VALENTINE SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
Match of the Round
Cooks Hill United 4 (Lee Ashton x3, Nick Russell) def. Wallsend FC 1 (Sam Bradshaw)
Saturday 19th May, 2:30 pm, Newcastle Athletics Field
Cooks Hill successfully carved their authority on the competition following a dominant victory over Wallsend and in the process, retained their position at the top of the table.
The odds were always stacked against the Red Devils with injuries to key attacking men Ty Goldsmith and Travas McCabe but despite that, it would be the away side who took the early advantage through Sam Bradshaw who made it 1-0 and netted his sixth of the year so far.
Their shock lead didn’t last long though after Wallsend’s Tom Adams was deemed to have made a foul in the box leading to a penalty kick that was coolly slotted away by Nick Russell to equalise the score.
With only ten minutes remaining in the first half, Cooks Hill made their possession and control of the game finally count as Lee Ashton converted a brilliant solo effort with a stunning finish after beating the Wallsend defence with ease.
Just moments after scoring his first though, he would double his tally for the match after a deflected shot dribbled across the line to double Cooks Hill’s lead as they headed into the half-time break.
The second half saw both sides tussle in gaining control throughout the middle of the park but resulted in neither team being able to create any clear-cut chances.
That was until a Wallsend defensive error would be pounced upon by Ashton once again who made no mistakes in front of goal to complete a terrific hat-trick and seal Cooks Hill’s tenth straight league win at the AthField and Wallsend’s third straight loss.
Wallsend coach Ben Edwards stated he didn’t believe that the score wasn’t a true indication of how well his team performed.
“My thought on the result was that it didn’t reflect how we played,” Edwards said.
“The 4-1 score-line shows Cooks Hill dominated us, but if you were there watching, I think you’d see we had it on them in points of the game.
“We matched it with them big time. We went 1-0 up, and then to have a penalty, that a lot of people are confused about, go against us, it deflated the boys.
“2-1 probably would have been a fair result of the game…I felt we did a lot better than the score-line shows.”
Cooks Hill coach Graham Law displayed his happiness for the way his team played but also praised Wallsend for their performance without their star players.
“I was again very happy with how we controlled the game,” said Law.
“It was enjoyable to play a team that try to play football and when they [Wallsend] get their key players back, they will threaten the top four.”
West Wallsend Bluebells SFC 1 (Brad Andrews) def. by Toronto Awaba Stags FC 3 (Nick Mackay, Nick Roberts, Jarrod Penfold)
Saturday 19th May, 2:30 pm, Johnston Park
Despite experiencing a mid-week coaching change, and conceding 19 goals in their last three games, Toronto stunned pundits of the league with a strong triumph over West Wallsend away from home to arise off the bottom of the table.
Throughout the season, Toronto’s front men have proven that they have the ability to score numerous goals on their day, and they showcased that potential again against the Bluebells when Nick Roberts scored in the first twenty minutes to give the away side the lead.
Fifteen minutes later, Jarrod Penfold continued his superb goal-scoring form by converting a brilliant free-kick to give the Stags a 2-0 advantage to head into half-time.
West Wallsend’s free-kick specialist Brad Andrews stepped up early in the second half, scoring from a dead ball to grab one back for home team, but it wouldn’t be enough as Nick Mackay sealed the game for Toronto by scoring in the last ten minutes to give new coach Blake Glennie a win in his first match as coach.
Glennie praised his side’s performance in gaining the victory especially after the gloomy few weeks that the club has experienced.
“Obviously things didn’t pan out exactly how we would have wanted in the past couple of weeks. But after taking over on short notice, the boys have responded really well…I couldn’t be happier with them,” Glennie stated.
“I was very happy with the score but more so happy with the performance than the result to be honest.”
Glennie confessed that although he was ultimately proud of his team, that there were still many areas where the team needed to improve, particularly their defence that has been extremely disappointing in recent displays.
“From the first training session, since I had taken over, that had been our main focus – for our defensive structure to be better…all our focus at training had been to be defensively sound.”
“It was a good result and it’s definitely a step in the right direction…considering where we’ve come from it was certainly a big positive step, but still, definitely a lot to work on.”
Unlike a couple of coaches in the competition, Glennie has decided to not be a player-coach, instead intending to focus all his attention on the latter.
“I’ll take the reigns as a coach and won’t play any games for the rest of the year.”
South Cardiff FC 1 (Nathan McCallister) def. Kahibah FC 0
Sunday 20th May, 2:30 pm, Ulinga Oval
The Gunners successfully bounced back from a disappointing result last weekend to collect the three points in a tense affair against Kahibah at home to successfully return to the haven of the top four.
The game began in a cagey manner with neither team looking to push too many forward and making the main focus on their defence.
However, midway through the first half, the league’s leading goal-scorer, Nathan McCallister, stepped up for the home side and jumped onto a cross to head his team into the lead.
The Gunners defence held strong throughout the remainder of the first half and late in the second half, it seemed certain Troy Runge would seal the victory but made a horror miss to instead keep Kahibah’s chances of winning alive.
The Green and Blacks pushed to equalise, but the defence of South Cardiff proved to be impenetrable resulting in three much-needed points for the Gunners.
That win means that South Cardiff have now gone the last three games against Kahibah unbeaten and sit back inside the top four once again for only the second time this season.
New Lambton FC 1 (Riley Taylor) drew with Thornton Redbacks FC 1 (Sam Rossi)
Sunday 20th May, 2:30 pm, Alder Park
After solidifying themselves as championship contenders with a big win last weekends, the Redbacks dropped points against a determined New Lambton side who are quickly beginning to build momentum under new coach Jim Foley.
Thornton had a fantastic showing against National Premier Leagues (NPL) heavyweight Broadmeadow Magic during the week in their FFA Cup fixture, and most would have expected the away side to continue that form into this clash.
However, it was the Eagles who opened the scoring after being awarded a penalty that was calmly converted from the spot by their goal-scoring machine, Riley Taylor.
Thornton tried to seize control of the match but just weren’t able to successfully take any of their half-chances and it seemed as though a shock upset was about to take place before off-season signing Sam Rossi, found a way past New Lambton’s goalkeeper Josh Cox to equalise much to the relief of coach Gary Wand.
Trent Partridge had a chance to put his side into the lead, but the ball cannoned off the crossbar and with it, so too their chances of a victory as the points had to be shared between the two sides.
Wand admitted that his side just wasn’t up to the standards that they needed to be to attain the victory and confessed that their big mid-week performance may have been a contributing factor.
“We weren’t awful, we just didn’t do enough,” Wand said.
“We matched it with Magic, but the problem is it counts for nothing. It’s really hard to pick yourself up after that.”
“It was the plateauing effect after such a big game during the week.”
Cessnock City Hornets 1 (Jason Zechel) drew with Singleton Strikers 1 (Hayden Nicol)
Sunday 20th May, 2:30 pm, Turner Park
Despite proving to be one of the top teams in the competition this season, Singleton wasn’t able to continue their winnings ways against local rivals Cessnock, however still remain in second place following a draw.
Neither side was able to gather power over the match to begin and it resulted in a scoreless first half, despite both the Strikers and the Hornets creating some chances that ultimately went begging.
The second half began in the same way as the first as neither side were able to break-through their oppositions’ defence, but that theme looked as though it would quickly change when Singleton’s Dylan Bentley was shown a second yellow card leaving the visitors with ten men.
Shockingly though, despite the disadvantage, the Strikers would score the first goal of the match through Hayden Nicol soon after and seemed as though they might have pulled off an incredible victory.
However, in stoppage time, Cessnock winger Jason Zechel popped up just in time to nab a goal for the home team to make sure that his side didn’t lose four from their past five matches.
Singleton’s coach David Willoughby stated that despite conceding a late goal that ruined a potential win, he was still pleased with the way his team played, especially the way they reacted to being reduced to ten men.
“I know we conceded in extra time, but when Dylan [Bentley] got sent off, if you had said to me we were going to come away with a point, I would have taken it,” Willoughby admitted.
“It was a really good result. We played some good football and I’m happy with the fight and resolve that the boys showed to grab a goal and then not to lose.”
“It is refreshing that we now go to play away from home and our oppositions set up against us to not lose against us…excitement is building here.”
“At the end of the day, we’re still eight games unbeaten.”
Belmont-Swansea United had the bye.