Match of the Round
Wallsend FC v West Wallsend SFC
Sunday, June 12, 2.30pm
West Wallsend will look to close the gap to the top four to four points and extend their unbeaten run to six games when they take on derby rivals Wallsend at The Gardens on Sunday in the NEWFM First Division Match of the Round.
The Bluebells lost 3-2 to Wallsend in round four and have gone down only once since, 4-0 to Kahibah in round seven, on the way to fifth place and 18 points from 12 games.
Wallsend, meanwhile, have 25 points from one match less and defeated Toronto Awaba 6-1 in their most recent game, which was followed by the bye and last week’s washout of round 14.
West Wallsend are coming off their best result of the season, a 3-0 win over Kahibah, and coach Gary Rowe was hopeful of a repeat against another leading side.
“They are very good defensively and they have guys who can score goals, and that makes them a difficult team to play against,” Rowe said of the Red Devils.
“They have no real weaknesses.”
Wallsend have built their success on composed, possession-based play, while West Wallsend have exposed defences with the speed and skills of the likes of Ryan Cole and Tye Jones.
“Hopefully we can make the game a bit faster than what they want and we’ll see how we go,” Rowe said.
The Bluebells have Dom Langowski out suspended and Kieran Sasim sidelined with a hamstring strain.
Due to last week’s washouts, Wallsend are yet to play since the departure of coach Josh Rufo and defender Daniel Rufo.
They have also not played at all since the May 22 win over Toronto Awaba and caretaker player-coach David Hodgson was keen to get his side back into a routine.
“We’ve had a couple of weeks off because of the bye and the washout so we need to put some training sessions and games together,” Hodgson said.
“We’ve got the weekend off after this then we hit teams like Lakes and Belswans, so it makes it hard.”
Hodgson his side should be full strength and the departure of left-back Daniel Rufo would open the door for Jason Mcguire to start against West Wallsend.
“Jas played a lot of first grade last year and has filled in this year, so he will get a start now and there are a couple of other guys who will come into consideration,” he said.
Singleton Strikers FC v Belmont Swansea United FC
Saturday, June 11, 2.30pm
Singleton and Belmont Swansea are recharged and ready for a tight battle at Howe Park on Saturday after last week’s washouts.
The Strikers welcomed the weekend off after battling injury and illness last week following their 2-1 loss to Thornton, which ended their winning streak at three games.
“It was good timing for us because we had a few players struggling,” Singleton coach David Willoughby said.
Willoughby said his eighth-placed side, who have 12 points from 12 games, were excited by the challenge of taking on Belswans, who are second on 26 points – two off leaders Lake Macquarie.
“They will be up for it and are a good side,” Willoughby said of Belswans, who won their first encounter 3-0.
“We have been working on how to approach playing them, especially the style they played against Lakes (who Belswans have beaten twice).”
“All the boys are excited by the game and we had everyone at training on Tuesday night. It was fantastic, everyone was sharp and it was a great session. We’re looking forward to the game.”
Belswans beat Cooks Hill 3-1 in their last match before the washout but coach Brad Paul said his side were out enthused and not at their best in the game.
Paul believed the week off would be good for Belswans, who should be at full strength.
“We had a fairly good session on Tuesday night and I think the washout came at a good time,” Paul said.
“I think it has recharged a few people.”
“This should be a reasonable game and it will be hard up there. We generally have tight tussles with them and our boys seem to always lift for Singo.”
Imports Sam Ford, Keiron Burrell and Matthias Franz have been key to Singleton’s surge off the bottom of the ladder.
“Those guys have been doing well from all reports and we’ll have to keep an eye on them,” Paul said.
“But our thoughts will be on our own game and I’m just looking for a really tight defensive effort,” Paul concluded.
Kahibah FC v South Cardiff FC
Saturday, June 11, 2.30pm
South Cardiff coach Andrew Packer will again be without central defender Cameron Treweek but hopes his side can regain form at the back against Kahibah at Kahibah Oval on Saturday.
The Gunners are ninth with just nine points from 12 games but have the best defensive record of any team in the bottom six.
That record took a hit last match when they conceded a final-minute goal to draw 4-4 with last-placed Cessnock City.
Treweek was missing for that game because of an ankle injury and is out again this week.
Liam Copetti switched to centre-back and Brent Alcock came in at right-back against Cessnock and Packer expected to keep the same line-up.
Packer said Treweek was a big loss but he hoped those left could improve on last round’s effort when they meet third-placed Kahibah, who won 3-0 in their first clash.
“This will be a tough one for us,” Packer said.
“They have a few very good players and a solid squad which has been together for a while.
“We played well last week and have been consistent in our performances, but we’re just letting ourselves down at times.
“Barring last week’s game, our defence has been quite strong. If we can get back to that, we’ll go close.”
Packer will also be without attacker Drew Chapman, who is suspended.
Kahibah, who beat Wallsend 3-0 in their most recent outing, are three points off top spot.
They will be without right fullback Jason Evans because of family commitments. Evans has played every game this year and will be a major loss for Kahibah, who still have Jayden Demir sidelined with a hamstring strain.
Player-coach Andre Gumprecht said other players had niggling injuries but he was hopeful of having them all on board.
Thornton Redbacks FC v Lake Macquarie City FC
Sunday, June 12, 2.30pm
Thornton will be out for redemption against leaders Lake Macquarie at Thornton Park on Sunday.
The Redbacks lost 8-3 to the Roosters in their first meeting in round four and coach Darrel McAllister said his side were keen to show their true colours.
“The boys were embarrassed last time,” McAllister said.
“It was one of those days where they had eight chances and scored from every one and I don’t think we played that bad, but it was embarrassing.”
“The boys will want to make up for that, and we are playing well. Including FFA Cup games, we’ve won seven of nine since then, so we’re doing all right.”
McAllister said Thornton, who are sixth on 18 points after 2-1 wins over Cessnock and Singleton, would be without striker Tallan Martin but were otherwise full strength for what would be their toughest test. He expected striker Jamie Subat to come into calculations to start after a long time out with a groin injury.
“This is a big one because they look the team to beat,” he said of Lake Macquarie.
“But we are doing all right ourselves and not letting in too many goals.”
“I’ve got some tough choices to make this week in selections as well and it’s probably the hardest it’s been since I’ve been at the club, which is good.”
“If we turn up and are buzzing, working hard and giving the other side no time on the ball, we can match it with anyone,” McAllister concluded.
Lake Macquarie coach Anthony Richards expected to have a full squad to pick from after last week’s washout and said his side were excited to get back on the field.
Cessnock City FC v Cooks Hill United FC
Sunday, June 12, 2.30pm
Cooks Hill coach Blake Glennie will look to his young players to step up after losing senior pair Aiden Palozzi and Zac Douglas ahead of the game against Cessnock City at Turner Park on Sunday.
Palozzi, an attacking midfielder and Douglas, a holding midfielder, joined the club from Lambton Jaffas after the season started but have now left.
Glennie said the pair were among five players dropped for the 3-1 loss to Belmont Swansea last round, which came after defeats to Singleton and Kahibah.
Glennie said the departures would make it tough for his mostly inexperienced line-up, who are seventh on 13 points from 12 games.
“Losing a couple of senior guys doesn’t help but we’re just going to give the younger guys a go,” Glennie said.
“It’s definitely going to benefit them, getting more game time, for next year.”
“The average age of our squad is about 20, which is good in some respects, but it does make it hard for this year.”
Glennie expected to field the same side as the one who took on Belswans but he said the other players dropped could work their way back into the team over the next couple of weeks.
Last week’s washouts would have been welcomed by Cessnock.
The last-placed Hornets, who have five points, had Jeremie Morton and Anthony and Josh Bower in doubt last week with injury and will hope to get them back on the field against Cooks Hill, who won their first battle 7-4.
Toronto Awaba FC – Bye