by Jack Antcliff
COOKS HILL 1- 2 SOUTH CARDIFF
Match of the Round
2.30pm Saturday, March 14
You couldn’t blame players from either side for feeling a sense of déjà vu on Saturday afternoon as Mother Nature threatened to derail another round of the NEWFM Northern League One competition.
Cooks Hill and South Cardiff’s first round fixtures were washed out with conditions at Fearnley Dawes Athletics Field more akin to those of a wet and windy evening in July.
Despite the at times horrid conditions, the match of the round delivered some exciting football for the small but vocal crowd.
The home side’s Matt Williams was the first to find the back of the net mid-way through the first half.
After only linking up with Cooks Hill in the off-season, Williams’ opening goal for the club proved to be the difference at half-time as the hosts headed to the sheds with a 1-0 lead.
But the second half proved to be a different story. A penalty to South Cardiff just minutes after half-time turned the momentum. Off-season signing Nathan McAllister made no mistake from the spot to level the score.
The breakthrough for the Gunners came in the 66th minute when an on-target corner found the head of Lachlan Hodgetts. The ball was batted away by the Cooks Hill goalkeeper, only for South Cardiff’s Jamie Subat to finish the job.
Cooks Hill had the chance to level the scores not long after in the form of a penalty but goalkeeper Isaac Terry was too good. Terry’s performance earned him the team’s player of the match.
Head coach Darrell McAllister was full of praise following the match in which Jack Harrison and Ned Twelvetree were handed their first-grade debuts.
“Saturday was on the back of a good pre-season where we played four out of the five trials against NPL opposition and had to do a lot of defending and learn when we get the ball how important it is to keep it,” McAllister said.
“Being 1-0 down at half-time we had to focus harder on how we were going to get back into the game. We started getting more ball and opened them up a couple of times.”
Cooks Hill coach Doug West on the other hand was disappointed after his side failed to convert several good opportunities.
“We were not clinical in the first half which we completely dominated in football terms but only went to the break one up. A second goal probably would have made it tough for them,” West said.
“Even at 2-1 we were creating plenty of chances and had a penalty saved so I thought we were always a chance to take the points.”
The Gunners now turn their attention to next weekend’s clash with Belmont Swansea who will play Cooks Hill in a round one catch-up game on Wednesday.
BELMONT SWANSEA UNITED 2 -1 THORNTON
6.10pm Saturday, March 14
As if the first few weeks of the season weren’t already tough enough add in driving rain and a howling southerly and just getting through Saturday night’s clash between Belmont Swansea United and Thornton was an achievement on its own.
The home side were too good for a visiting Thornton at Blacksmiths Oval. The result however didn’t come easy for the defending champions who had to come from behind to secure a 2-1 victory.
Thornton looked on track to score an upset in the early stages. They found themselves with a 1-0 lead at the break.
And as the rain continued to fall over Blacksmiths Oval so too did the missed opportunities. The home side eventually found the back of the net thanks to Ty Goldsmith.
The 79th minute goal takes Goldsmith’s tally at the club to 13, having switched from Wallsend mid-way through last season.
Locked at 1-all with minutes remaining, Joshua Hartge took control. His late goal was enough to secure victory for the defending champions, who now turn their attention to a mid-week grand final re-match against Cooks Hill.
Belswans coach Mick Stafford was impressed with the determination of his young squad.
“I’m very happy with the boys in getting the result at the death,” Stafford said.
“[We] showed great resilience and belief to come from behind in average conditions against a good Thornton side.
“We weren’t as polished as we can be, especially in the first half, but with a few key players out we showed the club has great depth.
“It’s a tough little run of games over a week so early in the year but our fitness is decent and we have depth and a positive outlook, so we will just keep it simple and work hard for each other and the football club.”
WEST WALLSEND 0-0 SINGLETON
2.30pm Sunday, March 15
It was a story of what could have been for both sides at Johnston Park on Saturday afternoon as West Wallsend and Singleton played out a scoreless draw.
Defence seemed to be the theme of the 90 minutes as both sides struggled to unearth genuine attacking opportunities in a game that will be noted for its physicality.
Overnight rain had little impact on the pitch with the Bluebells unlucky not to go to the break with the advantage. They looked the more dominant side for most of the match but Singleton showed they would be no easy beats in 2020 with a gritty performance throughout.
Both sides are yet to record a win this campaign, with Singleton to face Toronto-Awaba away from home on Saturday.
The Bluebells have the bye, before they meet Thornton in round four.
WALLSEND 0-6 NEW LAMBTON
6.40pm Sunday, March 15
It was a night to forget for Wallsend as they opened their 2020 campaign with a heavy defeat at the hands of New Lambton on Sunday night.
The hosts were outplayed early by an Eagles side with no shortage of firepower. By full-time the score tallied 6-0 to New Lambton.
Wallsend coach Craig Tselembis was disappointed with the result but happy with the way his side continued to play and kept the ball moving.
“[I] thought New Lambton were very good especially in getting the ball in behind of our back four,” Tselembis said.“We did very well in some areas and missed some important challenges and passes at critical times which cost us in the end. I also made a couple of coaching errors with subs and positions but overall very happy with the lads as they never stopped giving their all for the badge.
“We as a unit need to find more in the front third to start hurting sides we play as I thought we did not create enough chances or play the right ball at the right time. We are a very young side with four players making first grade debuts and a lot of others with less than 10 first grade games under their belts.
“We will only get stronger but as a club we are in this together.”
The Eagles now play Toronto-Awaba in a round one catch-up game on Wednesday night, while Wallsend host Kahibah on Sunday night.
Wallsend’s round one game against South Cardiff has been rescheduled for April 12.
TORONTO-AWABA 3-3 KAHIBAH
7.10pm Sunday, March 15
Kahibah pulled off an early contender for come-back of the year in their round two clash with Toronto-Awaba on Sunday night.
The visitors came into the game at Lyall Peacock Field fresh off a round one win over West Wallsend but found themselves on the backfoot early.
Kris Cook was the first to find the back of the net for the Stags with his seventh minute effort quickly followed by a goal to Gab Cerda.
Cerda doubled his tally in the 36th minute, ensuring the home side went to the break with the momentum and a 3-0 lead.
It was a story of two halves though as Kahibah returned to the pitch determined to swing the match back in their favour.
It didn’t take long for the visitors either, who clawed back their first goal in the 50th minute.
Three minutes later Asher Beasley put Kahibah back in the conversation, before last year’s NEWFM Northern League One Player of the Year Rhys Tippett levelled the scores.
Both sides were forced to settle for a point each, with Toronto-Awaba now turning their attention to Wednesday night’s clash with New Lambton.
CESSNOCK CITY HORNETS HAD THE BYE