PHOTO: VALENTINE SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
Match of the Round
Cooks Hill United 1 (Russell 35’) drew Wallsend 1 (Reeves 89’)
Saturday 17th June, 2:30pm at Newcastle Athletics Field
The league leaders are still on top, but only just, as Cooks Hill dropped points for the fourth match running thanks to a late Isaac Reeves equaliser at Newcastle Athletics Field on Saturday afternoon.
It was one of the cleanest games in memory – not a single card was issued by the referee throughout the day. The home side opened the scoring through the wicked left foot of Nick Russell in the 35th minute to take a lead into halftime.
Just as the match was beginning to wind down at the back end of the second half, Wallsend popped up to score an equaliser thanks to Isaac Reeves. The 89th-minute goal helped them back to level terms, and the Red Devils hung on to take a point away from the Newcastle Athletics Field.
The point is Wallsend’s first since round 11, but it may prove too little too late – they are now some way off the pace, and with the likes of West Wallsend and Belmont Swansea enjoying some form and Thornton and Kahibah jostling for the top spot, a finals place may be a stretch too far.
For Cooks Hill, it’s their third point from the last four outings and with the likes of Thornton and Kahibah not far behind with games in hand, their place at the top of the ladder is now in doubt.
Cessnock City FC 1 (Zechel 80’) def by. Belmont Swansea United FC 2 (Marcus 52’, Shearer 70’)
Saturday 17th June, 2:30pm at Turner Park
Belmont Swansea continued their charge on the top four, shooting up into second after a tough-fought win over Cessnock at Turner Park on Saturday.
Joel Shearer had an early chance for the visitors, but could only find the side netting. Max Wallington had a similar chance at the other end a couple of minutes later, before he was forced off by injury and replaced by Josh Bailey at the midway point of the halfway.
Cessnock were withstanding a barrage of pressure – much of it self-inflicted, as they preferred to clear the ball long rather than build up their attack. Tega Marcus watched a good ball across the face go agonisingly close past his boot, and Mitch Harper should have scored for Belswans on the stroke of halftime thanks to a delightful ball from captain Joel Shearer.
It only took seven minutes after the break for Belswans to open the scoring, and who else but Marcus? A glancing header at the near post beat Matt Zechel and put the visitors in front. It should have been two just four minutes later, but Zechel was again able to pull off a good save from a close Marcus shot.
Chris Gazzard pulled a shot across the face halfway through the second stanza and Marcus was denied a second by the crossbar before substitute Will McMaster put his hand up for the second week running. The diminutive winger broke down the right and cut the ball back to his captain – Shearer had no problem in lashing the ball high into the back of the net and making it 2-0.
Cessnock pulled one back in the 80th minute after some good link up play between Travas McCabe and Jason Zechel that seen the latter one score a cool finish past Ben Parmenter, but it proved to be only a consolation as Belswans hung on for their eighth win of the season.
Belmont Swansea coach Josh Rufo was determined not to let his side get ahead of themselves despite their rise into second.
“We’re just taking things one match at a time… there’s a lot of football to be played and a lot of points to play for,” Rufo said.
“Anyone who watched this match would see we dominated the football and all aspects of the game, sometimes you have twenty shots and score one, and other times you score twenty… we’re always confident in our system.
“Will (McMaster) has definitely provided a real positive impact the past couple of weeks he’s played, so hopefully he’ll crack that starting 11 sooner rather than later.”
West Wallsend 2 (Olivieri, Jones) def. Kahibah 1 (Trummel)
Saturday 17th June, 2:30pm at Johnston Park
The Bluebells bounced back from defeat against Toronto last time out in the best way possible on Saturday afternoon, scoring a famous victory over Kahibah to knock them out of the top four.
The home side wasted no time in opening the scoring, a Jarrod Olivieri shot from outside the area took a wicked deflection and found its way into the back of the net to give West Wallsend the early advantage. Captain Tye Jones nearly made it two with a shot from distance which stung the palms of Kahibah keeper Nick Hartnett.
Jones wouldn’t be stopped a couple of minutes later – a low header from a pinpoint Brad Andrews cross made it past Hartnett and put West Wallsend two in front, which they held on to at the break.
Bailey Cox almost scored a dream goal from a free-kick but sent his shot wide in the 70th minute, before Kahibah pulled one back late on. Brendan Trummel scored a tap in, but it proved to be the only consolation as the referee blew for full time just moments later.
West Wallsend coach Gary Rowe was realistic about his side’s chances of making the top four but was happy with the result yesterday.
“I’m always confident we can win games and I was confident we’d get a result if we played well,” Rowe said.
“It probably wasn’t the best they’ve (Kahibah) played in a while, and they’ve had a bit of a lay off so they probably weren’t match sharp but the boys put in a great shift and followed the plan we’ve been working on for the season, and it worked.
“(Cracking the top four) would be nice, but we have a bit of work to do… I haven’t really looked at the table, our goal at the start of the year was to get 10 wins and we’re four short of that, to get finals would be great but it’s not really something I’m looking at.”
New Lambton v South Cardiff, and Toronto v Thornton were Sunday’s games. Both were called off due to inclement weather.