Match of the Round
Kahibah FC v Toronto Awaba FC
2.30pm, Sunday 26th July
The NEWFM 1st Division Match of the Round this weekend sees two teams that are looking to creep further up the ladder clash, with Kahibah welcoming Toronto Awaba to Kahibah Oval on Sunday afternoon.
Kahibah has done well in their first season in the NEWFM 1st Division, currently sitting in fourth place with four games still to play, and a point above finalists from last year Belmont Swansea United.
Seven wins and five draws have made up the new team’s record in the league, and four losses have seen them slip up and drop seven points behind the third placed Wallsend. Regardless, the team will continue to look to solidify their finals spot and keep ahead of the Belswans and other finals hopefuls, with this game just another necessary win in their season so far.
Toronto Awaba have been in a fight to avoid the wooden spoon since the early rounds of the competition, and currently sit off the bottom of the table by only a single point, but a game in hand over Cessnock City.
Although the Stags have been able to win five of their 17 games, twelve defeats have halted any chances that they may have had to finish higher on the ladder, and only their recent turn in form – and finishing of chances – has given them a good chance to turn the season from disappointment to a challenge.
Stags coach Tony Jovcevski has been looking to the future of the squad now, and praises the development that the team has displayed throughout the season.
“We’ve been training to better ourselves and the boys are now reaping the benefits,” he said.
“With the amount of time that we’ve been playing football the team understands more, plays together better and listens more.”
“These benefits can give us a great leg up on the season in 2016 and if we can keep the team together and just implement a few new signings that could improve the squad, and I think that we can challenge for so much more than we have this year.”
The match could put the Stags above the fight to avoid the wooden spoon, but Kahibah may need the win more as they look to stay in the battle for the finals, and stay above the Belswans. One thing’s for sure – the match will be a great one, and not to be missed.
Singleton SC v Lake Macquarie City FC
2.30pm, Saturday 25th July
Singleton plays on Saturday afternoon at Howe Park against title-contenders Lake Macquarie City as Barry Ross’ side looks to take advantage of Valentine’s bye to collect three more points on the ladder.
Singleton have found their way up the ladder in recent weeks to hold their spot in sixth place, equal to Cooks Hill but above them on goal difference.
Five points away from fifth place, the Strikers now need a win to stay in the race for the finals, with their record so far being six wins and two draws, while eight losses have kept them from achieving more so far in the league.
Lake Macquarie have lost only three of their matches, being held to draws twice and twelve wins in 17, but are now three points below Valentine after a defeat at the hands of the table-toppers last weekend.
With the bye keeping Valentine from playing this weekend, Lake Macquarie must now win this match over Singleton or risk dropping too far behind to challenge for the promotion in the final games of the season.
Lakes will be looking to bring Sam Walker back to his deadly scoring form, having missed getting goals into the back of the net against Valentine, but before that game Walker had maintained a two goal average for more than ten games.
This match could hold the balance of both Lake Macquarie’s chance at a top place and Singleton’s chance for finals, and for both teams this could make or break their season – there will be no second chances in this high stakes battle at Howe Park.
Cooks Hill United FC v Belmont Swansea United SC
Newcastle Athletics Field
2.30pm, Saturday 25th July
The second Saturday match of the weekend sees Cooks Hill United play against Belmont Swansea United at the Newcastle Athletics Field.
Cooks Hill United is now six points outside the top four with only two more matches to go and it’s looking unlikely that they can catch up to and overtake Kahibah with what little they have left.
Six wins and two draws have matched up to ten losses in their season and now Cooks Hill is looking to field youth players to blood for the next season.
One last chance greets them in the form of the match against the Belswans this weekend however, and if they can pull a win over the combined club then they may stand a chance to return to their top four hopes.
Belmont Swansea need the win to have a chance over Kahibah in their hunt for the finals as well, with Paul Matthews now focusing on the last three matches all needing to be victories.
Seven wins and four draws have collected Belmont Swansea 24 points, but six losses have kept them from comfortably attaining their season objective – the finals.
The win also puts the Belswans far enough ahead of Cooks Hill that they can finish on the top half of the ladder, but if the home side can claim all three points the middle of the table could be a mix of finishes for all the clubs that have found themselves there at the end of the season.
Regardless, with both sides battling for the same places on the ladder, Cooks Hill and Belmont Swansea will be eager to get one over their rivals and prove that they have been the better team in the season – Newcastle Athletics Oval will be playing host to a great game of football on Saturday afternoon.
Wallsend FC v Cessnock City FC
2.30pm, Sunday 26th July
Third placed Wallsend comes head to head with Cessnock City at The Gardens as they hunt for a chance to bring themselves back into the fight for the top spot.
Wallsend had a massive run of great form as the second round of fixtures began, going undefeated for almost as many games as they had played, but now find themselves with five losses and eleven wins in 16 games.
Five points separate them and the second placed Lakes but a game remains in hand for the club and a win here over the Hornets could put them within striking distance of Valentine and Lake Macquarie in their final three games.
Cessnock City stay off the bottom of the table only on goal difference, and have suffered ten losses in 18 games. Five draws and three wins have collected them 14 points, but it hasn’t been enough for them to make any real impact in the league.
A win over Wallsend could be the last shift that Cessnock need to change their fortunes in the final weeks of the season. Although 2015 has been less than stellar for the club and their final position on the ladder, avoiding the wooden spoon will be a target that they will now be going all out for as the season comes to a close.
This match, while more of a fight for the honour of the season for the Hornets, will be all-important for Wallsend as they hunt for the second, or even first, place position on the ladder, and The Gardens will be a place where they must pick up three points or risk losing sight of that chance.
Thornton Redbacks FC v West Wallsend SFC
2.30pm, Sunday 26th July
The final match of the weekend sees the Thornton Redbacks come up against West Wallsend at Thornton Park where three points are on the line in the battle at the bottom of the table.
The Redbacks have stayed ahead in the close struggle to steer away from the wooden spoon, but are now only three points from the bottom of the table if they can’t take a win against West Wallsend.
The side has taken five wins and two draws in the season so far and has lost eight times, leaving the Redbacks on the wrong side of their record, with a negative goal differential of 15.
West Wallsend have slipped to the bottom of the table in recent weeks and has struggled to keep goals out of the back of their net, conceding 55 goals so far – the most that any side has let in in the league.
After four early wins and two draws West Wallsend has taken eleven losses and needs a win if they are to dig themselves out of the rut that these defeats have dropped themselves in to.
A win could take the Redbacks into the mix with Singleton and Cooks Hill and keep them in the race for a higher finish, while a loss could result in West Wallsend catching them on the ladder.
West Wallsend need the win if they are to stay away from the wooden spoon, but more than that they must look to their defence and make sure that they can stay away from leaking goals any more in the season.
Regardless, the last game of the season may be a goal shoot-out that anyone who sees will be entertained by, with both teams having so much to play for and so much to lose.