Match of the round
Wallsend FC v Cooks Hill United FC
Sunday, March 20, 2.30pm
Cooks Hill United are preparing for a determined Wallsend line-up keen to bounce back from their close loss to Lake Macquarie when they meet in the NewFM First Division match of the round at The Gardens on Sunday.
Defending major premiers Wallsend, 4-1 winners over Toronto-Awaba in round one, lost 2-1 to the Roosters last week, while Cooks Hill rebounded from a 7-2 loss to Kahibah to beat Toronto by the same scoreline.
Cooks Hill coach Blake Glennie said the influx of four new players and a change in structure helped bring the turnaround last week and they would welcome back former Adamstown midfielder Jack O’Toole, who broke an arm in a trial game against the Newcastle Suns, to the side this week.
Glennie said they were injury-free and bracing for a difficult game against Wallsend.
“We will probably change out structure again to suit them and it will be a tough game, especially since they lost last weekend,” Glennie said.
“They are one of the favourites and they will be looking to bounce back with a win.”
He was proud of how his side responded to the heavy first-round defeat.
“A lot of people were making a big deal out of it, but I honestly wasn’t that worried,” he said.
“There was a lot of things that I saw in the Kahibah game that I was pleased with and I knew they would turn into goals in future games.
“It was a blow-out score and I don’t think it was a true reflection of the game. I put it down as an anomaly, and we forgot about it.
“All credit to the players, they showed a lot of character to turn the result around.”
Wallsend coach Josh Rufo thought his side had the better of play against Lake Macquarie last week but said they needed to be better in front of goal.
Rufo said he should have a full squad to choose from but he “might make one or two changes from last week”.
“Some players who have been pushing for a starting spot will get an opportunity,” Rufo said.
Belmont Swansea United FC v Thornton Redbacks FC
Saturday, March 19, 2.30pm
Belmont Swansea will be on a high from their midweek FFA Cup win when they take on a frustrated Thornton Redbacks at Blacksmiths Oval on Saturday.
After 4-3 and 3-1 wins over Lake Macquarie and West Wallsend to start their league season, Belmont Swansea downed Jesmond 4-3 in a thriller on Tuesday night at Blacksmiths in round three of the FFA Cup.
Down 1-0 at half-time, Belmont Swansea fought back and drew level at 3-3 with a goal from Cameron Lodge before under-17s player Joel Nicholson scored late in injury time to secure the win.
As for the victory over West Wallsend, coach Brad Paul was “fairly happy with it” but disappointed his side didn’t score more goals in the second half after going to a 3-0 lead five minutes after the break.
Luke Cook (shin splints) and Huey Price (ankle) were injury concerns.
Thornton started their season with a 1-0 loss to South Cardiff in which they botched several excellent chances to score. They were also this week due to play an FFA Cup game, against West Wallsend at Johnston Park on Wednesday night, but the match was washed out.
Thornton coach Darrel McAllister was hoping for greater composure up front from Nathan McAllister and star signing Jamie Subat.
“We weren’t clinical enough,” McAllister said.
“My young bloke has been our leading goalscorer for the past two years and we’ve got Jamie Subat there, and they had some of the better chances.
“On another day, my son scores five. It’s hard to be critical of individuals, but if you don’t score you can’t win games.
“We thought we did enough to win it but we could have done better.”
He said his side would need to lift against in-form Belmont Swansea.
“We’ve got Bel-Swans and then Lakes, so we’ve eased into a tough opening,” he said.
West Wallsend SFC v Lake Macquarie City FC
Saturday, March 19, 5pm
Lake Macquarie welcome former Maitland and Weston utility Corey Fletcher for his first league game of the year when they take on West Wallsend on Saturday at Johnston Park.
Fletcher has been on a cruise and returns to the Roosters line-up along with another midfielder/defender, Dan Walker.
Coach Anthony Richards was looking forward to having Fletcher boost his side, who bounced back from 4-3 loss to Belmont Swansea to edge out Wallsend 2-1 last week.
“He’s played in the centre for us in trials, but we’ll find a spot for him somewhere, he’s too good a player,” Richards said of Fletcher.
“He’s loving it down there. As a senior player, he has the younger guys looking up to him, so it’s been good.”
Richards said the win over Wallsend “was a far better performance and a massive turnaround” from the first-round loss.
Defender Brad York missed the second half of the game with concussion from a head clash with David Hodgson but Richards believed he would be right to play the Bluebells.
West Wallsend will be missing captain and centre-back Jarrod Olivieri, who was sent off late for dissent in the 3-1 loss to Belmont Swansea last week. Tye Jones returns after being unavailable last week.
Coach Gary Rowe said his side needed to show better discipline. especially with a tough run of games in front of them.
“If we don’t learn to mature quickly, we’ll keep getting results like this,” Rowe said after the loss to Belmont Swansea.
“You can’t always get things your way, but you’ve got to get over it.
“They’ve got to learn that when things are going against you, you’ve got to work a bit harder, and it’s probably going to take them a while to figure that out.
“But we’re going into Lakes, Wallsend then Kahibah not too long after that, so they haven’t got long.”
Goalkeeper Tyler Warren (ankle) remains sidelined for the Bluebells.
Cessnock City FC v Toronto-Awaba FC
Sunday, March 20, 2.30pm
Turner Park 1
Cessnock City will be undermanned when they take on another team looking to recover from a 7-2 loss in round three at Turner Park on Sunday.
Toronto-Awaba lost to Cooks Hill 7-2 and Cessnock went down by the same score to Kahibah last weekend.
Cessnock, who drew their season-opener with Singleton 1-1, will be without Jayden Gunther and Anthony Bower, who are both attending weddings. Bower missed the 7-2 loss last week because he was suspended from a send-off in round one.
Coach Steve Thomson said Liam Stephenson, who scored last week, was also in doubt with a knee injury.
Regardless of the setbacks, Cessnock will be favourites against a Toronto-Awaba side who have conceded 11 goals in two weeks.
The Stags, who scored through Luke Maloney and Liam Watson last week, will be hoping to repeat their early effort against Wallsend in round one, when they kept the 2015 major premiers to 1-0 before going down a player.
South Cardiff FC v Singleton Strikers FC
Sunday, March 20, 2.30pm
South Cardiff’s improved defence will be tested after the loss of Cameron Treweek and Jesse Parkinson for the match against an upbeat Singleton Strikers at Ulinga Park on Sunday.
The Gunners had their first win in the NEWFM competition, since relegation from the National Premier League, last week when they held out Thornton Redbacks 1-0. The rebuilding club started the year with a 3-2 loss to West Wallsend.
South Cardiff coach Andrew Packer said goalkeeper Mikel Breckenridge was a standout for his side against Thornton, who created plenty of chances early in the second half.
“He made a couple of really good saves and probably the boys switched off a little bit, which was pretty disappointing,” Packer said.
“We got back on top in the middle of that second half and finished off strong, but our keeper had a really good game.”
Breckenridge will likely need to be strong again with Packer losing Treweek and Parkinson from his defensive stocks for this weekend.
Singleton are coming off the bye in the league but a win over Dudley in the FFA Cup to move through to round four.
Coach David Willoughby said his side would be unchanged from the Dudley match, which Singleton won on penalties 4-3 after it was 1-1 at full-time.
“Everyone is fit and in a positive frame of mind after our penalty shootout win last weekend,” Willoughby said.
“We are looking forward to playing a good South Cardiff side and hopefully winning our first game of the season in the NEWFM competition.”
Singleton had a 1-1 draw with Cessnock to start the season. On a down note, the club have lost Englishman Alex Clarke to Adamstown.
Kahibah FC – Bye