VALENTINE SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
Match of the Round
Toronto Awaba Stags FC (11th) vs. Belmont-Swansea United (7th)
Sunday 10th June, 2:30 pm, Lyall Peacock Field
On the surface, this match may look like a contest between two struggling sides, however, it marks a fantastic opportunity for both Belswans and Toronto to find a win that would boost them back on track for possible semi-final contention.
With the competition’s mid-table as close as it is, a victory for Belswans could see them jump into 5th place and banging on the door of the top four, while for Toronto, it could see them move along from the unwanted wooden spoon spot and back into the mix.
When these two teams faced off earlier in the year, Belswans dominated at home with a 5-1 win, although the last two time they’ve met at Lyall Peacock, Toronto has managed to cause an upset victory each time.
The boys from Blacksmiths have been extremely poor in front of goal and currently have the worst offensive record, however, their opponents currently hold the worst defensive record in the competition and are averaging over four conceded goals a game.
New Toronto coach Blake Glennie suggested that their struggling defence was going to be an area of major focus coming into this weekend, especially considering their massive defeat at the hands of Cooks Hill two weeks ago.
“I’m a firm believer that defence wins games,” Glennie said.
“If you can be structurally sound and defend well, you’re going to win most of your games. So many goals in this competition come from the opposition making a mistake rather than piecing of individual brilliance.
“It’s hard coming off a flogging like we got from Cooks Hill. But the goals they scored were just quality, quality goals that you just have to take your off to.”
Glennie admitted that although he’s aware of the danger Belswans possess right across the park, that his focus was still well and truly devoted to his own team and their play.
“Belswans are a funny team actually. They can come out and be very, very good or they can come out and be not so good so I’m not really sure what to expect.
“We’re not going to be focussing on them too much though.
“Considering where we are at at the moment, I’m concentrating on us rather than going and watching other games to plan and devise a way to beat our opponents…that’s where my focus is going at the moment.”
New Lambton FC (10th) vs. Cessnock City Hornets (6th)
Sunday 10th June, 2:30 pm, Alder Park
Cessnock will travel to New Lambton this weekend with the hope of putting last weekend’s heartbreaking, last-minute defeat to Thornton behind them, however, they come up against an Eagles side that, although they were comprehensively beaten last weekend, have begun to look in better shape under the new management of Jim Foley.
The time these sides met at Turner Park in Round 2 marked the first occasion the Hornets had achieved a win in 637 days and since then, they have grown into a side completely dissimilar to that of 2017 particularly due to their defence which was quickly become their strong-point of their game.
That defence will be tested this weekend though, as they square up against one of the most dangerous forwards in the league in Riley Taylor, who is currently sitting in second in the golden boot tally.
Cessnock coach Brendan Slade confessed that not only Taylor but New Lambton’s whole attack will be of danger for them.
“They’ve got some real threat up front in Riley Taylor and Josh Williams,” Slade said.
“He’s [Taylor] a very hard guy to contain because he’s got that explosive speed and he can finish well.
“But we’re not just going to focus too much on Riley, we’ve got to shut down their midfield and limit their space.
“If we can keep their midfield quiet, their front three might not see a lot of the ball.”
Slade was confident that his defence could do their job as they have done most the season and admitted that if his offence could take their opportunities, they’d be in good stead.
“We’re not changing our formations or anything like that. We’ve just got to be a little more composed up front and begin finishing those chances off.”
Singleton Strikers (4th) vs. Cooks Hill United (1st)
Sunday 10th June, 2:30 pm, Howe Park
The Strikers will host Cooks Hill this Sunday looking to avenge the 5-0 smashing they received at the hands of the league-leaders earlier in the season.
Until losing last weekend against West Wallsend, that loss to the Cookers had been the only one in their season and had prompted them to kick into gear leading into an eight-game unbeaten streak which now sees them sitting just inside the top four.
For Cooks Hill, whilst under Graham Law’s guidance, they are still yet to lose a match and have averaged scoring over five goals a game in their past five outings which will be nerving stats for David Willoughby and his team.
Law stated he was looking forward to this match and especially due to blooding in some younger players who will be brought in to cover some missing first graders.
“We’ve got a couple of players away on holidays and Hakan Canli has done his hamstring so there’ll be a few changes amongst the squad,” Law said.
“I think we’ll get a kick of having some new, young players come into the squad and potentially having a point to prove so I think that will benefit us.
“I think we’ll have a bit more space to play our game this weekend…the advantage up there at Howe Park is that it’s a far bigger pitch and even if the quality of the field is a bit poorer, space will definitely suit us a bit more.”
Law isn’t changing the way his side are looking to play, confessing that there isn’t a lot he’s changing on a week-to-week basis given the way his team look to play.
“I think it’s really up to them [Singleton] to stop us.
“I think it’s a case of what are they going to do to try and stop us and I don’t many any disrespect by that, but I feel like we’ll go up there to win the game.”
South Cardiff FC (3rd) vs. Wallsend FC (8th)
Sunday 10th June, 2:30 pm, Ulinga Oval
Having spent a week off last weekend due to wet weather, Wallsend will travel to Ulinga Oval for the second time this season in the hope of this time being able to attain three points against South Cardiff.
When these two sides faced off earlier in the year, South Cardiff had staggered while Wallsend showed red-hot form but since then the tables have turned – the Gunners have shone having only lost one game from their past seven, while the Red Devils have lost their past consecutive four.
Wallsend will be without stars Ty Goldsmith, Matt Williams and Tom Adams this weekend but welcome back defenders Connor Mason and Joel Magnee who will need to be at the top of their game in order to keep out the in-form striker of the competition and golden boot leader, Nathan McCallister.
Wallsend’s coach Ben Edwards said he was expected another close encounter with the Gunners especially with the incredible form of McCallister.
“By the looks of it, it seems they’re starting to gel a bit more,” Edwards said.
“You can never underestimate a team like Southy, especially with guys like Nathan McCallister running around.”
“We know he’s dangerous, we’ve just gotta go in and try and do the job that we know we need to stop him.”
Edwards said with his defence returning to full strength, he believed they could shut down South Cardiff’s offensive weapons.
“You try not to pinpoint one player as a coach and hope that the player or group that’s marking him do their job well.”
“Fortunately for us, we get our defence back so that’s going to help massively. I’ve got confidence in them doing a job and hopefully, they’re back to where we should be.”
Kahibah FC (9th) vs. West Wallsend Bluebells SFC (5th)
Monday 11th June, 2:30 pm, Kahibah Oval
Fresh off their second bye, Kahibah will welcome a West Wallsend team who picked up a dominant upset victory last weekend at Singleton in the only game being held on the Queen’s Birthday.
The Green and Blacks somehow managed a comeback victory when they faced the Bluebells earlier in the year and another gusty performance like that may be needed again as their opponents will have their eyes firmly set on returning to the top four.
Kahibah’s German man Tom Butzmann has proven to be their key player and if he plays in the midfield as he has done so often this year, it will create a fantastic match-up with both he and West Wallsend’s Jarrod Olivieri – both are leading goal scorers for their sides and often control the pace of their attack.
Kahibah’s coach Andre Gumprecht confessed that he and his squad are aware that they’re not high goal-scorers and as a result, the team is placing a major focus on their defensive duties and doing so for the whole of the game.
“We know we need to keep our conceded goals to the bare minimum because we know we won’t score many,” Gumprecht said.
“We have a squad that’s fairly young and lacks a little bit of experience. What we need to run is a performance that consistently good for 90 minutes and as long as possible.”
Gumprecht said that given West Wallsend’s topsy-turvy performances, it’s hard to identify what kind of display they’ll show, however regardless, they’re preparing themselves for a tough battle.
“It’s very hard to predict their form and how they’ll be.
“We need to be absolutely prepared with our mind and body to be able to get something out of it.
“We have to take every game as it will be our last.”
Thornton Redbacks FC (2nd) have the bye.