Match of the Round
Lake Macquarie City FC v Valentine FC
2.30pm, Sunday 19th July
Arguably the biggest match of the second round of fixtures, Sunday afternoon sees Valentine travel to Macquarie Field to take on Lake Macquarie City as the two sides battle it out for the top spot on the ladder.
After returning to the top of the table, Valentine have had a string of strong wins in recent weeks and now stand on 38 points, a position they earned through twelve wins and two draws, while suffering only two losses in the entire season.
Lake Macquarie are a point behind Valentine, but still hold a game in hand over the title-favourites. Twelve wins and a single draw leave them on 37 points, but a win over the travelling side could put them in front and out of reach with their five games left to play.
Lake Macquarie and Valentine have both been powerhouses when it comes to goal-scoring totals and the battle on the field will be between the Walker brothers and Valentine’s McGinley brothers, as well as the leader’s top scorer, Corey Atkinson.
Barry Ross knows that this game could be vital for the whole season, and looks forward to it.
“The whole squad has confidence coming into the match and knows that it’s really important for us,” he said.
“The Walker brothers have been great in front of goals and we need them to keep delivering. Sam Walker’s two goals a game hasn’t dropped and if he can keep doing that then we’re assured of the title by the end of the season.”
A win for Lakes could put them two points clear of Valentine, and with three points still up for grabs over the leaders they could go five points above the closest competitor in third place.
A win for Valentine keeps Lake Macquarie four points below them however, and means that their destiny is once more firmly in their hands. If they fall to a defeat or are held to a draw then they’ll have to rely on Barry Ross’s strong outfit, and their lethal 42 goal partnership with Sam and Tom Walker, losing to another of the teams that they face in their final run in.
One thing is for sure in this clash at Macquarie Field – this will be a game that is rivalled by no other. With Valentine and Lake Macquarie both coming into the match in great form and with their teams strong, this cannot be a game to be missed, and should be the only place you are on Sunday afternoon.
West Wallsend SFC v Cessnock City FC
2.30pm, Sunday 19th July
West Wallsend take on Cessnock City at Johnston Park this Sunday afternoon, with both teams looking to turn wins into run-ons that they can carry into the end of the season.
Three points off the bottom of the table, West Wallsend has fallen far from the top four spot that they carved out for themselves at the beginning of the season.
Four wins and two draws have done little in the way of point collection when the club also stares down ten losses on their season record, but with five games left to play the West Wallsend club now could double their points in the season with five consecutive wins, the first of which they will need against the Hornets.
Locked in last place with two wins and five draws to equal eleven points, the Cessnock City side now must take a win against West Wallsend if they are to have any hope of breaking off the bottom of the table. The wooden spoon would be a regression for the side and possibly a failure of a season – a win here could see them climb spots on the ladder and capitalise on it in the next few weeks to fight out of the last place spots.
A win for West Wallsend could be incredibly important for them to get back into the fight for the finals, and Gary Rowe’s side cannot afford another loss this far into the season. Three points against Cessnock City will keep them right behind the teams in the battle for top four and make sure that they remain relevant – leaving Johnston Park with nothing could see the season’s hopes slip away.
Cessnock City’s objectives also demand a win in the game, and if results go their way across the board they could find their way off the bottom of the league table once more.
The battle to avoid the wooden spoon with the Stags is heating up now and if they can’t find a way to string together wins then the bottom place could have their name on it by season’s end.
The three points are up in the air for the duel against both sides, and with both teams ready for the final clashes of the season this match promises to be a spectacle, and not one to be missed by fans of either side.
Toronto Awaba FC v Cooks Hill United FC
Lyall Peacock Field
2.30pm, Sunday 19th July
Toronto Awaba welcome Cooks Hill United to Lyall Peacock Field as they look to distance themselves from the bottom of the table, with Sunday afternoon’s game vital to their success.
The Stags have had a difficult season since the league expanded to eleven teams, struggling for wins in the first round of fixtures and now two points off the bottom of the table with a quarter of the season to go.
Their record so far as seen them take four wins and fall to twelve defeats in their 16 games, and a big factor in that poor record so far could be the fact that their defence struggled to click in the opening matches. The side has conceded one goal short of a half century, with only West Wallsend having conceded more across the board.
Cooks Hill United came within a hair’s breadth of the finals in the middle of the season, but now have lost progress to Belmont Swansea and Singleton’s late surges.
Six wins, two draws and nine losses have marked their progress in their opening season in the NEWFM 1st Division, and Coach Warren Spink has been happy about the progress that the side has made.
“We’re going to keep looking to win as the season pulls on, but for now we’re just looking for wins,” he said.
“If we make it to the finals now that’s a great finish, but we held ourselves to a great account and our players got a taste of what the upper echelons of the leagues are like. Next season is going to be about building on this experience and looking for even more chances to go further.”
“Right now we just look for three points and the match on the weekend gives us another chance to put in a good performance, for the fans and for the other teams in the comp – we want to prove that we belong here.”
A win is vital for the Stags as they look to keep off the bottom of the table, but both teams are strong sides, and the game could go either way as both teams look to prove their worth with another three point display – the attack of both sides is going to be firing on all cylinders on Sunday afternoon.
Wallsend FC v Singleton SC
Turner Park 1
2.30pm, Sunday 19th July
Turner Park plays host to Wallsend as they look to stabilise and re-enter the title fight in the last rounds of the competition, with Singleton travelling on Sunday afternoon in their bid to continue their climb on the ladder.
Wallsend have had troubles in recent weeks, racking up five losses in their total to bring them to 30 points and ten wins as their season record.
Although their winning streak eventually ended, the push left them five points above fourth place, holding third and more than likely seeing themselves into the finals by the end of the season.
What will be disappointing for the side will be that they couldn’t hold the spot that they had fought for and pushed for promotion – for now they’ll keep looking to string wins together in the final matches of their season.
Singleton has had better success in recent weeks, but 15 games have seen them collect 20 points with six wins and two draws, to leave them trailing the pack battling it out for the fourth place position – five points off.
A win for Singleton could bring them back into the challenge however, if Kahibah or Belmont Swansea are held to losses or draws, and the gap suddenly becomes less than a single win to put them into the top four.
Either result will help the winning team immensely as they set their eyes on their end-of-season objectives, and with less than a quarter of the matches in the season left to play three points could change the direction of a team with ease – the win is vital for both teams at Turner Park this Sunday afternoon.
Kahibah FC v Thornton Redbacks FC
2.30pm, Sunday 19th July
The final match of the round in the NEWFM 1st Division sees Kahibah play against the Thornton Redbacks at Kahibah Oval as they hunt for three more points to secure their finals appearance in their debut season.
Andre Gumprecht’s Kahibah team has put themselves into fourth place on the ladder, one point above Belmont Swansea and holding 26 points from seven wins and five draws. Only four losses, two at the beginning of the season and two recently, have marred the side’s strong performances.
The Redbacks are eight points outside the top four, having remained inconsistent with their performances in the season. Although the Thornton side have been able to beat both Valentine and Wallsend in their outings so far, five wins and two draws have not been enough for them to climb higher than eighth in their 15 games played.
With only a handful of games remaining for Darrel Mcallister’s side, he must now rally them and deliver a series of wins if he hopes to remain in contention for the finals – the win over Kahibah is vital for them if they want to keep their hopes alive.
Defence is Kahibah’s strength however, and with Thornton struggling to find the back of the net in their games so far they’ll be hard pressed to take an advantage over the possessional skills of the Kahibah team.
The last match on Sunday afternoon will be a test of Thornton’s technical skills as they come across Kahibah’s strength at the Oval, but the match will be an interesting chess-match that could be the shining highlight of the round.
Belmont Swansea United SC