Match of the Round
Kahibah F.C (8th) vs Belmont Swansea United (3rd)
Sunday 30 June, 2:30 pm, Kahibah Oval
Two close rivals will clash in Round 16 with Kahibah hosting Belmont-Swansea at Kahibah Oval in the Match of the Round.
Kahibah is still in the running for a finals spot and sits five points outside the top four, with a few games in hand while Belswans are firmly placed inside the top four with 23 points.
The home side was forced to sit out last week due to wet weather, but they have won their previous two encounters while Belswans were held to a 2-2 draw against South Cardiff last round.
Both sides hold reliable defensive records with Belswans the best in the league conceding only 14 goals while the green and black have let in 20 to set up a potentially tight encounter.
In the previous clash between the two, Kahibah scored late to earn a 1-1 draw away at Blacksmiths Oval while both sides come into this one in good form.
Kahibah has some catch-up games to play and will look to try to continue their momentum, although coach Andre Gumprecht says they mustn’t get complacent.
“The games in hand aren’t always an advantage, in fact, they are a pain as the games are always played midweek and stretch amateur environments. Regardless we can’t change it, and we try to deal with that as best we can,” Gumprecht said.
“Belswans is a top team and one of the teams to beat therefore the pressure will be all on them, we need to continue working hard on our defensive approach to keep the opposition away from dangerous areas. If we can deliver that for the whole game, the score can go either way.”
Belswans sit equal with West Wallsend on the ladder in third spot and will want to strengthen their position in the top four with a victory while they will also welcome back key defenders Corey Wilson and Mitch Cook.
Coach Mick Stafford said the key would be to getting the consistency back in their line-up, but the side knows what it takes to make it to the final four.
“I couldn’t be happier with the squad, the core group has been together for a few years and there is a good bond and belief there from past achievements, this year we haven’t had the same starting eleven in consecutive matches, so we have done well to be where we are,” Stafford said.
“Always a tough task against Kahibah, we have respect for them as they have a good squad and in my opinion, the most knowledgeable coach in the league. We will turn up and work hard for a result, nothing is for free this year and it’s a great competition.”
West Wallsend (2nd) vs Cessnock City Hornets (5th)
Sunday 30 June, 2:30 pm, Johnston Park
West Wallsend taking on Cessnock City looms as a massive clash with both sides having the potential to meet later in the year while they currently sit close on the ladder.
Cessnock picked up a monumental victory over Cooks Hill last round to move into fifth spot while West Wallsend returned to form with a 2-0 triumph away to Singleton.
The Hornets have only recorded 14 goals so far this season, which is well below the teams around them, although they have managed to pick up five wins and look to be getting better week by week.
As for the Bluebells, they firmly sit in second spot and a win would see them move seven points clear of Cessnock with six games to play.
Last time these two played, West Wallsend achieved a 2-1 victory away from home while a win in this fixture would put them well on the way to another finals berth.
Wallsend F.C (11th) vs New Lambton Eagles (4th)
Sunday 30 June, 2:30 pm, The Gardens
Wallsend will host the in-form New Lambton at the Gardens to continue Round 16.
The Eagles have been in red-hot touch recently picking up big wins against West Wallsend and Cooks Hill in their last two outings to see them move into the top four.
The Red Devils have struggled to find consistency and suffered a 3-0 loss to Kahibah in their most recent outing but will look to their last game against the Eagles as motivation having beat New Lambton 3-2 earlier in the year.
Wallsend has only registered the sole win and will be up against it against a New Lambton side gunning towards the finals.
The Eagles have settled on their strongest line-up with striker Riley Taylor firing in the goals and sitting on 10 for the campaign while Joe Melmeth has also been a strong performer for the blue and white recently.
With the table so close, these are the games New Lambton will want to win, and coach Jim Foley said there is plenty on offer for the Eagles but will be wary of the Red Devils.
“We only have one big game coming up, and that is the next one against Wallsend,” Foley said.
“Our motivation for this game is high as we were unable to beat them last time and it’s fair to say we have a bit to play for.
Toronto Awaba Stags (10th) vs Cooks Hill United (1st)
Sunday 30 June, 2:45 pm, Lyall Peacock Field
A side sitting lower on the ladder in Toronto Awaba will take on frontrunners Cooks Hill in another intriguing fixture.
The ladder leaders have lost their last two games in a minor blip on what has been a tremendous season and will look to return to form against a Toronto Awaba outfit who still have a bit to play for.
The Stags sit in tenth on ten points but still have a few games in hand, starting tonight against South Cardiff to try and make a late finals run before they take on the Cookers.
The black and white still have a nine-point gap at the top of the ladder and will want to keep that lead with Belswans and West Wallsend still in with a shot of the premiership.
Cooks Hill ran out 3-0 victors in the last meeting between the pair at their home track and will look to return to winning ways quickly.
South Cardiff Gunners (6th) vs Thornton Redbacks (7th)
Sunday 30 June, 4:00 pm, Ulinga Oval
Ulinga Oval will host a massive clash between South Cardiff and Thornton Redbacks with the two sides locked in a fierce battle for a finals position.
The Gunners fought back from a two-goal deficit to earn a draw against Belswans last time out while Thornton faced another week on the sideline due to wet weather last round, although they did knock over South Cardiff 1-0 only a few weeks ago.
South Cardiff sit on 18 points while the Redbacks are on 16 and both have a couple of games in hand on New Lambton and Cessnock who sit above them, with the Gunners facing Toronto Awaba tonight at the Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility.
A couple of wins on the trot and either side could move back into the top four to highlight the importance of Sunday’s fixture.
South Cardiff will hope to continue where they left off against Belswans after coming home strong and captain-coach Denis Fajkovic said they would be up for every game they play.
“Both games are important for us (Toronto and Thornton), we know we’re a better side on our day, but the key will be to show up and play like we are playing the NPL champions if we do that we’ll collect the points,” Fajkovic said.
“Starting to heat up now so should be an enjoyable finish.”
The Redbacks have struggled to get onto the park consistently due to wet weather, but coach Gary Wand said the side needs to start building some momentum, starting with this next game.
“The wet weather has made things hard for everyone, especially us, as we have the dreaded cricket pitch, also we are struggling a little bit with injuries and lost a couple of regulars to overseas holidays, but we’re hopeful they guys we bring in can do a job,” Wand said.
“We have three games coming up against top four teams so if we can get something out of that, it could take some pressure off.
“We still lack consistency, but with the stop and start season it is hard to address, although the Southy game will be huge, hopefully, we can put in a good performance and build from there as we have a few games to catch up on.”