Match of the Round
Kahibah FC 1 (Tom Butzmann) drew with Cessnock City Hornets 1 (Jason Zechel)
Sunday 27th May, 2:30 pm, Kahibah Oval
In a match where both teams were desperate to win to regain momentum for their seasons, neither Kahibah nor Cessnock were able to be separated as the two frustrated teams shared the points.
Cessnock kicked off the game creating all the worthwhile chances, two of which hit the crossbar, but eventually, it was the attacking winger Jason Zechel who opened the scoring with just his second goal of the season.
Zechel continued to trouble the Kahibah defence and would have grabbed a second had it not been for a terrific Riley Hill save on the stroke of halftime.
Hill continued to deny Cessnock of a brace with some more great saves, and his efforts were rewarded when German signing Tom Butzmann scored an equaliser with just over ten minutes remaining.
Mayhem broke out in the last ten minutes as both teams had chances to secure the win including a shot by the Hornets that was somehow amazingly cleared off the line by Andre Gumprecht and a missed chance by Jye Hodson right at the death meant to the game would end as a draw.
Cessnock has now only experienced one win from their last seven, while Kahibah are still yet to manage a victory at home.
Hornet’s coach Brendan Slade admitted his frustrations and suggested that it was definitely a match they could have won.
“It’s very frustrating as a coach when you should be 4-0 up going into the sheds at the break,” said Slade.
“I told our players we needed to be more clinical in front of goals, but the chances kept coming to the same results – over the bar or straight to the keeper.
“To Kahibah’s credit they dominated a lot of possession in the second half, but it was three points we let go.”
Gumprecht, Kahibah’s coach, suggested that both teams probably could have snatched a victory, but gave extra praise for his opponent’s performance, admitting that it was a much superior side than the one they faced in 2017.
“Today we played a good Cessnock team,” Gumprecht said.
“They have assembled quite a good squad and they really impressed us.”
“Both teams had plenty of chances in front of goals, but we will take a draw and move onto our bye week.”
Belmont-Swansea United 2 (Sean Matthews, Cameron Tapp) def. West Wallsend Bluebells SFC 1 (Ryan Cole)
Saturday 26th May, 2:30 pm, Blacksmiths Oval
Belswans have continued their recent form and unbeaten streak after defeating West Wallsend in a come-from-behind victory that cast the Bluebells their third defeat in as many weeks.
Having not won a match at Blacksmiths Oval since 2007, West Wallsend started quick out of the gates and their pressure led to a Ryan Cole goal that opened the scoring.
Belswans didn’t let the goal discourage them though and continued to keep the ball in an attempt to control the game, and their possession saw them equalise just before halftime through Sean Matthews.
The second half was once again evenly contested, and it seemed as though a draw might eventuate until Cameron Tapp stepped up to score a contender for goal of the season to give Belswans the lead and the three points.
Despite having a disappointingly slow start to the year, Belmont-Swansea’s four-game unbeaten streak now means that they sit just three games outside the top four at the half-way mark of the season.
West Wallsend now drops down to sixth place and two points outside the top four but will need to regain the high level of performance that saw them win four on the trot last month if they’re wanting to play finals football this year.
Toronto Awaba Stags FC 1 (Nick Mackay) def. by Cooks Hill United 10 (Nick Russell x4, Lee Ashton, Jarryd Johnson, Reid Murray, Ash Balcombe, Hakin Canli, Daniel Clements)
Saturday 26th May, 2:30 pm, Lyall Peacock Field
After achieving a victory last weekend, the Stags seemed as though they were on the right path for improvement, however, that spark was quickly dampened by a ruthless Cooks Hill team who dominated Toronto, giving them their biggest loss in 18 years.
Right from the word go, the Cookers stamped their authority, scoring multiple, quick goals through Hakan Canli, Reid Murray, Nick Russell, Ash Balcombe and Lee Ashton and outplaying Toronto right across the park.
At half-time, the score-line incredibly read 7-0, averaging a goal almost every six minutes, and their superiority continued throughout the second half too.
Toronto was able to ruin a Cooks Hill clean sheet with a goal to Nick Mackay, but their defence continued to struggle, as they conceded three more goals to end the match with one of the most embarrassing results in recent history.
Cooks Hill coach Graham Law was ecstatic with his team’s performance but admitted the win would have been even nicer had it been a clean sheet.
“It was a superb performance from start to finish,” Law confessed.
“It was only spoiled with a lapse in concentration at the end.
“I felt like a performance like this was coming as we have been very consistent in all areas of the park in the last few weeks.”
Law made a special mention for the high-quality grounds-keeping at Lyall Peacock and admitted it was contributing factor for their great performance.
“Credit has to go to Toronto as they hands-down have the best pitch in the comp.”
“Unfortunately for them, we just always enjoy playing on it as you can get the ball down and play.”
Thornton Redbacks FC 2 (Tallan Martin, Jye MacKellar) drew with South Cardiff FC 2 (Nathan McCallister x2)
Saturday 26th May, 2:30 pm, Thornton Park
Thornton and South Cardiff were forced to share the points following a thrilling draw that ended with Nathan McCallister scoring a late goal to snare his team a point and, in the process, haunt his former side at his old home ground.
The first chance of the match came when the Gunners’ player-coach Denis Fajkovic launched a shot from range that would have been a blinder had it not been for an even better save from Thornton’s James Wand.
Immediately after though, the Redbacks flew down the other end and successfully completed a counter-attacking move as Tallan Martin latched onto a Jye MacKellar cross to score the first goal of the match.
Thornton’s lead wouldn’t last long though, as McCallister knocked home the ball straight into the top corner past Wand and celebrated wildly afterwards with his finger raised to his lips.
The home team went into the break with the lead though when MacKellar knocked home a penalty and the Redbacks had chances to seal the victory with multiple chances in the second half, however, none were taken.
In the dying minutes of the game in stoppage time, McCallister made Thornton pay for their missed opportunities when he pounced onto a long ball into the box, scoring his second and equalising at the death.
Despite the draw, Thornton still moves up into second place, while the Gunners retain their position on the edge of the top four.
Fajkovic stated that he was pleased with how his team performed, particularly in the second half.
“The boys performed excellently,” Fajkovic said.
“To only get a draw out of that game was disheartening, especially after that second half performance.
“Daddo [Dalibor Fajkovic] needed to rally us and get us up for the second half and did he do that or what? The boys came out and literally dominated the half of football.
“The only disappointment was that we didn’t score that equaliser 10 minutes earlier because the win was there for the taking.”
Fajkovic also praised his team for the determination in coming back twice in the game.
“A lot of credit has to go to the boys. We have a good team and they really impressed me with the belief they had after being down twice.”
Wallsend FC 1 (Sam Bradshaw) def. by New Lambton 3 (Alex Ihlow, Riley Taylor, Josh Williams)
Sunday 27th May, 2:30 pm, The Gardens
After starting their season in spectacular fashion and being undefeated after the first seven rounds, Wallsend now sits in eighth place following their third straight loss, this time coming to the hands of last-place New Lambton who grabbed their second victory under new coach Jim Foley.
Wallsend was quick to fire early through their towering forward Sam Bradshaw, but despite going down early, the Eagles stuck to their guns and continued to work their way back into the contest.
New Lambton soon began to show some dominance over the match, and shockingly went into the halftime break with the lead after scoring two goals through Josh Williams and Riley Taylor.
The Red Devils pressed to try and find an equaliser, but in their attempt to push forward, Alex Ihlow was able to grab one against the run of play to double his team’s lead and secure just their second victory of the season.
With that win, the Eagles once again move up from the bottom of the table and Foley admitted that he felt his players were deserving of it after the amount of effort they’ve put in since his arrival.
“It’s still early days in our rebuilding process but today’s three points is a source of great encouragement,” Foley said.
“It’s a great reward for the attitude and application of all the players in the club.”
Singleton Strikers had the bye.