Match of the Round
New Lambton FC v Cooks Hill United
Alder Park, Saturday 3pm
Cooks Hill United coach David Tanchevski is hopeful his side can continue its impressive recent run when it takes on New Lambton on Saturday.
Cooks Hill and New Lambton are level on 38 points with Cooks Hill top of the table on goal difference.
The round 18 clash between first and second shapes as one of the most important games of the season with the winner potentially going a long way to securing the 2021 premiership with only five rounds remaining.
New Lambton won the round six clash between the sides 5-1, with Cooks Hill midfielder Daniel Yaxley sent off after 18 minutes. The Eagles then scored four goals before half-time to end the game as a contest.
New Lambton enter the match off a 1-0 win over South Cardiff last Friday night in a match played in challenging conditions thanks to the wind. The Eagles needed a penalty just before half-time to break down the struggling Gunners.
Tom Davies’ side return home again this week with a large crowd expected behind them on Golden Eagles Day which they hope will help them over the line.
Cooks Hill continued their good form last weekend as they defeated Belmont Swansea United 3-1. They are carrying some injuries but will look to line up with the same team that got the job done against BelSwans.
Alex Gillespie is still unlikely for the match but will undergo a fitness test on Thursday night, with Ash Balcomb already ruled out.
“I feel like we’re playing very good football at the moment. I hope we can take that into this weekend,” Tanchevski said.
“New Lambton are a very good side and a really good club. They’ve been building with the same team and same coach for a while now.
“I’m looking forward to a good match where hopefully we can play some good football against a good team.”
West Wallsend SFC v Thornton FC
Johnston Park, Sunday 2.30pm
Thornton co-coach Scott Winslade wants more consistency from his side when they take on West Wallsend on Sunday.
The Redbacks travel to Johnston Park in fourth place, two points behind the third-placed Bluebells.
Thornton hope to have James Wand back in goal after COVID-19 restrictions prevented him from playing in their 2-1 win over Kahibah last weekend.
The Redbacks went down 4-2 when the sides met in round six with Winslade saying the focus would be on keeping their concentration this time around.
The Redbacks could have four players missing this weekend with a decision to be made late in the week.
“Our mistakes caused issues. By the time we switched back on it was too late. Consistency is key,” Winslade said.
“In big games like this one, numbers can’t be used as an excuse. We will look to perform despite possibly having a reduced squad.”
West Wallsend enter the match after a convincing 5-1 victory over Wallsend in their derby clash last weekend.
The hosts will again be without Jarrod Olivieri. They have the bye next weekend so they hope with two weeks rest he will recover and be fit for the final three games for the regular season in the lead up to finals.
“[Thornton] started very well [in round six] so will have to be on our guard,” West Wallsend coach Darren Sills said.
The hosts could potentially be without Wes Pryce who was awaiting confirmation around COVID-19 restrictions in terms of work commitments.
Cessnock City v Belmont Swansea United
Turner Park, Sunday 2.30pm
With a good training session on Tuesday night Cessnock City are looking to get the job done when they host Belmont Swansea United at Turner Park on Sunday afternoon.
The Hornets have regrouped after making the trip to Howe Park last Saturday only for their game against Singleton to be called off after match officials deemed the pitch too wet.
That match has been rescheduled to next Wednesday 28 July at 7pm.
One goal separated the teams the last time Cessnock and BelSwans met in round six with BelSwans winning 1-0 thanks to Kaleb Pearson’s winner.
“Last time BelSwans just scored a late goal from a messy ball. We have got to be a lot stricter and stick to the game plan and come out the end of it,” Cessnock coach Michael Gatt said.
Cessnock captain Greg Anderson is back in the squad but the Hornets are still missing two players to long-term injuries.
BelSwans assistant coach Mick Stafford said his side were able to take a few positives out of their 3-1 loss to Cooks Hill United last week with the match helping to lift the side’s spirits.
“Cessnock are always a tough team especially at Cessnock,” Stafford said.
“We will continue to play our own game and show up with more intensity and accountability and hopefully get the job done.”
The visitors’ line up will be strengthened as they see the return of Brendon Hall, Pearson and Matthew Ellis who missed last week’s game.
Belmont Swansea sit only three points outside the top five, with finals places still in reach.
Toronto Awaba FC v South Cardiff FC
Lyall Peacock Field, Sunday 2.30pm
Toronto Awaba will enter their clash with last-placed South Cardiff fresh off the bye last weekend.
The Gunners travel to Lyall Peacock Field on Sunday having narrowly gone down 1-0 to heavyweights New Lambton last weekend.
Toronto Awaba are eighth on the table, 13 points away from the top five. With five games to go their finals hopes are all but mathematically over.
The Stags have a tough schedule to round out the season as they face Cooks Hill, BelSwans, New Lambton and Cessnock in their final four games.
“There was a good vibe at training last night [after the New Lambton game],” South Cardiff coach Mick Hugo said.
“I think many of the players were able to take positives out of the match. I hope to keep moving on to see what happens next.”
Last time lost Toronto Awaba and South Cardiff met the Stags won 2-1.
“It was a good hard game,” Hugo said.
“Toronto are similar to us in that they have lots of young boys in the squad who are really good footballers.
“For us, we have got to keep grinding and hopefully come away with the win. We have got to go out and play our game.”
South Cardiff’s Regan Black will miss the match due to suspension.
Wallsend FC v Singleton Strikers
The Gardens, Sunday 3.20pm
The weekend rounds out with a game at The Gardens as Wallsend host Singleton on Sunday afternoon.
Wallsend coach Craig Tselembis said his side were “a little down on ourselves but it should be a fun one with a new backline.”
Two Wallsend defenders were shown red cards in their 5-1 loss to West Wallsend last weekend with the pair suspended against Singleton. The Red Devils have also been hit by injury with four or five new faces potentially coming into the side.
Singleton won 1-0 when the sides met earlier in the season which Tselembis described as one of Wallsend’s worst performances of the year.
The Red Devils have worked on defending at training this week with a focus on trying to be more compact for this weekend’s match.
Wallsend are seventh, nine points away from fifth-placed Singleton. They have the bye in round 21 so a win this weekend will be important to prevent Singleton from furthering their gap.
Singleton were unable to play against Cessnock last weekend as the referees deemed Howe Park too wet with the match rescheduled for next Wednesday 28 July at 7pm.
The Strikers should be ready to go to this weekend to maintain their top five position.
The visitors will not have the easiest of schedules to finish off the season as they face Thornton next week followed by the bye, South Cardiff and leaders Cooks Hill United.