Match of the Round
Belmont Swansea United 3-2 Toronto Awaba FC
Belmont Swansea United remained within touching distance of the top with a battling 3-2 win over Toronto Awaba on Sunday.
It was an entertaining game of football for patrons at Blacksmiths Oval as BelSwans hosted the Stags in a fast-paced game with plenty of goals, heavy tackles and cards handed out.
Toronto Awaba came out to battle with their first chance coming in the 14th minute which hit the post.
BelSwans continued to make plenty of chances but Toronto Awaba’s defence did well to keep them out.
The hosts took the lead just after the half hour mark only for Toronto Awaba to draw level almost immediately.
Jarrod Purcell got himself on the end of a quality through pass which he made no mistake of finishing off to level the score.
Both sides continued to have their chances before the break but could not convert. The closest chance came from Toronto Awaba in the 45th minute who were again denied by the post.
Seven minutes into the second half BelSwans applied pressure which forced a defensive error from the visitors, with Kane Woolston heading home to put BelSwans back in front.
Minutes later BelSwans were awarded a penalty which Woolston buried to give his side a 3-1 lead.
But Toronto Awaba refused to quit and were back in the game when BelSwans goalkeeper Kye Abrahams was sent off following an altercation. Two Toronto Awaba players were also shown yellow cards, with several more yellow cards shown as a number of physical challenges and arguments off the ball marred the remainder of the contest.
The Stags pulled a goal back with three minutes remaining after Tom Hellyer got on the end of a free kick but it was not enough as BelSwans’ 10 men held on for an important three points.
New Toronto Awaba interim coach Lino Gatti said he was happy with the result as his side continue to improve following a difficult start to the campaign.
“We started flat in the second half for the first 15 minutes. After some decisions, heavy tackles and physicality we came to life,” Gatti said.
“The boys were disappointed but they put in the hard work.
“I am very pleased with the players. They came to play.
“The boys need to learn to be more consistent over the 90 minutes. They did well for the first 45 but they need to learn to stay focused for the whole game.”
Belmont Swansea remain in second place and will take on Kahibah next week, while Toronto Awaba face another tough test when they host first-placed New Lambton.
New Lambton FC 5-0 Cessnock City
It was another dominant performance from top of the table New Lambton as they thrashed Cessnock City 5-0 on Saturday.
It was Joel Caldwell who opened the scoring for the home side in windy conditions, converting a one on one chance.
Chase Lattimore made it 2-0 just past the half hour mark when he finished from a New Lambton corner.
Morgan Okeno and Riley Taylor found the back of the net after half-time to make it 4-0 before Taylor added his second with a strike which went in off the bar to complete the rout.
“Overall it is very positive for the boys to get another win on the back of probably the heaviest schedule of the year,” New Lambton coach Tom Davies said.
“It was positive even though there were a lot of tired bodies out there. It was a positive result and we move on to hopefully a more normal schedule next week.
“We will stay focused on individual roles and the collective and where we want to go as a group.”
Cessnock’s Thomas Stewart played well for his side, with Hornets coach Michael Gatt deeming it the best game in his career.
Goalkeeper Luke Jennings, who saved a penalty, was another standout for Cessnock. Bradley York also had a terrific game stepping into the captain role while Greg Andrews continues to recover from injury.
“It was always going to be difficult to go up against the leaders,” Gatt said.
“They are setting the benchmark in the competition. We played well and had our chances, including a shot which hit the crossbar. I can’t fault the attitude and commitment to it from my team.”
Cooks Hill United 2-1 Kahibah FC
Cooks Hill United got their campaign back on track with a 2-1 win over Kahibah on Saturday.
It was a cool and windy afternoon at Fearnley Dawes Athletics Field as Cooks Hill hosted the Rams, with end to end action early on in the match seeing both sides make chances.
Cooks Hill took the lead in the 24th minute when Jamie Byrnes put away a lovely cross after some good work out wide.
Minutes later Cooks Hill turned the ball over in front of their own penalty area with the ball falling to Kahibah’s Matt Lee. Lee played a ball through to Riley Ferguson who finished off to level the score.
Six minutes into the second half Byrnes pounced on a Kahibah defensive error and finished off to put his side 2-1 up.
Kahibah struggled with injuries leading into the match with eight players out across first and reserve grades, with the Rams first grade bench full of players who had already played a game.
Kahibah coach Mat Moncrieff said his side had enough chances in the first half to win.
“We should have been comfortable at half-time but it was 1-1,” Moncrieff said.
“It was three points kissed goodbye but we did well enough in the first half.
“We will keep playing the way we’ve been playing.”
Kahibah’s focus moves to next week where they host second-placed Belmont Swansea.
Cooks Hill move into fourth on the table. They will look to improve on their position as they take on West Wallsend, with the sides level on 13 points.
Thornton FC 2-1 Wallsend FC
Thornton continued their run of strong performances in their 2-1 win over Wallsend on Saturday.
Liam Hardy put Thornton in the lead with a right foot rocket into the top corner. Ryan Broadley doubled his team’s lead when he converted a penalty.
Wallsend scored a late goal in the second half thanks to a Matt Williams effort but it was not enough as the Redbacks held on to win 2-1.
“It was an okay performance but scrappy in the first half,” Thornton co-coach Scott Winslade said.
Wallsend’s high defensive line caught Thornton offside several times in the first 15 minutes. Thornton discussed at half-time strategies around holding their runs and making the right runs which benefited them in the second half.
“We dominated the game. We didn’t take our chances and they got let in at the end there. It was a dicey last five minutes,” Winslade said.
“They were the games last year we would have lost and it’s all about improvement and we are doing that now. It was a tricky game and it is good to get through it.
“We weren’t happy with the first half but it was much better in the second half as we were more clinical when we needed to be.
“The last five minutes were sloppy to let them score. We weathered that storm and move on to playing Tuesday.”
Thornton will look to juggle the side around as they play Cooks Hill on Tuesday in their rescheduled round one match. They then host Cessnock next week in the Match of the Round.
Wallsend coach Craig Tslembis said it was a good game that could have gone either way.
“We lost a little bit of shape and conceded some soft goals,” Tslembis said.
“I am happy with most of the performance. We more or less lost shape for 15 minutes and gave away a penalty.
“They played well. Both teams went at each other and it was a really good game.”
Wallsend have the bye next week.
South Cardiff 2-2 West Wallsend SFC
West Wallsend threw away a two-goal lead as South Cardiff held the Bluebells to a 2-2 draw at Ulinga Oval on Sunday.
West Wallsend were first to score as a ball from Josh Carroll found the head of Jed Conway and then the back of the net.
Minutes later Carroll intercepted a South Cardiff pass and chipped the goalkeeper from more than 20 metres out.
South Cardiff found their first goal 10 minutes before half-time thanks to a finish by Hamish Meldrum with the Gunners trailing 2-1 at the break.
South Cardiff’s Steven Stanton levelled the score in the final 10 minutes, with the final stages of the game an arm wrestle between the sides before each walked away with one point.
It was the first point South Cardiff have picked up since their win in round two, with the Gunners showing positive signs under new coach Mick Hugo.
Hugo said his side controlled most of the second half.
“Scoring the goal to get back to 2-1 was a good moment for us,” Hugo said.
“It was not a bad result. I thought the boys played really well. We were probably unlucky not to walk away with three points.
“The boys stuck together and played some better football.”
West Wallsend lined up for the match with seven players out, five of which are usual starters for the side.
In addition, they lost their captain during the match to a knee injury. The Bluebells went down to 10 players in the later stages of the match with Jarrod Olivieri taken off due to injury but unable to be replaced as Westy had already made their three substitutions.
West Wallsend coach Darren Sills thought it was a poor performance from his side after being up 2-0 when they had plenty of chances to lead by more in the first half.
Sills said the main issue for his side was the “struggle to get cohesion” with the amount of injuries and midweek games they have played.
“We will get back into it this week to prepare for next week against Cooks Hill,” Sills said.
“We have conceded 10 goals in three games and we can’t win games like that.”
Next week South Cardiff travel to Howe Park to take on Singleton while West Wallsend host Cooks Hill.