Match of the Round
Cooks Hill United vs New Lambton
Saturday 16th March, 2:30 pm, Fearnley Dawes Athletics Field
After a grand opening round of the NEWFM Northern League One, the season continues with an enthralling fixture between Cooks Hill United and New Lambton at Fearnley Dawes Athletic Field to kick off Round 2.
Both clubs had impressive opening round wins, with the reigning premiers putting four past Thornton in a dominant victory while the Eagles took home the three points, with a gutsy 1-0 win over Cessnock City.
The Cookers had the edge over their cross-town rivals last season, winning 5-1 and 2-1 in the previous two fixtures, with prolific goalscorers Lee Ashton and Nick Russell scoring double’s
Head-Coach, Graham Law, will be back on the sideline for the black and white, after serving a one-game suspension while New Lambton coach, Jim Foley, will be managing his second game in charge.
The fixture has served up some cracking games over the years, and coach Law said his side are well aware of the Eagles quality.
“They always give us a tough game, they’re young and energetic, Jim Foley will have them well-structured aswell,” Law said.
“Winning breeds confidence and we’re at home, so no disrespect towards New Lambton but they are going to have to try and stop us as we want to win the game.
“I was really pleased with the Thornton game and watching the game from a different vantage point, so I got to look at our structure and so forth but I’m quite a vocal coach, and I like to be hands-on with my players.”
The new-look New Lambton squad will be lifted by their round one win over the Hornets, but coach Jim Foley said the team would have to elevate themselves again if they’re to beat the Cookers.
“It’s reasonable to assume they’re the toughest side in the competition and we’re fully expecting a tough assignment,” Foley said.
“We might need to make a couple of changes due to injuries but we want to put in a good account of ourselves, and we’ll see if we’re good enough to get something out of the game.”
West Wallsend vs Thornton Redbacks
Sunday 17th March, 2:30 pm, Johnston Park
Round 2 serves up another intriguing fixture with West Wallsend coming up against the Thornton Redbacks in a rematch of last season’s intense semi-final series.
The Bluebells went onto making the Grand Final, after downing the Redbacks 3-2 over two tough matches, while Thornton will look upon their regular season games against their opponents as they knocked over West Wallsend with a big 6-1 triumph, early in 2018.
Both teams will also be out to claim their first points of the new campaign, after opening round defeats to Cooks Hill and Belmont-Swansea respectively.
Redbacks striker, Jye McKellar, will look to continue his form, scoring three goals in four against the Bluebells, while the blue and white will welcome the return of striker, Tye Jones from suspension, after failing to score against Belswans.
Both sides will be conscious of each other with West Wallsend coach Brendan Slade saying his players will welcome the challenge.
“They’re a very good side, we touched on it in training (the games from last year), but they could still finish in the top two,” Slade said.
“We need to have a bit more movement as we got off to a slow start and we were disappointed with the result. We played too many long balls against Belswans, but I hope the attack can fire on Sunday.”
The semi-final defeat will still be fresh in the Thornton players minds, however, coach Gary Wand said they’re focusing on the game at hand.
“We were disappointed about last year but win, lose or draw, it doesn’t change what happened,” Wand said.
“Westy is always a big challenge for us, they’re a physical side and are tough to play at home, so it will be a good test.”
“No one likes conceding goals like we did (against Cooks Hill), but we’re still a working progress,” Wand continued.
Cessnock City Hornets vs Singleton Strikers
Sunday 17th March, 2:30 pm, Turner Park
Cessnock City will take on the Singleton Strikers in an exciting match-up at Turner Park.
Singleton are coming off the back of an impressive win to start their campaign, beating Toronto Awaba 4-2, while Cessnock narrowly went down to New Lambton 1-0.
The Hornets have been ravaged by injuries so far this season and will again be missing key players in Lachlan Hodgetts and Klaudon Ahmataj, while the Strikers will look to build on their imposing attack shown in Round One with Joe Civello scoring a superb hat-trick and linking up cleverly with new signing, Jake Barner.
The Strikers had the slight edge over the home side last season, boasting a 1-0 win while the corresponding fixture was a 1-1 draw.
Cessnock will want to put in a big performance in front of their home crowd, and coach Arthur Hodgetts says they’re ready to play in round two.
“This will be the same as any other game, we want to win but we still have some injuries and Jake Peters is out of course because of the red card,” Hodgetts said
“I felt last game we played well, but we still have work to do in order to improve.”
Singleton will be playing their second-straight away fixture with coach David Willoughby saying they’re up for the task at hand.
“We had two outstanding games against Cessnock last year and we want to build on that, some people in the club view this game as a derby, but the main thing is we just want to pick up the points,” Willoughby said.
“There’s a big chance we could be missing a couple of players due to injury and illness, but I would like to see more composure on the ball this game as our result was pleasing against Toronto.”
Toronto Awaba Stags vs South Cardiff Gunners
Sunday 17th March, 2:45 pm, Lyall Peacock Field
Round Two continues with another potentially entertaining fixture between Toronto Awaba and South Cardiff at Lyall Peacock Field.
Both clubs recruited the most signings out of any in the offseason and put their new look squads to the test in Round One with the Gunners comfortable 4-2 victors over Wallsend while the Stags went down to Singleton 4-2 after leading in the match.
Toronto striker, Nathan McAllister and Josh Benacquista will face their former club for the first time on Sunday while Captain-Coach, Denis Fajkovic, will return to the Gunners line-up after serving his suspension.
South Cardiff will fancy their chances against the Stags after racking up the goals last campaign against their opposition, winning 8-0 and 6-1, however, the blue and yellow already look to be a much-improved side under Darrell McAllister.
Toronto would have been disappointed in blowing their lead in their last fixture, with coach Darrell McAllister saying more game time will only be a good thing.
“There’s lots to fix, we were up to 2-1 with twelve minutes to go, but they ran over the top of us,” McAllister said.
“It’s hard to fix fitness in the short term, but we’ll battle on and gel more as a side.
“South Cardiff have recruited well, but we’re only worried about ourselves, they’ll be thereabouts come the end of the year so it will be a good test for us.”
The Gunners will be looking to make it two from two to start the campaign with coach Denis Fajkovic saying his side want to keep the ball rolling.
“We are aware of our quality, it’s just about each week believing what we can do and keep the momentum,” Fajkovic said.
“It was a great start last week, but we want to build on that, Toronto are a bit of an unknown for us, but Darrell is an experienced coach, so he will have them well structured.”
Wallsend F.C vs Kahibah F.C
Sunday 17th March, 6:45 pm, The Gardens
The penultimate match of the round sees Wallsend taking on Kahibah in an anticipated match-up at The Gardens.
This game will be the green and blacks first of the season, after having the bye last round while Wallsend will be looking to bounce back from their 4-2 loss to South Cardiff.
Both sides have traditionally served up a few classic matches over their time, including games ending 3-2 and 5-3 last season in favour of the Red Devils.
Wallsend striker, Ty Goldsmith, scored two goals last start and has a proven goalscoring record against Kahibah while the away side will be out to impress in their first competitive fixture.
The Red Devils conceded four quickfire goals against the Gunners and coach Jesse Pryce said he wants to see a better display.
“We’re going to have basically a new look side and one thing is we expect to be better than last week and show a better attitude,” Pryce said.
“I’m expecting Kahibah to be fresh, sharp and ready to go after the bye.
“The later kick off is great for us as well as it allows us to have the lower grades play before us and get more families to the games which is only beneficial to our culture and the community.”
Kahibah has a mostly younger squad this campaign and coach Andre Gumprecht said his side is ready to go.
“We’re full of confidence and we just want to put on a good show and showcase what we’ve worked on in pre-season,” Gumprecht said.
“Our team can’t wait to start and they’re very eager to kick off, but we also want to go out and get a positive outcome.
“The bottom line is we engage every game with the mentality of wanting to win but each game will be difficult and we need to react to different situations.”