Match of the Round
Cooks Hill United 4 (Nick Russell x2, Daniel Johnson, Andrew Benbow) def. Thornton Redbacks 2 (Trent Partridge, Tallan Martin)
Saturday 23rd June, 2:30 pm, Newcastle Athletics Field
Cooks Hill has all but sewn up the premiership following a highly entertaining 4-2 victory over Thornton which extends their lead at the top of the table to 11 points and retains their perfect 2018 home record.
The Redbacks began the game as the more dominant side as they created half-chances through Luke Lambert who blasted a shot just inches away from the goal, and Jake Millstead who forced a nice save from Cooks Hill goalkeeper Jake Hamilton.
With their star forward Lee Ashton missing, the Cookers needed another strong source of goals, and it was his replacement Sam Parker who made the opportunity and the first goal of the game.
Parker dispossessed the opposition defence and his deflected shot allowed Nick Russell to run through and easily tuck the ball away.
Thornton would also lose their star forward when Jye MacKellar required a substitution following a lower back injury, however, despite all that, the Redbacks wouldn’t lie down.
Trent Partridge was quick to level the scores just minutes after conceding with a terrific long-range strike that chipped Hamilton and nestled into the goal.
Thornton looked as though they had taken the lead after a shot beat the Cookers defence once again, however, controversially, was deemed to have not crossed the line.
Cooks Hill took advantage of the missed opportunity, and it was captain Daniel Johnson who fired a bullet straight past Redbacks’ goalkeeper James Wand, and into the bottom corner of the goal to regain the lead.
With just over twenty minutes remaining on the clock, a long ball caught out Cooks Hill’s defenders, and substitute Tallan Martin jumped onto it before tucking it away calmly to set up an intense finish to the match.
With the match hanging in the balance, both sides needed a hero, and for Cooks Hill, their veteran forward Russell stepped up once again firing a left-footed cannonball just inches past Wand in goals with only four minutes remaining.
The victory would be sealed and sweetened for Cooks Hill when sixteen-year-old Andrew Benbow, who had only just come on from the bench for his first-grade debut minutes earlier, snatched up a defensive error and neatly snuck home his first ever.
The drama was still yet to be completed though, as Thornton received a penalty and looked to try and bounce back for a miracle draw. However, Patrick Wand’s shot was stopped by an incredible save from Hamilton in a display that personified the heartbreak for the visitors.
Belmont-Swansea United 1 (Sean Matthews) drew with Singleton Strikers 1 (Hayden Nicol)
Saturday 23rd June, 2:30 pm, Blacksmiths Oval
Belswans have continued their unbeaten streak but were not able to collect all three points and progress into the top four as they were met by a determined Singleton side who kept their spot in third for another week.
The home side were the ones who created the early chances, but despite being under the pump early, the Strikers were the first to find a goal.
Hayden Nicol was the man who nabbed it for Singleton midway through the first half and gave the visitors the lead.
Belswans amped up the pressure in search for an equaliser and it led to a few physical challenges as tensions began to rise.
It was halfway through the second half when Sean Matthews grabbed the first for Belswans though, leading to a wild end to the match that saw both sides receive chances, however, in the end, the teams couldn’t be separated.
Unless these two teams meet again in the finals, it’ll mark the first year that Belswans have not been able to muster a victory over the Strikers since 2006.
Belswans coach Josh Rufo said he was a little upset that they couldn’t find the victory and that their execution in front of goals have been where they’ve struggled.
“I’m happy that we remain undefeated for nine weeks, but we’re disappointed because we dominated the game. That’s just been the tale of our season,” Rufo said.
“Technically, and tactically, I don’t think there are many teams that come anywhere close to us, but that means very little if you don’t put the ball in the back of the net in the end.
“We just need to keep working. There’s still a lot of games to go and plenty of points to pick up.”
Singleton coach David Willougbhy, said he was pleased with his team for grabbing a draw away from home and that although they didn’t execute the game plan like they would have liked, it was a game where they showed a lot of heart.
“I’m happy with the result because the boys owned up and took it to them [Belswans],” Willougbhy said.
“What we didn’t do well was losing the ball when we had an opportunity to go forward.
“They had more goal scoring opportunities than us, and in my view, they would be more disappointed in the result than us.
“We just weren’t good enough to do what we needed to do. We put in a sub-standard performance in our technical ability, but we put in an outstanding performance in our courage by standing up and fighting to get that point.
“However, we showed that we can play matches that are not to our potential and still get a result and historically for Singleton, that hasn’t happened.”
Toronto Awaba Stags FC 1 (Nick Roberts) def. by Kahibah FC 4 (Brady Carr x2, Riley Ferguson, Jasper Sambrook)
Sunday 24th June, 2:30 pm, Lyall Peacock Field
A strong win away from home at Thornton sees Kahibah move up the table for the first time in seven weeks, and back into the mix for a possible late charge for finals.
With new star signing Rhys Tippett making his debut, the new Kahibah man looked to make an instant impact but wasn’t able to take his opportunity – unlike Toronto’s Nick Roberts.
Roberts grabbed the first goal of the game after beating Kahibah keeper Riley Hill to a long ball, and it would only get worse the Green and Blacks as Hill needed to be substituted due to a knee issue.
Kahibah turned the momentum of the game back in their favour, and it took a fantastic diving save from Toronto’s Blake Redman to keep them from equalising.
Kahibah wouldn’t let up though, and Tippett would make his first mark in the league by setting up a goal for Brady Carr and their pressure would continue into the second half.
Carr grabbed one inside the box after a scrambling effort to find the lead, and Tippett came extremely close to doubling the lead just a few minutes later.
Toronto pushed forward looking for a hopeful equaliser, but with seven minutes remaining, Asher Beasley knocked a ball to Riley Ferguson following a brilliant run, and Ferguson made no mistakes to score.
Kahibah’s day would be capped off with a spectacular late goal from Jasper Sambrook, who somehow curled the ball in straight from the corner and completely sealed the three points for his side.
Despite a struggling start, Kahibah now only sit two wins away from the top four while for Toronto, their season looks to be all but over with another disappointing loss.
All other games were postponed due to wet weather.
South Cardiff had the bye.