2021 Mental Health Round
Match of the Round
Thornton FC v Cessnock City
Thornton Park, Saturday 3.30pm
Thornton will look to end a tough week on a high when they host Cessnock City in the Match of the Round on Saturday.
The clash with the Hornets will be Thornton’s third match of the week, following their 2-1 win over Wallsend last weekend.
The under-strength Redbacks then went down 5-2 to Cooks Hill United on Tuesday night in their rescheduled round one match with Patrick Wand and Jordan Elphick scoring Thornton’s goals.
“It was a good game against Wallsend. They are a good side to play,” Thornton co-coach Gary Wand said.
“[The Cooks Hill match] was a reality check for our guys. We didn’t start well and found ourselves 3-0 down because of our own errors.
“We were a bit light on players. We picked up a few knocks over the weekend. [But] the second half was quite good. We got it back to 3-2.
“Cooks Hill have some quality players who can finish. They deserved the result. We can’t turn up like we did against a top three side. [But] it was pleasing we turned it around.”
Thornton had more chances in the game with calls for a penalty and a goal which was disallowed for offside.
Wand said Thornton’s focus ahead of the clash with Cessnock would be to get back to basics, especially defensively.
“Cessnock will be desperate as they need to start winning games or they will get caught the wrong side of the table,” Wand said.
“They are always a tough side to play.”
Thornton will still be without Jake Millsteed who continues to recover from a hamstring injury but there are hopes that Sam Rossi will return this weekend.
Cessnock coach Michael Gatt said his side were feeling good despite suffering a 5-0 defeat to leaders New Lambton last weekend.
“We got to training last night and got stuck in and figured out where to improve and got the attitude back in order,” Gatt said.
“The focus this week against Thornton will be to convert chances that we continue to create.”
Hornets captain Greg Anderson will return to the side but a handful of other players are in doubt with injury.
Singleton Strikers v South Cardiff FC
Howe Park, Saturday 2.30pm
Reigning champions Singleton will hope a week off and a winnable game will give them a fresh start to their season when they host South Cardiff on Saturday.
The Strikers have endured an underwhelming title defence so far, sitting sixth on the table with 10 points from seven games.
Singleton will be fresh from the round nine bye and, given their battles with injury so far this campaign, coach Brendan Slade will be hopeful the week off has given his side a boost.
South Cardiff will look to build on their effort last weekend as the last-placed Gunners came from 2-0 down to secure a 2-2 draw with West Wallsend.
South Cardiff coach Mick Hugo said there was much to take from the draw with the Bluebells.
“There were positives coming out of it which was good,” Hugo said.
“We’ve just got to keep going week by week moving together as a group and see where things take us from there.
“The focus for this week is we have got to worry about our game and do the simple things right.
“We have to remember we are going up against last year’s grand final winners and that is never going to be an easy game. Every game in this comp is hard. We are going to Singleton and playing in their back yard.”
Kahibah FC v Belmont Swansea United
Kahibah Oval, Saturday 4pm
As the competition moves closer to the halfway mark, the fight for the top five is becoming increasingly more prevalent.
Kahibah are eighth on the table after some improved performances of late, four points behind Singleton and Wallsend.
Kahibah battled hard against Cooks Hill before going down 2-1 last week as the Rams pushed the second-placed Cooks Hill all the way.
The key for the Rams this weekend will be having a fit and healthy squad as injuries have started to descend on the team.
Belmont Swansea earned an entertaining 3-2 victory over Toronto Awaba last weekend in a heated encounter despite being reduced to 10 men.
BelSwans now find themselves in third place on the table after Cook Hill picked up six points in a week. The two teams are level on 16 points, trailing New Lambton on 22.
West Wallsend SFC v Cooks Hill United
Johnston Park, Sunday 2.30pm
West Wallsend coach Darren Sills says his side will be motivated to bounce back when they host Cooks Hill United on Sunday.
Only three points separate West Wallsend and Cooks Hill United on the table after the Bluebells threw away a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 with South Cardiff last weekend.
Westy have been hit hard by injury and unavailability but, despite those issues, Sills is keen for his side to put in a much-improved performance.
“It was a terrible performance [against South Cardiff]. We were 2-0 up after 20 minutes. We should have been six up at half-time but we took our foot off the gas,” Sills said.
“The second half in particular was bad. We lost our way but credit to [South Cardiff] they came out to play.
“We should have beaten that team on paper comfortably but we didn’t.”
West Wallsend’s focus ahead of the Cooks Hill clash will turn to defending, with the Bluebells conceding 10 goals in their last three games.
“We will look to reset defensively. We also need to convert our chances in the first half better,” Sills said.
“If we don’t we leave them in the game. We then have to defend better and we pay the price for it.
“It will be very difficult game. [Cooks Hill are] a good side and had a good win against Thornton [on Tuesday night].”
“I’m under no illusion they are a very strong side. It will be good to battle against them.”
The match will be Cooks Hill’s third this week after they downed Kahibah 2-1 last weekend and Thornton 5-2 in their rescheduled round one clash on Tuesday night.
Jamie Byrnes and Roger Dowdell scored twice against the Redbacks with Nick Russell also finding the scoresheet as Cooks Hill climbed to second, level with BelSwans on 16 points.
Cooks Hill coach David Tanchevski says he was delighted with the performance against Thornton.
“It was a complete turnaround from against Kahibah. We were playing well below our best against Kahibah,” Tanchevski said.
“It was one of the team’s better games [against Thornton]. We were moving the ball more confidently and keeping possession. It was a really good performance.”
Cooks Hill will look to play the same way against West Wallsend as they did against Thornton where they started strongly, scoring in the opening minutes.
“The boys are getting their confidence back,” Tanchevski said.
“We are playing the style we want to. The key for this weekend will be not conceding soft goals. The aim will be to not give away the ball away cheaply and tighten up in defence.
“We shouldn’t need to score four or five goals to win each game.”
Cooks Hill will almost be at full strength though Tom Walker is a doubt with a muscle strain.
“West Wallsend had a good result against Thornton as well a couple of weeks ago. They are one of the stronger teams in the comp,” Tanchevski said.
“We’ve sort of had a stop-start season with washouts and the bye and we are still trying to catch up games. We are focused on recovery and rotating the squad to get through.”
This weekend will be the middle of a busy two weeks for Cooks Hill as they have another midweek game against Wallsend next week.
Toronto Awaba FC v New Lambton FC
Lyall Peacock Field, Sunday 2.30pm
Toronto Awaba coach Lino Gatti is hopeful the New Lambton Rolls Royce breaks down when they meet on Sunday.
The Stags host the Eagles at Lyall Peacock Field looking to continue their own recent improvement.
But it will be another difficult assignment for Toronto Awaba against a side Gatti rates highly.
“New Lambton are a Rolls Royce engine. Hopefully it misfires on Sunday,” Gatti said.
“We’ll look to see if we can play more in the opposition’s half as the game wears on. We hope to play our brand of football in their half.
“We are very enthusiastic to play. We’re now on edge every game. We’ll be looking for some big games out of our key players like Zane Winslade, Jarrod Purcell and Flynn Fittler.”
Toronto Awaba were unfortunate to go down 3-2 to Belmont Swansea United last weekend. The Stags have also earned an impressive 1-1 draw with heavyweights Cooks Hill and fallen 4-3 to Kahibah in recent weeks.
New Lambton are coming off a convincing 5-0 win over Cessnock City last Saturday as they continued their unbeaten streak.
The Eagles continue to move away from the chasing pack, with New Lambton six points clear of Cooks Hill and BelSwans.
New Lambton will have captain Corey Nicholas available after serving a suspension last weekend following his red card in the Eagles’ FFA Cup defeat to NPL premiers Edgeworth.
Wallsend have the bye
This weekend is Northern NSW Football’s second annual Mental Health Round (21 to 23 May).
The purpose is to help raise awareness and break the stigma surrounding mental health within the football community as well as the greater community.
NNSWF are committed to shining a light on mental health following the success of Mental Health Round last year.
Every Premier Competition club signed the Mental Health Pledge Banner last year, which committed clubs to fostering a culture which is inclusive, supportive and respectful. The banner has been displayed at the Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility this week.
The pledge reads “Our club is committed to fostering a culture which is inclusive, supportive and respectful. We care deeply about the mental health wellness and overall wellbeing of our players, coaches, volunteers and supporters. We will look out for each other and fall in behind those who need our support. We will consistently address behaviour which contradicts our values and undermines our culture.”
NNSWF hosted activities this week as part of Mental Health Round including presentations from broadcaster and mental health advocate Craig Hamilton and sport psychologist Fiona McCarthy while Luke Conners from #Talk2MeBro will present on Monday next week.
If you would like to talk to someone regarding your mental health, you can contact Lifeline Hunter on 13 11 14. Their Crisis Support Line operates 24 hours per day, seven days per week. You can also speak to your GP.