Match of the Round
Kahibah FC 3 (Tom Butzmann x2, own goal) def. by Toronto Awaba Stags FC 4 (Nick Roberts x2, Jarrod Penfold, Josh Bruce)
Sunday, April 8th, 2:30 pm
Toronto visited Kahibah Oval desperately needing to capture three points to keep up with semi-finals contention and that’s exactly what they did following a dramatic, high-scoring edge-of-your-seat, contest much to the home team’s disappointment.
Both sides spent the first quarter of the game trying to gain control, but the breakthrough came when Kahibah’s player-coach Andre Gumprecht made a costly mistake in defence and Toronto forward Jarrod Penfold calmly slotted it, past keeper, Ben Corling.
The home team had good chances to equalise through Asher Beasley and Jayden Demir but were stopped by Stags’ captain in goals, Blake Redman.
Eventually, their missed opportunities would come back to hurt them when Toronto’s prolific scorer Nick Roberts, headed in a corner kick to double their lead. Then, just moments later, Roberts slammed home a volley to give his side an unexpected 3-0 halftime lead away from home.
The second half told a completely different story though as Kahibah came out of the sheds determined to still attain a result.
Halftime substitution Jamie Hadlow brought some much-needed energy to his Kahibah team and began causing havoc down the left wing where he won a free-kick just outside of the box.
From the kick, Matt Lee curled the ball onto the penalty spot where it deflected off a Toronto head and travelled past Redman in goal to give the home team a glimmer of hope.
Hadlow continued to worry the Toronto defence and looked destined to score when he snuck in behind the defence and beat a scurrying Redman, only to knock his shot into Connar Thorpe on the goal-line.
Excitement and exhilaration coursed through the watching crowd, but that suddenly turned to chaos and bedlam when an extremely controversial penalty decision was made following a tackle from the Stags’ Connor Brady on German import Tom Butzmann.
The decision was disputed by the players, and a second yellow was shown to Thorpe for descent, to leave the away team with ten men as Butzmann stepped up to the penalty spot.
Butzmann’s penalty was saved by Redman but the ball returned straight back to the German who comfortably put it away. Just a few minutes later, Butzmann would again capitalise on a Redman blunder, this time from a corner, to score a scrambling effort, completing a tremendous comeback for Kahibah.
However, in the dying minutes of the game, with all the momentum in Kahibah’s favour, Stags’ front-man Josh Bruce latched onto a bouncing long-ball, to go one-on-one with Corling and coolly snuck it past the keeper and inside the post to regain the lead and deliver his team an incredible away victory in amazing circumstances.
New Lambton FC 1 (Nick Pepper) def. by West Wallsend Bluebells SFC 3 (Tye Jones x2, Ryan Cole)
Saturday 7th April, 2:30 pm, Alder Park
West Wallsend recorded their first win of the season following a gutsy performance at Alder Park against a New Lambton side who now sit on the bottom of the table and are the only club in the competition without any points.
The Eagles started the game on the front-foot creating chances through Luke Jovcevski and Alex Ihlow, but it was their captain Nick Pepper who opened the scoring for the game with a brilliantly taken free-kick.
However, their lead didn’t last long as a returning Tye Jones, slotted home a penalty kick just minutes later to equalise the match and from there, the Bluebells looked a much better team.
The second half saw West Wallsend goalkeeper Jesse Cook make some fantastic saves to keep both Jovcevski and Riley Taylor out, and it seemed New Lambton would rue those missed chances, as Ryan Cole scored almost immediately after being subbed on to give the away team the lead.
In a desperate attempt to clinch some points, New Lambton gave away a second penalty and again Tye Jones made no mistakes, sealing a brace and the win for his team.
With that win, West Wallsend now sits in the middle of the table but do pose the worst defensive record in the league – a statistic that will need to change if they’re any chance of qualifying for finals this season.
Cessnock City Hornets 1 (Brad York) drew with Wallsend FC 1 (Ty Goldsmith)
Saturday 7th April, 2:30 pm
In a top of the table clash between 2nd and 3rd place, neither Cessnock or Wallsend could be separated after a tough, heated draw, resulting however in both teams remaining undefeated.
The first half was a tense affair, with both sides attempting to strangle the game in their favour, however, neither team could execute their chances resulting in a scoreless first half.
The second half opened with a goal to the new Wallsend forward, who has been taking the league by storm, Ty Goldsmith, who found the back of the net and awarded the lead despite claims from Cessnock that Goldsmith had fouled a defender in the lead-up.
Desperate to keep their undefeated start to the season alive, the Hornets pushed hard to find an equaliser and when Blake Roy was fouled in the box, up stepped new midfielder Brad York, who brought his new club back level.
With only a few minutes remaining in the game, commotion erupted all around the ground when Goldsmith made an aggressive and dubious challenge on Cessnock’s Josh Dwyer, and found himself receiving a red card which was immediately followed by a second yellow to Tom Adams, leaving the Red Devils with just nine men to finish the game.
Fortunately for Wallsend, they were able to hold on for a draw and retain their spot in the top contingent.
Cessnock City’s coach Brendan Slade confessed that he felt the draw was probably a fair result and that neither team really took control of the game.
“It was a pretty tight and to be fair, I think a point each probably summed up the game.”
“Every game we play we want to win, it doesn’t matter who we play…but we’ve put ourselves in a good position at the moment.”
Slade said that the club as a whole was very pleased and happy with how they have been playing and where they’re sitting on the table.
“Everyone is really confident with how we’re going and how we’re playing.”
“The goal from our captain Greg Anderson was to not drop a game in those first four games before the bye, and we haven’t been beaten which is a good thing for the club.”
Singleton Strikers 1 (Jae Dawes) def. Belmont-Swansea United 0
Saturday 7th April, 2:30 pm
In a fixture that had been dominated by Belmont-Swansea for the last 11 years, Singleton caused a stunning upset against last year’s Grand Finalists to achieve their first win of the season and their first against Belswans since 2007.
In their second home game of the season, Singleton began the game creating the chances with two one-on-one opportunities for abundant goal-scorer Joe Civello, going unusually begging.
Belswans began to work their way into the match and troubled the Strikers with corners and crosses into the box, however just weren’t able to find the killing blow as the first half ended in a stalemate.
The second half kicked off much similar to the first with a topsy-turvy battle ensuing and neither time really being able to get control over the other.
That was until a penalty was awarded to Singleton and Jae Dawes successfully converted the spot-kick to give his side the lead with half an hour to go.
Desperate to find an equalising goal, Belmont-Swansea threw everything forward at Singleton but weren’t able to get past the Strikers’ defence, resulting in their third loss of the season, continuing their poor start.
After achieving their first clean sheet since Round 18 last season, Singleton coach David Willoughby admitted he was extremely impressed with the defence shown by his team.
“Our defensive back five were phenomenal today.”
“We had our fourth centre-back pairing, in four games which hurts us because there’s been no consistency.”
“But defensively, the last two games have been exceptional.”
Willoughby also attributed their ability to reduce Belswans’ space and time in the midfield as a reason for the big win and solid start to the season.
“We kept their passing game pretty quiet.”
“We won the game by pressing them and closing them down really quickly in midfield.”
“It’s the best start for Singleton in quite a few years.”
Thornton Redbacks 4 (Jye McKellar x2, Tallan Martin, Jake Millstead) def. Cooks Hill United 2 (Alex Gillespie, Daniel Yaxley)
Sunday 8th April, 2:30 pm
It had been just over nine months since Cooks Hill had lost a NEWFM Northern League One match, but that didn’t startle Thornton as they not only became the first team to score against the Cookers but the first to win as well.
There was no Graham Law on the bench for Cooks Hill, but it seemed to have caretaker coach Glen Chapman calling the shots wouldn’t have made much of a difference as the away team got off to a great start following an early Alex Gillespie goal.
Jye McKellar soon replied though scoring a good goal to equal the scores as the two teams went into half-time. In the second half, McKellar opened the match in a similar fashion by scoring a second goal, and his fourth in two weeks, after being awarded a penalty due to a foul by Cooks Hill goalkeeper Jake Hamilton.
With their opponent leading, Cooks Hill’s game seemed as though it was over when Gillespie was shown a straight red for stomping, however, with just ten men, Daniel Yaxley scored a goal to level the game back up with fifteen minutes remaining.
But Thornton wasn’t ready to call it a day, and with their advantage of having eleven players, the Redbacks finished off the game strong with two late goals to Tallan Martin and Jake Millstead to send the home crowd into a frenzy and collect three points in spectacular fashion.
Thornton Redbacks coach Gary Wand praised his front three for their performance and contribution to the victory.
“The front three, Jye McKellar, Jake Millstead and Trent Partridge, were really good for us.”
“I’ve got three blokes in that top area that are working very well together, so I’m happy with that.”
Wand suggested that even though they’ll be targeted now by the other sides in the competition, that they’re still just focusing on their own game and each week as it comes.
“We’re going to have to look over our shoulder a little bit now.”
“We’re just going to have be ready for teams to be waiting for us and seeing what we get up too.”
“It was a great victory, but competitions aren’t won now.”