HIT106.9 Northern League One Round Eight Preview: Kahibah and Cessnock look to maintain pace at the top

May 19th, 2022

 Jacob Briers

Match of the Round
Kahibah FC v Cessnock City
Kahibah Oval, Sunday 2.30pm

Kahibah FC host Cessnock City on Sunday as both clubs aim to stay within reach of a top two spot.

Cessnock fell short against league leaders Belmont Swansea United last weekend with Belswans too powerful, humbling the young Hornets.

The Hornets now face Kahibah with the Rams coming off the back of a three-game unbeaten run, including vital results against Singleton and New Lambton.

Kahibah coach Mat Moncrieff said they would go into the fixture with a similar mindset as they have in the previous rounds.

“[Cessnock] are a young, energetic team and it seems like they have had a really good start of the season,” Moncrieff said.

“[I’m] very wary going into the clash. Their results against [West Wallsend], Singleton, Wallsend have been very good. We’ll be going into the game thinking that [Cessnock] are a tough opponent.

“Hopefully, we can get away with a good start and get on top of them early for another three points at home.”

Kahibah remain one of two teams realistically capable of taking outright first place off Belswans once all catch-up fixtures are played, with tightening the gap a priority for Moncrieff.

“[Belswans] are pretty chirpy at the moment, so I’d love to lessen the gap between them and us,” Moncrieff said.

“At the moment, [Belswans] are the number one team and we want to chase down.”

Wet weather and injuries have been a prominent discussion point to start the season. But now, as the weather clears, players’ bodies begin to acclimatise and the games start rolling, clubs will be eager to field their best team and play their true style of football.

This dynamic speaks volumes from Kahibah’s side, with Moncrieff believing Kahibah are now at the strongest they have been all season.

“Across the board, we’d be probably the strongest we’ve been all season,” Moncrieff said.

“I’ll have some ridiculous headaches picking first grade but you got to do what you do. Our bench will be full of talent this weekend.

“I think we’ve got more players available this weekend than shirts available.”

Cessnock are another club that have been rattled by injuries and COVID. But the rebuild is well and truly underway, with at least three crucial players back on Sunday.

Midfielder Isaac Peek, striker Kyle Gillis and centre back Sam Baker return from injury, providing much-needed strengthening to the Hornets’ spine after their 3-0 loss to Belswans.

Cessnock coach Brad Miles is looking for more consistency from his side.

“We’re just looking for consistency and not dropping off in certain areas,” Miles said.

“Especially in defence, we’re looking for a lot more concentration.

“I’m quite confident with the boys [to get the result]. We just need to concentrate on what we do best and get back to that.”

Cessnock were undefeated against Kahibah last year, winning 3-0 at home and drawing 2-2 in the return fixture.

New Lambton FC v Thornton Redbacks
Alder Park, Saturday 3pm

Thornton Redbacks are eyeing off a 10th straight game undefeated in Northern League One when they travel to Alder Park on Saturday.

The hosts New Lambton are also anticipating a milestone, looking to secure their first back-to-back wins of 2022 and finally see some consistency.

New Lambton coach Tom Davies is aware of the excellence in defence Thornton have started the season with. He believes their possession style of football and saturation in chance production can eventually break down the opposing defensive block.

“We’re pretty aware in terms of how [Thornton] have been the last couple of years,” Davies said.

“Both games [last season against Thornton] have been quite tight and it’s just a matter of us being aware of that.

“Particularly in the last couple of weeks, we’re pretty content with our final third shape, work and direction. So, we’ll focus on that this week again to build into this weekend.

“It’s going to be tight. It’s just a matter of taking chances and making sure that we’re keeping patient.

“We need to stick to our guns and what we’ve been doing for the last couple of weeks, stick to our processes and focus on how to break down Thornton.

“It should be a good game. I think both teams will be looking forward to it.”

There have been whispers that New Lambton are not the team they were last year after the first couple of rounds. However, their emphatic result against Singleton on Saturday has nullified that perception, proving they are still near the summit of the competition.

“This [game] is going to be a hard one,” Thornton co-coach Scott Winslade said.

“Other coaches have said that [New Lambton] have been taken down a peg or two but you can’t just become a bad team overnight. I certainly won’t be thinking like that and I’ll make sure the players aren’t in that mindset either.

“We certainly respect New Lambton and everything they’ve done over the last two years. With their team and it not being changed too much, we won’t be going there with any kind of assumptions that a couple of not-so-great results turn them into a bad side.”

Thornton are one of a few teams that have yet to play more than three matches. This absence in game time means it is a 14-day gap between their last fixture and the upcoming New Lambton game.

But the Redbacks have measures in place to combat the ever-changing circumstances.

“Fitness wise, the boys have their own regimes that they’re given to do when we’re not training,” Winslade said.

“They’ve been working even though we can’t get on the field at times. They’ve still been keeping their fitness up.”

Apart from a couple of long-term injuries New Lambton and Thornton have full squads at their disposal.

Toronto Awaba FC v Singleton Strikers
Lyall Peacock Field, Saturday 3pm

Two teams locked on gathering consistency in their results are Toronto Awaba and Singleton Strikers.

The Strikers in particular are aiming for a much more level 90 minutes in terms of their football. Over the weekend, they went down 3-0 in 45 minutes against New Lambton.

Singleton coach Mick Jarvis was asked what his initial thoughts were after their game against New Lambton, with consistency being the key subject.

“Thoughts are to try and get some consistency,” Jarvis said.

“Consistency is key for us at the moment. We’ve found some quality football in spurts but we need to get that consistency and start putting that 90 minutes of consistent football together.

“That resolve and resilience that we showed in the second half [against New Lambton] is what the boys need to come out of the sheds with at the zero minute mark, not the 45 minute mark.

“We’ll be talking about that and that aspect is honestly just switching on from the get go.”

Toronto are a team that all coaches have kept a peripheral view of. The Stags’ inconsistency throughout the years has caused some surprising upsets from a side that has otherwise been exempt from final’s football since 2012.

“Obviously, [Toronto] have had a lack of football but you don’t know what sides are doing in the background,” Jarvis said.

“They could be working their butt off. So, you can’t read into [their inconsistency] at all. They had a good start to the season against West Wallsend.

“They probably got enough talent there to cause some trouble. From what I understand, they’ve recruited okay this year.”

Toronto coach Jarrad Hiles said that his side have been within reach of every game this year, further adding to the ultra-competitive narrative this season has offered so far.

“You’ve just got to take [each game] as it comes,” Hiles said.

“We’ve been in all the games so far this year. At Belswans, we tired a little bit but I thought we still did quite well.

“Singleton are always a tough team to go up against. They seem to have a good mix of young and experienced guys. We played them up at Singleton last year [I remember them] being strong across the park and they seem like they’re in good form.”

In terms of the inconsistency that has defined Toronto the last couple of years, all other sides seemed to have joined in on the factor, with disruptions like COVID and weather playing significant aspects in each team’s performance.

“Everyone’s in the same boat with [the congestion] of fixtures coming up,” Hiles said.

“[The boys] just want to play football and unfortunately the weather has stopped us a little bit this season so far but they’re going to get plenty of games coming thick and fast now.

“Obviously, the grounds are heavy [from the rain]. Fitness will play a bit of a part but if we can play smart, we might be able to save ourselves a little bit of running.”

Jasper Offen remains unavailable for another eight to 10 weeks through a shoulder dislocation and tear.

Belmont Swansea United v West Wallsend SFC
Blacksmiths Oval, Saturday 4.30pm

Belmont Swansea United are looking for revenge against West Wallsend on Saturday.

Last season Belswans hosted the Bluebells in their only match-up. Ultimately, the home side fell short, being defeated 3-0 and starting a rapid descent from title contenders down to outside the top five.

To beef the fixture up even more, Josh Maguire returns to Blacksmiths Oval but this time in blue and white. Maguire jumped ship early on in the season from Belswans to West Wallsend.

According to Belswans coach Mick Stafford, to conquer this tough fixture, they must remain calm, continue what they have been doing and the result will follow.

“It’s another tough match up at home,” Stafford said.

“We’ll just continue to play the way we’ve been playing, look to produce a clean sheet and another win at home would be great.”

On top of the current playing group, who produced the convincing 3-0 win over Cessnock, Belswans are re-introducing key senior players from injury, exemplifying their impressive squad depth.

“It will be good to back it up with another win on the trot,” Stafford said.

“I know the boys are in a good place at the moment. We’re welcoming quality players back to training and games now, so the squad is getting strengthened every week. Exciting times for us as a group.

“I’m quite confident that we’ll be able to get a good result.”

Brendan Hall, Clayton Poole, Nathan Bevan and Corey Wilson are all the names returning to action this week.

West Wallsend have not had the best start to the season.

The Bluebells have the worst defensive record in the competition and are looking to correct that figure with a win against the table toppers.

“We’ll be going there to win,” West Wallsend assistant coach Geoff Blomfield said.

“It’ll be hard. Belswans and New Lambton are probably the two benchmarks of the competition. We’ve just got to worry about ourselves, turn up and try and do the right thing.”

The Bluebells are another team that have had to wait two weeks for football to return. The mental and physical toll of such breaks is always challenging to juggle. But Blomfield assured that this was something they were managing well.

“We’re just trying to be upbeat, stick together and work hard together. That’s about it,” Blomfield said.

“We’re just hoping we can get on the field. The boys are cracking to get a game. We haven’t played for a little while and haven’t been training much either.

“I think the boys are just looking forward to getting out there and having a game.”

South Cardiff FC v Wallsend FC
Ulinga Oval, Sunday, 3.30pm

South Cardiff and Wallsend will look to record their first win of the season in this season’s first bottom of the table clash.

Wallsend are the only team who are yet to score any points on the board, with South Cardiff in ninth, only two points ahead, but having also played two more games.

“We’ve got to get our season underway,” Wallsend coach Michael Gatt said.

“We’re behind the eight ball with everything. You know, not being able to train, not being able to get game time and having no match time is always a big one that puts you behind the eight ball very early on.

“We’ve got to improve across the board. We’ve scored one goal and conceded [six].

“We’ve got to come out of the gate strong [this weekend] and hopefully start our season.”

South Cardiff have had a tough start to the season fixture wise, facing all of the current top three in their opening four games. Included in those four games was an important 1-1 draw with New Lambton and another entertaining draw with Toronto.

Despite the two draws, Taylor knows a win is needed for the Gunners to have any chance of making ground up the table.

“It’s up to us to do what we’ve got to do and that’s win games of football,” Taylor said.

“We are at a point now where we’ve picked up a couple of draws but now the wins are becoming more important as we’ve reached this stage of the season.”

Even though they have played the least number of games, Wallsend holds the equal worst goal difference of any side. Taylor watched their game against Singleton and knows that their stats are not a reflection of the Red Devils’ talent and quality.

“I watched Wallsend against Singleton and a couple of goals that they conceded were unlucky from what I saw,” Taylor said.

“They play some decent football. [We’re] not going into the game with any complacency, that’s for sure. We’re in no position to be like that.

“Everything’s got to be full steam ahead for three points.”

Despite it being round eight, it will be South Cardiff’s first home fixture of the season, depending on weather.

“It will be our first home game, so we’re hoping to get a good crowd down there,” Taylor said.

“We’ve been kicking our heels waiting for a home game and when we do finally get on there, we want to make it a fortress.”

Related Topics:
Northern League One Round Eight Preview

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