Cessnock City Hornets FC 3 (Brad York 2, Zac Kronholm) defeated. Singleton Strikers 1
2.30pm Sunday, March 8 – Turner Park
A Brad York double helped Cessnock City to a 3-1 victory over Singleton in their NEWFM Northern League One season opener on Sunday.
In front of a parochial crowd at Turner Park, the Hornets secured the three points after an entertaining contest with the result catapulting Cessnock into an early share of the competition lead.
New Cessnock coach Michael Gatt was delighted with the result in his first game in the top grade having been promoted from his role as under-23s coach and first grade assistant coach over the summer.
“Ultimately it’s very important to get off to a strong start. Especially for us, the guys were saying the last three or four seasons they haven’t won the first game,” Gatt said.
“We’re normally slow starters. I think last year we drew two and lost three of our first five games. So it was really good for us to get on the front foot early.
“Add to that last year Singleton beat us twice. And with it being my first year as head coach it was really important to get the three points in the bank straight away.
“It has been brilliant so far. It’s a great club. If we keep up the passion and the heart the boys showed on Sunday we’re in for an absolute screamer of a year.”
York was the star for Cessnock, playing a more advanced role than his usual central defensive midfield position.
He opened the scoring inside the opening five minutes with a strike from distance before Singleton equalised on the half hour mark after a Hornets defensive mix up.
The game changed 10 minutes into the second half when the visitors had a player sent off for a second bookable offence.
And Cessnock made the most of their numerical advantage, with York giving the Hornets back the lead with a volley from just inside the penalty area on the hour mark.
Cessnock waited until three minutes before full-time to seal the result, with Zac Kronholm’s 25-metre strike securing the three points for the Hornets and sending the majority of the Turner Park crowd home happy.
“Brad York stood out. His go forward from the middle of the park and the way he dominated and controlled the game from midfield was great for us,” Gatt said.
“He’s playing a more advanced role than normal. But he’s got speed to burn and the ball skills plus that experience from having played at NPL level.
“It was all heart and passion from the boys in the second half. It was a big home crowd and a lot of people commented to me how entertaining the game was.”
Cessnock will have to wait a week before building on their first up win, with the Hornets handed a round two bye.
Singleton travel to Johnston Park to take on West Wallsend.
West Wallsend SFC 0 defeated by Kahibah FC 3 (Jasper Sambrook, Luke Jones, Jamie Hadlow)
2.30pm Sunday, March 8 – Johnston Park
Kahibah started their season in fine style upsetting West Wallsend 3-0 at Johnston Park.
Having just missed out on the finals last season, Kahibah were without coach Andre Gumprecht for the season opener with Mat Moncrieff taking the first team reigns in his absence.
The former A-League star was in attendance at Central Coast’s Pink Round clash with Wellington, where the Mariners raised money for the Gumprecht family.
With the match scoreless at half-time, Jasper Sambrook eventually put Kahibah in front early in the second half as his effort deflected over the goalkeeper.
The hosts then had a player sent off for a second bookable offence, with Kahibah making the most of their numerical advantage.
Luke Jones popped up to double Kahibah’s lead before substitute Jamie Hadlow produced a quality header to seal the result for the visitors.
Moncrieff said his side were delighted with their strong start to the season
“It was a fairly even game at half-time. We jagged a goal pretty early on in the second half and then they got one sent off. We were pretty comfortable after that,” Moncrieff said.
“I think we’d only won once at Westy in the last five or six years. And to be honest I don’t think our club had won a round one game since we joined the competition. So it was a huge result.
“We had a pretty poor pre-season like a lot of other clubs would have as well with the smoke and rain around. We went in a little under prepared so to go to such a tough place first up and get that result we’re very happy with where we’re at.”
Kahibah will look to make it two wins in a row to start their campaign when they travel to Lyall Peacock Field to take on a new-look Toronto Awaba on Sunday night.
West Wallsend will look to bounce back when they host Singleton at Johnston Park on Sunday afternoon.
The round one fixtures between Toronto Awaba and New Lambton, Wallsend FC and South Cardiff and the grand final rematch between Cooks Hills United and Belmont Swansea were all washed out.