Singleton 1-0 Kahibah FC
Singleton are one game away from a grand final after a Jake Barner goal gave the Strikers a 1-0 win over Kahibah FC on Saturday.
Kahibah had climbed from fifth to third in the final week of the regular season to earn a place in the qualifying final and made the long trip north to Howe Park looking to upset the young Singleton side who surprised many in finishing second on the NEWFM Northern League One table this season.
The Rams started strongly before Singleton turned the tide as they created the better chances in the first half, with neither side able to break the deadlock before half-time.
The Strikers continued to push in the second half before Barner finally put Singleton in front with 20 minutes to play, much to the delight of the vocal home crowd.
Singleton were far from home though with young defender Marcus Morris shown a second yellow card, leaving the hosts to battle on with 10 men for the closing stages.
But the Strikers would hold on to score an impressive victory, arguably one of the biggest in the club’s history with Singleton involved in finals football for the first time since 2004.
Singleton coach Brendan Slade told the Singleton Argus he was thrilled with the win despite some nervous moments.
“I must admit, I was a nervous wreck [watching that],” Slade said.
“Kahibah is a tough side, so I knew it would be close.
“At half-time, I told the boys to try and maintain possession. And I think they did that quite well. We dominated the second period.”
Singleton now advance to the major semi-final against premiers New Lambton next weekend, while Kahibah take on Cooks Hill United in the minor semi-final.
Belmont Swansea United 0-4 Cooks Hill United
Cooks Hill United overcame a physical barrage to down Belmont Swansea United 4-0 on Sunday.
The 2019 grand final opponents met in the elimination final at Blacksmiths Oval knowing one would end the campaign of their fierce rival.
BelSwans coach Mick Stafford indicated in the build up to the match his side would return to a more physical approach in hopes of unsettling Cooks Hill.
But those plans were dented inside the opening 15 minutes when Sam Marr was played through on goal by Tyler Curran, with Marr lifting a deft finish over the BelSwans goalkeeper.
The visitors had a second goal 10 minutes before half-time but, having already lost Ashley Balcomb in the warm up, Cooks Hill then lost Daniel Clements to a hamstring problem early in the second half.
BelSwans had the ascendency, peppering the Cooks Hill goal as they fought to pull a goal back.
And they were handed a golden chance when Curran brought down BelSwans striker Joel Nicholson in the penalty area.
But Cooks Hill goalkeeper Adam Gunster saved the penalty before producing an incredible second save to deny BelSwans and maintain Cooks Hill’s two-goal advantage.
The double save swung the momentum of the game, with goals to Daniel Yaxley and Matt Williams completing a 4-0 win for the 2019 premiers.
Cooks Hill coach Doug West was delighted with his side’s ability to overcome BelSwans’ physical approach.
“It was a bit of a relief. It was what we expected. A physical encounter. They came at us hard, we rode the challenges and tempo and physicality of the match and were able to play football around that,” West said.
“We showed just a bit more football experienced and maturity. We didn’t engage in it and just played our game.
“Our players are experienced enough and been through a lot of semi-final football in recent years to know what we need to do. Right now it’s just about getting on the pitch and doing our job. It’s not a case of sudden death football motivating us or anything like that.”
The defeat ended Belmont Swansea United’s campaign, with the 2019 champions eliminated in the first week of the finals.
It will be the first time since 2015 that the NEWFM Northern League One grand final will not feature Belmont Swansea, ending a run of four consecutive deciders.
Cooks Hill advance to face Kahibah FC in the minor semi-final.