Match of the Round
Wallsend FC v South Cardiff FC
Sunday, May 1, 2.30pm
South Cardiff coach Andrew Packer will look to his central midfield combination to again stand tall when the Gunners return from the bye to face Wallsend in the NEWFM First Division Match of the Round at The Gardens on Sunday.
Packer’s side had just their second win of the season in round seven when they beat Cessnock City 2-1.
Now back from the bye, the Gunners will be hoping for a repeat of the performance which was highlighted by the efforts of Josh Casey, Daniel Wells and Cameron Herring.
“Our central midfield three played really well and were standouts considering the conditions,” Packer said in reference to the muddy surface against the Hornets at Turner Park.
“Josh Casey, Daniel Wells and Cameron Herring, they just played really well and had a strong performance.
“I moved Cam Herring the past two weeks into central midfield and he’s been a standout, so we’re finding our feet position-wise.”
The victory was rewarding for Packer, who has been working with a new-look line-up since taking over following the club’s return to first division this year. They are eighth with seven points from seven games.
“We’ve been performing really well and there’s been a couple of games like that this year where we should have come away with maximum points with the chances we had, so it was just really nice to get the win,” Packer said.
“We performed really well and got what we deserved, which was good.
“With had one change from the previous game but had the same formation, so it’s starting to flow for us.”
Wallsend, who are third on 15 points from six games, are also back on the pitch after a week off, following a washout in round eight. The Red Devils travel to Singleton on Wednesday night to play the Strikers from 8pm in the rescheduled game.
Wallsend coach Josh Rufo said he had a full-strength team to pick from for the Gunners match.
The game will also be the first leg of the Gallagher Shield contested between South Cardiff and Wallsend. The annual shield is in honour of Peter Gallagher, who played for both clubs and passed away from brain cancer.
Both clubs will be supporting the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation on the day. The second leg of the shield will be held at Ulinga on July 24.
Cooks Hill United FC v West Wallsend SFC
Saturday, April 30, 2.30pm
Newcastle Athletics Field
West Wallsend coach Gary Rowe hopes to have some selection headaches as his team look for back-to-back wins when they meet Cooks Hill on Saturday at Newcastle Athletics Field.
The Bluebells put a suspension-marred start to the season behind them when they defeated Toronto Awaba 4-0 last week to record just their second win of the campaign.
Jarrod Olivieri and Ryan Cole, who have both been sent off this year, scored doubles for West Wallsend in the victory in which Rowe made some successful changes to his line-up.
“Tye Jones was back from suspension and we made a handful of other changes which seemed to help, we seemed a bit calmer than we have in weeks past and that was good,” Rowe said.
“It was good to get some more players on board.
“Kieran Sasim played his first game of the year and did really well. Jarryd Jones battled through with his rib cartilage injury and was calm and good for us.
“Zac Parkes came back at left fullback and that gave us a bit more balance with a left-footer there, which we haven’t had for a couple of weeks.
“Olivieri played in behind the strikers, I moved a central midfielder up front and hoped for something different.”
Although Rowe has lost Dom Langowski to a broken foot, he gets back brothers Bailey and Bryson Cox, who were red carded in the 4-0 loss to Kahibah in round seven.
“Dom missed last week’s game and could be out for a while, which is a shame because he’s been close to our best this year,” Rowe said.
“The two brothers were suspended and they’ve been going well, so we should have a selection headache with them coming back this week.”
Cooks Hill pushed leaders Lake Macquarie all the way in a 2-1 loss last week and remain in fifth place on nine points from seven games, one point ahead of West Wallsend who are in seventh after eight matches.
Coach Blake Glennie was disappointed not to get a result against the Roosters after Cooks Hill created a string of chances late, but he was pleased with the effort which followed a 5-1 loss to Belmont Swansea.
“It was a much better performance,” Glennie said.
“I couldn’t have asked much more of them. I was really pleased, we played really well. It was just one of those days where things don’t go your way.”
The loss and upsets in other games last week brought the chasing pack closer to Cooks Hill, who are expected to field an unchanged side against Bluebells.
“It’s good for us in a way, that the teams ahead of us don’t get away, but then you’ve got others coming up and getting closer to us,” Glennie said of the upsets in round eight.
“It should be a good comp.”
Kahibah FC v Singleton Strikers FC
Sunday, May 1, 2.30pm
Kahibah player-coach Andre Gumprecht has addressed problems at both ends of the park ahead of his side’s clash with Singleton Strikers at Kahibah Oval on Sunday.
Beaten 3-1 last week by an understrength Thornton Redbacks, fourth-placed Kahibah came in for heavy criticism from Gumprecht.
“We need to bounce back from a very disappointing loss that was truly deserved due to a lack of enthusiasm and commitment when in defending periods,” Gumprecht said.
“Also we had enormous problems when attacking. We had no penetration and lacked finishing with the few chances we had.
“This week’s training is focusing around those problems and that will put us back on track.”
Gumprecht welcomes back midfielder Daniel Bartlett from suspension but loses Alex Evans to yellow card accumulation.
Despite the loss, Kahibah remain fourth on 13 points from seven games, but are now only four points clear of the pack chasing finals football.
Singleton resume after having their match with Wallsend last week washed out and will welcome UK import Kieron Burrell to their starting side.
Burrell arrived last week and coach David Willoughby said he would come into the team for Tyler
Felsch, who shifts to the bench.
Willoughby said the inclusion of Burrell was the only major change from the side picked for last week. Goalkeeper Stuart Plant is back from suspension after being sent off in the 1-1 draw with West Wallsend.
Willoughby said the Strikers, who lost 4-1 to Thornton in their last match, had been working hard on their attack.
“We have trained well this week and changed our shape to allow us to commit more resources forward when we get into the front third,” he said.
“We continue to work on our option-taking and execution in the front third. We are looking forward to the challenge of competing with a very well-drilled Kahibah team.”
Toronto Awaba FC v Thornton Redbacks FC
Sunday, May 1, 2.30pm
Lyall Peacock Field
Thornton Redbacks coach Darrel McAllister was hopeful of getting striker Tallan Martin back from injury to boost his in-form side against Toronto-Awaba at Lyall Peacock Field on Sunday.
Thornton are coming off their best result of the season, a 3-1 win over Kahibah, which followed a 4-1 victory over Singleton.
Both wins were achieved without Martin, striker partner Jamie Subat or senior goalkeeper Mick Hugo.
While Subat and Hugo are unlikely to return against the Stags, Martin is on the verge of a comeback. McAllister said he would make a decision on Martin at training on Friday night.
McAllister was proud of his side’s efforts without their key players and hoped their imminent return would keep pushing his side to new heights.
He said they needed to defeat teams lower on the table, like the Stags and Cessnock, who they play in two weeks, if they wanted to feature in the finals. They also meet Cooks Hill, who are ahead of the Redbacks on goal difference in fifth place, in round 10.
“If you want to make semis, you’ve got to win these next few games coming up,” McAllister said.
“You’ve got to beat those sides who aren’t probably going to play semis, but they probably think the same about us.
“You should win those games, but you know it won’t be easy. You’ve just got to back yourself and I’m hoping we can have a good next three weeks before we have the bye.”
McAllister was proud of his side’s effort last week but said “the only negative was that we invited a bit of pressure on ourselves by giving the ball away cheaply at times and we need to get better at that.
“The better sides will tear you apart if you keep giving away the ball.”
While Thornton are on a high, Toronto Awaba are in a tough period. They dropped to ninth after a 4-0 loss to West Wallsend last week, which followed a 6-0 defeat to Lake Macquarie.
The losses came after an exciting stretch of seven points in three games for the Stags.
Coach Tony Jovcevski has taken the blame for the dip in form, saying his mounting work commitments have limited his input at training. He was weighing up his future in the role while looking for help to guide the team.
Cessnock City FC v Lake Macquarie City FC
Sunday, May 1, 2.30pm
Cessnock City will be on a high after their first win but forced to reshuffle their line-up when they try to take down the competition leaders for a second straight week.
The Hornets upset Belmont Swansea last week 3-2, which allowed their opponents this Sunday at Turner Park, Lake Macquarie, to take over at the top.
The win lifted Cessnock off the bottom of the ladder and onto four points from seven games.
It was just the second time this year Cessnock have been anywhere near full strength.
“The blokes who have come in have done a good job, but it was good to have those players back who understand, know what it’s about a bit more and are experienced,” Cessnock coach Steve Thomson said.
“It was just a good effort from a team point of view and the song was sung pretty loud afterwards.”
Goalkeeper Matt Zechel picked up a yellow card in the win, taking him onto a one-game suspension on accumulation. No.1 shot-stopper Steve Anderson returns from work duties to take over but the Hornets will be without Jayden Gunther (holidays) and Sam Garaty (suspension). Thomson said Josh Bower would replace Gunther, while Liam Stephenson would switch to midfield and Mitch Cox would move up front.
Thomson expected another good performance after strong commitment and enthusiasm at training following the win.
Lake Macquarie went to the top of the table with a gritty 2-1 victory over Cooks Hill last week. The close game came after some big wins for the Roosters and coach Anthony Richards was proud of how they ground out the victory under pressure late.
“Last year that was probably their weakness,” Richards said of the defence.
“But the addition of Corey [Fletcher], [Owen] Kemp in goals and Mat Grey, it puts a little bit of experience in there.”
Skipper Tom Walker is not expected back from a broken wrist for another four or five weeks, while Sean Matthews came off with 30 minutes to go last week because of a tight hamstring.
Richards expected no changes to his line-up.
Belmont Swansea United FC – Bye