Match of the Round
Belmont Swansea United v Thornton FC
Blacksmiths Oval, Sunday 4pm
Wet weather has made preparations difficult for a number of HIT Northern League One clubs, including Belmont Swansea United and Thornton FC ahead of their match of the round on Sunday.
The wet weather has caused a disappointing and frustrating start to the season for both sides with neither team able to start their campaign last weekend due to wash outs.
Their clash at Blacksmiths Oval will be a delayed season opener for both sides and a first opportunity to make their mark.
BelSwans won the two matches between the sides in 2020 but that will count for little come Sunday.
Thornton have had things worse than most other teams this week, with some players unable to attend training due to flooding.
The Redbacks have had to make use of gyms and the Maitland Hockey Centre until they are able to get back on the training pitch.
Thornton coach Gary Wand said his side had plenty of respect for BelSwans who have been one of the competition heavyweights for a number of seasons.
“[BelSwans] are a tough team. They have a good blend of youth and experience,” Wand said.
“I am interested to see how they play under their new coach.”
Former A-League player Andre Gumprecht will take charge of BelSwans for the first time following his summer move from Kahibah.
Gumprecht said the key to the match would be to “get into the game quickly.”
“We’ll look to stick to our set plan and play the style we want to play,” Gumprecht said.
West Wallsend SFC v Kahibah FC
Johnston Park, Sunday 2.30pm
It should be a tight game between West Wallsend and Kahibah at Johnston Park on Sunday afternoon.
Both teams had good performances last season with Kahibah finishing third on the table, earning the Rams a spot in the finals. West Wallsend were close behind them, just missing out on the finals by one place.
Last season saw mixed results between the teams. Kahibah were dominant in their first encounter in winning 3-0 but West Wallsend were resilient coming back in their second meeting to draw the game 2-2.
West Wallsend coach Darren Sills will take charge of the Bluebells for the first time after his off-season appointment, with West Wallsend fans keen to see how Sills’ strong new squad shape up under the former NPL coach.
Kahibah coach Mat Moncrieff said his side’s round one washout only had them more fired up to head into round two with all guns blazing.
“We are up for a physical match where we want to play own game,” Moncrieff said.
Toronto Awaba v Singleton Strikers
Lyall Peacock Field, Sunday 2.30pm
Singleton will look to bounce back from their opening round defeat when they make the long trip south to take on Toronto Awaba at Lyall Peacock Field.
The Strikers went down 3-1 to New Lambton as the Eagles gained revenge for their defeat in the 2020 grand final in their season opener last weekend.
While Singleton were disappointed with the result they have since regrouped despite being one of many teams that have struggled to get a full team to training this week due to players being flooded in.
But Singleton coach Brendan Slade said he did not think the first up loss to New Lambton would greatly hurt his side.
“We had a similar start to last season, losing 3-1 in our first game,” Slade said.
“The key this weekend will be to aim to play with more confidence.”
Toronto have struggled to find rhythm in their preparation for the match due to the weather. But they plan to play hard and turn up with a good attitude according to coach Steve Piggott.
“Playing the champions will be a good side to beat [because] we lost twice to them last season,” Piggott said.
Piggott could be without three senior players for the Strikers’ visit, with a decision on player fitness to be made at the end of the week.
Cessnock City v South Cardiff
Turner Park, Sunday 2.30pm
Turner Park will host Cessnock City and South Cardiff on Sunday which should shape up to be a close match if last year’s results are anything to go by.
Cessnock finished one place higher than South Cardiff on the table last season.
Due to the shortened season in 2020, the teams only met on one occasion where Cessnock won 3-1.
Weather has affected the preparation for both teams as they have had to endure closed roads and grounds.
But Cessnock coach Michael Gatt said his side would be ready to go.
“We are buzzing to get a game in,” Gatt said.
“It will be business as usual to get the three points.”
South Cardiff coach Daryl McAllister believes his squad has a lot of depth.
Jarryd Johnson is back at the club and will be one to look out for this season, with Johnson’s previous NPL experience to help the team rebuild and climb the table.
“There has been a large turnover of players but we have picked up players with different styles of play,” McAllister said.
“That has helped create a more balanced side.”
Wallsend FC v New Lambton FC
The Gardens, Sunday 6.30pm
New Lambton will look to keep their 100 per cent record intact when they travel to The Gardens to take on Wallsend on Sunday night.
Last season saw mixed results between the two sides. The first encounter saw New Lambton dominate winning 6-3. But Wallsend redeemed themselves in scoring a 1-1 draw against the premiers in their second meeting.
With a disappointing washout in round one, Wallsend are ready to get the season underway and head into the clash with a full-strength squad.
Wallsend coach Craig Tslembis said his side would be ready for the challenge.
“This game will be a tough one,” Tslembis said.
“We have had lots of discussion about how want to play.”
New Lambton were happy with their first result and are in good spirits after taking home the three points but understand it was just one game.
Eagles coach Tom Davies said the key to the Wallsend clash would be to “come out mentally focused.”
Tyson Cummings and Jackson O’Sullivan look unlikely to play after knee injuries sustained in last week’s game against Singleton.
Cooks Hill United have the bye.