Match of the Round
Wallsend F.C 1 (Jai Webster) def. by South Cardiff Gunners 8 (Dino Fajkovic x3, Sam Ford x2, Tom Butzmann, Daniel Wells, Hakan Canli)
Sunday 26 May, The Gardens
The Gallagher Shield is heading to South Cardiff for the first time after the Gunners scored an emphatic 8-1 victory over Wallsend in the Match of the Round at the Gardens while sending an ominous warning to the rest of the competition.
The away side had a blistering first half against the cellar dwellers knocking in six goals to put themselves well on the way to victory and another three points while bolstering their attacking record to 25 goals for the season.
Striker Dino Fajkovic was at his devastating best, notching a well-earned hat trick to take him to seven goals for the campaign while Sam Ford also bagged a double and Hakan Canli, Daniel Wells and Tom Butzmann also got on the scoresheet.
Jai Webster scored the lone goal for the Red Devils as they hit a new low with the defeat to leave them stuck at the bottom of the table while the Gunners remain in fourth spot, but have two games in hand on the teams above.
South Cardiff recorded 57 goals to 20 over the two legs across all grades and first-grade coach, Chris Moylan said he was thrilled with the victory and winning the Gallagher Shield.
“Great performance, we kept our shape, stayed disciplined and showed what we are capable of, we’re very proud to win the Gallagher Shield,” Moylan said.
“We have kept basically the same team for the last five games and players are not only understanding their individual roles, but they are gelling as a team.
“We set ourselves a lofty target of winning the competition and we have all signed on to achieve that goal, we have a team good enough to do that if we all stay fit but Cooks Hill still remain the team to catch.”
Singleton Strikers 4 (Jackson Cox x2, Joe Civello, Oram Marzol) def. Toronto Awaba Stags 1 (Own Goal)
Saturday 25 May, Howe Park
Singleton has snapped a four-game losing streak to achieve a defiant 4-1 win over Toronto Awaba at Howe Park to keep them within a shot of making the top four.
The Strikers notched the first goal through Jackson Cox before Joe Civello also found the net before half time.
The Stags hit back approaching full time to give them a sniff of attaining a result before the Strikers rallied late as Jackson Cox scored his second of the day while Oram Marzol wrapped up the three points in stoppage time.
The victory is a much-needed confidence boost for the Strikers as they end their losing run and climb to eighth on the ladder, seven points away from the top four while they have a tough game coming up against the in-form Cessnock.
Toronto remains in tenth spot and looks to be now playing for pride with a finals position slipping further and further away while it doesn’t get any easier for the Stags who take on the red-hot South Cardiff next round.
After being unlucky in recent weeks, the Strikers can finally enjoy victory while coach David Willoughby said he was ecstatic for his side.
“It was good to get a win and it was better to achieve that result with the way we executed during the game, we have played the last few games with very little luck going our way but having said that you make the majority of your own luck both bad and good,” Willoughby said
“The result is a confidence boost for the playing group as well as the club supporters, I am encouraged by our performance to achieve the result and we now look forward to our next game with enthusiasm to build momentum.”
New Lambton 1 (Joel Caldwell) def. by Cessnock City Hornets 2 (Isaac Peek x2)
Saturday 25 May, Alder Park
The Cessnock resurgence continues as the Hornets notched another victory after defeating New Lambton 2-1 at Alder Park and put them within touching distance of a top-four spot.
The Hornets are now unbeaten in four league appearances with Isaac Peek scoring a double for the visitors while Joel Caldwell scored the lone goal for the Eagles.
Since their demoralising 6-0 loss to South Cardiff, Cessnock has turned a corner and continue to rise up the ladder to now be sitting in fifth spot after being in tenth not long ago.
As for the Eagles, they fall to seventh with the defeat but remain in the chasing pack for finals football and have a massive test against Cooks Hill next round.
Cessnock is now up to 15 points on the ladder and has already eclipsed their points total from 2016 and 2017 and captain, Greg Anderson, said the Hornets are enjoying their football at the moment.
“The match wasn’t the best from both sides as we had both played midweek in the FFA Cup, but New Lambton had the better of the game in the first half and we got a bit more freedom and played some better football to get the result in the second,” Anderson said.
“Along with Lino coming in and having his own ideas and systems, I have to give big praise to the playing group as it has been a massive change in attitude and work rate that has got us some of the results as of late and it’s great to be a Hornet at the moment.
“There is a long way to got but with the position we are in from where we were, all that we can do is keep working for results and see how close we can go.”
Belmont Swansea United 0 drew with West Wallsend 0
Sunday 26 May, Blacksmiths Oval
The two sides locked in a top-four battle have ground out a 0-0 draw as Belswans and West Wallsend played in a tense grand final rematch at Blacksmiths Oval.
Both outfits didn’t give each other an inch as the two defences held firm to keep clean sheets.
Belswans were reduced to ten-men when Steele Harvey received a red card while the Bluebells also had a man sent off with striker Tye Jones receiving his marching orders.
The result opens a nine-point gap between Cooks Hill and West Wallsend while Belswans remain in third, a point behind the Bluebells.
Belswans will have the bye next round and will look to freshen up heading into the business end of the season while coach Mick Stafford said his side displayed great determination to earn a draw.
“Very tight game with some quality football played, I was happy with the boy’s application and efforts, they stuck to the plan and created a fair bit, but we just need to take our chances again,” Stafford said.
“Westy (Wallsend) are a good side and so are we, the draw was a fair result and to keep them scoreless is a big effort.
“The premiership isn’t our true goal, this year is about the development of our younger local players and a top three finish, we are on track and we will focus on the next two bye weeks on scoring goals because I believe our defensive structure is the best in the competition which is something the group is proud of.”
West Wallsend coach Brendan Slade said the sending off of Tye Jones was pivotal in the game.
“I think a bit of frustration crept into his game as it was a very defensive game,” Slade said
“We hope we can keep winning and hope Cooks Hill slip up a few games, we’re just concentrating on ourselves at the moment and hoping to get fit bodies back on the park.”
West Wallsend is still the closest team to Cooks Hill and has a tough task away to Thornton next week.
Thornton Redbacks 2 (Jake Millstead, Patrick Wand) def. by Cooks Hill United 3 (Tom Curran, Brodie Richardson, Nick Russell)
Sunday 26 May, Thornton Park
The Cooks Hill juggernaut continues to roll on to remain undefeated in 2019 with a come from behind 3-2 win over Thornton at Thornton Park.
Thornton Park has often been a tough task for the Cookers who haven’t won there in recent years, however, bucked the trend to open up a nine-point gap at the top of the table.
Nick Russell continued his stellar form with a goal while Brodie Richardson and Tom Curran also hit the back of the net while Thornton’s Jake Millstead continued his excellent form to notch a goal while Pat Wand converted his effort from the penalty spot.
Thornton was ahead 1-0 at the break but couldn’t handle Cooks Hill’s quality in the second half as they remain in sixth spot, four points away from South Cardiff and have a big game against West Wallsend next round.
The Cookers are embarking on a stunning run of results and based on current form, look destined to seal a third-straight premiership while assistant coach Jarrod Gorsuch praised his players for another hard-earned victory.
“It has been a tremendous season so far, the competition is getting better and better each year, so for the lads to start this well has pleased Graham and me,” Gorsuch said.
“It was a tough game, we haven’t beat Thornton over the past few years at their home venue, it’s a tough place to grab three points at.
“Thornton started well with the breeze behind their backs, however, we said to the boys at half-time it was a two-goal breeze, and we needed three to win the game.”
The Redbacks almost pulled off an upset of sorts but are still missing key personnel while coach Gary Wand said he was pleased with the increased level in performance.
“Thought we did pretty well especially the first half as we scored after about twenty minutes and went close with a couple of more and they were struggling a bit,” Wand said.
“They came out much better in the second but we had a great chance and then they go up the other end and score, we continue to struggle with set pieces.
“Much improved from last week, if we play like we did today, we probably beat any other team in the competition but that’s why they’re where they are as they find a way to win.”