Match of the Round
Cooks Hill United FC 1 def. by Kahibah FC 4
Newcastle Athletics Field
2.30pm, Saturday 27th June
The Match of the Round sees the battle between Cooks Hill United and Kahibah for the top four position, with Cooks Hill breathing down Kahibah’s neck on the ladder.
The game opened with Cooks Hill’s trademark attacks breaking against Kahibah’s strong defence and early on Matt Lee put the travelling side one up to bolster Cooks Hill’s resolve further.
Always dangerous in front of goals, Peter Pryce was able to bring the game back level for the home team, but Kahibah were simply too strong for them as the game rolled on, and although it was a close match, Andre Gumprecht’s defence won out in the day.
Two more goals came for Matt Lee without answer, silencing Cooks Hill’s efforts to catch back up to the team above them on the ladder, and a goal from Brendan Trummel sunk United as the goal margin blew out to an unassailable three goal lead.
The margin didn’t tell the whole story of the game however, with both teams evenly matched down the centre of the pitch, and only clinical finishing on the part of the hat-trick earning Matt Lee really tipped the balance of the match.
United’s Warren Spink was disappointed that they couldn’t close the gap between the two sides on the ladder.
“Absolutely disappointed, it was a fairly even game but Kahibah defends really well in numbers and we were struggling to break them down in the final third,” Spink commented.
“We had two starting players out for the game and the last five or six games we’ve been missing five regular players so it’s hard to play with that, so the results we’ve been getting have been really good, and the other boys have been stepping up too.”
“It’s a shame taking the loss at home because we were playing so flat, even with a few stand-outs in midfield. We didn’t have any standout performances and that’s what you need to take the win, it makes it hard to get the victory without the team standing out.”
“A win obviously would have swapped our positions on the ladder, so it’s hard for us to take the defeat, but once we string consistency together we’ll be flying high again and if we can get wins for our last five games then this will just be a trip up on the run in.”
The win away from home means that Kahibah’s top four position is safe, and there may be a chance that Cooks Hill won’t be able to fight their way into the finals if the other competitors fail to slip up.
Cooks Hill’s next game sees the squad facing off against Singleton next weekend away from home in what has now become a must-win for the newly promoted side if they want to reach their objectives for the season.
Regardless, Spink’s side has already flown high in their first campaign and has proven that they deserve to be playing in the NEWFM 1st Division.
Kahibah meanwhile will be looking for three more points on the trot now, playing at home against Valentine, and if Gumprecht’s team can take all three of the points available to them at the Kahibah Oval then they may even have a chance to come within five points of second place.
Valentine FC 8 def. Toronto Awaba FC 2
2.30pm, Saturday 27th June
The second clash of the weekend saw Valentine and Toronto Awaba play off at Cahill Oval, with the teams locked at opposite ends of the table and looking to improve their positions.
The game looked set to deliver another loss for Valentine with the Stags smashing a goal away early in the game, but the first shot only spurred Alan Hackett’s side to a lethal performance.
The half time score of the match saw six goals to Valentine and only that first single goal to Toronto Awaba, and the game looked all packed away when both sides took to the field again in the second half.
Another goal for Toronto Awaba was answered in kind by two goals from Valentine’s forwards, and the massive six goal margin told tales of Valentine’s deadly attack.
A hat-trick for Scott McGinley and a brace for Corey Atkinson complimented the scoresheet well for the home side, with Paul McGinley, Reece Newton and Luke Barnier also contributing to the domination.
Hackett himself knew that the rough start to the game would bring the best out in his side.
“We weren’t happy with the start and I’m happy that the team came back to bring their best football to bear. We weren’t exactly consistent but the scoreline definitely favoured us in the end.”
“The win means that we’re going to look ahead to our other fixtures now, and see how we need to approach them. Wallsend, Lake Macquarie and Belmont Swansea are all soon and they’re all teams that could be battling for the top spot – our tough games are ahead of us and we need more of these performances from the team.”
“We’re taking the games week by week now in the run in and Kahibah’s soon as well, they’re a top four side that should not be underestimated. We go into every game challenging and I want the boys to prove to the competition, and themselves, that they’re deserving of the promotion that we’re fighting for.”
Tony Jovcevski took away the fact that the second half only had a one goal margin, but knew that the first half had been disappointing for his side.
“Everything went wrong in the first half,” Jovcevski stated.
“They outplayed us and we were spectators for the whole second half. The first eight minutes were going really well for the side and then Valentine came out of nowhere and proved why they are such a great team. It felt like we were watching from the sidelines at points.”
“We explained what we were doing wrong and we came out and fixed them but it was already too late, and the damage had been done. They’re one of the better sides that we’ve played all season, and the scoreline just blew out too far in the first 45 minutes.”
“Valentine gave us a learning experience. I think they’re the team that clinches promotion this season, they deserve it and they’ve proved across their games that they have what it takes. You’re going to see them in the Premier League next season.”
Three more points are crucial for Valentine when they come up against Kahibah next weekend at Kahibah’s home ground, and with the opposing side coming off a close win over their direct top-four rivals, Valentine’s attack will need to bring everything they have to bear against the tough side.
The Stags meanwhile must take a win against Cessnock City next weekend or risk their final position being the wooden spoon, and with City only a point above Toronto Awaba on the ladder the fight could not be fiercer.
Wallsend FC 1 def. by Belmont Swansea United SC 2
2.30pm, Sunday 28th June
Table-topping Wallsend welcomed Belmont Swansea United to The Gardens in a must win game that could have seen them remain behind Valentine if they failed to grab points from the match.
Wallsend’s game started slowly and Belmont Swansea were quick to take advantage of that control, forcing Wallsend to come to them and orchestrating the pace of the match.
Although Paul Wheeler was able to bag a goal for Wallsend, the travelling side wanted it more on the day, and Belswans were able to take the lead with two goals that proved to be the tipping point of the match.
Luke Glanz and Tim Schultz were the scorers for United, putting them a goal up and taking all three points for the side as they continue to rise in their quest for top four, just as they had finished last season.
Wallsend’s Josh Rufo was disappointed with their ten game winning streak coming to an end at the hands of one of the mid-table sides in the league, but has faith that his side can bounce back from the defeat.
“It’s not even really the drop to second place,” Rufo commented, “it’s the fact that we were disappointing, we were top of the league and we shouldn’t be letting teams that aren’t at our level get over the top of us.”
“They were hungrier than us, they came out more enthusiastic and full credit to them for the win, but we shouldn’t be letting other sides do that to us, and we should have had full control of the top of the table after this round.”
“We have to put the game behind us for Thornton now and make sure that the two weeks off hasn’t cost us more than just those three points. We don’t need changes, we just need to keep our heads up and make sure that we don’t falter from this.”
“A team with ten wins in a row doesn’t go from that to a series of losses so I think we’re still in a good place, and we’re still very much in the running for the promotion spot.”
Paul Matthews, coach of Belmont Swansea, focused on the consistency of his side in the battle.
“We played fair football but our consistency was pretty poor, we need to find a way to get it into our game. We’re still a little way off the finals and that’s going to be the tipping point for us.”
“We need to keep winning and we have to hope that Kahibah and other sides near the bottom of the top four can meet top sides and drop points. Our aim is to get another finals appearance and if we can be consistent, remain injury free and keep playing the football that we have over the last few weeks then we’ll do just that.”
“The team has gelled in together now and it took a while to come to grips with the way that we were playing but over the last six or seven games they seem to have picked them up well. We now have to take each game on its merits and we have to go out and deliver now.”
The defeat sends Wallsend back to second place on the ladder, now two points behind Valentine, and the game against the Thornton Redbacks next weekend is vital for Rufo’s side if they want to return back to the top spot. Their problem now is that they must rely on Valentine falling to a defeat once more if they are to take back the promotion spot.
Belmont Swansea take on West Wallsend next weekend as well, with United needing another three points after this triumphant win. Still standing seven points outside the top four, the Belswans are looking for an undefeated run coming into the end of the season as dropped points could lose their chance for the finals in the last weeks.
Cessnock City FC 1 def. by Lake Macquarie City FC 4
Turner Park 1
2.30pm, Sunday 28th June
The final match of the round saw Lake Macquarie City travelling to Turner Park to take on Cessnock City, with Lakes needing a win to break back into the battle for the top spot in the league.
The game opened with Lake Macquarie rising to the occasion quickly off the back of the boot of Josh Witherspoon, putting the side one goal ahead away from side, but Cessnock were able to answer back with a goal off a free-kick.
Sam Walker scored in yet another game in a row, putting Lakes back in the lead in time for the second half, with City stepping onto the front foot and forcing Cessnock onto the back foot.
Another goal for Sam Walker was followed soon after by his brother Tom, and the three goal difference put Lake Macquarie firmly in the lead, claiming the win and the vital three points on the ladder.
Barry Ross was quick to praise Sam Walker for his lethal scoring form, with the striker scoring at least two goals in the last handful of games.
“Sam Walker is the key,” Ross stated.
“He’s well supported as well, Joey Cacic had a really good game and he brought Sam’s chances with him as well. The whole team is performing to a T, with the backline fighting as an organised unit now.”
“They only scored off a set piece that might even have been saveable in the end. We definitely have a chance to take back the top place with the performances that we’ve been putting in.”
“Sam, Tom and Josh up front has been perfect for us, and they give us a chance to take back the top place, especially considering they have a clash against each other in the a catch-up mid-week, and if we can win against the Stags on Wednesday night we could be right back in the mix.”
Cessnock’s match against Toronto Awaba next weekend could be vital to keep them off the bottom of the table, but Lake Macquarie don’t play a match next weekend, taking a break with the bye for the round and taking a chance to recuperate and recover.
Thornton Redbacks FC v Singleton SC
2.30pm, Sunday 28th June
Fixture postponed due to weather.
West Wallsend SFC