Match of the Round
Lake Macquarie City FC v Kahibah FC
2.30pm, Sunday 9th August
The final Match of the Round for the season will see Kahibah battling right up to the final whistle for a place in the finals, with their match against Lake Macquarie City at Macquarie Field an early elimination must-win for the side.
With Singleton playing off against West Wallsend in another of the Sunday games, and Kahibah only three points ahead, a defeat for the away side in this match and a win for the Strikers could see the spot that Andre Gumprecht’s side has held for so many weeks slip away at the final hurdle.
Kahibah have secured thirty-two points in the season so far off the back of nine wins and five draws, but five defeats have kept them from solidifying their finals position, and now with an inferior goal difference to Singleton they need all three points to keep the threat away.
Lake Macquarie meanwhile need the win as well, but only to secure their second place finish on the ladder. With the relegation to the 1st Division still fresh in their minds this season, Lakes will be disappointed not to take a top place finish – six points separate them and the 2015 champions Valentine.
Lake Macquarie’s claim to fame this season – apart from a deep title run that only just slipped short – was their deadly shooters in front of goal. With Sam Walker leading the competition with thirty-seven goals and his brother Tom clocking in thirteen in third place, City has had no shortage of big wins, and thirteen victories and two draws gave them their forty-one points in the league.
They’ll be hoping for another big win this weekend to take the second place position, and three more points to finish them on forty-four and a reasonably strong first season back in the 1st Division.
With Kahibah the leading team in regards to controlling the game, and Lake Macquarie the leading side in regards to scoring goals, one thing is for sure – this game could go either way as both teams set out to prove that they’re worthy of the finals positions that they’re battling for.
Macquarie Field will be the home of a great game of football, whether it be Kahibah locking off the game with their technical prowess, or Lakes’ strikers bringing their tally even further up as they out-shoot the away side, and this last Match of the Round is not one to be missed.
Belmont Swansea United SC v Thornton Redbacks FC
2.30pm, Saturday 8th August
The first match of the final round kicks off on Saturday afternoon at Blacksmiths Oval, with the Thornton Redbacks playing off against Belmont Swansea United as the BelSwans look to finish within a point of the finals.
Belmont Swansea will be disappointed that they couldn’t make it into the finals this year after a playoff finish in the season before, but a win today could bring them the closest that they could have been without actually qualifying.
They collected twenty-eight points over the season from eight wins and four draws, and seven defeats left them out of the running in the final week of the competition.
The Redbacks have moved up to twenty points in the last few weeks off the back of a series of wins, taking two draws and six wins, and Darrel Mcallister’s side has proven that they are up for the league with strong wins over both Valentine and Wallsend.
The struggle for the Redbacks has come at the back of the field, with the side conceding forty-four goals and only answering with twenty-six goals.
Mcallister is aware that finishing is what let them down in close matches this season, and has promised that it will be a focus in the final week, as well as in preparation for next season.
A win for the Redbacks in the final round could put them as high as seventh place in the season, a solid mid-table finish that can be built on in the 2016 season. If the squad can be retained and expanded the Thornton outfit could even prove competitive enough for a finals run in the next season.
Belmont Swansea will be looking for that fifth place finish at Blacksmiths Oval on Saturday, but it remains to be seen which side will come out victorious as they both battle for pride and an improve table finish. One thing’s for sure in the clash – both sides will bring their all in the closing game of the season.
West Wallsend SFC v Singleton SC
2.30pm, Sunday 9th August
Johnston Park will be hosting the last match of the season for West Wallsend and Singleton on Sunday afternoon, as the Strikers look for their most important three points of the season.
West Wallsend have found themselves locked on the bottom of the table off the back of their poor goal difference, but a win on the last day has the chance to take them away from the wooden spoon and give them a tenth place finish.
Four wins and two draws collected Wests fourteen points in a season that they’ll quickly want to forget, with defensive frailties costing them in the long run. Regardless, the side held themselves to a good account as the season progressed, and now must face the Strikers as the away side looks to make it into the finals on the last match day.
Singleton have nine wins and two draws to their name point collection-wise, and their twenty nine points puts them a mere three points below a finals spot.
With Kahibah playing against Lake Macquarie at the same time, the Strikers have the chance that they’ve been looking for all season – a loss for Kahibah and a win for them means they leapfrog the long time fourth place side.
Scott Bailie’s side could have their objective achieved this weekend, and this match will be a crowning moment in their season if they can take all three points and see Kahibah fall to a defeat – this match could be remembered for seasons to come for Singleton and the rest of the league.
Toronto Awaba FC v Wallsend FC
Lyall Peacock Field
2.30pm, Sunday 9th August
Toronto Awaba return to Lyall Peacock Field for the final match of their season, where they play against third placed Wallsend as both sides look for three more points to crown their league run.
The Stags clicked in the second half of the season, with their results improving to see them settle in ninth place with five wins and fourteen losses, a set of results that have delivered them fifteen points – a single point above Cessnock and West Wallsend.
Tony Jovcevski’s side had a struggle on their hands in the first round of fixtures as they had difficulty finding the back of the net, but with the reverse fixtures the Stags began finding the back of the net, collecting more points as they came back around.
Wallsend meanwhile has had a deep run in the season, attaining the top spot for a few weeks and is now battling for the second spot in this last match of the season, with two points dividing them and Lake Macquarie.
If Kahibah can hold Lakes to a defeat in the Match of the Round then Wallsend may be in for a chance at improving their final finishing place.
However, City and Wallsend will both be battling it out in the first round of the semi-finals as second and third face off, and it’s simply a matter of bragging rights and a chance to claim a higher place on the ladder.
This match could see Wallsend claiming the win as they look to bring further form for the semi-final battle, or could see the Stags take an upset to their name and finish even further from the wooden spoon.
The game will be interesting regardless, and could see Wallsend’s formation and line-up be similar to the semi-finals as the team looks to prepare for the knock out rounds – this battle at Lyall Peacock Field will still be an interesting match for the last round of the season.
Cessnock City FC v Valentine FC
Turner Park 1
2.30pm, Sunday 9th August
The final match of the 2015 season before the finals is to be played on Sunday afternoon at Turner Park, where Cessnock City greet recent champions Valentine with an eye for staying off the bottom of the table.
Cessnock’s season has been fraught with slip-ups so far; with eleven losses and five close draws keeping them from climbing high on the ladder.
Three wins are all that they can boast as strong performances, but even so the side finds itself on fourteen points and off the bottom of the table on goal difference.
Valentine meanwhile have clinched the title for the 2015 season, and now will be looking towards playing in the National Premier League in the next year’s competition.
With fifteen wins and two draws Valentine collected forty-seven points, and only lost two games in the whole season so far.
Although Valentine’s attack was similar to Lake Macquarie’s, with the McGinley brothers leading the line as Valentine scored fifty-eight goals, the real difference came in defence. While Lakes conceded thirty-eight goals in the season, Valentine let in only seventeen, keeping their concessions to less than one goal a game.
This crucial difference gave Valentine the title, and now they look to go out with a bang as they play against City, and will be looking to finish with fifty points from sixteen games and making sure that they had a strong finish overall.
Their eyes now turn to the finals as well, and will need good form if they are to come up against Kahibah or Singleton, and their attack will be needed once more if they are to break down the defence’s that they have to face over the next few weeks.
Cooks Hill United FC