Match of the Round
Cooks Hill United v Belmont Swansea United
Fearnley Dawes Athletics Field, Saturday 2.30pm
Cooks Hill United coach David Tanchevski believes his side are in much better shape than when they overcome Belmont Swansea United earlier in the season.
The sides meet again at Fearnley Dawes Athletics Field on Saturday in the match of the round.
It has not been an ideal preparation for top of the table Cooks Hill following rain and a weekend off. But the break has allowed Tanchevski’s side a chance to get some players closer to a return.
Alex Gillespie looks to be one week away, while Ash Balcomb returned to training this week following his dislocated elbow suffered in round 12. Luke Muller is in doubt with an ankle injury.
“[Gillespie’s] absence has been a big loss for us. We’re looking forward to having him back,” Tanchevski said.
Cooks Hill won the round five clash between the sides 2-1 with goals from Jamie Byrnes and Dan Clements cancelling out Kane Woolston’s opener.
“We might look to alter the way we play to combat their specific style of play,” Tanchevski said.
“Hopefully we’ve gelled better since the first round. We’re expecting a tough game.”
BelSwans lost 3-1 to reigning champions Singleton at Howe Park on Sunday, further evidence of their struggle for consistency in 2021.
Andre Gumprecht’s side are sixth, three points outside the top five.
“We were disappointed with the result last weekend but there were positives,” assistant coach Mick Stafford said.
“[Last time we played Cooks Hill] it was a close game. We did ourselves proud at home.
“We are struggling with the [COVID-19] restrictions which will have a big effect on the reserve and under-18s teams. But we’ll do our best to get the most competitive first grade team on the park.
“We’re remaining positive. We want the side to go out and give it their best shot and be resilient for the club and for the competition.”
New Lambton FC v South Cardiff FC
Alder Park, Friday 7.45pm
Round 17 will kick off when New Lambton host South Cardiff under lights at Alder Park on Friday night.
New Lambton will host a double header with the Eagles’ Herald Women’s Premier League team also taking on Adamstown Rosebud JFC.
New Lambton have fallen from top spot in recent weeks, a position they had held for the majority of the season. The Eagles are second but only two goals on goal difference separate them and leaders Cooks Hill.
It has been two weeks since New Lambton have played as they had the bye in round 16 and did not play during the spare weekend.
South Cardiff enter the match off a 2-1 win over Cessnock City. The game was scheduled to be played at Ulinga Oval but was relocated to the Hornets’ home ground at Turner Park due to wet weather.
“We appreciate Cessnock relocating the games,” Gunners coach Mick Hugo said.
“For us it was great to get on the pitch and come away with three points. It was a great result.”
Although South Cardiff were missing a few key players those on the park stepped up, including Ashton Walton-Ambrose and Steve Stanton who bagged a goal each.
The Gunners trailed 1-0 at half-time with Hugo saying it was good to see his side fight back and come away with the win.
Last time South Cardiff met the reigning premiers it ended 4-1 to New Lambton. With the game scoreless at half-time Hugo said his side put in a good 45 minutes and hope to put in another good performance this weekend.
Jarryd Johnson comes back after a one-week suspension with the Gunners also hoping for the return of Jock Thompson who has been out since April.
Singleton Strikers v Cessnock City
Howe Park, Saturday 2.30pm
It is Old Boys’ Day at Howe Park on Saturday as Singleton host Cessnock City.
Singleton enter the game after defeating Belmont Swansea United 3-1 at home last weekend. The Strikers are fourth, level on 26 points with fifth-placed Thornton.
Cessnock also played over the spare weekend, going down 2-1 to South Cardiff.
Cessnock are on the road this weekend and hope to get some numbers back.
Last time Singleton and Cessnock met it resulted in a 1-1 stalemate.
“It is always a hard-fought match against Singleton,” Hornets coach Michael Gatt said.
“There should be plenty of energy in the match during their Old Boys’ Day and the added rivalry between two Hunter Valley teams.”
The visitor’s preparation will remain similar to previous weeks, with Cessnock hoping to see the return of captain Greg Anderson into the side.
Thornton FC v Kahibah FC
Thornton Park, Saturday 3.30pm
Thornton host Kahibah on Saturday with the Redbacks looking to defend their spot in the top five.
Thornton had the spare weekend off which gave them a chance to rest players.
Thornton won 2-1 when they met Kahibah in round five thanks to a Jye Mackellar double.
Redbacks co-coach Scott Winslade said Thornton needed to concentrate on their game, doing things correctly as well as dealing with the long ball.
The hosts’ squad will be depleted this weekend as they line up without James Wand, Liam Hardy, Sam Rossi, Jake Millstead and Jack Charnock. Michael Foster is also out for the rest of the season with a torn hamstring.
“The squad has some depth and it is a good chance for some of our reserves to step up,” Winslade said.
Kahibah enter the match off their 5-3 loss to West Wallsend on Sunday.
“We went into last weekend down on numbers in all grades and were clearly beat by West Wallsend in first grade,” Kahibah coach Mat Moncrieff said.
“Our numbers don’t look any better this weekend across the board due to Covid [restrictions] and injuries but we will be hopefully welcoming back players to first grade who have been absent for most of the year.
“Thornton bring a different challenge to last weekend which will see a bit more football to be played on a very tricky pitch.
“The key to beating Thornton is shutting down Jye Mackellar. The stats show he scores all their goals. We also knew this in the first round and he scored two late goals to beat us 2-1.
“Should be a good challenge for us although we can’t make finals in firsts we play teams where we can make a difference to the finals make up.”
Wallsend FC v West Wallsend FC
The Gardens, Sunday 5pm
Bring on derby day says Wallsend coach Craig Tselembis.
This weekend is the second leg of the Wallsend derby, this time on the Red Devils’ home turf.
Wallsend enter the match after a weekend off which was a good chance for a couple of players to get over some injuries.
Wallsend won 2-1 when the sides met earlier this season.
“Last time we scrambled and worked as a unit and deserved everything out of it,” Tselembis said.
“In the last few weeks the team has been going away from this and we’re looking to sort it out and get back on the same wavelength.
“We trained well on Tuesday night and we’ll look to take that energy into the weekend.”
Wallsend have a couple of players who are still 50-50 whether they will play this weekend, including Guilherme Evangelista Dos Santos. Jake Sullivan is also still a few weeks away from a return.
West Wallsend enter the match after winning against Kahibah 5-3 on Sunday playing their washed out game from round two.
“We played ok in the trying conditions [against Kahibah]. The ground was cut up with games played on it earlier in the day,” Bluebells coach Darren Sills said.
“Last time we played Wallsend we lost Luke Willard to a long-term injury which was a huge loss.
“Josh Knight is suspended but Tye Jones will come back in. We will be lacking in depth numbers wise but not in quality.”