Match of the Round
Kahibah FC v Valentine FC
2.30pm, Sunday 5th June
The NEWFM 1st Division Match of the Round sees Kahibah welcome top-placed Valentine to Kahibah Oval as both teams look to secure their position on the ladder with a three point victory.
Last weekend saw Kahibah ward off Cooks Hill United for the fourth placed position in a battle away from home, with Kahibah putting four goals past the finals hopefuls. With seven wins and four draws making up their 25 points, Kahibah are now four points clear in the top four and are looking to secure that with another strong win.
A victory could put them level with Lake Macquarie City on 28 points, and bring them close to a chance at a favourable draw in the finals in the second or third place. As it stands, Kahibah could be playing against the promoted side of the tournament, a tough fixture to say the least.
Valentine stands to be the promoted side this season so far, with their win putting them two points above their first place rivals, and now a win over Kahibah is crucial if they want to maintain their spot – if they lose to Andre Gumprecht’s dangerous side they could slip below Wallsend, and even Lake Macquarie, and watch the chance to reach the PS4 National Premier Leagues slip from their control.
Valentine’s coach Alan Hackett knows that every game is a battle for the top spot as the run to the finals begins.
“We’ve still got a lot of crucial fixtures that we can’t slip up on now, and Kahibah is coming up, they’re a top four side and we don’t want to get tripped up by them,” Hackett stated.
“I expect the team to go into every game challenging and every game is a grand final for us, the boys have said that they want to get promoted and they have to prove that and to prove that they have to take wins and win every game.”
“Mid-week fixtures might catch up with us and I’m not sure what the times are to play but knowing our luck it’ll be Wallsend and Lake Macquarie in four days.”
“Apart from the two games that we’ve lost that brought the boys back into focus we’ve been great with the wins, and now that focus is making sure that we can win everything in front of us – right now it’s Kahibah and we have to take this important victory.”
The battle could determine if Valentine’s position becomes unassailable, or if Kahibah are stepping right into the mix as a contender for one of the top spots on the ladder, and one thing is for sure – the match at Kahibah Oval is crucial and unmissable this weekend.
Belmont Swansea United SC v West Wallsend SFC
2.30pm, Sunday 5th June
The second game of Round 17 will be played at Blacksmiths Oval, with West Wallsend looking to come off their bye round with a win to get their season back on track. Belmont Swansea United have had a strong run of form recently however, and will be looking to spoil West Wallsend’s plans and take all three points.
Belmont Swansea have climbed to fifth place after a rocky start to the season, dropping Cooks Hill United into sixth place and creeping within four points of the top four spots. Six wins have rivalled six losses so far for them, with three games ending in draws, and now Paul Matthew’s side needs wins to finish their great run towards the final four.
West Wallsend meanwhile have fallen the opposite way on the ladder, dropping from a lofty spot in the finals down to eighth place suffering a series of defeats to bring their record to four wins, two draws and eight losses in total.
Their 14 points still keeps them close to the middle of the table, but for the West Wallsend side the season is looking all but over if they can’t secure victories over the next few weekends.
The Belswans are now eyeing the finals with a renewed vigour, and Coach Matthews knows that if they can keep their form and find the back of the net a top four finish could be a realistic possibility.
“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,” he said.
“We were good earlier but now we seem that we can score goals now too and they’re all putting in, and it helps that I have a big squad that I can pick from now. I can say that we’re going to keep the side for next year and when we’re together next year has a great chance to start off the season and has a good run.”
“We now have to take each game on its merits and we have to go out and deliver. I really believe that if this side gets the attitude going then we could make it, and if we get there it’s amazing. Over the last few weeks we’ve proved that we have the skill and talent to get there – now we have to follow through.”
A loss for West Wallsend virtually ends their season’s chances of making it back to the finals, while a win for the Belmont Swansea outfit puts them within a hair’s breadth of their season’s objectives – the finals. With everything to play for, both sides need the win if they’re to keep their hopes alive, and the game is set to be an absolute cracker at Blacksmiths Oval.
Singleton SC v Cooks Hill United FC
2.30pm, Sunday 5th June
Cooks Hill United travel to Howe Park to play against Singleton in the middle game of the weekend, with both teams separated by only a single position on the ladder.
Singleton are six points behind the city based side however, and Cooks Hill will still be three points clear of all competitors below them if they fall to a defeat. Four wins and two draws have given Singleton the place at the top of the bottom half of the table, but seven defeats have kept them from climbing higher in their pursuits of a top half finish.
Cooks Hill meanwhile were just overtaken by Belmont Swansea on the ladder, losing their fifth spot position with a loss to Kahibah in the battle for the finals. Now a win is necessary for them to remain in the race, with Kahibah and Belmont Swansea both strong competitors for the single spot.
Cooks Hill’s Warren Spink believes that the side are in for a chance to make it to the finals, but that they need to find consistency or risk falling away.
“We need to string consistency together and that’s something that has avoided us in the season. We’re in with a chance if we can get that, and we can get something out of most of the games that we have.”
“We have two more injuries against Kahibah so it’s going to be a frustrating end to the season with injuries”.
“We’ve been great against all the teams and we’ve not been destroyed by any side in the league, but they’re always close games, Kahibah was just clinical in the end and that was one of our widest defeat margins yet.”
“If we get a fifth place finish that would be amazing for our debut season, we’ve blooded a few of the younger boys when we were chasing the game but we may look at promoting a few of the younger boys if the finals are out of reach.”
“We’ll know after this weekend. We have five games, five wins means we’re in. If we drop a game then it’ll be development for the rest of the season and keeping our spots, but we’re not going to let off in our last five games at all.”
It’s a grand final match for Cooks Hill, and a loss could see the Belswans and Kahibah race too far ahead for Spink’s side to catch them again. For now, the Singleton match away from home is all that matters, and it’s shaping up to be a big clash between two strong sides in the league.
Thornton Redbacks FC v Wallsend FC
2.30pm, Sunday 5th June
The Redbacks return to Thornton Park this weekend to take on title-contenders Wallsend as both teams hunt three points for their end-of-season run in.
The Redbacks have had a mixed season so far, winning only three of their games and drawing two, while falling to eight defeats in their campaign. Two points off the bottom of the ladder, the Thornton side need a win to distance themselves for a bottom spot finish in the 2015 season, but must battle past Wallsend if they want to do it.
Finally stopped in their ten game winning streak last weekend, Wallsend now need to defeat the Thornton team that they are challenging if they want to remain in the top place race in the final weeks. Hounded by Lake Macquarie City below them and blocked by Valentine above them, Wallsend are now in a fight to prove that they deserve promotion, and retain at least a top two position in the season.
Ten wins and three losses have made up their season so far, and if they can avoid defeat in the final matches of the league then they could be in with a close chance of taking the title away from the favourites at the start of the season – Lakes and Valentine.
“We cannot underestimate Thornton,” Wallsend’s Josh Rufo agreed.
“Just because the Redbacks are down the bottom of the ladder doesn’t mean anything – they beat Valentine and made sure that we could still catch them. We have to be ready for everything in the match.”
“We are focusing on fixing what we feel went wrong in the match last weekend, and even though Belmont Swansea played really well I think that it was our failings that let us down as well, and we’re going to get rid of those in our game.”
“Top place is still in our hands, we’ve got a game in hand over Valentine and we have to play both Valentine and Lakes so we could put them both behind us, we need to go four points above Valentine with a win over Lake Macquarie. The players need to realize how big of a carrot there is dangling in front of us and they need to be able to take it – this is the first match that we can prove we have what it takes, and we’re going to prove it.”
The clash is highly anticipated by all that are watching the Wallsend – Valentine battle, and the Redbacks are not a team to be let down lightly, with this match going to be a fiery game from start to finish for both sides.
Toronto Awaba FC v Cessnock City FC
Lyall Peacock Field
2.30pm, Sunday 5th June
The final clash of the Round 17 fixtures will be played at Lyall Peacock Field, with Cessnock City travelling to take on Toronto Awaba as both sides look to get out of the bottom end of the ladder.
The Stags have had a struggle in their season so far, having won only three games in 13 matches and their nine points have left them stuck on the bottom of the table, a single point behind Cessnock.
City have had two wins and four draws to collect their ten points, and have lost nine games so far. A win can put them one point behind eighth place however, and they need to win if they’re going to escape the battle for the wooden spoon in the final weeks.
Toronto Awaba’s Tony Jovcevski is looking for stabilisation and building for the future in the last games of the season.
“Hopefully we’re actually going to have all our players back, we had four players out who should be back for Lake Macquarie on Wednesday night and the players that took their spots were great, especially once they fixed their mistakes in the second half, but we had to combat what was happening out on the pitch and it was hard having players that I hadn’t been training with week in and week out.”
“We’re looking to the future now, we’re building and making sure that everyone is walking away with experience, and we’re looking for finishing our chances and making sure that we’re doing that.”
“We need to get a few more points on the table and I still have hopes that we can squeeze in to a good finish and get off the bottom of the table. If we’re working towards improving our talents and getting wins at the same time and leaving the spoon behind then that would be great for us.”
There’s a chance that this game could be the decider in who finishes last in the 2015 season, and with neither side wanting that mark on their record this game will be a clash that should not, and cannot, be missed – it’s going to be a great game of football between two equally matched teams.
Lake Macquarie FC