Match of the Round
Cooks Hill United FC 2 def. Wallsend FC 3
Newcastle Athletics Field
2.30pm, Saturday 6th June
The Match of the Round for the NEWFM 1st Division has seen a new table-leader step up with a close win to take all three points in the match at the Newcastle Athletics Field.
With the top spot within their grasp, Wallsend were eager to send a message to the rest of the competition that they were title contenders, while Cooks Hill needed the win to overtake Kahibah in fourth place, with Kahibah’s bye weekend keeping them locked on 18 points for a time.
Wallsend proved to be the stronger side in the contest however, with three goals making it past Cooks Hill’s league-famous possession and defence, notably opened by lethal playmaker Marcus.
Paul Wheeler and Mitchell Cook also made sure that they got their names onto the final scoresheet, and although Cooks Hill were able to score two goals in answer it simply wasn’t enough and Wallsend took home all three vital points away from home.
Wallsend’s Josh Rufo was ecstatic for his side to go to the top of the ladder with the win, after eleven games of chasing the top spot.
“The performance that we put in today was a little bit sloppy today and we let in two goals, but we made sure that we got there in the end,” Rufo stated.
“It was really well done by the boys today apart from those slip-ups, and with the win we’ve gone to the top of the table, which is massive for the team.”
“It’s been top notch performances that have gotten us up here, and now it’s going to be a matter of defending it as we start to creep towards the end of the season. This is exactly what we needed and now we have a chance to stay first.”
The win puts Wallsend on top of the table and now they must keep it, with their battle in the Wallsend derby next weekend coming up against rivals West Wallsend, and Rufo’s team is going to need to back-up the title-topping performance with another three points or risk losing their spot to Valentine once again.
Cooks Hill take on the Redbacks first next weekend, and the three points could put United into fourth place and in control of the finals position if they can see results turn against Kahibah as well.
With a new title contender fighting to keep first place now, everything is up for grabs in the NEWFM 1st Division, and every result counts now as the second round of the competition well and truly begins.
Singleton SC 0 drew Cessnock City FC 0
2.30pm, Saturday 6th June
The second game of Saturday saw Singleton play against Cessnock City at Howe Park, with both teams locked on the bottom half of the table and looking for three points to break out of the positions they’ve found themselves in.
Singleton look to bring themselves within a handful of points of the top four competitors, and with half of their games left to play their rank in the league is still not solidified – wins can turn the tide very quickly for the home side.
Although both sides looked dangerous across Howe Park, their forwards couldn’t find a way to make clear cut chances and the half time score remained nil all with neither team able to secure an advantage that they needed to close the game away.
Both teams seemed to settle into the pace of the game, with the keepers on either end tested less and less, and fulltime drew around with the tight game finishing 0-0, handing a single point to each side and marking a draw on the record.
The draw leaves both teams stuck in similar positions to where each sat at the start of the round, and although there is still a lot of the season to go for both sides, single point performances are not going to cut it if they want to challenge for anything more than a mid-table finish in 2015.
Next week sees Singleton play against Valentine after two consecutive losses for the former table leaders, and with Valentine’s confidence plummeting fast it may be a chance for Singleton to get three points to their name in the second round of fixtures.
Cessnock City meanwhile will have a hard time against Kahibah at home next weekend, with Andre Gumprecht’s side having just relaxed over the weekend with a much-needed bye. City will be looking to force errors from the in-form side after the break however, and looks for the three points that can move them in the right direction on the table.
Toronto Awaba FC 1 def. by Belmont Swansea United SC 2
Lyall Peacock Field
2.30pm, Sunday 7th June
The first match on Sunday was played at Lyall Peacock Field, with two of the in-form teams, Toronto Awaba and Belmont Swansea, clashing in an important second half of the season game.
The game started slowly, with the field forcing both teams to play slowly or risk losing the possession of the ball, but the Belmont Swansea side moved onto the attack as they became more comfortable in the match.
The first goal came in the first half, with Matt Cook tapping it into the back of the net and forcing the Stags to come out of their defensive formations and brave the pitch to go for the equalising goal.
The answering goal came soon after, with Toronto Awaba levelling out the scoreline and making sure that Cook’s goal wasn’t going to be the winning volley.
The first half closed out with both teams locked, and both Tony Jovcevski and Paul Matthews demanded more of their team to keep the strong winning streak alive.
Belmont Swansea proved to be the team hungrier for the three points, with another goal coming from Shane Paul that put them one goal above the Stags again, and Paul’s sealed chance ended up being the victorious goal, with the Belswans travelling home with three more points under their belt.
Paul Matthews was impressed with his side’s dominance once they acclimatised to the pitch, and was happy to see their run continue.
“It was a bit of a torrid game, with the pitch being a bit bobbly,” Matthews stated.
“We were able to play through that however, and even with one of our players out with pretty average injury we were able to hold up well. The replacement player made a really good account of himself as well; I was impressed with how he performed.”
“Now we have to keep the confidence alive and back up on our next Wednesday game. If we can keep getting wins then we can have a great second half of the season.”
The victory puts Belmont Swansea only a single point outside the top four, with their dominant wins now taking them closer to their season objectives – a showing in the semi-finals of the season.
The Stags meanwhile have been stopped in their tracks after a series of wins and are once again on the bottom of the table after Cessnock collected a single point from a draw.
The table is close now for the Stags however, only two points away from climbing out of the wooden spoon position, and a week off with the bye gives them a chance to clear their heads and return to win more points and possibly find their way out of the situation they’ve dropped into.
Belmont Swansea now turn around to play Lake Macquarie City on the weekend at home, where they are hoping to take their strong form from the Valentine game to another of the title challengers and possibly put their run to a stop on Sunday afternoon.
Lake Macquarie City FC 8 def. West Wallsend SFC 1
2.30pm, Sunday 7th June
After a strong performance midweek, Lake Macquarie City welcomed West Wallsend to Macquarie Field to try and secure three more points, and a bid for the top spot that they’d lost weeks before.
The confidence of beating the Thornton Redbacks 6-1 on Wednesday was apparent as the former National Premier Leagues side opened the scoring, with the Walker brothers proving their lethality in front of goals once more.
A mistake by Lake Macquarie’s keeper came just before half time however, with a West Wallsend striker bursting forward to beat him to the ball on a back pass before squaring the net and tapping it away, leaving the score at 3-1 at half time.
The half time talk clearly made a difference however, with another five goals coming unanswered for Lake Macquarie, and the final tally of goalscorers came to Sam, Tom and Dean Walker all making it onto the scoresheet, with Brad York and Sean Matthews backing up the performance with three more goals between them.
Barry Ross was incredibly pleased with the two performances that his side put in recently, returning the team to their strong form.
“The way we played Wednesday was the best performance that I’ve seen from us all season, and we took that as a confidence builder that helped our game on the weekend,” Ross commented.
“We played good football all day long, and it looks like the team has come back, psychologically, into the season and they’re all switched on and playing well again. We were looking good in training and then falling short in the games but that’s all changed now.”
“It was total domination in both games and everyone stood out, with Sam and Tom Walker both taking braces and Joey Cacic getting the Player’s Player award for his defensive performances.”
“We’re third but we have catch-up games, so we haven’t been looking at the table that much. Without the catch-up games down the table doesn’t have a great idea of where all the teams really are and we could be first by the time we’re back on balance of games.”
Lake Macquarie now take on Belmont Swansea on their streak of form, and Ross’ squad will need to bring everything they have to bear against the Belswans away from home if they are to challenge for promotion once again.
West Wallsend need to turn their spiral of defeats around now or risk losing sight of the finals, and the derby clash against Wallsend could give them that chance. While Wallsend are currently top of the table, the derby throws form out the window and the three points will be vital for West Wallsend – a loss is unacceptable.
Thornton Redbacks FC 1 def. Valentine FC 0
2.30pm, Sunday 7th June
The final game of the round saw the Thornton Redbacks come up against Valentine after both sides had suffered mid-week defeats.
The Redbacks fell to a flurry of goals as Lake Macquarie won 6-1 to break Thornton’s confidence, while Valentine were delivered their first loss of the season at the hands of Belmont Swansea, something that could see their momentum in the league brought to a halt.
Both sides were hard pressed to break the other’s defences, with Thornton lining up to silence Valentine’s leading forwards, and it was noticeable that Valentine’s confidence had been shaken by their first loss of the season.
Although Valentine were able to create chances, their strikers simply couldn’t find the back of the net, and Thornton’s single goal that came with less than 15 minutes to go from Nathan Mcallister, gave the Redbacks a close, but definitive, win over the Phoenix side, and Valentine took their second loss of the season.
Valentine’s Alan Hackett has been disappointed in his side’s loss of focus however, and knows if they don’t change something soon they could fall further on the table.
“It makes it really hard when we get two losses in a row,” he commented.
“I’ve been saying all season, if we don’t show up then we’re going to be made to pay and the team didn’t show up mid-week and they didn’t show up against the Redbacks either.”
“Thornton did their job and we didn’t perform to our expectations, we didn’t play properly and we just couldn’t do anything right. I’m not happy with the team’s performance and now it’s back to the whiteboard to fix these problems.”
“I’ve said to the club that I think we are a dominant 1st Division side, but I don’t think that we are ready for the Premier League yet and these two losses have backed up my words – we need to challenge in every single game and we’ve failed to do that now.”
“At the moment other teams are hungrier than us and we need to get back on track or we’re going to struggle to keep preparing. We need to come back and work our butts off or we’ll lose any chance we have for a promotion.”
Thornton now take the confidence of beating the top team out of their well-held spot to a game against Cooks Hill United, where United will be looking to avenge their defeat from this weekend, while the Redbacks will need to back up the weekend’s win with another three points.
Valentine meanwhile need to take a win or risk following West Wallsend down the table with a series of defeats and draws that end with them struggling to remain in the top four, and the game against Singleton on the weekend has turned into a must-win for the form of the once-first side.