as many as they did last time around.

Cooks Hill coach Graham Law admitted that he wouldn’t want to be in Kahibah’s shoes coming into this weekend.

“I think all the pressure is on them.”

“I wouldn’t want to be coming to our ground, and after the start we’ve made, to play your first game.”

“I’m expecting Kahibah to be one of the strongest teams this year, but the pressure is on them.”

However, Kahibah coach Andre Gumprecht suggested that his side isn’t feeling any pressure and instead are extremely keen to finally get onto the pitch.

“We’re very confident.”

“Everyone is fresh, and everyone is buzzing, so playing the first game against the best team in the comp is the best way to start.”

“We do know where their strengths are, and we have some clear implementations to accommodate that and combat that.”

 

South Cardiff FC vs. Cessnock City Hornets
Saturday 31st March, 2:30 pm
Ulinga Oval

After last week’s drought-breaking victory, Cessnock City’s spirits will be sky high heading into Round 3 as they sit in 3rd – the highest they’ve sat since Round 5, 2013.

Despite containing so many new faces since last year, including new coach Brendan Slade, the Hornets have started to gel quickly, particularly their backline, and they’ll need to once again display another strong performance as they face arguably their toughest test yet.

South Cardiff, on the other hand, played their first match last weekend and toughed out a 2-2 draw which is a result they wouldn’t have been entirely happy with after having high hopes of challenging for the title in 2018.

What’s also interesting to note for the Gunners, is that they also played a mid-week catch-up match against New Lambton on Wednesday night which means their game against Cessnock will be there 3rd in just six days.

Cessnock City coach Brendan Slade admitted that “it’s always tough to play two games in a week” and it may come influence the way they play this weekend.

“Hopefully we can make them chase us across the park and make them run a little more than they want to” Slade joked.

“We’re very confident.”

“Our squad is very willing to work for each other.”

“There’s a really good buzz at the club.” 

 

Wallsend FC vs. Belmont-Swansea United
Sunday 1st April, 4:00 pm
Blacksmiths Oval 

For the second week in a row, Wallsend’s opponent will host the match this Easter Sunday, despite it being a Wallsend home game.

After losing their first match, Belswans responded well last week winning big against Toronto Awaba, however, don’t expect them to have it so much their way this time as the Red Devils have impressed in their first two outings.

Attacking-wise, both teams have been good scoring 5 goals already. Belswans’ Cameron Lodge and Wallsend’s Ty Goldsmith both lead the goal-scoring tally, as does Matt Williams, so they will once again be relied on to take the chances when they come.

Belswans coach Josh Rufo confessed that he didn’t know a great deal about Wallsend’s gameplay, but given their recent results, they’ll be hard to beat.

“I’m expecting a competitive game.”

“Both teams are looking to assert their style of football across the competition, so I think it’ll be a good contest.”

“It’s my understanding they’ve got some good, new players. I’m expecting a team that wants to win.”

“For us, we just need to make sure we’re consistent over the 90 minutes.”

 

New Lambton – Bye

 

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