Match of the Round
South Cardiff FC v Wallsend FC
Ulinga Oval, Sunday 2.45pm
South Cardiff coach Mick Hugo says it will be a proud moment for the club when they host Wallsend in the Match of the Round on Sunday.
The clash is the feature HIT 106.9 Northern League One match of Northern NSW Football’s inaugural Indigenous Round, with the Gunners to welcome the much-improved Red Devils to Ulinga Oval.
The club will celebrate Indigenous Round with a Welcome to Country as well as a smoking ceremony and a dance performance ahead of kick-off in first grade.
South Cardiff have a number of Indigenous players, coaches and members at the club including Hugo, who said he looked forward to Sunday.
“It’s a proud moment at South Cardiff for us to acknowledge Indigenous people,” Hugo said.
To add to an already special day, the clubs will compete for the Gallagher Shield, which takes place annually between South Cardiff and Wallsend from under-13s to first grade.
It is also Old Boys’ Day at South Cardiff, with a large crowd expected.
While much will be happening off the pitch, Hugo said his side’s focus needed to remain on it as they look to climb off the bottom of the table following their 4-0 defeat to Singleton last weekend.
“The loss hurt because we started getting momentum and getting back to normal,” Hugo said.
“We need to regroup and pick up the pieces and move forward.
“We go up against Wallsend this week and they have been having some decent results. It will be another hard game.”
Jarryd Johnson remains sidelined after he suffered an injury in the warmup last weekend. Ashton Walton-Ambrose will keep his place in the side after the 15-year-old made his first-grade debut last weekend with a standout performance.
Hugo said Walton-Ambrose was an example of the volume of depth coming through the club.
Wallsend coach Craig Tslembis said his side felt refreshed after the bye, with the week off allowing the Red Devils to recover from a number of injuries and niggles.
Wallsend head into the clash buoyed after securing an impressive 2-2 draw with Cooks Hill United in their round seven clash at The Gardens on Wednesday night.
Tslembis said he hoped to have a full squad available following the Cooks Hill match.
Singleton Strikers v Cooks Hill United
Howe Park, Saturday 2.30pm
Singleton will look to build on their dominant victory last weekend when they host high-flying Cooks Hill United on Sunday.
The Strikers thrashed South Cardiff 4-0 last time out and will look for more of the same as they look to cling to their top five place.
“We are feeling really good after the weekend. The players have a little bit of confidence after scoring a few goals,” Singleton coach Brendan Slade said.
“We have just got to play our game and believe that we can match them the way we play. They have quality across the park.
“We have jumped into the top five and hopefully we can stay here.”
The reigning champions welcome back captain Hayden Nicol, bringing more strength to their midfield.
Cooks Hill won 2-1 against West Wallsend last weekend but were held to a 2-2 draw by Wallsend on Wednesday without Cody Carroll, Tom Smart and Lachlan Pasquale.
“It will be a good chance for boys knocking on the first grade door to perform,” Cooks Hill coach David Tanchevski said.
“We need to keep things simple and keep playing the brand of football we want to play.
“We know they won the grand final last year. It will be a tough game at Singleton to back up with the quick turnaround.”
New Lambton FC v Kahibah FC
Alder Park, Saturday 3pm
Kahibah coach Mat Moncrieff sees Saturday’s clash with leaders New Lambton as a chance to climb the table, rather than a daunting task.
Round 11 marks the halfway point of the 22-round season, with teams starting to spread out down the table with 21 points separating first from last place.
New Lambton remain undefeated after they were tested by a determined Toronto Awaba side last weekend. It was not until the last moments of the game that the Eagles were able to wrap up secure the result and walk away with another three points.
New Lambton sit in first place on the table with 25 points, five points clear of Cooks Hill United.
Kahibah again challenged one of the top sides last weekend but were unable to take any points as they fell 2-1 to Belmont Swansea.
The Rams came through the game with no injuries and hope to get up to four players back this weekend.
“We are playing good football. We just haven’t got a result,” Moncrieff said.
“I am happy with where we are sitting.
“The focus for this weekend will be to get points and start to climb the table again. The key will be to try to nullify their attack and finish chances.
“This week will be a little different as New Lambton are a much more technical side. We will need to shut them down and create chances for ourselves.
“Across the board it should be a good tussle.”
Belmont Swansea United v West Wallsend SFC
Blacksmiths Oval, Sunday 2.30pm
Belmont Swansea United will look to back up their FFA Cup heroics when they host West Wallsend on Sunday.
BelSwans eliminated Adamstown Rosebud from the fifth preliminary round of the FFA Cup thanks to a 4-1 victory at Adamstown Oval on Tuesday night.
Goals to Kane Woolston, Cameron Lodge, Brendan Hall and Chris Gazzard saw BelSwans overcome the NPL NNSW side to advance to the sixth round.
BelSwans coach Andre Gumprecht said there would be a few ginger bodies after playing midweek with the main focus on Thursday’s recovery session.
“I am very pleased and happy for the boys. They have worked so hard,” Gumprecht said.
“I am proud of the boys and hopefully they can enjoy it for a couple of hours before getting into action.
“We have to understand the logistics will be different in this game. We have to be aware in putting effort in matching physicality and the danger of West Wallsend. They are a very good team.”
Joel Nicholson could be unavailable for the West Wallsend match after suffering a concussion against Adamstown, though Kye Abrahams will return after serving a suspension.
Captain Mark Finlayson could also be available.
West Wallsend’s accumulation of injuries continued to take a toll as they slid to sixth on the table after losing 2-1 to Cooks Hill last weekend.
The Bluebells have picked up yet another injury with Tom Sparre out for up to six weeks with a torn calf. Westy will hopefully get captain Jarrod Olivieri back as well as Bailey Jensen and Tye Jones for this weekend’s game.
“They look aggressive and a strong side. We will have our work cut out for us down there,” West Wallsend coach Darren Sills said.
Cessnock City v Toronto Awaba FC
Turner Park, Sunday 2.30pm
It should be a thrilling day at Turner Park as Cessnock host Toronto Awaba as part of their annual Sponsors’ Day. The club will put on an event for their sponsors to thank them for their support.
Cessnock’s injury tally has worsened and they will line up without seven first graders. There will be a few players required to play two or three games on the day.
Cessnock coach Michael Gatt said the injuries could not have come at a worse time with the club wanting to do their best and put on a good performance for Sponsors’ Day.
Captain Greg Anderson will again be ruled out this weekend and Isaac Peek only has a 50-50 chance of playing with a final assessment to be made on Thursday.
“They will come with all guns blazing wanting to knock us over,” Gatt said.
“We will be doing what we can and keeping the boys positive and keeping on track and fielding the sides.”
It could be a prickly match with Toronto’s new coach Lino Gatti having coached at Cessnock two years ago.
“I believe Cessnock have the advantage and should be favourites as they know my playing philosophy. They are a great club and I enjoyed my time there,” Gatti said.
Toronto Awaba continue to excite the league by testing the top teams. The Stags held top team New Lambton to 2-2 until the last few minutes before falling 4-2 last weekend
Gatti said his side had trained well and worked hard this week and looked forward to the match.
The Stags will be without Jacob Dundas with Kian Livingstone to replace him.