Match of the Round
Cooks Hill United FC 0 def. by Lake Macquarie City FC 3
Newcastle Athletics Field
2.30pm, Saturday 11th July
The NEWFM 1st Division Match of the Round was the first game to kick off for the weekend, as Cooks Hill United fought against Lake Macquarie City in their efforts to break into the top four positions.
Lake Macquarie kicked off the game with the midfield looking to deliver the Walkers a chance on goals, and although the home side’s defence held strong for a while, Sam Walker continued to prove why he is the top scorer in the league as he netted his 30th goal of the season in the first half.
Although the travelling side continued to push against Cooks Hill’s defence, the first goal was the only finished chance that City could collect in the first 45 minutes and the half time score saw Lake Macquarie leading by only a slight margin.
United looked set to make a comeback when they returned to the field for the second half of the match, but a goal from Tom Walker silenced the resurgence that was threatening to build, and Lake Macquarie took control once more, creating chances that Cooks Hill were hard pressed to keep out of the back of the net.
Sam Walker maintained his devastating goal-scoring form as he smashed in his 31st goal of the season and the second of the match, sinking Cooks Hill’s hopes for good and keeping their three goal lead all the way to the final whistle.
The win keeps Lake Macquarie a point behind Valentine on the ladder, with 37 points now firmly due to the deadly form of the Walker brothers.
Lakes’ Barry Ross was extremely pleased to take another win, especially against a strong side like Cooks Hill, and now looks to the future matches that are still to come.
“We had trouble acclimatising to the field in the beginning but it was good to see how strongly we dominated once we got used to it,” Ross stated.
“I think that we could have gotten even more goals if we weren’t missing some of the chances that we made. Our team did a really great job of bringing us close to goal scoring opportunities and Sam and Tom [Walker] did great jobs trying to put them in the back of the net.”
“We now turn our attention to the fixture against Kahibah on Wednesday night. These were vital points but we need to back them up with another strong win and Wednesday night will be crucial for us overall.”
The defeat now puts Cooks Hill five points away from the top four with four games to play, and with Kahibah and Belmont Swansea both still looking strong it is more than likely than United’s season bid for the finals is now over, bar slip-ups from the other teams.
Regardless, their debut season has been a great showing for the club and Warren Spink will now be looking to train some of their younger players from the Under 23s as they prepare for their finals chances in the next season.
Next weekend sees them play against Toronto Awaba away from home as both teams look to recover from their losses.
Lake Macquarie meanwhile will come up against Valentine in arguably the biggest clash of the season so far, as the 90 minute battle could decide the league topper and the team that claims promotion for the year.
Valentine FC 5 def. West Wallsend SFC 0
2.30pm, Saturday 11th July
The second Saturday match saw Cahill Oval play host to the game between Valentine and West Wallsend, with Valentine hunting three vital points as they race for the top spot on the ladder with Lake Macquarie.
West Wallsend had trouble on the road against Valentine as the table-topping side gave a five-star master class at their home ground in the race for the promotion spot.
Just over 25 minutes into the match Corey Atkinson smashed the ball into the back of the net, putting Valentine in the lead as their forwards ran rampant across West Wallsend’s defence.
Another goal came just after half time, as Corey Wilson joined the score sheet and doubled the lead that Valentine deserved with their performance, with the away side struggling to play their way back into the game.
Atkinson put another goal on the sheet eight minutes later, with West Wallsend’s defence beginning to struggle against Valentine’s clinical movements, and less than six minutes later Luke Barnier proved his skill in front of the net with another close finish.
A final goal came at the 70th minute as Reece Newtown finished off the three-point finish, taking the win and keeping Valentine in their top place on the ladder.
Alan Hackett, Valentine’s coach, was pleased with the repeat performance after a close win last week with ten men.
“Having everyone on the field made all the difference and we showed off our talents,” Hackett stated.
“We had both Coreys firing in great form in the game and they had a really phenomenal performance. Lobb also stood out in defence and he deserves credit for keeping our clean sheet.”
Valentine now take on Lake Macquarie City next weekend in the massive clash at Macquarie Field, with the battle more than likely determining Hackett’s side’s chances at rising to the PS4 National Premier Leagues next season.
Toronto Awaba FC 1 def. by Thornton Redbacks FC 2
Lyall Peacock Field
2.30pm, Sunday 12th July
The Redbacks are now fighting to keep the Stags down at Lyall Peacock Field, when they travelled to take on Toronto Awaba on Sunday afternoon.
Travelling away to Lyall Peacock didn’t faze Thornton’s form, as they came out swinging and quickly took control of the scoring opportunities.
Nathan Mcallister was the first to snatch a goal for the Redbacks, putting one in just before the 20th minute mark and putting the away side in good stead as they battled against the Stags.
The first half closed out without another goal-scoring event, but Jason Thomas took Mcallister’s lead to heart and smashed one into the back of the net ten minutes into the second half, giving the Redbacks a good lead to defend.
A penalty chance came for Timmy Davies from Toronto Awaba as the game drew on, and he was able to send the keeper the wrong way to bring the difference back down to one, but it was too little and too late for the home team and Thornton took the win, lifting them higher up the table and leaving the Stags one point from the bottom.
“We got a good lead and then the real test in the match came in the last ten minutes,” Darrel Mcallister commented on the win.
“The Stags threw everything that they had against us in those moments in the match when they could have equalised but we held on and I’m really proud of the boys for that.”
“We didn’t play at the top of our level in that match and I know we’re capable of even better performances as we continue, but I’m happy with the win overall.”
“It’s important for us to keep up on the ladder in the last quarter of the season and the win does just that – we keep challenging and we keep climbing and that’s all we can ask in the last matches of the year.”
The win leaves the Redbacks eleven points below the finals, but with seven games still to play in the season – the most out of any of the teams – a possible 21 points could change their position dramatically and give them hope for an improved finish in the season.
The Stags meanwhile continue to ward off the bottom place in the league, and will now need a win against Cooks Hill United at home if they are to stay away from Cessnock City’s slow progress up the ladder.
The Redbacks take on Kahibah on the road in a game that could slow Kahibah’s push and give Thornton a chance to close the gap. They will also be relying on Belmont Swansea and Cooks Hill dropping points again – for now, they just need to collect their own win and three points it offers them.
Cessnock City FC 1 drew. Belmont Swansea United SC 1
Turner Park 1
2.30pm, Sunday 12th July
Cessnock City played off against Belmont Swansea United as the combined outfit journeyed to Turner Park where they looked for three points in a bid to reach out for the finals that they have fought close to securing in the season.
Although both teams were strong in their performances Cessnock City put in a great bid to defeat Belmont Swansea’s best outing, with Mitchell Cox scoring the Hornets’ only goal.
Belswans were able to bring one back for their side at Turner Park however and claimed a draw away from home, a result that they deserved with their strengths.
The draw halts both teams on the table, with Cessnock left stuck on the bottom of the table even after Toronto Awaba fell to a defeat, and the Hornets will be kicking themselves about missing the opportunity to drop the Stags back down to eleventh place.
Belmont Swansea step into fourth place with the draw, levelling Kahibah and dropping them out of the finals spot that they’ve held for weeks and now must take a series of wins if they want to keep the chance at battling it out in the elimination rounds.
The first of these matches comes in a fortnight’s time, as first Belmont Swansea must take the bye weekend and clear their heads for the final battles of the season.
Cessnock City turn around to play West Wallsend in their match next weekend however and will be banking on the West Wallsend’s poor form giving them a chance for the three points, and an attempt to get back off the bottom of the table.
Singleton SC 2 def. Kahibah FC 0
3.15pm, Sunday 12th July
The final match of the round saw Kahibah take on Singleton at the Kahibah Oval as Singleton looked to improve their run towards the finals with a win over fourth placed Kahibah.
Singleton were able to take all three points with the win, an upset that sees Kahibah slip closer to dropping out of their finals spot in the league.
The Strikers’ first goal came just after the 15th minute off the boot of Rob Field, a goal that shocked Kahibah’s defence and left them struggling to return to the competitiveness of the match.
Although their defence did recover and kept the Strikers out for a long time, the second goal came in the 70th minute with Jackson Cox putting the game out of reach and claiming the win for Scott Bailie’s side.
The win puts Singleton in a strong position on the ladder, stepping into sixth place and coming within five points of Kahibah. A loss for the Strikers could have sunk their finals chances, but now they are within with a chance for their last six games.
Kahibah still have six games to play as well however and sit five points above the Strikers and their match against the Thornton Redbacks next weekend will need to be a win if they want to keep distance between the teams below them.
Singleton take on Wallsend where they’ll be hoping for another win to put them in good stead in the race for fourth, but Wallsend will need to be struggling if Singleton is in for a chance – Bailie’s side will be looking for a strong upset and the three points.