VALENTINE SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
Match of the Round
Cessnock City Hornets (6th) vs. South Cardiff FC (3rd)
Sunday 17th June, 2:30 pm, Turner Park
After receiving a week off due to wet weather, both Cessnock and South Cardiff will be raring to go and grab three points as the pursuit for finals kicks up a gear.
It’s been six weeks since Cessnock last tasted victory and following Singleton’s last weekend, the door is now opened for the Hornets to potentially sneak back into the top four.
On the other side of the field, South Cardiff have been progressing through a purple patch in form having only experienced one loss in their past seven outings, as well as possessing the 2018 Golden Boot leader Nathan McCallister, who has incredibly scored nine goals from those games.
In the previous match between these two teams earlier in the season, Cessnock gained a dominant 3-0 victory, however, given the recent form of these two teams, expect this match to be a much closer result.
Cessnock coach Brendan Slade was well aware of the importance in collecting the win this weekend.
“Our game this weekend against South Cardiff is huge for us,” Slade said.
“We had a great result in all three grades the last time we met at Ulinga, so I’m expecting those results to be in the back of Southy’s minds and for them to come out fired up.”
Slade admitted that his side would be giving a special attention to some of their players, but that they were still focussed on their own game and tactics.
“Of course, we will be focusing on two of their experienced players in the captain Denis Fajkovic and their attacking player Nathan McCallister.
“We are working on keeping the intensity at a high level for 90 minutes to make sure we finish off our chances in front of goal and cutting out low percentage passes.
“We are good at keeping possession but were sometimes giving the ball away too cheaply. We need to cut that out against South Cardiff.”
Belmont-Swansea United (7th) vs. Wallsend FC (8th)
Saturday 16th June, 2:30 pm, Blacksmiths Oval
Belswans host Wallsend this week in a match where collecting the three points will be paramount for both teams’ chances of challenging for finals.
It’ll have almost been a month since Wallsend last played football when they travel to face Belswans this weekend, and it’s been even longer since they last won a match.
Belswans have experienced the opposite kind of form though, as they haven’t lost a match since mid-April and have begun to look much more like the side that progressed to the last two Northern League One Grand Finals.
In the past five matches between these two, Wallsend has only managed one victory (Round 3 this season), a statistic that’ll need to change if the Red Devils want to salvage their season.
Belswans coach Josh Rufo stated given their form from the recent matches, that they wouldn’t be changing their structures or mentality, and that their focus was still purely fixed on themselves.
“We are only focusing on what we need to do each week and we expect a really competitive opposition,” Rufo said.
“We need to ensure we have a defensively sound structure and that we treasure the ball and make good, positive use of it when we have it.
“The weekend off was good and it allowed a few players to freshen up and get over some niggles.”
West Wallsend Bluebells SFC (5th) vs. Thornton Redbacks FC (2nd)
Saturday 16th June, 2:30 pm, Johnston Park
This match between West Wallsend and Thornton is another battle from the weekend that will have major effects on how the race for the top four shapes up.
A win for the Bluebells will see them jump back into the top four, while the Redbacks will be looking to put some pressure on Cooks Hill at the top of the table and in the process, solidify themselves in the semi-final picture.
When these two sides last met in Round 3, Thornton flogged West Wallsend 6-1, but the loss seemed to wake the Bluebells up and from there they went on to win their next four.
Thornton’s coach Gary Wand confessed his side were expecting a much tougher opponent than the one they defeated earlier in the year, and that if they weren’t on their game, they might find themselves with a loss.
“Westy [West Wallsend] are strong right across the park on their day,” Wand said.
“Everyone talks about their physicality but they can be as good as anyone in the competition when they want to.
“We need to be ready for a very tough game. With the competition so tight, every game is important.
“The boys know that Westy are quality, so hopefully we’ll be ready.”
Kahibah FC (9th) vs. Cooks Hill United (1st)
Sunday 17th June, 2:30 pm, Kahibah Oval
At the beginning of the season, these two sides were predicted to once again finish near the top of the table, however, while Cooks Hill have done so and currently sit eight points clear at the top of the table, Kahibah have struggled to find any consistency and have only managed to win twice in their 10 games this year.
Where home games are typically strongpoints for sides, Kahibah is still yet to win a match at Kahibah Oval this season, and they’ll be coming up against a side who has scored an amazing 21 goals from their last five outings.
What does work in Kahibah’s favour though, is that the Green and Blacks are one of the few teams to have defeated Cooks Hill this season when they met in Round 3 of the FFA Cup Qualifying Round and if they manage to win once again, a late push for finals might potentially be on the cards.
Toronto Awaba Stags FC (11th) vs. Singleton Strikers (4th)
Sunday 17th June, 2:30 pm, Lyall Peacock Field
Singleton will travel to Toronto this weekend with the hope of returning back to the winners’ circle having lost their past two games where they were kept scoreless on both occasions.
Toronto still haven’t gotten onto the field since their 10-1 demolishment from Cooks Hill, and after two weeks off due to wet weather, it’ll be key that the Stags have tightened up their defence if they wish to find victory against the Strikers for the first time since May 2015.
The last time these two teams squared off earlier in the year, a 1-1 draw ensued, however, since then Singleton carried out an eight-game unbeaten streak and are now looking like a top-four team for the first time in a long time.
As the Strikers have now played one more game than the teams below, they’ll need to attain a victory if they want any chance of retaining their top four position.
New Lambton (10th) have the bye.