Match of the Round
Belmont Swansea United SC v Valentine FC
2.45pm, Sunday 2nd August
The Match of the Round for the second last weekend of the season sees front runners Valentine play against playoff hopefuls Belmont Swansea United at Blacksmiths Oval on Sunday afternoon.
With two games left to play and six points between them and the second placed Lake Macquarie City, Valentine now need only a single point in this match to clinch promotion into the National Premier League after a brilliant run in their season.
Fourteen wins and two draws have been marred by only two losses in the whole season, with the Thornton Redbacks and their opponent on the weekend the only two teams to deliver them defeats in the league.
The rematch of their defeat against Belmont Swansea this weekend is a chance for Alan Hackett’s side to recover from that loss and use the win to finish off their almost perfect season.
Belmont Swansea will be looking to ruin Valentine’s chance at promotion this weekend however, with the win necessary if they are to remain in the race for the finals. There are two games left to play both for United and Kahibah, and four points that separate the two sides.
Eight wins and four draws have gone up against six losses for the BelSwans and that has left them outside where they wanted to be in the run in to the end of the season – the side was looking to return to the finals again after a great run in 2014, but now without a win this weekend that chance could have slipped from between their fingers.
Regardless, both sides are firing on all cylinders in recent weeks, with the last five weeks seeing neither side lose a game, and now one side must fall to a defeat so that the other can inch closer to their final target.
One thing is for sure – Blacksmiths Oval is going to play host to a brilliant game of football as Hackett’s side clashes with the BelSwans for the three vital points, and this is not game that is to be missed on Sunday afternoon.
West Wallsend SFC v Cooks Hill United FC
2.30pm, Sunday 2nd August
West Wallsend returns to Johnston Park this weekend to take on Cooks Hill United in the second last match of their season.
West Wallsend needs the win if they are to stay away from the bottom place on the ladder, but have had troubles in recent weeks fighting their way into the games that they have been fixed with.
Wests have lost twelve games in the season so far, picking up only twelve points from their four wins, and an additional two points with two close draws. Although the attack of the side has been above average in many of the games, the home team has struggled to keep other teams away from their net, conceding a massive fifty-nine goals, the most in the league.
Cooks Hill slipped out of the race for the finals in the last few weeks after a series of disappointing losses, but will be pleased with their performances of coming within the top four spot in their battle with Kahibah in their first season.
The thirty-three points they missed with their eleven losses may be the reason that they have slipped down to seventh place, but they have also collected twenty points from the six wins and two draws.
Warren Spink’s focus for the season has been making a good account of themselves in the games that they had in front of them, and he feels like he’s made a great first season’s run with the strong team that he started with.
“We’ve been great in all the games that we’ve played so far in the season,” Spink stated.
“Although we’ve lost a few of our games they’ve never been massive differences, or games that we had no chance in. We’ve made a good account of ourselves and I think for our first season it’s been a great year.”
The win could put Cooks Hill firmly in seventh place at the end of the season, while a victory for West Wallsend could keep them from achieving something that no side considers a win – the wooden spoon for the league and a bottom place finish.
Kahibah FC v Wallsend FC
2.30pm, Sunday 2nd August
While the Match of the Round is a massive clash with the chance for a top finish for Valentine, Kahibah and Wallsend’s battle at Kahibah Oval will be the other watched match of the weekend, with Wallsend in with a chance to take over the second place position.
Kahibah meanwhile will be fighting to make sure that they can secure the finals football that they’ve been hunting all season long. If they can take three points from the win, and see Belmont Swansea fall to a defeat, they will have clinched the playoff position they’ve held for the better half of the year.
Wallsend are only two points behind Lake Macquarie and will be hoping that the Thornton Redbacks can repeat their performances from earlier in the season to stop Barry Ross’ lethal attacking forwards, because if Wallsend can take three points and Lakes takes zero then Wallsend may have a chance at firmly finishing in their second place spot.
Josh Rufo is pleased with the season’s performances so far however, and knows that regardless of victory or defeat Wallsend have already got finals and finished higher than their run last year.
“We’ve achieved all the objectives that we set out when we started the season,” Rufo commented.
“Our great performances have raised the profile of the team and we’ve made the team into a force to be reckoned with. When the season began Lake Macquarie and Valentine were the clear favourites in the eyes of everyone in the league, and we’ve kept up with them all year long.”
“To think of it in that way, that’s a great finish, and so I think this season has been a great success.”
The win secures Kahibah’s finish in the finals, but Wallsend’s determination to finish above Lake Macquarie may be the deciding factor when it comes to confidence and motivation in the match.
Wallsend’s improvements in the season will need to shine if they are to overcome Kahibah’s almost perfect professional football and tactically sound techniques, and the match at Kahibah Oval is going to be a great clash that isn’t to be missed.
Toronto Awaba FC v Singleton SC
Lyall Peacock Field
2.30pm, Sunday 2nd August
Singleton travels to Toronto Awaba’s home field of Lyall Peacock Field in their second last match of the season.
The Stags are hoping that the home field advantage can give them another win to keep them away from the bottom of the table and the wooden spoon, a position that currently only a single point below them.
After a poor start to the season in terms of victories, Toronto Awaba eventually made it five wins and thirteen losses overall, leaving them on the fifteen points that they have collected, and two more wins could hypothetically extend their run all the way up to seventh on the ladder.
Turning around their lack of form in front of goals, Tony Jovcevski is now disappointed that the form that they’ve now found couldn’t have started earlier in the season.
“We’ve been training to better ourselves and the boys are now reaping the benefits and with the amount of time that we’ve been playing football means that the team understands more, plays together better and listens more,” the head coach stated.
“The 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.”
Singleton made a late surge up the ladder as well, now finding themselves in sixth place, but six points outside the finals. With a chance to make the playoffs still numerically viable, but statically unlikely, the Strikers now focus on bettering their overall finish under Belmont Swansea and Kahibah.
The team scored eight wins in the season, but lost eight as well, and their two draws were the only results to break away from this parallel of wins and defeats, and Scott Bailie will be focusing on bettering their overall finish in the year.
A win could put them over the BelSwans if the United side fall to a loss against Valentine to hand the table toppers the first place position in the league, but Bailie and his team are not relying on their rivals to concede and are merely focusing on their own game.
Regardless of the result, Singleton and the Stags have both been two teams that have turned their fortunes around in the second half of the season and this match will not be one to disappoint – both sides are in form and finding the back of the net regularly, and this match will be a great game on the weekend.
Lake Macquarie City FC v Thornton Redbacks FC
2.30pm, Sunday 2nd August
Macquarie Field will be the site of the battle between Lake Macquarie City and the Thornton Redbacks as the travelling side look to notch another top-four side on their giant killing belt.
Lake Macquarie may have seen their chance to return to the top league within one season slip away after four losses have been matched and one-upped by Valentine’s two, but City are going to continue their strong performances and hope that the top side can slip up in their final two matches.
The Redbacks have made sure that they can’t finish at the bottom of the table and now look to begin preparing their side for the off-season and the next campaign, and will be bringing in youth players to test their steel against Lake Macquarie.
A win for Barry Ross’s City side keeps them in the race for the promotion, but for the most part the former Premier League side now look to keep their second place position over Wallsend, and the win is necessary for that chance.
If they can take the win over the Redbacks this weekend then they will be in for a shot to make it to the grand final of the competition, and with Lake Macquarie and Valentine both having challenged each other in their matches this season meaning that the final could be a great game to close out the 2015 season.
This last match of the round will be an entertaining game, but with so much still to play for for Lakes it may be a case of who wants it more.
Regardless, City has to make sure that they don’t slip up against the strong Redback side that has taken more than one win over the big sides of the season so far.
Cessnock City FC