Match of the Round
Cooks Hill United v New Lambton FC
Fearnley Dawes Athletics Field, Saturday 3pm
The Match of the Round this week is a top of the table clash between Cooks Hill United and New Lambton.
New Lambton are first with 12 points followed by Cooks Hill on nine points, with United having a game in hand.
Cooks Hill will feel confident after continuing their unbeaten streak with a 2-1 victory over previously undefeated side Belmont Swansea United last weekend.
“It felt good after getting the points on the weekend,” Cooks Hill coach David Tanchevski said.
“We know we are up for another tough battle again this weekend.”
Cooks Hill’s focus this week has been on set pieces, an area which has required some improvement, while Tanchevski’s side have also been looking at different formations and their transition.
“The key to the weekend for us is to play our own game. If we need to adapt, we will adapt,” Tanchevski said.
“Hopefully we will get a result. We need to make sure we are all 100 per cent.”
There will also be a strong focus on not giving away cheap goals and their distribution at the back which was how they conceded last weekend.
Cooks Hill could line up without three players who started the win over BelSwans due to injuries sustained in the game.
Tanchevski identified New Lambton as the competition’s benchmark and said the Eagles had been the “in-form team of the comp.”
The two sides met twice during the regular season last year with New Lambton the victors both times.
New Lambton have shown this year that they have plenty of dangerous players with goals being shared around. In their 4-1 win over South Cardiff last week, four different players made it onto the score sheet.
The Tom Davies’ coached side have shown their strength away from home and will look to continue their unbeaten streak on the road.
Meanwhile Cooks Hill’s washed out round one game against Thornton has been rescheduled for 19 May.
Singleton Strikers v Wallsend FC
Howe Park, Saturday 2.30pm
It should be a close battle at Howe Park on Saturday as sixth-placed Wallsend travel north to face seventh-placed Singleton.
Singleton have had some mixed results in the early stages of the competition as they have battled player unavailability through suspension and injury.
The Strikers are coming off a disappointing 1-1 draw with Cessnock City, with the desire to score plenty more this weekend.
Singleton coach Brendan Slade said the focus would be moving the ball quicker and keeping possession.
But the Strikers will be forced to line up without key player Joel Barner due to injury.
Wallsend coach Craig Tslembis were “over the moon” following their win in the Wallsend derby on Saturday night.
But the Red Devils were brought swiftly back to earth as they went down 8-1 to fellow HIT Northern League One side Belmont Swansea United in their round four FFA Cup clash at The Gardens on Wednesday night.
Tslembis said the key against Singleton was to be “more careful in wide areas” and “focus on set pieces.”
Wallsend hoped to get two players back who were unavailable for the derby but in return will lose one player to work commitments.
Thornton FC v West Wallsend SFC
Thornton Park, Saturday 3.30pm
This weekend is shaping up for plenty of close battles as sides neck and neck on the table meet. This game will be no different as fourth-placed Thornton host fifth-placed West Wallsend.
Five teams are level on nine points from second place to sixth, including the Redbacks and Bluebells.
Thornton co-coach Gary Wand said his side were relieved having not played particularly well in the first half of their 2-1 victory over winless Kahibah last weekend.
“We knew Kahibah would be up for it having not won a game yet so we were relieved,” Wand said.
“We haven’t played well against West Wallsend the last few years. Last season West Wallsend beat us both times we played.
“[But] coming off a loss in a derby will make it hard [for them]. We need to start a lot better otherwise will be behind the eight ball.
“It is going to be a big game. We are looking to be in a top five position and maintain it.”
Thornton could be without three players including Jake Millstead and Jye Mackellar.
West Wallsend coach Darren Sills said his side were looking to bounce back quickly following their derby loss to Wallsend.
“We’re keen to get on with it and do better,” Sills said.
“We are disappointed. We dominated and couldn’t convert dominance onto the scoreboard.”
The focus this week for West Wallsend has been closing down defensively, being sound on set pieces and ball speed.
Sills said the Bluebells were wary of some of Thornton’s key players and what they would bring to their side.
Belmont Swansea United v Cessnock City
Blacksmiths Oval, Sunday 2.30pm
Cessnock City will look to take confidence from their much-improved performance last weekend when they face Belmont Swansea United on Sunday.
The Hornets earned a 1-1 draw with reigning champions Singleton following their dismal 11-0 thrashing at the hands of Cooks Hill United a week earlier.
Belmont Swansea bounced back from their tough one-goal defeat to Cooks Hill last weekend with an 8-1 thrashing of Wallsend in the FFA Cup fourth round on Wednesday night.
“On paper it looks like a strong team verse a weak team. But the situation in this competition is that one or two players make a difference. And Cessnock will have some key players back,” Belmont Swansea coach Andre Gumprecht said.
“They are a very dangerous, compact and physical team. They are a team that can hurt anyone on their day.
“We will draw from the experience on the weekend.”
Cessnock coach Michael Gatt said he was happy with the turnaround against the Strikers and hoped his side would gain some confidence and momentum from the result.
“The boys saw the positives out of it,” Gatt said.
“We are working to our next big battle which is the weekend against BelSwans.
“Our focus this week has been on knowing what works for us and building on that. We will go back to basics like we did against Singleton.”
South Cardiff FC v Toronto Awaba FC
Ulinga Oval, Sunday 2.45pm
Toronto Awaba should be well rested mentally and physically after having the bye last week as they look to earn their first points of the season against South Cardiff.
Interim Gunners head coach Geoff Allen said South Cardiff took some positives from their first half performance in their 4-1 loss to New Lambton last weekend.
“The challenge this week will be to reproduce our first half we had against New Lambton,” Allen said.
“We need to be more consistent across the whole 90 minutes, keep our shape, energy and concentration.
“Toronto like most teams are an unknown quantity. Until you play them you don’t know how they are going to be.”
Toronto Awaba have lost all four of their matches so far this season to prop up the rest of the competition after five rounds.
But Steve Piggott’s side will take some confidence out of winning the only meeting between the clubs last season 1-0.
With Kahibah regrouping with the bye this weekend, a point against South Cardiff would see the Stags climb off the bottom of the table.