Match of the Round
Belmont Swansea United FC v Kahibah FC
Sunday, June 26, 2.30pm
Kahibah player-coach Andre Gumprecht was welcoming a few selection headache for the NEWFM Match of the Round against Belmont Swansea at Blacksmiths Oval on Sunday.
Third-placed Kahibah, who have 31 points from 13 games, sit a point behind Belswans and are three shy of leaders Lake Macquarie, who have played one more game.
The clash at Blacksmiths Oval looms as a potentially crucial game in the race for the minor premiership with seven rounds remaining and Gumprecht was proud of his squad for getting into the title mix.
“This is a big one and we will have everyone available,” Gumprecht said.
“I will maybe have a few selection headaches which is a positive and hopefully, the competition for places will push the team on to a good performance.
“Credit to the team to have such a top game to prepare for. Just to get to where we are is a great achievement.”
Gumprecht said Kahibah played Charlestown in a trial game last weekend to maintain momentum as the two top competitions rested for the FFA Cup qualification rounds.
He was pleased with the hit-out, which ended as a 3-0 win to Charlestown.
“It was 0-0 at half-time and a very good effort and performance against a side who are sitting better than mid-table in the top competition,” Gumprecht said.
“They had a full squad and so did we and we were very appreciative for the hit-out against a good side.”
Kahibah defeated South Cardiff 1-0 in their last league game, on June 11.
Gumprecht said his side were lucky to hold out Belswans in their first encounter, which finished in a 2-all draw.
Toronto Awaba FC v South Cardiff FC
Saturday, June 25, 2.30pm
Lyall Peacock Field
South Cardiff regain key defender Cameron Treweek for the clash with Toronto Awaba on Saturday at Lyall Peacock Field but are reeling from the loss of right fullback Jack Parkinson to a serious knee injury.
The Gunners have been without Treweek for the past four games because of injury and have earned just one point, from a 4-4 draw with Cessnock, in that time.
Treweek will be a welcomed addition for coach Andrew Packer, who has lost Parkinson for at least the rest of the season.
Parkinson has had multiple knee reconstructions and may not play again after striking more problems.
“He drove his knee into the turf and it felt unstable,” Packer said.
“The specialist told him to stop playing indefinitely.”
“We’re looking to get him involved in a coaching capacity next year.”
The news comes as South Cardiff fight to get clear of the bottom of the ladder.
They sit 10th on nine points from 13 games in their return season to the NEWFM First Division.
Toronto Awaba were below South Cardiff on the table but jumped ahead to 10 points when awarded three points from Wallsend’s penalty for fielding a suspended player in their win over the Stags.
Before the result reversal against Wallsend from a 6-1 defeat to a 3-0 win, Toronto Awaba had conceded 41 goals across eight consecutive losses.
South Cardiff’s defence has been far better, letting in only 24 goals all season, but they have managed to score just 15 at the other end.
West Wallsend SFC v Thornton Redbacks FC
Saturday, June 25, 4pm
West Wallsend coach Gary Rowe expects to welcome back three players as his side tries to regroup against Thornton Redbacks at Johnston Park on Saturday.
The Bluebells lost three points for mistakenly fielding a suspended player in a win over Kahibah then were thumped 7-0 by Lake Macquarie in a midweek catch-up game on June 15.
That followed a 2-1 loss to Wallsend and left them on 15 points from 14 games in seventh place.
West Wallsend were missing key players, including Tye Jones, Michael Baillie, Kieran Sasim and Dom Langowski, in the loss to Lake Macquarie and Rowe was expecting to get most of them back for Saturday.
Langowski remains suspended and Jarryd Jones is away, but the rest of the squad is on deck for the Bluebells.
Rowe hoped his side could move on quickly from the defeat to the Roosters and the loss of points, which has put them a win behind fifth-placed Thornton (18 points).
“It’s hard with five first graders out,” Rowe said.
“I think any team would struggle with that many out, but I don’t want to paper over the cracks. Lakes were too good for us, too sharp.”
Thornton beat a 10-man West Wallsend 3-2 in their first clash this year and fell to Lake Macquarie by the same scoreline in their most recent league game.
The Redbacks missed several good chances in a 2-1 loss to Singleton last Saturday when their FFA Cup run came to an end at Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility.
Coach Darrel McAllister said striker Tallan Martin, who has battled injury for most of the season, will be missing for his side.
Lake Macquarie City FC v Singleton Strikers FC
Sunday, June 26, 2.30pm
Leaders Lake Macquarie hope to have skipper Tom Walker back on board as they try to keep the chasers at bay with a win over the dangerous Singleton Strikers at Macquarie Field on Sunday.
Walker has been missing since round seven because of a broken wrist but is back in training and hoping to gain a medical clearance to return to action on Sunday.
Coach Anthony Richards said Walker would likely be eased back into action against Singleton if cleared.
“We’re just waiting for the OK from the doctor, but it will be handy to have Tommy back for the last six games,” Richards said.
“He’s had the cast off for a while and been training. He’s busting to go. Hopefully we can get him some game time this weekend and get him back match fit for the pointy end of the competition.”
The possible return of Walker comes after the Roosters’ loss of defender Corey Fletcher to a chipped bone in his wrist from a heavy collision in the win over Thornton on June 12. Centre-back Mat Grey came off with a hamstring strain in Lake Macquarie’s most recent match, a 7-0 win over West Wallsend on June 15, but Richards was confident he would be right on Sunday.
The Roosters lead Belmont Swansea by two points and Kahibah by three, but both have a game in hand on Lake Macquarie.
Singleton have lost their past two league games, 2-0 to Belswans and 2-1 to Thornton, but are coming off making the final four of the Northern NSW division of the FFA Cup last weekend.
The Strikers defeated Thornton 2-1 to make the Sunday qualifier, where they met red-hot defending Northern NSW PS4 National Premier Leagues champions Edgeworth, who won 7-0.
Singleton coach David Willoughby said it was a great experience for his squad, who are eighth on 12 points from 13 games.
“We had a great weekend last weekend qualifying for the final four of the FFA Cup,” Willoughby said on Thursday.
“The players’ performances over both days were outstanding.
“We gave the players Tuesday night off this week but are back at work today to prepare for Sunday against Lakes.”
Willoughby said his squad had come through the weekend unscathed but would be without attacking weapon Kieron Burrell, who is unavailable because of personal commitments.
Lake Macquarie won the first-round clash with Singleton 6-0.
Cessnock City FC v Wallsend FC
Sunday, June 26, 2.30pm
Cessnock City coach Stephen Thomson hopes his side can pick up where they left off last round when they take on Wallsend at Turner Park.
The Hornets defeated Toronto Awaba 3-1 on June 15 in their most recent game and that would have been enough to move them out of last place had the Stags not earlier gained three points from Wallsend’s penalty of playing a suspended player. The points change kept Cessnock in last spot, with eight points from 14 games, while the Stags moved to ninth place on 10.
Thomson hoped his side could build on the win and avoid the wooden spoon in a season so far marred by injury, suspension and absentees.
“We should have pretty much everyone on board this week,” Thomson said.
“And with a bit of luck, we can carry on from the other night and put in another good performance.”
“Having a full-strength side has been few and far between but if we do, we should give it a fair shake against Wallsend.
“They’ve had a few dramas lately, so hopefully, we can capitalise on that.”
Wallsend lost six points for twice mistakenly fielding a player suspended on yellow card accumulation. It dropped the fourth-placed side to 22 points but they bounced back with a 1-0 win over Cooks Hill on June 15 to now sit seven points clear of their nearest rival for a top-four spot.
Thomson said the focus for Cessnock would be getting off the bottom of the ladder.
“We are a better football side than where we sit on the table,” he said.
He hoped to field an unchanged side but he expected holding midfielder Kyle Clarke, who debuted against the Stags, to play a greater role and said there was an injury cloud over Liam Stephenson (knee).
Cessnock lost 2-0 to Wallsend first time around this year.
Cooks Hill United FC – Bye