Match of the Round
Thornton FC v Belmont Swansea United
Thornton Park, Saturday 3.30pm
Third-placed Thornton host fourth-placed Belmont Swansea United in this week’s Match of the Round, with only two points separating the sides – though BelSwans have two games in hand.
Belmont Swansea won the round two fixture between the sides 1-0.
BelSwans played in the sixth round of the FFA Cup last weekend where they were eliminated by NPL NNSW side Weston 1-0.
Thornton went down 5-1 to Cooks Hill United as the Redbacks fell away in the second half.
Thornton co-coach Scott Winslade said his side’s focus this week was around defensive concentration.
“We posed more questions of [Cooks Hill]. They are clinical when they get the chance and we’re not and that’s the difference,” Winslade said.
Winslade said the Redbacks were wary that BelSwans have had some weeks off so know they will be fresh and ready for battle.
From the last encounter against BelSwans, Thornton will look to take their chances. Winslade said Thornton had the majority of the ball but did not finish their opportunities. It was also the first game of the season for the sides as their round one games were washed out.
Winslade said his side were a bit underdone going into that match, with BelSwans getting on top in the last few minutes.
“Our fitness is better now, concentration is better in places,” he said.
“[But] our lack of finishing and positioning is costing us terribly and that is what we have to get right this weekend.”
Jake Millsteed will likely be out for the rest of the season with a hamstring injury. A decision on Zane Estatheo will be made before the weekend after he received a heavy blow to the face against Cooks Hill.
BelSwans have been largely dominant in the first half of the season but have hit a rough patch of late.
Andre Gumprecht’s side have not picked up any points in their last two matches having lost to Singleton and West Wallsend.
BelSwans will need to get back to their previous form if they want to stay in the top five with Singleton and West Wallsend sitting three points behind them.
New Lambton FC v Wallsend FC
Alder Park, Saturday 3pm
New Lambton will look to maintain their unbeaten streak while Wallsend will want to continue their push for a top five position when they meet at Alder Park on Saturday.
New Lambton are two points clear of Cooks Hill but have a game in hand, while Wallsend sit only two points away from fifth place.
Both teams should enter the match well rested as neither were in action last week. New Lambton’s game against Singleton was washed out while Wallsend’s match against BelSwans was rescheduled due to BelSwans’ participation in the FFA Cup.
New Lambton won 2-1 the last time the teams played as Wallsend went down to 10 men early in the match with both of New Lambton’s goals coming from penalties, the second coming in added time.
Wallsend coach Craig Tselembis said his side was ready to go after the disappointment of not playing last weekend.
Tselembis said there were a lot of positives to take away from the last encounter, mainly that his side were hard to break down.
He was also happy that even when they went down to 10 men his side kept pushing New Lambton to the end.
Wallsend will look to replicate that performance as they have improved their form since.
Wallsend will lose Lucas Egge this weekend to a hamstring injury suffered during the Cooks Hill game. But the Red Devils hope to get striker Sam Bradshaw back this week.
Kahibah FC v West Wallsend SFC
Kahibah Oval, Saturday 3pm
This will be the first time Kahibah and West Wallsend face off this season as the two teams battle it out at Kahibah Oval on Saturday.
Kahibah enter the match after only playing 56 minutes in their match against Cessnock last weekend with the clash abandoned due to a lighting issue. West Wallsend suffered a surprise 3-1 defeat to Toronto Awaba.
The Rams have dropped to 10th on the ladder, not recording a win since their 4-0 victory over South Cardiff in round eight. With a string of difficult opponents and plenty of injuries it has been a challenging time for the side. With some key players coming back this weekend it should help the side give them that extra boost to start to pick up the necessary points in the back half of the season.
West Wallsend coach Darren Sills said the focus this week would be on intensity which was lacking against the Stags.
West Wallsend’s injury tally continues to grow as the side picked up a few injuries against Toronto Awaba. The Bluebells are still waiting to hear back on the severity of Ethan Coulter’s injury and goalkeeper Joel Magnee is also in doubt after coming off last weekend with a back injury.
But Bailey Jensen was back at training this week and will hopefully be in the line-up for the match.
West Wallsend’s goal is to bounce back this weekend after two weeks without picking up points.
The rescheduled round two clash between the sides will be played on 11 July.
Singleton Strikers v Toronto Awaba FC
Howe Park, Sunday 2.30pm
Toronto Awaba will be keen to make it three wins in a row under new caretaker coach Shaun Paterson when they take on Singleton on Sunday.
The Stags travel to Howe Park to face the reigning champions on the back of an outstanding 3-1 win over West Wallsend last weekend.
Singleton did not play last week after their clash with New Lambton was washed out. The Strikers remain fifth level with West Wallsend but with a game in hand.
Singleton won 3-1 when the sides met earlier in the season.
Singleton coach Brendan Slade said the focus over the next two weeks would be on the heavy workload, with their match against New Lambton being rescheduled midweek for next Wednesday 23 June.
“Toronto are a good side but hot and cold,” Slade said.
“They’re coming in off a couple of weeks with good results. We’re wary of their strength in the midfield and [Nicholas Roberts] is good in the air and a good goal scorer up front.”
Singleton should line up similarly to how they did in their win over BelSwans in round 12 with no new major injuries. The side welcomed back Jack Clare to training this week who will hopefully re-join the squad soon.
Toronto have turned their results around in recent weeks and have leapfrogged other clubs into eighth place. The Stags are only six points away from Singleton and in turn the top five.
South Cardiff FC v Cessnock City
Ulinga Oval, Sunday 2.45pm
South Cardiff’s only win of the season came last time they played Cessnock where the Gunners won 1-0.
South Cardiff had the bye last weekend whereas Cessnock’s game against Kahibah was abandoned due to a lighting issue around the 56th minute and will be replayed.
South Cardiff coach Mick Hugo said the bye had given his side a chance to rest injuries over that time.
Hugo said his side had to go in with the right mindset and would hopefully score a result.
“It would be nice to get another win under the belt,” Hugo said.
South Cardiff had lost three matches in a row before the bye.
The Gunners have no serious injury concerns but a final decision on some players will be made at the end of week.
Cessnock coach Michael Gatt said his side’s performance before the game was called off against Kahibah summed up the Hornets’ campaign.
“Ultimately the same story as the rest of the season. We were dominant but couldn’t take our chances. We made a mistake and they scored from it,” Gatt said.
Gatt said the match against South Cardiff in round two was similar to their game last weekend as well as a similar story to the rest of their season where South Cardiff got one chance and scored from it.
Gatt said his side had worked hard at training this week where they restructured some formations and personnel.
The Cessnock team is fit and ready to go excluding long term injuries to Jacob Golding and William Whitelaw.