Match of the Round
West Wallsend SFC v Singleton Strikers
Johnston Park, Sunday 2.30pm
Singleton will look to contain in-form West Wallsend forward Josh Carroll when the Strikers take on the Bluebells in the Match of the Round on Sunday.
Fifth-placed West Wallsend host third-placed Singleton on Old Boys’ Day at Johnston Park with the Bluebells coming off a dominant 6-1 thrashing of Cessnock City last weekend.
Wet weather had prevented West Wallsend from training earlier in the week but Bluebells coach Darren Sills said having the night off benefited his team with plenty of players still not 100 per cent fit.
West Wallsend won the round four encounter between the sides 2-1 at Howe Park and will look to do the double over the reigning champions. Sills’ side are looking forward to the clash, believing they have progressed considerably since then.
“We were poor in possession [last time we played them] and didn’t apply pressure so the focus will be correcting that,” Sills said.
Singleton will again be without Joseph Civello while Tristian Muir is still a doubt as he recovers from a groin injury. But the Strikers do welcome back Marcus Morris from suspension.
The Strikers’ focus will be containing Carroll who has been in sparkling form recently.
“We need to limit his space and freedom which has hurt teams especially on the counterattack,” Singleton coach Brendan Slade said.
“We can’t underestimate his pace and ability to finish.
“Westy have had a tough draw and we really need to push them hard on the weekend to make it harder for them.”
It is a close race for the top five with only three points separating third and sixth.
Singleton and West Wallsend also have a game in hand to be played on the spare weekend next week, with the Strikers to host Belmont Swansea United and West Wallsend to host Kahibah on Sunday 11 July.
Cooks Hill United v Cessnock City
Fearnley Dawes Athletics Field, Saturday 3pm
Cooks Hill United will have one eye on the top of the table when they host Cessnock City on Saturday.
Cooks Hill can climb to the summit should they beat the Hornets at Fearnley Dawes Athletics Field, with United three points behind leaders New Lambton.
But Cooks Hill and New Lambton share the same goal difference and, with the Eagles not in action thanks to their round 16 bye, a win would see United take top spot.
David Tanchevski’s side will be buoyed by their last meeting with Cessnock, an 11-0 drubbing in round four, the biggest win in the competition this season.
Cooks Hill will likely be unchanged from their win 5-1 win over South Cardiff last weekend.
They head into the second half of the season with the mindset to forget what happened in the first half and be wary of all teams, having thrown away points in draws with Wallsend and Toronto Awaba.
“There should be enough motivation for our boys to turn up again and put in a good performance,” Tanchevski said.
Cessnock though will be out for redemption given their embarrassing result in round four, with the Hornets also coming off a 6-1 hammering at the hands of West Wallsend last weekend.
“[The players] know where they need to work on and what let them down,” Cessnock coach Michael Gatt said.
“They know they have some redemption to prove last round getting smashed 11-0.
“We have to make sure we are better. They were on point, everything they did turned to goals.”
Hornets captain Greg Anderson is in doubt for the match after receiving knocks against West Wallsend.
Kahibah FC v Wallsend FC
Kahibah Oval, Saturday 4pm
Kahibah will look to continue their momentum from some positive results last week.
The green and black showed real strength in their match against Singleton last week after going two goals down with 10 men only to claw back a point thanks to a fighting 2-2 draw.
Wallsend lost touch with the top five as they suffered a deflating loss to Toronto Awaba last time out but will have an opportunity to rebound when they travel to Kahibah Oval on Saturday.
It will be a different looking Kahibah side to the one that lined up against Singleton with the Rams without Heath Kepreotes after the defender received a red card in last week’s game.
They may also lose players with Covid-19 restrictions but plan to manage the situation and hope to put a competitive side out and get back to winning ways.
Last time the teams met Wallsend won 4-3 with the Red Devils coming back to win the game in the last few minutes.
“We know they are a different team and give a really good challenge. They are quite talented and we are up for a good game,” Kahibah coach Mat Moncrieff said.
Wallsend coach Craig Tselembis said his side were a “bit deflated” but looked forward to getting back into it after the loss to the Stags last weekend.
Tselembis said the focus would be to concentrate for the full 90 minutes and work as a team rather than individuals.
The Red Devils will be without goalkeeper Jakeb Keating and the suspended Ethan Spiers. A few players will have their fitness tested before the game including key player Guilherme Evangelista Dos Santos.
Belmont Swansea United v South Cardiff FC
Blacksmiths Oval, Sunday 2.30pm
Belmont Swansea United were well among the frontrunners in the first half of the season but have hit a difficult patch in recent weeks.
BelSwans have only picked up one point in the last five rounds which came in their scoreless draw with Thornton in round 14.
BelSwans are coming off the bye last week having also lost to Wallsend, Singleton and West Wallsend in the last month.
Andre Gumprecth’s side have fallen to sixth on the table but are only two points away from the top five. They have a game in hand with their round seven match against Singleton Strikers scheduled to be played on 11 July during the spare weekend.
Belmont Swansea will be looking to get back to winning ways and will be encouraged by their last meeting with South Cardiff when they hammered the Gunners 7-1.
South Cardiff have had a challenging season with last week being no different where they were beaten 5-1 by Cooks Hill United. They showed real promise where they were able to hold Cooks Hill scoreless in the first half but were eventually outplayed.
South Cardiff remain on the bottom of the table having not picked up any points since round nine.
South Cardiff will also have another opportunity to pick up points next week when they host Cessnock on 11 July in the designated washout round.
Toronto Awaba v Thornton FC
Lyall Peacock Field, Sunday 2.30pm
Toronto Awaba continue to bounce back after their shaky and disrupted start to the season, coming from a goal down to beat Wallsend 3-1 last week.
“The focus for this weekend will be just playing our game and being mentally strong. We are good enough, we have just got to turn up on the day,” Stags caretaker coach Shaun Paterson said.
Toronto Awaba will be without Flynn Fittler and Jarrod Purcell after sustaining injuries early in the match last weekend.
Thornton co-coach Scott Winslade said his side were pleased with their 1-1 draw with leaders New Lambton last week and were well prepared for the trip to Lyall Peacock Field on Sunday.
Thornton won the last encounter between the sides 3-1. Reflecting on that victory, Winslade said his side would need to be careful of the Toronto Awaba forwards who can cause teams problems.
“We have changed the way we have been playing the last few games and it has worked,” Winslade said.
“We have now played the so-called harder games but we are at the part of the season where every game is a hard game in the final run.”