Match of the Round
Cooks Hill United vs. New Lambton FC
Saturday 14th April, 2:30 pm
Newcastle Athletics Field
The odds are stacked against New Lambton this weekend in the match of the round as they travel to the AthField to face off with last year’s premiers and champions and this year’s current league leaders.
Despite losing their first match in nine months last weekend against Thornton, Cooks Hill is still the team to beat in the competition.
Having been unable to achieve a single point yet this year, the Eagles are going to need to put their recent poor performances behind them if they want to cause a major upset.
When these two teams squared off in 2017, two very exciting, high-scoring matches arose and although the Cookers won both games, the 5-4 and 5-3 respective score lines, meant that New Lambton scored the most goals out of any other side against the eventual champions.
New Lambton coach Andrew Packer admitted although his side is in no way unable to save their season, that they need to turn their results around soon if there’s any chance of having a successful year.
“We need to start getting some wins on board.”
“I think we’ll see a quick turn-around because honestly, it has to be.”
Packer identified that their defence and their attentiveness were areas that were lacking and would need to be tightened up if they are to be any chance against the Cookers.
“We’ve got to be a little bit stronger defensively…and it’s not a case of just the back four, we’ve got to be better across the field.”
“In the first few weeks, there’s been a few concentration issues.”
“But I do think we’re getting stronger.”
Belmont-Swansea United vs. Kahibah FC
Saturday 14th April, 2:30 pm
The last time Belswans and Kahibah faced off it featured one of the most memorable semi-final comebacks Northern NSW Football has seen, however this season, both clubs are struggling to find any momentum and have had disappointing starts to the year.
Last week, Belswans lost their first match against Singleton in 11 years while Kahibah were defeated by Toronto Awaba for the first time ever in club history and as a result, both sit towards the bottom of the table making this game of the utmost importance to salvage their seasons.
An interesting point to note is that for Kahibah, this game may just be that little bit harder given the fact that they had to face Cooks Hill United in their mid-week FFA Cup fixture.
However, they were able to win that game 2-0, while Belmont-Swansea went down to close-town rivals Zone Premier League’s Swansea FC, 3-1 on the same night.
Belswans coach Josh Rufo confessed after their disappointing results, there was a lot of things they needed to work on and improve.
“The only positive out of last weekend was that my wife had my dinner ready for me. That’s the only positive that I can think of,” Rufo joked.
“We just need to go back to the basics.”
“If you get all the little things right, the football will flow.”
This game will be the first time Belswans new signing David Hodgson will line up against his former side but Rufo suggested that he was confident that the occasion wouldn’t get to Hodgson and he’d be ready to play his usual game.
“I don’t think much will change. Dave is very good at what he does, he’s a very professional footballer.”
“He’ll come and do his job and hopefully score a few goals as well.”
“I’m expecting two desperate teams on Sunday.”
West Wallsend Bluebells SFC vs. South Cardiff FC
Saturday 14th April, 2:30 pm
After receiving the bye last weekend, South Cardiff will be fresh and ready to go, but after West Wallsend’s great performance and first victory against New Lambton, the stage is set for an exciting match between these two clubs.
Just like they finished in 2017, both these teams are currently sitting in a mid-table position on the ladder, however despite being so close on the table year-to-year, the last time the Gunners beat the Bluebells was back in 2012 when both clubs were in the NPL Northern NSW competition.
If South Cardiff want to get rid of that dooming statistic, they’ll need to find a way to stop and contain West Wallsend’s returning ace forward, Tye Jones, who proved to be a handful for his opponent clubs last season.
West Wallsend’s coach Gary Rowe said the return of Jones has helped lift the rest of the squad and has added a new attacking dynamic to their side.
“Every time he picks the ball up he has a chance of scoring.”
“While he’s lacking in fitness he definitely makes up for it in giving the boys a little enthusiasm.”
“He’s just like an emotional leader of the group and gives us an attacking thrust when we need it.”
Rowe stated that although his team currently possesses the worst defensive stats in the competition, that their focus is still situated on their attack, suggesting that if their offence is performing well, then their defence will too.
“Our priority is trying to make sure we’re taking the chances that we’re creating as it makes it much easier to defend when you know you can score down the other end.”
“That’s what we’re working on at the minute, making sure we’re taking opportunities to help the defence.”
Wallsend FC vs. Singleton Strikers
Sunday 15th April, 2:30 pm
For the first time this season, the Red Devils will finally get the chance to play at their home ground, The Gardens, but their first real home game won’t be an easy one as they come up against an in-form Singleton side who will be fixed on ending Wallsend’s undefeated start to 2018.
To make matters more difficult for the home team, they may also be without top front-man Ty Goldsmith who received a red card and a potential two-match suspension in their Round 4 match against Cessnock City which will take a hit to their offence that has ultimately been their main strength thus far.
Ben Edwards, Wallsend FC coach, said although Goldsmith’s attacking prowess would be missed, he was confident in the players that would be replacing him.
“It’s definitely going to be hard to replace him up top. But I do have the quality there and depth to not make much of a difference.”
“Hopefully we can just go about our business like we have for the first four games.”
Edwards admitted that seeing Singleton beat Belswans was very unexpected and that it’s made he and his side take notice.
“That result surprised me really.”
“They’ve obviously got some good quality there to pull out the result against a top side like Belswans.”
Last season when Wallsend and Singleton competed against one another, both sides achieved a victory and had a drawn overall aggregate of 5-all respectively, highlighting the competitiveness viewers can expect this Sunday.
Toronto Awaba Stags FC vs. Thornton Redbacks FC
Sunday 15th April, 2:30 pm
Lyall Peacock Field
Last weekend, the Stags and the Redbacks both achieved great victories to really assert themselves as sides to watch out for.
For Thornton, they’ll have all the confidence in the world after their incredible win against Cooks Hill especially their young forward, and the league’s equal-leading goal-scorer, Jye McKellar, who will be the one Stags need to watch out for.
For Toronto, they’ll be looking to build on their thrilling, ten-man win at Kahibah and, after an initially slow start to the year, if they can knock off another top team in the Redbacks, it may just be the push that propels them forward into semi-final contention.
Toronto Awaba skipper Blake Redman admitted that although the Redbacks achieved a great victory last weekend, that it was all in the past and that his team was making sure to focus on their game this Sunday.
“I know Thornton’s coming off a big win, but you don’t really worry about that, you need to worry about yourselves.”
“Obviously it’s going to be a tough match. It always is against them and it’s always physical between the two sides.”
Redman stated that the recent top form of McKellar had been noticed, however, they weren’t going to be focussing too much on the new forward and instead would be honing their concentration on the team as a whole.
“Obviously they’ve got an in-form striker, but so do we. You can’t really rely on taking down one person though. They’ve got a team full of good players.”
“It’s all about winning our individual battles, supporting each other and shutting them down when we can.”
Cessnock City Hornets have the bye.