Match of the Round
New Lambton FC v West Wallsend SFC
Alder Park, Saturday 3pm
West Wallsend coach Darren Sills says his side will need to be defensively up to the challenge when they travel to Alder Park to face top of the table New Lambton on Saturday.
First-placed New Lambton host fifth-placed West Wallsend in the Match of the Round with both teams coming off convincing wins in round 11.
New Lambton downed Kahibah 4-1 while West Wallsend produced one of the upsets of the season so far as they beat Belmont Swansea United 3-0 at Blacksmiths Oval.
The Eagles won the round seven encounter between the sides 5-2, with New Lambton continuing to edge themselves further away from the rest of the chasing pack since, sitting five points clear of second-placed Cooks Hill United.
Sills said his side would look to take as much of the positivity and momentum as they could out of their victory over BelSwans.
“We feel emotionally good but physically not so good. We are down on numbers,” Sills said.
“The win [over BelSwans] gives everyone a bit of a boost but now we need to capitalise on it.
“Our focus this week will be that we’ve got to be defensively up to it.
“We went ok against them in the first round but did sustain three injuries in that game. They are a good side, well drilled and play good football.”
West Wallsend have an extensive list of injuries and will be without Tommy Sparre, Luke Willard, Brendan Frost, Jayden Barber, Tye Jones and Matthew Paul who are all recovering from injury.
But the Bluebells could have Jarrod Olivieri available as he continues to recover from his injury problems.
Belmont Swansea United v Singleton Strikers
Blacksmiths Oval, Saturday 2.30pm
Belmont Swansea United return to Blacksmiths Oval looking to swiftly erase the memory of their heavy defeat to West Wallsend last weekend.
BelSwans host Singleton on Saturday having been beaten 3-0 by the Bluebells last time out, with this the first meeting between BelSwans and the Strikers this season.
Andre Gumprecht’s side remained third despite their defeat last weekend, while the Strikers are also looking to bounce back having fallen 2-1 to Cooks Hill United in a spiteful affair.
BelSwans are six points clear of Singleton on the table, with the fight for the top five still a close race.
Singleton manager Luke Geipel said the reigning champions were ready for the challenge.
“All the boys pulled up fine after Cooks Hill. We are going to Blacksmiths down on players in the top two grades due to injuries, suspensions and work commitments,” Geipel said.
“So the big thing for us now is for the younger boys to step up, ensure we don’t start slowly, be discipline and minimise the chances we concede. While still creating and finishing our own attacking moves.”
Cooks Hill United v Wallsend FC
Fearnley Dawes Athletics Field, Saturday 3pm
It has not been long since Cooks Hill United and Wallsend faced off, playing out a 2-2 draw last Wednesday night.
It will be an opportunity for revenge and redemption for one side to take away all three points.
Cooks Hill are coming off a 2-1 win over Singleton last weekend where the side went down to 10 men midway through the second half.
Jamie Byrnes and Jack Wetney could return for Cooks Hill with the side needing to reshuffle to accommodate the suspension.
Wallsend coach Craig Tslembis said his side would look to build on their 3-0 win over struggling South Cardiff last weekend which saw them climb to sixth, two points outside the top five.
“We’re feeling pretty good but pretty sore and sorry at the same time,” Tslembis said.
“Our focus this week will be on keeping very compact and making them play through us.
“They keep the ball very well so we need to keep compact in defence and make it hard for them to break us down.”
The Red Devils will also be without a handful of players, similar to when they faced Cooks Hill last week.
South Cardiff FC v Thornton FC
Ulinga Oval, Sunday 2.45pm
South Cardiff will look to climb off the bottom of the table when they host Thornton on Sunday.
The Gunners are in last place, below Toronto Awaba on goal difference, but return home to Ulinga Oval this weekend to take on a well-rested Thornton side.
The Redbacks had the bye last week and remain fourth on the table.
South Cardiff coach Mick Hugo said his side were disappointed following their Indigenous Round loss to Wallsend but were now keen to bounce back.
“It’s hard with all the hard work we have been putting in the last few weeks and not getting a result didn’t really help,” Hugo said.
“Thornton are a very good side. A very experienced lot of boys that have played at a high level.
“For us this weekend we will be just trying to regroup and play some football and see what we can do and see what we can grind out.”
Thornton co-coach Gary Wand said the bye helped his squad rest some injuries but they will still not line up with a full strength team this weekend. Trent Partridge is in doubt and Jake Millsteed is still unavailable with a hamstring injury.
“Our focus this week will be to definitely not underestimate the opposition,” Wand said.
“South Cardiff are a building side who we have to be very cautious of, especially after their draw against West Wallsend a couple of weeks ago.”
Toronto Awaba FC v Kahibah FC
Lyall Peacock Field, Sunday 5pm
Toronto Awaba coach Lino Gatti says his team need to improve their concentration when they host Kahibah on Sunday.
The Stags slumped to a 2-1 defeat to Cessnock City last weekend having led until late on, with Toronto Awaba conceding two late goals to slip to their eighth defeat of the season.
Toronto Awaba have not picked up any points since their impressive draw with Cooks Hill United in round eight, with the Stags only ahead of bottom of the table South Cardiff on goal difference.
Their late fadeouts were on show again the last time they met Kahibah as the Rams came from behind to win 4-3 thanks to a stoppage time winner in round seven.
“I think the competition know our late game frailties and hopefully we can regroup this week as Kahibah are well aware of our defence issues,” Gatti said.
“We will work to fight this weekend. The boys are hurting from last weekend against Cessnock.
“I’m trying to find the keys to unlock our defensive problems. If I can’t find the keys to unlock the problems I’ll be throwing the keys away.”
Kahibah are coming off a 4-1 loss to New Lambton and sit ninth on the table, one position and two points above Toronto Awaba.
“Like other weeks we have been in the game and not getting the points really hurt,” Kahibah coach Mat Moncrieff said.
“Hopefully it can’t get any worse with injuries.”
The Rams were without seven first grade players last week with more of the same expected this weekend.
Kahibah hope to get a few players back over the coming weeks with excitement around Rhys Tippett having his first kick of the football in weeks at training this week.
Moncrieff said he knew what Toronto Awaba will bring and that they always give a hard tussle.
“We will go in and do our best to do get three points and climb the table,” he said.