Match of the Round
West Wallsend SFC v Wallsend FC
Johnston Park, Saturday 6pm
The famous Wallsend derby is the Match of the Round in the HIT Northern League One competition this week, with the historic northern NSW clubs enjoying a long-standing rivalry.
Both teams are coming off tight wins last weekend as West Wallsend narrowly defeated Singleton 2-1 while Wallsend won 4-3 against Kahibah thanks to an injury time winner.
West Wallsend coach Darren Sills is wary of a much-improved Wallsend side in 2021 and acknowledged it would be a difficult contest.
“We are looking forward to it. We know they had a good win last week against Kahibah so we are up for a tough match,” Sills said.
After a recovery session earlier in the week the Bluebells pulled up better than expected and are ready to go as they continued to focus on keeping the ball and faster ball movement in training this week.
“We are up for a tough game because it’s a derby and that’s how they should be,” Sills said.
Wallsend could be without two experienced players due to work and injury but coach Craig Tslembis was not too concerned as he believes in the strength of his squad and that they have enough quality young players to cover those missing.
“[West Wallsend] have quality across the park,” Tslembis said.
“We are wary of all of them. Derby days are fiercely contested.
“It’s a good day on the calendar, Derby Day.”
Wallsend have worked on shutting down spaces in training this week which Tslembis wants his side to improve against their bitter rivals.
Cessnock City v Singleton Strikers
Turner Park, Saturday 2.30pm
Singleton travel to Turner Park to take on Cessnock City on Saturday after a solid performance but an unfortunate loss to West Wallsend last week.
The Strikers only suffered two defeats in the league last season and have already reached that number this campaign after four matches.
One of those losses was to Cessnock, with Singleton coach Brendan Slade acknowledging it would not be an easy day out against the Hornets.
“We had a good training run on Tuesday and spoke about what we need to improve on and work on,” Slade said.
“We need to focus on our game. We focused on a few areas that we needed to work on.
“We aren’t finishing off chances. We created a lot of chances against Westy but couldn’t find the back of the net.
“The key is to keep my side focused on their jobs. If we drop a couple of games we need to stay confident.”
Singleton are yet to line up with a full-strength squad and this week looks no different, though Joey Civello, Jack Barner and Ben Henry could all return to the side.
Cessnock will be looking to bounce back from their embarrassing result last week after conceding 11 goals against Cooks Hill United.
Cessnock limped into the game against Cooks Hill last weekend and continue to carry a few injuries into this week’s match, with four players potentially unavailable.
Cessnock were disappointed by last week’s performance but coach Michael Gatt recognised the strength of their opponents.
“Cooks Hill will dominate the comp,” Gatt said.
“This week is about rebuilding and redeeming ourselves.
“The game plan against Singleton will be getting back to what we know works and finding form.”
Kahibah FC v Thornton FC
Kahibah Oval, Saturday 4pm
Kahibah will be out to prove a point when they host Thornton on Saturday with the Rams yet to pick up any points despite a number of tight results so far this campaign.
Thornton are coming off a win against Toronto Awaba which should give the side some confidence in their squad and the players they have available.
Thornton have had the home ground advantage the last three weeks so will be tested this week as they travel to Kahibah Oval.
“We will again roll into the weekend with a couple of injuries which is pretty standard with us right now,” Thornton co-coach Scott Winslade said.
Jake Millsteed and Jye Mackellar will likely be unavailable through injury but the Redbacks did have a boost with the news Jack Charnock could return to the side.
Winslade said his side were aware that Kahibah were yet to win and would look to bounce back at home.
Belmont Swansea United v Cooks Hill United
Blacksmiths Oval, Sunday 2.30pm
Belmont Swansea United and Cooks Hill United will put their undefeated records on the line when they meet at Blacksmiths Oval on Sunday.
BelSwans are top of the table while Cooks Hill are fourth with a game in hand due to their opening round wash out.
Both teams had impressive wins in round four as BelSwans thrashed South Cardiff 7-1 with Kane Woolston scoring five goals.
Cooks Hill also grabbed the rest of the league’s attention after their 11-0 win over Cessnock.
The team showed they have plenty of players who can finish their chances with six Cooks Hill players getting on the scoresheet.
Roger Dowdell will be one to watch after scoring five of his own.
“We had a good performance but need to lift this week as it will be a much tougher game,” Tanchevski said.
Cooks Hill are yet to be tested too much defensively this season but this week should be a different story.
Cooks Hill should also see the return of Tom Walker from a groin strain.
“We are almost back to full strength. We just need more games under the belt to help with match fitness,” Tanchevski said.
South Cardiff FC v New Lambton FC
Ulinga Oval, Sunday 2.45pm
South Cardiff will look to bounce back from their heavy defeat to Cooks Hill United when they host reigning premiers New Lambton on Sunday.
The Gunners went down 7-1 to Cooks Hill last weekend while second-placed New Lambton are coming off a bye.
South Cardiff had an encouraging start to the season winning their opening match 1-0 over Cessnock City. Since then they have struggled to pick up points playing against some tough opposition including Cooks Hill United and Belmont Swansea United.
New Lambton have won all three of their opening fixtures and will look to continue their undefeated streak. The Eagles though will look to tighten up at the back having failed to keep a clean sheet despite their good run of form.
New Lambton will need to take their chances against the Gunners if they are to claim top spot on the table.