Match of the Round
Cessnock City Hornets 1 (Brad York) def. by West Wallsend Bluebells SFC 2 (Jarrod Olivieri, Brad Andrews)
Sunday 22nd April, 2:30 pm, Turner Park
For the first since 2013, West Wallsend has achieved their third consecutive win after defeating an undefeated Cessnock outfit in a triumph that now puts them in the top four.
Last season when the Bluebells travelled to Turner Park they won and once again they started out of the gates quickly, creating all the early chances in the match through Tye Jones and Sam Holt.
West Wallsend looked dangerous every time they had the ball in the Hornets’ final third, the early pressure would soon show fruition as Jarrod Olivieri jumped onto a bobbling crossed ball and tucked the ball into the top right corner of the goal.
Finding themselves behind on the scoreboard, Cessnock tried to keep possession and take control of the match but were unable to really create any problems for the West Wallsend defenders and as a result, frustration began to build amongst the Hornets players as they headed in for halftime.
In the second half, Cessnock again looked to strangle power of the match but struggled to find a way through the Bluebells deep-lying defence until Jason Zechel seemed to have created a certain goal for the home team after making a brilliant run and delivering a low cross to youngster Kyle Williams in the middle of the box. Unfortunately for the Hornet’s Williams’ shot saw a great save from Jesse Cook keeping the Bluebells in front.
It was only minutes later that the home crowd again rose with excitement only to be let down following a sensational volley from Kane Rodgers just narrowly missing the post.
Cessnock would eventually rue their missed opportunities when Brad Andrews scored an amazing, wind-assisted free kick just metres in front of halfway to give his side a brace and despite there still being twenty minutes remaining, West Wallsend looked to have the three points comfortably sewn up.
Desperate to get back into the game, Cessnock pushed forward and in doing so created chances through Isaac Peek and Josh Dwyer, but the only goal that came was a Brad York penalty right on the full-time whistle, to result in a 2-1 loss, ultimately ending their undefeated start 2018.
West Wallsend coach Gary Rowe suggested that despite the victory this weekend, and their great string of recent performances, that the squad still has many areas that they need to improve in.
“I feel we probably stole three points from them [Cessnock] today,” Rowe said.
“They’ve got to get fitter…we’re also a bit disjointed when we haven’t got the football.”
With the club possessing one of the worst defensive records in the competition, Rowe stated he was ultimately pleased with the way his defence had been performing.
“We were happy to let them dictate the tempo of the game…if we don’t have the ball we can’t stuff it up so that was part of what we did today.
“In the last three weeks, we haven’t conceded a goal from open play so that’s nice…but we’ve still got a lot of work to do when we defend in the middle of the park.
“It’s going to take the same commitment and effort for the rest of the season to keep it going.”
Cessnock City coach Brendan Slade admitted his side just wasn’t ‘switched-on’ when walking onto the field.
“We didn’t get off to the start that we wanted to,” Slade said.
“We weren’t ready. We’re still stuck in the sheds. Everything we spoke about we didn’t take on board.”
“They just controlled the game with their aggression and we’re pressing really hard and we just kept giving the ball back to them.”
Kahibah FC 2 (Brady Carr, Brandon Hayes) def. by Singleton Strikers 3 (Joe Civello, Hayden Nicol, Nathan Hall)
Saturday 21st April, 2:30 pm, Kahibah Oval
Singleton coach David Willoughby described his side’s start to the season as “the best in years”, and he’ll once again be pleased after his side travelled to Kahibah to win and truly stake their claim for a spot in the semi-final race.
Right from the start, the Strikers looked strong and it took only four minutes for star forward Joe Civello to score from a Nathan Hall pass, however only minutes later, the score would be equalised through Kahibah’s Brady Carr.
Carr would also play the role in the third goal of the match, though on the wrong side of the field after his mistake led to a Hayden Nicol goal and only a few minutes later.
Singleton would double their lead when Hall slotted home a penalty meaning for the second consecutive home game, Kahibah went into the break having conceded three goals.
The second half saw the home side gain control and spark back to life. An incredible run by Brandon Hayes, who won the ball from a defender, skipped past Singleton’s goalkeeper Corey Cleaver and ran the ball into the back of the net to get the ‘green and blacks’ back into the game.
In the late stages of the game, Kahibah’s Jye Hodson looked to have found an equaliser but a fantastic, desperate save from Cleaver kept the away team in front and in ownership of all three points as the final whistle blew.
Singleton’s coach David Willoughby confessed that although his side achieved an impressive victory and had a great start to the year, the Strikers have a lot of things to work on if they are to find success come to the end of the year.
“At the end of the day, we were pretty lucky to come away with the three points,” Willoughby said.
“We didn’t manage the game, we panicked a little bit. Andre [Gumprecht] changed things a little bit in the second half and we struggled to cope.
“We’re a big work in progress.”
Willoughby suggested that confidence is sitting at an all-time high around the club at the moment, but the team is well aware of the tough tasks facing them in the next coming weeks.
“They’ve got to put a new roof on the visitors change-room at Kahibah. We ripped the lid off with the team song after the game.
“The result is really good and is a shot in the arm for the football club, but we’ve got a bit of work to do. If we produce that when we face Thornton next weekend, we won’t be very successful.”
South Cardiff FC 2 (Nathan McCallister, Daniel Bartlett) def. Cooks Hill United 1 (Hakan Canli)
Saturday 21st April, 2:30 pm, Ulinga Oval
After achieving some poor results in recent weeks, South Cardiff turned it around in spectacular fashion after beating last year’s premiers-champions to get their season back on track.
Cooks Hill started the game well and put the Gunners on the back-foot early on in the game and that initial pressure led to a well-taken Hakan Canli goal.
South Cardiff worked their way back into the game though and caught the Cookers out on the break down the left edge and it led to new forward Nathan McCallister, being fouled by Cooks Hill goalkeeper Jake Hamilton inside the box.
McCallister stepped up to take the penalty and successfully slotted it home to make the score level heading into half-time.
The second half saw both sides continue tussling for a grip on the contest and midway through the second half, Daniel Bartlett was slotted through and found the back of the net to give the home side the lead.
Chasing the game, Cooks Hill’s desperation reached a boiling point when the goal-scorer, Canli, kicked player-coach Denis Fajkovic when he was on the ground, resulting in a red card and finishing off the lost game with ten men.
Fajkovic suggested that the major focus for the team has been to return back to the simple aspects of the game and if they can continue doing that, then the results will follow.
“We’re a confident side, but the start that we had was not ideal and we possibly may have underestimated the teams we played. We went away from the basics,” Fajkovic said.
“The only thing that’s really changed from previous weeks is that we’ve gone back to basics.”
Fajkvoic admitted that the win was a huge boost for the side and may be the catalyst for the Gunners to turn their season around.
“It’s always good to beat the premiers.
“For us, as a team, this result is massive for us. It’s going to get us going.”
Thornton Redbacks FC 3 (Jye MacKeller, Luke Lambert, Trent Partridge) def. Belmont-Swansea United 0
Sunday 22nd April, 2:30 pm, Thornton Park
Thornton has retained their fantastic undefeated start to the season following a strong performance at home against a struggling Belswans team who continue to endure one of the worst starts to a season in the history of the club.
Neither side was able to establish a stronghold and find a breakthrough in the first half and headed into the half-time break scoreless, however, in the second half, the contest was anything but even.
Redbacks’ in-form striker Jye MacKellar extended his spectacular goal-scoring run to four straight games after a stunning strike to give his side the advantage early in the second half.
Not long after, Thornton found themselves in a dominating position, when other former National Premier League (NPL) players, Luke Lambert and Trent Partridge found the goals to give their new club a strong 3-0 victory.
With that win, Thornton now has beaten both Grand Finalists from last season and look in good stead for semi-final contention, however, coach Gary Wand said the team isn’t getting ahead of themselves.
“We’ve just got to keep on going week at a time,” Wand said.
“It was a hard-fought game. They’re [Belswans] a tough team to break down.
“We’re going well, but we have to keep going well.”
After scoring his first goal of the season and for his new club, Partridge stated that there is a high level of confidence around the squad at the moment, especially amongst the new players who have quickly settled into the club and are now focused on continuing and elevating their success.
“It was certainly a very special scoring my first goal for Thornton,” Partridge said.
“It was outstanding build-up play before it though, so full credit to the boys.
“Honestly it did not take long to settle in at all…we’re just trying to take it game by game and hopefully we can continue our good run.
“Like Gary [Wand] has said, you don’t win the comp this early on in the season.”
New Lambton FC 5 (Luke Jovcesvki, Riley Taylor, Kieran Quadrelli, Justin Maddalena, Nick Pepper) def. Toronto Awaba Stags FC 4 (Jarrod Penfold x2, Josh Bruce, own goal)
New Lambton was finally able to achieve their first victory of the season after beating Toronto in a thrilling, high-scoring fixture at Alder Park.
The Stags took control early in the match and were able to score two quick goals to begin the game, however, the Eagles showed the character and courage that they had been missing in the past few weeks to claw their way back and take a surprising 3-2 lead into half-time.
The second half featured much of the same back-and-forth action as the first, and Toronto scored once again to level up the match before young New Lambton midfielder Justin Maddelena, scored an amazing long-range effort to put his side into the lead once again.
The Eagles captain Nick Pepper scored a fifth for New Lambton, but a late penalty near full-time to Toronto, that was converted by in-form scorer Jarrod Penfold, led to a resurgence from the away side and an exciting final few minutes.
The home team were able to hold on though and gathered their first win in 280 days to now sit only one point behind Belswans and Kahibah.
Wallsend FC had the bye.