Match of the Round
Thornton Redbacks (5th) vs Singleton Strikers (9th)
Sunday, May 12th, 2:30 pm, Thornton Park
The Match of the Round features an exciting match-up between the Thornton Redbacks and the Singleton Strikers in a Hunter Valley derby at Thornton Park.
Thornton has been showing their class as of late with back-to-back victories to be sitting in 5th including a 3-1 win over New Lambton last round, while the Strikers are going through a blip in form with four straight losses after their narrow 1-0 loss to Belswans last start.
The Strikers have struggled in front of goal in 2019 with only ten goals from their eight games while the Redbacks have knocked in an impressive 17 goals with Jacob Golding and Jake Millstead both sitting on three each and been in great touch recently.
Both clubs played out two draws in their previous two fixtures including a 2-2 draw at Thornton Park at the back end of last season while both teams will be desperate for the victory come Sunday.
The win over New Lambton put Thornton four points clear of 6th place and coach Gary Wand said his side is still striving for consistency to keep themselves in the running for the top four.
“I’ve coached a lot of the Singleton boys and they’ve got some quality players, and they’re just going through one of those stages, but they’ll be desperate,” Wand said.
“We just want to start better and aim for consistency, we still got a few players out, but some guys will get their opportunity.”
Apart from the West Wallsend game, Singleton has only conceded the ten goals from their other seven outings while coach David Willoughby believes his side isn’t far away from regaining their winning form.
“Our motivation is to go out and do our best, but we’re not far off, the South Cardiff and Belswans games, they took their chances and we didn’t,” Willoughby said.
“Thornton are one of the top side’s, they can really play and I’m impressed by them.
“We still believe in achieving something this season and hopefully a bit of luck can go our way this time.”
New Lambton Eagles (6th) vs Toronto Awaba Stags (10th)
Saturday, May 11th, 4:30 pm, Alder Park
New Lambton will host Toronto Awaba this Saturday with both outfits hopeful of attaining victory at Alder Park.
After a strong opening to the season, the Eagles have slumped to one win in five with their latest match being a 3-1 defeat to Thornton, while the Stags served the bye last round and are lingering in 10th spot on the ladder.
Toronto has only recorded the sole victory in 2019, which came against Belmont-Swansea and will be raring to claim maximum points and move clear of the dreaded wooden spoon.
The Eagles had a midweek FFA Cup fixture against Dudley-Redhead and eased to a 3-0 victory to advance to the next stage.
If last season’s fixtures are anything to go by, Saturday’s match can certainly be entertaining after the two played out a thrilling 5-4 game last season with the Eagles coming out on top and also claiming a 2-1 win over the Stags later in 2018.
The home side knows they will need to win to keep the top four within their sights and coach Jim Foley said the midweek game would hopefully bring a winning confidence back to the team.
“It was a very pleasing result (in the FFA Cup), there was much to learn from our performance,” Foley said.
“We will need to show we have benefited from the lessons if we hope to enjoy success at home again on Saturday against Toronto.”
Belmont Swansea United (2nd) vs Cessnock City Hornets (8th)
Sunday, May 12th, 2:30 pm, Blacksmiths Oval
Blacksmiths Oval will play home to another potentially massive clash between Belmont Swansea and Cessnock City.
Both teams are coming off great victories in Round 9 with the defending premiers picking up a hard-fought 1-0 win over Singleton away from home while the Hornets produced another stirring display at Turner Park to down Kahibah 2-1.
The Hornets backed up their impressive performance with a huge victory midweek, claiming a 2-1 triumph over National Premier League NNSW side, Lake Macquarie City, in the FFA Cup while Belswans missed out on progressing to the next round, going down 7-0 to Charlestown City but were missing key players.
Belswans remain three points away from ladder leaders, Cooks Hill and a win will keep them in touch with the black and white before their gigantic clash against the Cookers next round.
On the other hand, Cessnock will travel to Blacksmiths willing to overturn their poor away form which has seen them yet to register a win on the road in 2019, conceding 11 goals in their past two away fixtures.
Belswans coach, Mick Stafford, said his side would be right up for this fixture to keep themselves in touch with the top spot.
“It’s always tough against Cessnock but we’ll concentrate on our own game and look to take three points,” Stafford said.
“I think this game has more importance than the game coming up against Cooks Hill if we want to be contenders we need to win these games.”
Kahibah F.C (7th) vs Cooks Hill United (1st)
Sunday, May 12th, 2:30 pm, Kahibah Oval
Ladder leaders, Cooks Hill, will travel to play a determined Kahibah side on their home turf this Sunday.
No side has beaten Cooks Hill so far in 2019, and the black and white picked up a 1-1 draw against South Cardiff in a tight clash in Round 9 while Kahibah suffered a setback last round, going down to Cessnock to sit in 7th.
The green and black will be keen to overcome the odds to knock over the Cookers and will look to their impressive results against South Cardiff and Belswans earlier in the season as a motivator to again challenge one of the top sides in the division.
Cooks Hill featured in a midweek FFA Cup clash against NPL NNSW side, Weston and went down 4-1 away from home, while Kahibah will play their FFA Cup match on Thursday night against another NPL Nnnsw outfit, Adamstown Rosebuds.
The Cookers boast the best defensive record in the competition to be deservedly sitting in 1st spot and hold a superior record over their upcoming opposition with two wins in their past two against Kahibah.
South Cardiff Gunners (4th) vs West Wallsend (3rd)
Sunday, May 12th, 4:00 pm, Ulinga Oval
Round 10 wraps up with a colossal match-up between two top-four sides in South Cardiff and West Wallsend at Ulinga Oval.
Both outfits have the potential to challenge for the major prizes at the end of the season, and they’ll be eager to get one over on a close rival come Sunday.
West Wallsend has been the form side of the competition recently, claiming four wins from their last four with striker Tye Jones firing in the goals to lead the goalscorers list with 12 strikes.
The Gunners have also been in fine form, with their squad starting to fulfil their huge potential due to three wins and a draw in their last four outings to set up a massive clash on their home turf.
Both clubs featured in the FFA Cup midweek and provided good accounts of themselves against quality NPL sides as South Cardiff narrowly went down to Broadmeadow Magic 2-1 after leading during the game while an understrength Bluebells team got beat 2-0 by Edgeworth.
The two outfits both recorded wins against each other last season with West Wallsend claiming a 2-1 win at Johnston Park before the Gunners returned serve with a 1-0 triumph of their own at Ulinga Oval in the latest match between the clubs.
South Cardiff will be elated with their recent displays and captain-coach, Denis Fajkovic, believes the side are determined to secure a victory.
“Our performance was good against a quality side (in Broadmeadow). We demonstrated we are a club on the rise and NPL football is what Ulinga deserves,” Fajkovic said.
“Every game is big for us, West Wallsend is no different, it’s really tight on the ladder so dropped points have a massive effect.”
West Wallsend has scored the most goals so far in 2019 with an outstanding 25 goals to be full of confidence, and coach Brendan Slade said they’re looking to build on that good form.
“We should have the same side that beat Wallsend last weekend which is good,” Slade said.
“I went and watched South Cardiff play Cessnock and were impressed with their attack, maybe their defence is where we can target them with the way we’re scoring goals at the moment, just hope it keeps going.”