Match of the Round
Cessnock City Hornets 4 (Brodie Williams x2, Kyle Williams x2) def. South Cardiff FC 2 (Troy Runge, Nathan McCallister)
Sunday 17th June, 2:30 pm, Turner Park
Cessnock has bounced back up the table and back into the mix of semi-final contention following a strong victory over one of the top-four teams, South Cardiff, at home.
Cessnock began the match in good stead when youngster Kyle Williams found the back of the net to give the Hornets an early lead, but Troy Runge grabbed one back quickly for the visitors resulting in a frantic first ten minutes.
As the first half went on though, Cessnock began to build pressure and it led to two more goals for the home side both coming from recently promoted Brodie Williams, giving them a 3-1 lead at half-time.
The Hornets continued their momentum into the second half, and it led to another goal by Kyle Williams putting Cessnock in a dominant position.
Golden Boot leader Nathan McCallister continued his great scoring form after bagging one back for South Cardiff from the penalty spot, but it wasn’t enough as Cessnock held strong at the back and preserved their lead to collect their first win in six weeks.
Hornets’ coach Brendan Slade said he was pleased that his team were finally able to take their chances but that there are still things they need to improve and continue doing if they want to be in the finals.
“We created a lot of chances again, and thankfully today we put four away. I’d be saying to the boys that the goals would come, and finally, they did,” Slade said.
“We base our game on possession so if we can continue to keep the ball and not let the opposition get it, we’ll be alright.
“We can probably work on our counter-attacking play and get some of the boys out a bit quicker.
“That’s definitely something I’d like to work on.”
South Cardiff coach Denis Fajkovic praised his opponent’s defence but admitted that his side just didn’t contend well with the conditions that were presented to them.
“They [Cessnock] defend very well and make it very hard to get through and score,” Fajkovic confessed.
“I wasn’t happy with how we dealt with the whole game and how we approached it.
“When we’re in games that are slugfests and are against teams that can defend well and play the long ball, it’s definitely a weakness for us.
“We’re back in the dogfight now for semis which isn’t where I wanted us to be at this time of the year.”
With his team being one of the eight sides having to play mid-week fixtures this coming week, Fajkovic admitted he was looking at it as an opportunity to bounce back into form rather than an obstacle.
“The only positive is that we’re playing on Wednesday.
“We want to play as quick as we can so we can forget about this game and move on.”
Belmont-Swansea United 2 (Matt Ellis, Klaudon Ahmataj) def. Wallsend FC 1 (Travas McCabe)
Saturday 16th June, 2:30 pm, Blacksmiths Oval
In their second visit to Blacksmiths Oval this season, Wallsend wasn’t able to break their losing streak after going down to Belswans in what was their fifth consecutive loss and one that sees them move further away from semi-final contention.
Despite having not played since late-May, and having multiple names missing, the Red Devils didn’t show much sign of rust leading to a competitive first quarter.
Disaster struck for Wallsend though, when star forward and leading goal-scorer Sam Bradshaw went down with injury, that’s since been identified as a broken collarbone, forcing coach Ben Edwards to make an early substitute.
With their other top goal scorer, Ty Goldsmith, also missing, Wallsend struggled to create any strong opportunities and their lack of pressure eventually paid the price as Belswans scored just before halftime to Klaudon Ahmataj following a defensive error.
The second half saw Belswans continue their force and it led to a well-taken goal as Mark Finlayson crossed it in for Matt Ellis to score.
With ten minutes remaining, Travas McCabe instilled some hope into the visitors following an incredible volley from well outside the box, but it wasn’t enough as Belswans held onto the lead and continued their undefeated run.
Wallsend coach Ben Edwards said he was disappointed by the result, but was confident that in the coming weeks, they could turn their form around and make a charge for the finals.
“I felt we did enough to get at least a point,” Edwards said.
“We were very much down on numbers, and I thought the team stepped up well for the most part of the game.
“We’ve just got to knuckle down and do the simple things right, as well as taking a bit more ownership of our game.
“We’ll have nearly a full-strength team in the next coming weeks, so I’m hoping it all comes back together soon.”
West Wallsend Bluebells SFC 0 def. by Thornton Redbacks FC 2 (Tallan Martin, Sam Rossi)
Saturday 16th June, 2:30 pm, Johnston Park
Thornton has retained their spot in second and helped firm their spot for finals with a composed away-victory over a valiant West Wallsend side.
The Bluebells were the ones who began the game well creating chances through Bailey Jensen and Brad Andrews, but the Redbacks quickly took control and a nice set-play from a corner turned into a goal.
Jake Millstead did well to cross the ball into the box, and although Jye MacKellar’s header cannoned into the crossbar, Tallan Martin was quick to jump onto the rebound and give his side the lead.
Thornton continued to hold power and made more chances through Martin and Millstead until the home side seemed destined to equalise when a beautifully worked piece of play frustratingly ended in Ryan Cole delivering a soft shot towards James Wand in goals.
In the early minutes of the second half, Thornton was awarded a penalty after a foul on Wade Attewell, but Millstead missed the goal horribly to keep West Wallsend in the game.
As the match neared its conclusion, both teams squandered golden opportunities, but finally, a Sam Rossi goal from a corner put Thornton up by two and knocked the nail in the coffin for the Bluebells.
The 2-0 loss sees West Wallsend continue to be exiled from the top four, but still well within the hunt to be playing finals football.
Kahibah 1 (Asher Beasley) def. by Cooks Hill United 2 (Ash Balcombe, Lee Ashton)
Sunday 17th June, 2:30 pm, Kahibah Oval
After being eliminated by Kahibah in the early rounds of the FFA Cup, Cooks Hill gained revenge against the Green and Blacks with a win away from home that retains their stronghold at the top of the table with a gap of eight points between them and second place.
With a few of their stars out, Cooks Hill was under pressure early from Kahibah with a few early chances, but they quickly took control of the game and began to onslaught the home team’s defence.
Brodie Richardson, Daniel Johnson, Ash Balcombe and Nick Russell all came extremely close to scoring, as well as a controversial offside ruling against the Cookers kept the scores level and Kahibah in the match.
Albeit, right on the stroke of half-time, Cooks Hill’s pressure would soon pay dividends when Balcome attempted a bicycle-kick of sorts, that found its way into the back of the net to give the visitors the lead as they headed into the break.
The second half opened with Cooks Hill once again creating chances, however, it would be Kahibah who scored when Asher Beasley drove a low shot past Jake Hamilton to equalise against his former club.
Kahibah goalkeeper Riley Hill made multiple great saves to deny Cooks Hill of the lead, but with just fifteen minutes remaining, Lee Ashton stepped up and knocked it past Hill to give the away side the lead and the eventual victory.
Kahibah now sits nine points away from the top four and look to be close to missing the finals for the first time since joining the Northern League One competition in 2015.
Toronto Awaba Stags FC 2 (Nick Mackay, Nick Roberts) def. by Singleton Strikers 3 (Tom Hume x2, Nathan Hall)
Sunday 17th June, 2:30 pm, Lyall Peacock Field
Singleton travelled to Toronto and successfully came away with all three points in a tightly contested match that not only keeps the Strikers inside the top four, but the Stags rooted to the bottom as well.
Singleton opened the game up in quick fashion when Tom Hume scored after just ten minutes, but Toronto hit back almost straight from the kick-off through Nick Mackay.
As the first half lingered on, momentum tossed and turned between the two sides, but neither was able to create any clear-cut chances resulting in a tied scoreline as the two teams headed into the sheds for the break.
Nathan Hall, who had already scored a hat-trick for the U/23’s, stepped up for the Strikers midway through the second half though, and a second to Hume looked to have the visitors home and hosed.
Toronto didn’t lie down easy though, and a goal to Nick Roberts gave Singleton a late shock.
However, the Stags weren’t able to find a second equaliser and as a result, experienced their fifth loss from their past six matches.
Singleton’s coach David Willoughby admitted that although his team won the match, he wasn’t pleased with their performance.
“I’m ecstatic that we got the win. It had to happen. We needed to win,” said Willoughby.
“As long as we just keep accumulating points in the games that we have too, we should go close to being in the finals.
“But the only good thing that came out of today was that we came away with the three points. We were very poor today.
“We kept turning the ball over cheaply. The three midfielders got caught in possession more than 50% of the time and we were just lucky that Toronto didn’t punish us…today we got out of jail.”
Hall’s big effort for the day was noticed by Willoughby, but he confessed that the early success experienced by his team has certainly been a team effort and that he was proud of the way multiple players had been assisting with scoring duties.
“He [Nathan Hall] was good for us off the bench today…but it’s definitely been a collective effort.
“We don’t have a Lee Ashton, Nick Roberts or Jye MacKellar or a natural goal-scorer so its taken efforts from all the boys.”