Match of the Round
Toronto Awaba FC 2-2 South Cardiff FC
South Cardiff came from two goals down with a last-minute Tom Sparre equaliser securing the Gunners a point against Toronto Awaba on Saturday.
Nothing of note transpired in the first half at Lyall Peacock Field as both teams were guilty of sloppiness, though the Stags were arguably unlucky not to have pinched an early lead.
Toronto found themselves in control of the game and grabbed a goal through Jacob Dundas with a composed finish. But credit also had to go to midfielder Phil McPherson who produced a pinpoint pass from a seemingly impossible angle.
Toronto then doubled their advantage through substitute Steven Kapotas.
Dundas played Purcell through out wide on the break in a three-on-two situation. Purcell crossed the ball to the back post onto a running Kapotas, who headed it home.
A high press from South Cardiff forced Toronto into a mistake resulting in an own goal, handing the Gunners a lifeline as the Stags attempted to see out the game.
With South Cardiff building momentum with every attack they eventually found a late equaliser in injury time. Toronto goalkeeper Shayne Van As was uncharacteristically caught off his line, allowing Sparre to effortlessly guide the ball over Van As’ reach into the goal.
“[I’m] relieved to get something out of [the game] in the end,” South Cardiff coach Scott Taylor said.
Taylor was not impressed with South Cardiff’s first half, rattling them into a much-improved second half.
“I told them before the game we have to press higher and they didn’t follow through with what we were supposed to be doing,” Taylor said.
“We allowed [Toronto] too much time to play with the ball at the back. We allowed too much of an easy passage [in the] first half.
“I was pretty firm in what I said at half-time about the way we should be pressing and again [the team] answered the call.”
South Cardiff displayed huge fight but Taylor recognised they need more than just spirit to compete.
“We fought and fought and we got rewarded at the end. It’s not what we wanted but we’ll take it when you’re 2-0 down,” Taylor said.
“To get something out of the game again shows spirit but we need to be finishing the chances we do make for ourselves.”
Centre back Dave Modiu made his starting debut for South Cardiff.
Toronto coach Jarrad Hiles was unhappy with the late lapses in concentration from the Stags.
“It’s tough to take when you’re up 2-0 with 15 minutes to go and then concede [an equaliser] two minutes into injury time,” Hiles said.
“[It’s] about doing simple things, doing them quickly, doing them well, shortening our passes up and trying to get balls in behind.
“[I’m] still proud of the boys. The effort is great, they’re working hard for each other, so if we can keep working that hard, we’ll be there abouts most games.
“[We] dust ourselves off and get ready for Kahibah next Saturday.”
New Lambton FC 2-2 Kahibah FC
New Lambton continued their frustrating start to the season as the Eagles played out a 2-2 draw with fellow finals contenders Kahibah FC on Saturday.
Kahibah took the lead at Alder Park early in the first half from a corner which found Lewis Hextell before New Lambton winger Riley Taylor levelled the score before half-time.
Kahibah’s’ clinical goal scorer Riley Ferguson scored with 15 minutes to go to put the Rams back in front.
But the dream win for Kahibah was cut short by Taylor again, minutes before full-time.
Kahibah coach Mat Moncrieff said the result was potentially evidence that New Lambton had come back to the chasing pack after being the dominant force in the competition for a number of years.
“It was a pretty entertaining game,” Moncrieff said.
“[There was] not much between the teams but I think that aura around New Lambton is slowly dwindling. There not the same team they have been in the past years.”
Moncrieff also attributed Kahibah’s success this season to newfound squad depth.
“I’m buzzing for the boys. They’re doing really well,” Moncrieff said.
“The rotation has been really good and everyone coming up to first grade has given it a red-hot crack.”
Kahibah FC lost their first five games last season. In comparison, Kahibah now have seven points from four games and are second on the table.
New Lambton head coach Tom Davies was mildly disappointed with his side. The Eagles have started the season poorly compared to previous campaigns, securing five points from four games to have them sixth.
“To Kahibah’s credit they made it hard for us to break them down,” Davies said.
“I’m disappointed overall with conceding two goals and our execution was probably a bit too flat throughout the game. We didn’t seem to get into any sort of flow.
“We started pretty flat for the first 20 minutes and conceded an early goal off a corner. I think we mentally took a while to get into the game.
“Then about halfway through the half we started to control the game a bit more and kept possession of the ball and started to create some chances and eventually got one back through Riley Talyor.
“[We] just need to be a bit better in the final third.”
Despite being displeased with the result, Davies knows that his team is capable of much better.
“Riley Taylor executed pretty much every time he got the ball. I think he was a lot more dominant which is what we are working towards with him,” Davies said.
“So it’s back to finding good form now and hopefully a few more players [start to] pitch in more.”
Cessnock City 2-1 West Wallsend SFC
Cessnock’s strong start to the campaign continues to improve with the Hornets downing West Wallsend 2-1 on Saturday.
West Wallsend took the lead early in the second half at Turner Park with a penalty.
Cessnock eventually found an equaliser through a Kevin Van Gool free kick.
Locked a 1-1, a passage to goal opened up for Cessnock striker Kyle Gillis, who buried the shot to secure the win for the Hornets.
“It wasn’t a pretty game. It was end to end and quite a physical affair but it was a good result in the end,” Cessnock coach Brad Miles said.
Cessnock lost centre back Sam Baker in the early minutes of the first half after he copped an elbow to the face, with concerns that Baker may have suffered a fractured cheekbone.
Zac Brown was one of Cessnock’s best with the 17-year-old putting in another strong performance to help down the Bluebells.
Miles also doubled down on the conditions on the game.
“Zac Brown, our 17-year-old left back was sensational today, a class above everyone else,” Miles said.
“It was a hard battle but we played the full 90 minutes out [and are starting] to get proper results at the end.”
Huge fixtures for both teams are ahead this weekend. There’s a top of the table clash between Cessnock and Belmont Swansea on Saturday with the Wallsend Derby to follow on Sunday.
Thornton Redbacks 1-1 Belmont Swansea United
Thornton were the fourth team to scrape away with something in the final moments this weekend with Zac Skippen scoring a late equaliser for the Redbacks against Belmont Swansea United on Saturday.
Sitting off for most of the fixture, Thornton found an equaliser in injury time at Thornton Park.
“We were pretty poor. [For the] first 60 minutes we were probably the second-best side,” Thornton co-coach Scott Winslade said.
“[Belswans] attacked very well. They were attacking us down the lines, getting behind our back line and it was only when they scored that we turned up. But I think a lot of it was down to fatigue from the field last week. [The heavy pitch] took it out of us.”
Thornton did eventually find a leveller though captain Skippen, who played a commanding role.
“We found a few legs in the last half an hour and put [Belswans] under the pump a little bit but [we’re] relieved we got the goal right at the end,” Winslade said.
“It was kind of a good game, a very even-ish game. They were on top for the majority of it but that last 15 minutes we tried to keep getting into [dangerous] areas. We were willing to lose 2-0 rather than 1-0 to try and steal the one all.”
Winslade respected the quality Belswans and their coach Mick Stafford produced.
“I think we’re both going to do pretty well this season. We’re both hard to beat. It’s one of the games where you have two very good sides who cancel each other out a lot of the time,” Winslade said.
Stafford was happy with the 1-1 result at Thornton considering many factors.
“To be able to go up there and come away with a point after the tough week we had with the bodies out, its good. [We are] happy where we are sitting, 10 points from five rounds in. We [can only] move forward from here,” Stafford said.
“It was good to see Matty Ellis get back in there and do well. Cameron Sullini did great as well and the boys off the bench that filled in from reserve grade after we had a few injuries did a good shift for the club.”
Wallsend FC 1-3 Singleton Strikers
Singleton Strikers were convincing winners over Wallsend FC at The Gardens on Sunday with the Red Devils left to lament some poor mistakes that gifted the visitors goals.
Most of the action was in the first half with Singleton opening the scoring after Wallsend goalkeeper Jakob Keating misjudged a back pass under pressure, allowing the ball to roll over the line.
The two other Singleton goals were just as ugly, thought Strikers coach Mick Jarvis said they were a result from strong pressure from his players.
“We’re good putting teams under pressure,” Jarvis said.
“We wanted to create that [high pressure] environment so we were comfortable playing [to our tactic].
“A couple of [the goals] were mistakes we allowed and one was an easy goal we didn’t compete with.
“Our guys are technically good, physically fit. If we can keep them focused with a good attitude we will get results.”
Wallsend scored a goal through Brad York on the brink of half-time, giving the hosts some hope. But they were unable to get themselves back in the game in the second half.
“[Our combination play] started to work and it’s going to take a few weeks for the boys to click. We’ll get there,” Wallsend coach Michael Gatt said.
“At the end of the day it’s frustrating. They were the better side in the first half and when you’re chasing the game against a quality side, you’re always going to be behind the eight ball.
“In the second half we played a lot better, we’ve just got to be more clinical in front of goal and that’s what we’ll work on.
“It’s our finishing that’s costing us. Obviously, we have to work on defence as well, we’ve conceded [six] goals in two games. We’ll get there, it’s a work in progress and it’s all coming together. In a couple of weeks, I reckon the boys will start firing.”