Match of the Round
Kahibah FC vs. Toronto Awaba Stags FC
Sunday 8th March, 2:30 pm
This week’s match of the round sees the two teams at the bottom of the table, who most wouldn’t have expected to be at the beginning of the season, battling it out to jump back up the table.
Kahibah played their first match last week and unfortunately, it resulted in not only a loss to bitter rivals Cooks Hill but also two injuries to key men – club captain and goalkeeper Nick Hartnett and defender Heath Kepreotes.
On Wednesday night, they played a mid-week catch-up fixture against West Wallsend and won 5-3 in a high-scoring match much closer than many would have expected, so it’ll interesting to see how the home team bounce back mentally and physically.
Toronto on the other hand, received their first point of the season in their draw against Singleton last week and have struggled defensively posting the most goals conceded in the competition.
Since these two teams started facing off with one another in the NEWFM Northern League One in 2015, the Stags have only ever tasted defeat to Kahibah, with an aggregate score of 26-3 in favour to Kahibah from just the six games they’ve played.
One player who was a stand-out for the Stags last week was goalkeeper and skipper Blake Redman, and he will need to be at the top of his game once again if they hope to keep Kahibah at bay.
Redman said that despite the fact they haven’t achieved the start to the season they desired, that the team was still confident in the systems and structures they have been playing.
“There isn’t too much wrong with the way we play,” Redman said.
“There’s moments in matches where we switch off for a moment and it costs us, but that happens with all teams.”
“A positive sign is that we have scored in every game so hopefully we can continue that.”
Redman suggested that even though Kahibah played a challenging mid-week fixture, that he’s not expecting them to be sluggish and that his team were only focusing on themselves and their own gameplans.
“Kahibah did play a tough game during the week…but I don’t think they will be fatigued.”
“We have just got to play our own game.”
“We are confident in coming away with the three points.”
New Lambton FC vs. West Wallsend Bluebells SFC
Saturday 7th March, 2:30 pm
Alder Park will finally experience some NEWFM Northern League One football once again when the Eagles face the Bluebells in a match where both sides will be hoping to nab their first victory of the season.
Last year when New Lambton took on West Wallsend, they started the year with a massive 6-2 victory. The Bluebells will be out to get revenge and prove to themselves and the rest of the competition that they aren’t pushovers following a 6-1 defeat at the hands of Thornton last weekend.
Another interesting fact to note is that West Wallsend also played their mid-week catch-up game with Kahibah on Wednesday night, however, New Lambton coach Andrew Packer said his team is still expecting a tough match regardless.
“I don’t think it’ll affect their ability to play well. They’ll be sharp and ready to go,” Packer said.
“We’re total opposites going into this game. One team is fresh and hasn’t played in a while and the other has played a few games so it’s going to be fairly interesting.”
Packer stated that with his team sitting towards the bottom of the ladder with no points, members of his side need to begin standing up and taking responsibility.
“I need the guys to communicate a bit more and show a bit of leadership.”
“We’re a young team so we need to start showing those qualities a bit more than we have.
“I think we’ve improved a fair bit compared to what we played against Cessnock and South Cardiff.
“We feel like we’re almost starting our season because we’re playing our first game at home.”
Singleton Strikers vs. Belmont-Swansea United
Saturday 7th March, 2:30 pm
Both Belswans and Singleton have had staggered starts to their seasons and a victory on the weekend would go a long way to getting their form back on track.
Round 12, 2015 was the last time that the Strikers managed a result that wasn’t a loss against Belmont-Swansea and if they can achieve an upset win at home, it’ll be the first time the club has beaten the Blacksmiths club since 2007.
Nevertheless, Singleton Strikers coach David Willoughby, stated that no one at the club was worried by the statistic and his team was only focusing on this week’s game and nothing else.
“What happened, even last year, is irrelevant.”
“It’s not something we’ve discussed and not something that’s a major issue.”
As has been the trend for the whole of the competition in the first few rounds of the season, the execution of goal-scoring chances will be of the utmost importance and both teams’ gun strikers Joe Civello and Cameron Lodge, will be the ones that are relied upon to perform in that area.
However, Belswans coach Josh Rufo suggested, that he believes the game will be decided by the defences, rather than in attack.
“I think the team with the best defensive structure will likely take out the game,” Rufo said.
“It’s probably more about which team can set up better defensively than offensively.”
Rufo said that despite losing last week due to a terrible first 15 minutes, that their second-half performance against Wallsend highlighted the quality that his side does possess.
“The second half was a better reflection of our football, our team and our club…we showed a lot of character.
“If we can put that second half display over a 90 minute period, I think we should be fine.”
Willoughby said that despite Belswans’ shaky start to the season, he too was expecting a really tough match.
“They’re [Belswans] very well organised and very well structured.
“We’re going to have to minimise their passing, especially through midfield.”
Cessnock City Hornets vs. Wallsend FC
Saturday 7th March, 2:30 pm
This week’s match-up between Cessnock City and Wallsend has all the makings of a great, exciting clash.
Both teams sit on the exact same points, have shown impressively strong starts to their 2018 campaigns and with emotions and ambitions buzzing around the clubs due to their sensational form, neither team will want that to come to an abrupt end.
On one side of the field, the Hornets pose one of the best defensive records, only conceding one goal, and have looked very well organised at the back with the likes of Greg Anderson and Josh Dwyer.
While on the other side, the Red Devils have flourished offensively and pose the best goalscoring record, eight goals in just three games, due to the efforts of Ty Goldsmith, Matt Williams and Sam Bradshaw.
Ben Edwards, coach of Wallsend, suggested that if his offence can continue striving as they have done in the first three games, then they will be hard to stop this weekend and although their defence has been rather weak, he’s confident it will sort itself out.
“We played them [Cessnock] in the Heritage Cup…and I’m expecting a lot more goals than there were in that game.”
“I am confident they [the attack] can score against any team in this league.”
“Our defence is a work in progress.”
“It’s a fairly new backline working together but hopefully in the next couple of weeks they can get it together and we can start scoring and not conceding so much.”
Cessnock City coach Brendan Slade admitted he was well aware of Wallsend’s attacking prowess but was confident his solid defence is up to the task of containing them.
“We’ve just got to keep the ball away from their dangerous players as much as we can.
“We just can’t let them get in dangerous positions. If we do, we have to shut them down pretty quickly. It’s as simple as that.”
Thornton Redbacks FC vs. Cooks Hill United
Sunday 8th March, 2:30 pm
Cooks Hill United may face the toughest task of their season so far when they face the Redbacks at Thornton Park this Sunday.
Thornton impressed in their 6-1 demolition of West Wallsend last weekend, and after adding a whole bunch of new talent to their squad this year, it seems as though the team may have gelled together much quicker than many originally expected.
The Cookers haven’t travelled away from home this year yet and to face an in-form side up at Thornton, particularly without their coach Graham Law on the sideline who’s left for Scotland to complete a coaching course, will create a substantial challenge for new stand-in coach, Glen Chapman.
Thornton Redbacks coach Gary Wand, admitted he was aware that Graham Law wouldn’t be there on the sidelines this weekend, but confessed he didn’t think it would make any substantial difference.
“Glen Chapman is a very experienced coach…I think it’ll be business as usual,” Wand said.
“We well and truly know we’re in for a big game.
“We might not get many chances, so it’ll be a matter of taking them when they arrive.”
When asked how his side was going to stop Cooks Hill’s prolific forwards, Wand jokingly replied “good question”, but still believed his boys have the ability to walk away with the three points this Sunday.
“If they [Cooks Hill] have an ‘on-day’, you can be in trouble.
“But if we can take our chances, we’re hoping we can trouble them.
“Hopefully we can take that confidence from last week into this week’s game.”
South Cardiff FC have the bye.