Michael Ying Sing
Match of the Round
Singleton Strikers 2-1 Thornton Redbacks
Singleton came from behind with a late Hayden Nicol penalty securing them a 2-1 victory over Thornton in a fiery clash on Saturday.
The Strikers finished the game with 10 men while Thornton were reduced to nine at Civic Park as the Redbacks failed to hold onto a 1-0 lead.
Thornton took a first half lead when central defender Sam Rossi was left unmarked from a corner and scored simple header to give the visitors the advantage.
The Redbacks held onto the lead until half-time of a physical and feisty contest, with the second half starting off just as the first had ended.
Singleton striker Joe Civello went close to an equaliser with his half volley grazing the crossbar on the hour mark. The chance saw a tide shift, with Singleton capitalising shortly after through Jackson Cox.
In what was an uncharacteristic defensive mess from Thornton, Cox slotted away a low cross from Blaydan Laverick, placing the ball into the bottom corner to level the scores.
The Strikers’ persistence paid off when they were awarded a penalty after Joel Barner had been brought down in the penalty area. Nicol slotted the ball into the bottom left corner past James Wand, who guessed correctly but could not make the save.
A skirmish ensued with a number of yellow cards shown as the referee attempted to restore order.
Three players were sent off in the final 10 minutes. Pat Wand was the first to be shown a red card after he received his second booking.
Then Singleton fullback Marlow Court-Kriesch and Thornton attacker Joel Page were also dismissed in the dying stages.
“I thought it was an arm wrestle, to be honest,” Singleton Strikers coach Mick Jarvis said.
“No one was giving in much. The only thing that separated them and us at half-time was a free header. [Thornton] have plenty of height and the last thing we wanted was any corners and stuff like that against them.
“At half-time, we had a bit of a chat about the fact that we felt that we’d created enough,” Jarvis said.
“You could see how they were talking to each other on the field [in the second half]. They drove each other home. When you start seeing sides talking to each other and lifting each other and expecting more of each other, you know you’re on a good wicket, so I was confident.
“I was telling the boys [on the bench] it’s coming. We got the first one and we played all over them in the back end [of the game] because the belief was there.”
There was a lot at stake coming into the game for both sides.
Singleton were on a two-game losing streak at home while Thornton were fresh off a shock loss to Wallsend midweek.
“We expected that it was going to become a dog fight at the back end of the game,” Jarvis said.
“It’s good we showed that heart to grind out the game and get it back. We needed that win. We’ve had New Lambton, Belswans and Redbacks as our first three home games. It couldn’t get any tougher.”
Thornton co-coach Scott Winslade agreed on the game’s presentation but believed his side should have taken at least a point for their performance.
“It was a good, even tussle,” Winslade said.
“It was a bit of a scrap and there wasn’t a lot of football being played. It was one of those situations where you sometimes have to bypass the midfield and try and play your football in the top half of the field.
“I would say [our performance] was worthy of a draw. I think [Singleton] have got away with one, to be honest.”
Defensively Thornton were once again strong besides a 10-minute lapse in the second half which cost them the game. In contrast, their attack has not hit the same form since their 3-0 win over West Wallsend.
“We had a game plan. We knew that we would be stronger in the air,” Winslade said.
“We had to take advantage of corners and free kicks and obviously we scored from the corner early on. But again, we need to create more and take a couple more chances when we’re in good positions to put the game to bed rather than leave ourselves hanging in a position where we can get pulled back again. And that’s what happened.
“But we left nothing out there. I think [Singleton] left nothing out there. Ultimately it came down to a couple of decisions rather than what, I think, was a fair and respectable one-all-draw.”
Kahibah FC 2-4 West Wallsend SFC
West Wallsend produced one of the surprises of the season so far with the struggling Bluebells downing Kahibah 4-2 on Sunday.
An action-packed game at Kahibah Oval saw six goals and a red card with West Wallsend eventually scoring their second win of the season.
Jacob Kepreotes and Tyler Rankmore scored for the Rams and Bluebells respectively within the opening 15 minutes.
It was not until experienced Kahibah goalkeeper Scott Carter was sent off that the deadlock was broken as new West Wallsend signing Josh Maguire slotted away the resulting penalty.
The match remained fairly even into the second half despite Kahibah playing a man down, with the Rams finding an equaliser through Liam Whitehead. The hosts had a couple of chances to stun West Wallsend with another goal but the comeback was ended when the Bluebells went 3-2 up through a deflection and closed the game out with a Josh Carroll stunner.
“I thought it was a pretty hard place to play,” West Wallsend coach Darren Sills said.
“[Kahibah] are a good side. They played fairly direct, which is what we expected. I thought that we could have done a bit better in that first half. To their credit, with 10 men, they made it 2-2 and looked quite dangerous.
“But we’ve sort of regained our composure and just ran over the top of them at the last bit.”
Sills was happy with the win over Kahibah, considering the drought of football and lack of points. But he still knows his side is capable of higher quality football. Also, he recognised the generosity of Kahibah to re-locate the fixture to their ground.
“I think we could definitely do better,” Sills said.
“But it’s a win that we haven’t had since the first week, so we’re happy that we got that.
“I’m very appreciative of the fact that [Kahibah] allowed us to play up there because our ground was too wet. We finally got a game of football on and won.
“I think the send off probably cost them the result in the end. But whether it be a loss, draw or win, it was pretty tight throughout.”
Kahibah coach Mat Moncrieff was disappointed with the red card but believed his side played quality football and deserved a result.
“It’s disappointing but honestly, the boys played their hearts out,” Moncrieff said.
“We probably deserved something out of the game even with 10 men but good luck to Westy.
“Just the send off in the 38th minute, it changed the whole game. We were still dominant and we should have scored more goals in the second half but we didn’t.
“We move. We’ve got Thornton on Wednesday and the reserve goalkeeper will have to step up and help us out then.”
Wallsend FC 0-2 New Lambton FC
New Lambton continued their unbeaten run as the Eagles scored their third win in a row downing Wallsend 2-0 on Sunday.
New Lambton secured the win with two early goals and kept a clean sheet to continue their pursuit of Belmont Swansea United at the top of the table.
In what was a relatively straight forward affair for the eagles as New Lambton took the lead after two minutes at The Gardens through a Tom Siderovski header from a corner.
The same goal would play out 20 minutes later, this time with Joel Caldwell on the end of the ball.
Both sides had their fair share of chances to score throughout the contest. But they failed to capitalise and a goalless second half ensued resulting in a 2-0 win for New Lambton and another three points to help aid their chase of the leaders.
Taking yet another win on the road and the third clean sheet in a row, New Lambton coach Tom Davies was happy but relatively unimpressed by the final third finishing.
“It was positive in terms of getting the result,” Davies said.
“The pitch was difficult to play on, which made it hard to play but both had to deal with that.
“We scored an early goal and controlled the majority of the game. We should’ve taken our chances a bit better. We scored two but it could have been more.
“Execution let us down, particularly towards the end when the game opened up. We had probably four or five good chances where we could’ve got one or two more.”
The case that Davies projects makes more sense when looking at the way they scored the goals with two headers from corners. But the defence was once again the star of the show, as well as usual suspect Riley Taylor who received a special mention from the coach.
“We had plenty of chances, just couldn’t find a goal,” Davies said.
“It was the final pass that was a bit stray, or the finishing needed to be better.
“I thought the back line did really well. Particularly Cory [Nicholas] and Brad [Andrews] defensively did quite well. Riley Taylor was excellent despite not getting on the score sheet. His defensive work was really good and he created a lot of chances that weren’t finished.”
Wallsend coach Mick Gatt was gutted not to take anything away from the title contenders as Wallsend fought valiantly. Even going as far as suggesting the result could have been flipped.
“We probably had three sitters that we botched and a couple of 50-50 chances that we should have taken,” Gatt said.
“It should have been a lot closer, if not a win for us, so it was disappointing. But obviously, we’re building back from a lack of game time, being behind the eight ball. At least we’re starting to go in the right direction.
“We went into half-time 2-0 down. We changed a few things up and discussed winning the midfield, controlling the game and moving forward.
“Overall, it’s pleasing that the boys are starting to commit. The boys are starting to work together and become one squad. It’s good to see that it is now the fifth game played and it looks like we’re going in the right direction.”
Wallsend’s veteran centre back Greg Anderson had to be substituted in the first half due to a knee injury, leaving him in doubt for the rest of the season.
Wallsend are now faced with another contest on Tuesday night, making it three games in seven days.
“Having played Wednesday night against Thornton and then backing up against New Lambton today, backing up again this Tuesday, we’re going to be a few troops down but it is what it is,” Gatt said.
“We’ve got the depth between the two grades. The squads themselves are all starting to come together as a unit, so it’s good. We’re in a good place.”
In other news, Guilherme Evangelista has signed for Charlestown Azzurri. The game against New Lambton was his final bout for the Red Devils as he ventures into his first season in NPL Men’s NNSW.
Belmont Swansea United 2-2 South Cardiff
South Cardiff walked away with a point against league leaders Belmont Swansea United on Sunday as the Gunners secured an impressive 2-2 draw.
Belswans were chasing the game for most of the fixture as a last-ditch goal saved the home side from losing to a spirited South Cardiff.
Harry Taylor opened the account for the Gunners, giving his side a glimmer of hope to knock off a side they were close to overcoming at the start of the season.
But clinical Belswans striker Kane Woolston brought it back to 1-1 before half-time, fuelling an intense second half.
South Cardiff once again broke the deadlock through winger Yuvi Singh. But equally clinical substitute Tyson Masters gave Belswans yet another equaliser, this time in the 90th minute when it mattered most.
Content with his side’s performance, Belswans coach Mick Stafford said that the fixable imperfections cost them the victory.
“It was another good performance from the boys at home,” Stafford said.
“A couple of mistakes in key areas cost us goals. But we fought hard until the end with belief and did well to come back from behind twice to get the point and we’re pretty unlucky not to take all three.
“We’ve got to get better in key areas at certain times in defending and attacking. Basically, nullifying chances more clinically and then when we’re in front of goal, taking our chances to put the game to bed early.
“The focus at training won’t shift at all, we’re in a good position. The boys work hard for each other, believing in what we do and that’s everything. Coming from behind twice to get the point. We’ll keep knuckling down and chipping away every week to try and get points out of each game.”
Ulinga Oval was again ruled unfit for play on the morning of the game. Still, luckily for the Gunners, Belswans were happy to host all the fixtures despite the late notice.
“Credit to our club and committee for being able to move the game with an hour’s notice to Blacksmiths [Oval] so the games could be played and we do hope South Cardiff are grateful for that gesture,” Stafford said.
South Cardiff coach Scott Taylor made a comparison to a pinball machine in terms of the passages of play that the game exhibited on the weekend. He attributed the type of football played to unfavourable weather conditions, surprisingly not being rain for once.
“The game was played in windy conditions and the football reflected that,” Taylor said.
“It was a bit of a ding-dong battle. We got our noses in front but couldn’t hold on at the end.
“We both had chances throughout the second half. They probably had a few more than us. We thought we would hold on but they got a goal about two minutes from the end, unfortunately.
“I wouldn’t say either team controlled the game. It was very much who was going to take the chances that came their way. It was just backwards and forwards with no absolute control of the game.
“Thanks to Belswans for offering to host. It was good to get a game in because our ground was off.”
Toronto Awaba FC 2-1 Cessnock City
A strong first half showing saw Toronto Awaba score a much-needed 2-1 win over Cessnock City on Sunday.
It was the classic game of two halves at Lyall Peacock Field as Toronto Awaba monopolised the football being played in the first half, controlling all aspects of the game from the flow to the quality and score.
Jacob Dundas put the home side up, with Scott Smith finally getting on the scoresheet afterwards. It was Smith’s first goal since arriving from NPLM NNSW club Charlestown Azzurri.
The Staga’ dominance was quashed in the second half due to a combination of lacklustre possession play and Cessnock’s engrained perseverance to keep going even when losing.
Zac Kronholm scored to put Cessnock back in the game. The Hornets had another chance from a set piece and failed to score but in the process, forced Toronto goalkeeper Shayne Van As into surely what must have been one of the better saves of his career.
Conflicted in his response to the fixture, Toronto Awaba coach Jarrad Hiles was happy the Stags finally got a result from their footballing efforts but also disappointed they did not score more.
“We totally dominated the first half like we’ve done in a lot of games this year,” Hiles said.
“We played some good footy and scored a couple of good goals. We could have been three, four or five up but the Cessnock goalkeeper made a number of cracking saves to keep them in the game.”
The half-time break somehow set a spell on the Stags as they came out of the sheds a different side.
“In the second half, we got stuck in the sheds a bit,” Hiles said.
“It was a scrappy affair in the second half. We just couldn’t get the ball down.
“At half-time, we talked about lifting the intensity and coming out and going on with it but the intensity was down for whatever reason. Cessnock scored with about 10 minutes to go and we had a couple of wary moments but lucky we held on to get the three points.”
Cessnock coach Brad Miles was again blunt in response to his team’s performance. The poor starts to games from the Hornets are starting to become an unfavourable trend.
“It was a game of two halves,” Miles said.
“We were pretty average in the first half. We’ve got to get our starts better. It’s killing us.
“We’re playing catch up football all the time. Our second half was pretty good, we just ran out of minutes.
“We have to be more upbeat at the start of the game. We’re just lethargic and slow to start off with and we’re getting punished every week. It’s not good enough.”