Match of the Round
South Cardiff Gunners vs Kahibah F.C.
Sunday 24th March, 5:30 pm, Ulinga Oval
NEWFM Northern League One action return this weekend with a host of teams ready to return to the field after a rain-affected Round 2.
Match of the Round sees South Cardiff host Kahibah at Ulinga Oval, with both teams looking to pick up a valuable three points.
The Gunners picked up an impressive 4-2 win in their latest match, while the away side are yet to feature in a competitive fixture so far in 2019 and will be out to perform in their first outing.
In the past two encounters between the clubs, South Cardiff had the edge claiming 1-0 and 4-2 victories last season.
South Cardiff was disappointed in missing out on playing last round and captain-coach Denis Fajkovic said his side are eager to get back on the pitch.
“Missing last round took the edge of our win in Round One, would have been nice to keep the momentum,” Fajkovic said.
“We want maximum points, Kahibah always set up well so it will be another test, but we want to continue to prove ourselves.”
Kahibah will be excited to kickstart their 2019 campaign, and coach Andre Gumprecht said South Cardiff would be a stern test for his side.
“The South Cardiff team looks great on paper, they won their last game convincingly which gives them confidence,” said Gumprecht.
“The match will be an absolute test for us and where we are at with our young and enthusiastic team.
“Last weekend was another week for us to get bodies back, we now have almost a full squad, ready to go with some great headaches for the coaching staff to select the team,” Gumprecht continued.
Belmont-Swansea United vs Wallsend F.C.
Saturday 23th March, 2:30 pm, Blacksmiths Oval
Round 3 kicks off with an intriguing fixture between reigning premiers Belmont-Swansea United and Wallsend at Blacksmiths Oval.
Belswans are coming off the bye last round and a hard-fought 1-0 victory over West Wallsend in Round One while the Red Devils went down to South Cardiff 4-2 the last start.
These two clubs certainly have history against each other, including the 2016 grand final where Wallsend came out on top in a dramatic penalty shoot-out, while both sides traded victories last season with the Red Devils winning 3-2 in the previous fixture at Blacksmiths.
The home side will be missing a few key players such as Chris Gazzard, Corey Wilson, Steele Harvey and Matt Ellis with coach Mick Stafford saying it’s a chance for his younger players to step up.
“It’s an opportunity for younger local boys, who have come through our youth setup in the last 3-4 years, which I’m excited about as there are some exceptional talents knocking on the door,” Stafford said.
“I expect Wallsend to come to Blacksmiths pumped and looking to beat us, they have some handy boys in their squad that can hurt you, but we just need to have the right work ethic on Saturday.”
The Red Devils will be out to show their quality after their opening round defeat, and coach Jesse Pryce said he plans to make a few changes.
“This weekend will definitely be a test for our boys, but we have plenty to prove after our last game and will be looking to get off the mark for the season,” Pryce said
“We have worked on what let us down against South Cardiff and some formation stuff.
“We have some guys coming back but some guys also unavailable so will be looking to make a few changes for what will hopefully work against Belswans.”
Cooks Hill United vs Singleton Strikers
Saturday 23rd March, 2:30 pm, Fearnley Dawes Athletic Field
An early season top of the table clash will take place at the Fearnley Dawes Athletic Field, with Cooks Hill United taking on the Singleton Strikers.
Cooks Hill has knocked in the goals in their opening two games, firing in seven to rubber-stamp themselves as the form side of the competition while the Strikers drew 1-1 with Cessnock in their last outing.
The Cookers have a strong record against their opposition, downing the Strikers 5-0 and 2-0 last season.
Saturday’s game will be Cooks Hill’s third straight home game while the Strikers will again be on the road for another week after two away matches.
Cooks Hill’s Assistant Coach, Jarrod Gorsuch, said their previous games have been satisfying.
“We’ve started the season well against some tough opposition in Thornton and New Lambton, with the early season run of games at home we will be pushing for maximum points,” Gorsuch said.
“It was good to see the lads come back from a deficit at half-time, to go on and finish the job was pleasing to see.”
Singleton will be ruing missing out on a victory against Cessnock last start, but coach David Willoughby knows his side will have to be at their best against the black and white.
“Cooks Hill are the benchmark of the competition, they have a stable squad and are very well organised,”
“We continue to work on our attacking third, and without executing as we should have in our first two games, I am very happy with our progress in that area.”
The Strikers could also be affected by the Singleton cricket grand final, with coach Willoughby saying a number of players could be missing.
“We have Hayden Nicol still unwell, and the Singleton cricket grand final is on Saturday so we could have up to six of the team that played last week, unavailable for selection,” Willoughby continued.
West Wallsend vs New Lambton
Sunday 24th March, 2:30 pm, Johnston Park
Round 3 continues with West Wallsend coming up against New Lambton at Johnston Park.
The home side will be out to get back on track after an opening round loss to Belswans while being washed out last round and have added two new additions to the squad in Tom Sparre and Luke Slade.
The Eagles went down 3-1 to Cooks Hill in a gallant performance last round after leading at half-time.
West Wallsend has an excellent record against their opposition claiming 6-1 and 3-1 wins last season in their two fixtures, with Tye Jones grabbing a double and is set to return to the field this weekend.
Ryan Cole is also set to return to the fray for the Bluebells, with West Wallsend coach Brendan Slade saying he’s looking forward to the fixture.
“New Lambton are a great young side. Jim Foley is a great coach, and I learnt a lot from Jim when we both coached at Lambton Jaffas. Have a ton of respect for him and it will be good to catch up with Jim on Sunday,” said Slade.
“We have been very busy on the training pitch, and all the player’s attitudes have been great, and their efforts at training have been brilliant.”
The Eagles are expecting another tough away match to start the season, however, coach Jim Foley said he’s looking for another positive performance.
“I’m struggling to recall any occasion over the years that I‘ve been to ‘Wembley’ and had an easy game. I’m not expecting it to be any different this time,” said Foley.
“We’ve shown a very positive approach in games to date and, while Westy will have our utmost respect, I’ll be wanting more of the same this week.”
Cessnock City Hornets vs Toronto Awaba Stags
Sunday 24th March, 2:30 pm, Turner Park
The final game of the round sees Cessnock host Toronto Awaba in what is set to be an action-packed round of NEWFM Northern League One action.
The home side will be playing their third straight game at Turner Park and had a promising 1-1 draw with Singleton last time out while the Stags will look back to their narrow loss against the Strikers in Round One.
Cessnock racked up the goals against Toronto last season with big 6-2 and 5-1 victories, but the Stags already look to be a different outfit in 2019.
The Hornets are also set to welcome back striker Klaudon Ahmataj to the line-up, and coach Arthur Hodgetts said they want to keep on getting stronger.
“I know some of the new recruits and they’re all good players. We will just be playing Hornet’s style football, we have Klaudon back but won’t feature maybe off the bench,” said Hodgetts
“The boys will work hard and look to get the points.”
Toronto has a poor record at Turner Park, however, coach Darrell McAllister said his players are raring to go.
“Cessnock are always tough at home, and we will need to be at our best to beat them,” McAllister said.
“The week off made it difficult to do much with the grounds all so wet in the area, but it’s given a chance to freshen up.”