Photo: Valentine Sports Photography
Match of the Round
Kahibah FC v Lake Macquarie City FC
Sunday, July 3, 2.30pm
Kahibah player-coach Andre Gumprecht hopes to have young attacker Jayden Demir back for the crunch NEWFM First Division Match of the Round against leaders Lake Macquarie at Kahibah Oval on Sunday.
Demir scored three goals in 10 games and was a key player in attack for Kahibah before a hamstring injury six weeks ago.
He returned in under-19s last week and Gumprecht said Demir or Brendan Trummel, who has been coming off the bench in recent weeks after a late start to the season, would likely come in for Sean Clerke. Gumprecht believed Clerke would be suspended on yellow cards accumulation.
He said Demir had been a big part of the team’s success before his injury and he had been training well, while Trummel would give his team pace up front for the crucial game.
Kahibah are third on 34 points, three points behind Lake Macquarie but with a game in hand, making Sunday’s result vital for both teams’ premiership chances.
“It’s good to be in this position and the players are very much looking forward to the game,” Gumprecht said.
“The team, the club are very excited and it’s good news for everyone involved. A lot of people have worked hard to put us in this position.”
Lake Macquarie won 3-2 in the first clash between the teams and Roosters coach Anthony Richards was expecting an even tougher test on Sunday.
“They are going really well and are a fit, young side,” Richards said.
“Andre was out injured when we played them the first time and he guides them around well, so it will be a good battle.”
The Roosters defeated Singleton 2-0 last round with goals from Sam and Tom Walker. Tom, the Lake Macquarie skipper, came off the bench to score the clincher in his return from a broken wrist. Richards expected the captain to come into the starting side against Kahibah.
The only loss for the Roosters is veteran Sean Matthews, who has left the club to join PS4 National Premier League side Adamstown for the rest of the season.
Singleton Strikers FC v West Wallsend SFC
Saturday, July 2, 2.30pm
Singleton will be without defender Zane Hand and have key attacker Kieron Burrell in doubt for their clash with West Wallsend at Howe Park on Saturday following a midweek 2-2 draw with South Cardiff.
The Strikers hosted South Cardiff on Wednesday night in their round 14 catch-up game and led 2-0 at half-time.
Sam Ford put Singleton ahead with a cracking long-range strike before Jackson Cox extended their advantage.
However, South Cardiff were on level terms midway through the second half and the hosts hung on for the draw as the Gunners finished the stronger.
The draw kept the sides level on the table on 13 points. South Cardiff lead on goal difference in eighth.
Despite Singleton giving up the 2-0 lead, Strikers coach David Willoughby said he was pleased to get away with a point. Willoughby believed his side’s hectic recent schedule, which included FFA Cup matches on June 18 and 19, caught up with them in the second half against the Gunners.
“We were lucky to get away with a draw in the end,” he said.
“We gave up two soft goals from defensive errors and a number of scoring opportunities we didn’t capitalise on.”
“Credit to South Cardiff. Their passing game was better and they finished over the top of us. They could have scored a couple more goals in the second half and both sides had good chances in the first.”
Hand picked up a sixth yellow card of the season and will miss two matches, while Burrell came off with a groin injury and is in doubt for the clash with West Wallsend.
The Bluebells are sixth on 16 points and drew 2-2 with Thornton last week. They drew with Singleton 1-1 first time around and have Jarryd Jones and Dom Langowski back from holidays and suspension respectively. Tye Jones and Michael Baillie are out suspended.
Toronto Awaba FC v Belmont Swansea United FC
Sunday, July 3, 2.30pm
Lyall Peacock Field
Belmont Swansea will travel to take on last-placed Toronto Awaba on Sunday at Lyall Peacock Oval fresh from a late escape against Thornton.
Belswans moved to second on 35 points, two points behind leaders Lake Macquarie, with a 3-2 win over Thornton on Wednesday night.
Josh Sutton scored with only three minutes remaining to give Belswans the victory at Thornton Park. The Redbacks led early before Josh Hall scored from a corner and Luke Cook finished good work from Sutton to give Belswans a 2-1 half-time lead.
Thornton equalised from the spot after a penalty for handball 10 minutes into the second half.
Belswans coach Brad Paul said both sides had chance to win the game before Sutton struck.
Paul was pleased with the performance, which came after a 1-0 loss to Kahibah that dropped them to third.
“We started well and played with a high intensity in the first half,” Paul said.
“We were winning a lot more second-phase ball than we did the week before.”
“Thornton came out a lot more determined in the second half and changed their tactics. They moved the ball forward a lot quicker and it took us a while to adjust.”
“It was pretty even the rest of the game, so it was good to get up late and get back in front of Kahibah.”
Paul said Jamie Hadlow injured his ankle in the game and was in doubt for the clash with the Stags.
Toronto Awaba coach Tony Jovcevski said his side, who sit last on 10 points, were again struggling with injuries to key players.
The Stags lost 2-0 to South Cardiff last week without the likes of Luke Jovcevski, Nick Roberts and Caleb Prebble and they will be sidelined again on Sunday.
Daniel Williams was sent off last week and is suspended but the Stags coach hopes to have striker Johnny Nicholson back.
Wallsend FC v Thornton Redbacks FC
Sunday, July 3, 2.30pm
Wallsend player-coach Dave Hodgson is confident his injury-hit and depleted squad can hold off challengers Thornton on Sunday at The Gardens and beyond in the race for the finals.
Fourth-placed Wallsend, who are six points clear of fifth-placed Thornton, lost 4-2 to Cessnock last week in one of the biggest upsets of the season.
Wallsend’s season was turned upside down after they lost six points for mistakenly fielding a suspended player twice. Coach Josh Rufo and players Daniel Rufo, Cameron Hughes and Gocha Abshilava have also left the club, while Brendan Nichols is out with an illness.
Hodgson said injuries and suspensions in the lower grades had worsened the problem.
“I’m not sure who we are going to have this weekend,” he said.
“It’s just about seeing who turns up to training, who is available and putting our best 11 on the field.”
“We had a few out last week but it was no excuse for losing. We had a good enough side out there to do the job. We dominated the game, especially in the first half, but didn’t take our chances.”
Thornton missed the chance to make up ground on the Red Devils when they lost 3-2 to a late goal against Belswans on Wednesday night at Thornton Park.
Tanner White scored in the first half for Thornton, who led 2-1 at half-time. Nathan McAllister scored a penalty in the second half to equalise but Belswans scored in the final few minutes.
Thornton appears the most likely to challenge Wallsend, who have 25 points, for a top-four place, but Hodgson said he was “still reasonably confident we can win the majority of our games” in the concluding rounds to keep their spot.
South Cardiff FC v Cooks Hill United FC
Sunday, July 3, 2.30pm
South Cardiff will try to hit back from a disappointing draw with Singleton midweek when they take on Cooks Hill at Ulinga Oval on Sunday.
The Gunners fought back from 2-0 down at half-time to draw with the Strikers on Wednesday night at Howe Park but missed chances in both halves to do better.
Daniels Wells then Cameron Herring, who finished excellent work from Cameron Treweek, scored to level the game midway through the second half.
Coach Andrew Packer said his side came through the game unscathed and would likely field the same line-up against Cooks Hill.
Although proud of how his side responded early in the second half, Packer said the performance was below par on their recent efforts, which included a 2-0 win over Toronto Awaba a round earlier.
“We were our own worst enemies in the first half,” Packer said.
“We gave away too much ball, but we got on top in the second half and created some great chances. We should have scored more but then they could have scored three or four more in the first half.”
“It was good to come back from 2-0 down, but we should have done better.”
South Cardiff are eighth on 13 points, three points behind Cooks Hill, who are in seventh and coming off the bye.
Their last match was a 1-0 loss to Wallsend on June 15.
Cessnock City FC – Bye