Match of the Round
Kahibah FC v South Cardiff FC
Kahibah Oval, 4pm Saturday
Kahibah will be desperate to secure their first points of the season when they host South Cardiff in the Match of the Round on Saturday.
The Rams enjoyed a bye last weekend following their 4-2 defeat to NPL club Charlestown Azzurri in the fourth round of the FFA Cup but were back in action on Wednesday night as they hosted Toronto Awaba in their round seven match.
The 11th-placed Rams will see an opportunity to climb the table against 10th-placed South Cardiff who handed Toronto Awaba their first win of the season last weekend.
Interim Gunners coach Mick Hugo said his side were bitterly disappointed with the 2-1 defeat despite creating plenty of opportunities, with South Cardiff unfortunate the woodwork was not on their side.
“The key for us is finding some continuity within the group. The club as a whole has had a few injuries through the senior grades,” Hugo said.
“Hopefully we can get the boys together to get the win in what should be a competitive match.”
Kahibah have only played five matches so far thanks to a washed out round two fixture along with their round six bye, while three of their four defeats have come by a single goal.
The Rams will be desperate to get off the mark this weekend as they next face heavyweight trio Cooks Hill United, Belmont Swansea United and unbeaten leaders New Lambton in consecutive weeks.
Singleton Strikers v Thornton FC
Howe Park, Saturday 2.30pm
Singleton host Thornton at Howe Park on Saturday in their second of four home games in a row.
Last year’s grand final winners have endured a mixed start to the season but will be hopeful they have turned the corner following their 1-0 win over Wallsend last weekend after a disappointing 1-1 draw with Cessnock the previous week.
Singleton coach Brendan Slade said the Strikers would use their FFA Cup fourth round match against NPL club Maitland on Wednesday night as a training game before their round eight clash on Saturday.
“We’ll try to play some under-18 and reserve grade players [against Maitland], working with some different shapes, to allow more players an opportunity,” Slade said.
Thornton have also had some mixed results this season, sitting sixth on the table level on nine points with Cooks Hill United and Wallsend, and will need to be wary of Singleton’s dangerous frontline.
They will look to recreate the intensity they showed in the second half against West Wallsend, where defensively they felt they were much stronger despite going down to the Bluebells. But Thornton will need to take their chances in front of goal, which has been a problem at times this season.
The Redbacks hope to see the return of Jye Mackellar but in turn may have Blake Thompson unavailable.
Toronto Awaba FC v Cooks Hill United
Lyall Peacock Field, Saturday 5pm
Toronto Awaba host Cooks Hill United on Saturday in a game where both teams have a point to prove.
The Stags will look to make it two wins in a row after getting off the mark last weekend with a 2-1 victory over South Cardiff in a much-improved performance.
Cooks Hill United meanwhile were bitterly disappointed after they suffered a 5-1 loss to New Lambton having been reduced to 10 men for the vast majority of the contest in what was their first defeat of the campaign.
Both sides will be backing up from midweek action after Toronto Awaba took on Kahibah in their round seven match on Wednesday night.
Cooks Hill meanwhile will look to bounce back following their FFA Cup exit after they were beaten 6-1 by NPL club Newcastle Olympic in the fourth round on Tuesday night.
Cooks Hill coach David Tanchevski said that after back-to-back disappointments his side would look to regroup and refocus on the next task at hand, securing three points against the Stags.
The visitors will have to dig deep following their effort with 10 men on Saturday and their midweek exploits in the cup.
This week’s focus will be predominately mental and defensive for Cooks Hill who should have Daniel Yaxley back in the side after serving his suspension during the FFA Cup match, while Ash Balcomb should also return. Roger Dowdell will remain sidelined for a few more weeks.
New Lambton FC v Belmont Swansea United
Alder Park, Saturday 6.30pm
It will be the first home game of the season at Alder Park for leaders New Lambton as they host Belmont Swansea United on Saturday night.
It is another top of the table clash for New Lambton as they come up against Belmont Swansea who had an impressive win over Cessnock City in round six despite going down to 10 men in the second half.
The Eagles will need to back up from a tough midweek clash with West Wallsend at Johnston Park on Wednesday night, with New Lambton mindful of the Bluebells’ solid performances this season as well as their physicality and fast counterattack.
New Lambton coach Tom Davies said the midweek game was a “good chance to test our depths.”
“We will keep working really hard which is what we did this week and reflected this weekend,” he said.
Belmont Swansea coach Andre Gumprecht described New Lambton as the “stand out team in the competition so far.”
“Hopefully we are competitive and sustain the game as long as possible,” Gumprecht said.
“We will try to compete with the favourites as best as we can.”
BelSwans are second on the table, level on 12 points with West Wallsend who have the bye this weekend, but would climb to the summit with victory over the Eagles on Saturday night.
Cessnock City v Wallsend FC
Turner Park, Sunday 2.30pm
Round eight will finish off with Cessnock City hosting Wallsend at Turner Park on Sunday.
Cessnock have been much improved in recent weeks as they pushed Belmont Swansea United all the way last weekend before falling 1-0 following their 1-1 draw with reigning champions Singleton.
“If the boys put in the show they did [against Belmont Swansea] it will be another strong performance,” Hornets coach Michael Gatt said.
The side will look to be more clinical in front of goal, with the side only finding the back of the net four times this season.
Gatt was also hopeful a number of players would return from injury in coming weeks to further boost their chances of climbing the table.
Wallsend’s run of wins came to an end last weekend when they lost 1-0 to Singleton after conceding from a set piece.
The Red Devils slipped to seventh on the table, level on nine points with Cooks Hill and Thornton.
Wallsend coach Craig Tslembis said the focus this week would be keeping the ball and being more patient.
Both sides will be fresh with neither involved in midweek matches.
West Wallsend have the bye.