Kahibah FC v West Wallsend FC
HEAD TO HEAD: West Wallsend 1-2 Kahibah – Round 2; Kahibah 0-1 West Wallsend – Round 13
ROAD TO GRAND FINAL: Kahibah 5 def. Toronto Awaba 2 on aggregate
West Wallsend 7 def. Cooks Hill 2 on aggregate
Its been a year of dominance for Kahibah in the Under 19s, and they’ll be looking to put an exclamation mark on a terrific season with a Grand Final win over West Wallsend.
The Green and Blacks have incredibly only conceded eight goals this year and lost just one match – the only issue for them is, that match was against their Grand Final opponents adding an intriguing element to this contest.
The Bluebells progressed to the Grand Final with a strong showing in both legs against Cooks Hill and will be hoping to begin the big day on a high for the club.
Kahibah’s defence has been far superior compared to West Wallsend, but offensively the sides have been rather similar and a reason for that has been due to the scoring efforts of experienced head Josh Knight for the Bluebells and Kurtis McRitchie for Kahibah.
Unfortunately, though, McRitchie won’t be featuring in this year’s Grand Final after suffering a broken collarbone in the second leg of the semi-finals and they’ll also be missing Jensen Hunt and Sebastien Crecco for suspensions.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Blake Ciappera and Liam Simpson have been two of the most consistent features in this West Wallsend. If the Bluebells are to beat Kahibah, both players will need to once again showcase their top work ethic they’ve displayed this year in the midfield.
Central defender Ryan Stutchbury has been a standout all year for Kahibah, as has goalkeeper Brady McRitchie and both have combined for a phenomenal 14 clean sheets. Getting through these two and the rest of Kahibah’s dominant defence will be extremely tough for West Wallsend.
What the Coaches said:
Kahibah coach Jarred Gorsuch said he is expecting another tough contest against the Bluebells but is confident that his side could manage to win without some of their stars.
“We’re looking forward to a hard-fought match with both clubs paying respects to Jarryd Hayter and his family at this difficult time,” Gorsuch said.
“I think at the halfway point of the competition it was quite clear who the two best sides were in the competition.
“We’ve played West Wallsend twice now. We beat them out at Westy and then they beat us at home which was our only loss of the year, so we’re expecting another tough, physical, fair game.
“All year we’ve been a solid defensive side and I think when they scored against us last time it was a bit of a goal-mouth scramble.
“To go 19-1, and to be the benchmark of the competition all year, I actually think in the Grand Final we’re the underdogs after losing two players to red cards and one to injury.
“We played without Kurtis for five weeks during the season so although he’s a big loss, but at the end of the day we do have squad depth that’s proved over the year to win the premiership. It’s a testament to the squad we’ve got, and all the players involved.”
West Wallsend coach Steve Thomson gave praise to Kahibah for their great season and said it will take a big effort from his team to win the championship.
“Their record more or less says everything,” said Thomson.
“They’ve only lost once, and we were lucky enough to be the team to beat them.
“They’ve got a good goalkeeper and a great front-line. If we can stop the blokes up front, it might put us in good stead to get a result.
“They’ll definitely go in as favourites… we’ve got a job to do. We’ll turn up and try and do it to the best of our ability.
“It should be a good battle.”
Cooks Hill United vs. New Lambton FC
Head to head: Cooks Hill United 2-1 New Lambton – Round 5; New Lambton 1-1 Cooks Hill United – Round 16
Road to Grand Final: Cooks Hill United 4 def. Cessnock City Hornets 3 on aggregate
New Lambton 6 def. Thornton Redbacks 2 on aggregate
Just as it is in 1st Grade, the Under 23’s Grand Final will be decided between 3rd and 4th after Cooks Hill United and New Lambton managed upset victories over the two semi-final legs.
The Cookers grabbed a close win over the Hornets while New Lambton stunned everyone by knocking off the Premiers Thornton with a massive 5-0 win in the second leg last week to progress to the Grand Final. Only two teams were able to muster victories against Thornton throughout the year and they’ll be the two squads battling it out for the championship trophy.
In their meetings during the year, the Eagles weren’t able to win against their Grand Final opponents and pose inferior defending and attacking numbers as well having scored six goals less and conceded four more than Cooks Hill.
What is on New Lambton’s side though, will be their brilliant run of form – they’ve only lost one match in their nine which included kept four clean sheets.
The Cookers have been rather inconsistent in their lead-up to the Grand Final having only won two from their past eight games, but as they hold the second-best offensive and defensive records in the league, they’ll be confident in finding a victory.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Cooks Hill United
Emerson Augey has been fantastic in front of goals this year, scoring 17 goals from his 19 matches and has been Cooks Hill’s go-to man for anything attacking-wise. If New Lambton can’t stop him, their chances of winning the Grand Final will be very slim.
Attacking man Luke Homer will be someone that Cooks Hill will be wary of as he’s shown his class this year in both creating and scoring goals. Peter Juchniewicz is also a name that has stunned opponents in the past, and if he can perform at his devastating best this weekend, he may well be the difference between the two sides.
What the Coaches said:
Pete McGuinness, New Lambton coach, said although many didn’t predict that they’d get past Thornton in the semi-finals, his side were always confident in their ability and they’ll be taking that same confidence into the Grand Final.
“We were always quietly confident that we could make the Grand Final,” said McGuinness.
“Was I expecting a 5-0 victory over Thornton? No. But I always thought we could get come away with the win.
“It didn’t worry us whether we had to face Cooks Hill or Cessnock.
“They’re [Cooks Hill] are a very organised side. They’ve had great, consistent success over there. But we’re not so much worried about what they will do, we’re more focused on how we can play and be consistent through the game.
“We’re quite comfortable going into the game and hopefully we can repeat what we did in the second leg of the semi-finals and achieve something out of it.
“We’re there now so we’ll give it a good shake and do what we can.”
Cooks Hill’s coach Ben Nichols praised his upcoming opposition and identified the areas they’ll need to shut down in order to beat them.
“They really impressed me both times we played them in the regular fixtures to be honest,” said Nichols.
“I wasn’t shocked that they beat Thornton. I was surprised by the score-line, but I certainly knew they had it in them to win if they turned up, which they obviously did.
“They’ve got some very pacey wingers that are quite skillful.
“They’re that’s good across the park. They seem to have a good mix of experience and youth at the moment.
“If we’re not on our game on the day, we won’t have a chance to get the result were after.
“I think our semi-final loss to West Wallsend last season has put us in a good space this time. We learnt some good football lessons from last year.
“It’s just a matter of all my players turning up on the day and doing their job in their positions.”