PHOTO: VALENTINE SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
Match of the Round
Kahibah FC 2 (Penfold 64’, Hodgson 79’) def. by Cooks Hill United 3 (Gallagher 16’, Lewis 63’, Gillespie 67’)
Sunday 25th June, 2:30pm at Kahibah Oval
Cooks Hill managed to extend their lead on top of the table and ensure Kahibah stayed out of the top four with a hard-fought 3-2 win over the Green and Black at Kahibah Oval on Sunday afternoon.
The away side struck early on through captain Cal Gallagher, the big striker pounced on a ball inside the box from a corner and scrambled home to give his side the lead in the 16th minute.
The Cookers had Kahibah on the back foot for much of the half and were unlucky not to score another before halftime. They struck the post, missed a sitter and forced a good save from Kahibah keeper Nick Hartnett before halftime, but couldn’t find the breakthrough before oranges.
It was a different Cal who’d double Cooks Hill’s lead – substitute Cal Lewis seized on an opportunity from a Kahibah turnover and finished well in the 63rd minute. Kahibah pegged them back straight away however with a goal immediately after, thanks to Jarrod Penfold.
The visitors struck back again just minutes later through Alex Gillespie, Cooks Hill making a corner count for the second time in the match. Kahibah had to respond and did by going route one. Penfold earned a penalty in the 78th minute after being brought down inside the area, which Dave Hodgson converted in the 79th to close the gap to one goal.
Kahibah had their chances to win it in the final minutes of this one, as Cooks Hill attempted to wind down the clock and see the win. Jake Hamilton prevented Jamie Hadlow from levelling the scores late into injury time, and the league leaders grabbed their first win since the 14th of May.
The result does interesting things to the league table. Cooks Hill remains first and has opened their margin up to three points, however, South Cardiff and Thornton are both hot on their tail with one and two games in hand respectively. Kahibah failed to capitalise on Belswans’ bye, and defeat means they’ll remain outside the top four until at least Wednesday. If they can beat New Lambton on Wednesday night, they’ll rise back to fourth.
Singleton Strikers 0 def. by New Lambton FC 5 (Taylor 10’, 31’, Ihlow 14’, 79’, Juchniewicz 61’)
Saturday 24th June, 2:30pm at Howe Park
New Lambton had clocked up nearly a month since they had last taken to the pitch but wasted no time upon their return as they put in a five-star performance against a hapless Singleton outfit.
The Strikers perhaps shaded the better of the early field possession, but it would be New Lambton who’d strike early. Luke Jocevski was fortunate to get the bounce of the ball in the middle of the park and put Riley Taylor through. The winger made no mistake to the delight of the travelling support, and the Eagles were ahead 1-0.
New Lambton doubled their advantage four minutes later, thanks to some speedy work from Alex Ihlow. The striker got the better of Singleton centre back Jackson Skinner on the half way line, and went all the way to goal and beat Stuart Plant with a high finish.
Singleton thought they had clawed one back in the 19th minute after a deep cross from Brad Millar, who found Bowen Bagnall in the box. He squared it to Joe Civello who finished well – but the linesman’s flag was up, and it’d be the last sight on goal the Strikers had for the rest of the opening period.
Riley Taylor had a good chance to score a third in the 24th minute but put his chance wide, before some Peter Juchniewicz magic put New Lambton into a commanding position. The veteran midfielder played a delightful ball over the top for Taylor, who was stood on the last defender. He beat his man, turned and scored his second to put the Eagles 3-0 in front at the break.
Gael Basana continued to hang out wide on the right in the second half, and one of his deep crosses almost came off at the start of the half. The ball found its way to Millar who was hiding behind his marker – his header was pushed wide by Josh Cox in the New Lambton goal.
A minute later, the Strikers had their best chance of the match so far. Millar fired a ball across the face from the left and Basana put his chance inside the six-yard box tremendously high over the bar. The number 8 had one of his deep crosses turned over by Cox in the 57th minute.
A former Singleton man would have a hand (or two) in ensuring the Strikers didn’t find a way back in. The afters of a long Zane Hand throw into the box fell kindly to Peter Juchniewicz, who rifled in a long, low shot which found its way into the furthest corner of the net. Singleton captain and keeper Stuart Plant was screaming at the officials and claiming offside interference from a New Lambton player, but the linesman and referee disagreed and the fourth goal stood.
The rest of the half was virtually all New Lambton, and Alex Ihlow put the icing on the cake in the 79th minute. He found himself left unmarked by Singleton centre-back Stuart Thompson and received the ball, turned and finished well past Plant to give New Lambton a 5-0 win.
Thornton Redbacks FC 2 (McAllister 27’, Cummings 90+3’) def. West Wallsend 1 (van Kemanade 30’)
Saturday 24th June, 2:45pm at Thornton Park
The Redbacks kept the pressure on league leaders Cooks Hill as Steve Cummings headed them to the last-gasp win over a ten-man West Wallsend at Thornton Park on Saturday afternoon.
West Wallsend nearly put themselves behind in the opening stages of this one, but keeper Jessie Cook managed to steer a goal-bound miscue away from danger. Thornton thought they had gone ahead in the 21st minute, but Jamie Subat’s goal was called back for offside.
They did, however, go ahead in the 27th minute through leading goal scorer Nathan McAllister. The captain helped make and finish the goal past Cook in the West Wallsend goal to put the home side ahead 1-0. The Bluebells didn’t waste any time in squaring the ledger though – Ryan van Kemanade headed home from a Dom Langowski free kick in the 30th minute.
The match was turning fast into a snarky battle, with Westy’s Ryan Cole in the middle of everything. Bryson Cox sent a huge chance over the top in the 67th minute, and Thornton missed their own after some goalkeeping magic from Jessie Cook toward the end of the second half.
A clumsy tackle from Ryan Cole in the 85th minute would give Thornton a man advantage, as Cole was sent from the field for a second bookable offence. The Redbacks made it count in the dying seconds – Steve Cummings headed home from a Nathan McAllister corner to hand the Redbacks a 2-1 win.
Thornton coach Darrel McAllister described it was a ‘frustrating old day’.
“We took the lead and conceded but I thought we had the better chances and deserved the win…to get the winner when we did was a relief,” McAllister said.
“They (West Wallsend) did alright with ten, both teams were trying to win the game… it probably took away from their chances to score, but it doesn’t make it easier for us to score because they don’t take a man out of the defence if anything it probably took a bit of pressure off us on the counter.
“It always a tough game against Westy, they’re a physical side and a lot of teams might comment on how physical they are, for me, they’re a good side… talent-wise, they’re a good side and they’re better than where they’re sitting on the ladder in my opinion.”
West Wallsend coach Gary Rowe was disappointed with his side’s lack of discipline following a marked improvement in recent weeks.
“The send-off certainly had an impact, I was disappointed we lost our discipline and got one sent off, but Thornton finished stronger than us,” Rowe said.
“It certainly didn’t help our cause… we were holding on at that point in the match, and once we went down to ten there was only likely to be one outcome which was disappointing.
“With eleven blokes we might have been able to hold on, but they (Thornton) come really good late on in the game… they had a couple of chances which they didn’t take, but the send off didn’t help us at all.”
Wallsend FC 2 (Coker 19’, Richards 90+2’) def. Cessnock City FC 1 (McCabe 7’)
Sunday 25th June, 2:30pm at The Gardens
An escape act worthy of Harry Houdini himself and a last-ditch goal from Trent Richards helped the Red Devils steal victory from a gutsy Cessnock outfit and keep their faintest of finals hopes alive.
Cessnock got the ball rolling early on in this one after a ball in from the left-hand side, which first-grade starting debutant James Collins attempted to bicycle kick toward goal. The youngster missed, but Travas McCabe was standing by behind him and scored a wonderful volley from 18 yards out to give the Hornets an unlikely lead.
Wallsend squared things up in the 19th minute after a 30-yard shot from Jackson Pett looked to be headed in, but Ethan Coker managed to get a touch on it just outside the six-yard box to send debutant goalkeeper Dylan Cheetham the wrong way and square the ledger.
The Red Devils continued to dominate much of the possession and chances but were failing to capitalise on their opportunities. Cheetham played a good game in the Cessnock goal, while Wallsend’s Jackson Manning worked hard to nullify any potential impact Jason Zechel was able to have in the match.
It was to be heartbreak in the final minutes yet again for Cessnock however. Wallsend enjoyed a series of corners right at the death and made the last one count. Trent Richards managed to fight his way through a sea of defenders and steer a shot into the bottom left-hand corner of the goal from inside the six-yard box and hand Wallsend a 2-1 win.
Wallsend coach Chris Gallagher was pleased with the win but less so with his team’s execution in front of goal.
“We dominated the possession and the chances, but we just didn’t take them,” Gallagher said.
“Always happy to get the three points, but disappointed to not finish the chances we had… Kyle Macorig came back from 23s and ended his recess, did a couple of things better and had a really good game.
“Jackson Pett at left back was outstanding again, Jake Sullivan debuted on the right-hand side of midfield and had an excellent game as well, and Jackson Manning played on the right-hand side of defence and stopped Jason Zechel from having any real impact on the game.”
Cessnock coach Lino Gatti rued his side’s luck following the match.
“We picked the ball out of the net, and the goalkeeper didn’t walk over the line before the referee blew the whistle (for full time) … the dressing room was shattered yesterday,” Gatti said.
“It’s going to be hard to put the pieces back together… we had three or four combination plays which we haven’t been able to do for a while which was good, we were able to string a few passes together and keep possession of the ball in the middle of the park and be able to get forward, which we don’t consistently do.
“Dylan Cheetham did fantastic… for a player who’s only played a few games in 23s, has been an outfield player and not played in goal much to my knowledge, he was outstanding and he’ll be back in the starting 11 again this weekend.”
South Cardiff FC 1 (Fajkovic 75’) def. Toronto Awaba FC 0
Sunday 25th June, 2:30pm at Ulinga Oval
Denis Fajkovic was the villain the last time the Gunners took on Toronto, but a thunderbolt from the captain’s boot proved the difference as South Cardiff moved back up into second place on Sunday afternoon.
The first half was a tight affair – Fajkovic stung the palms of keeper Blake Redman with an early shot from deep, and Nick Roberts nearly opened the scoring after a precise ball over the top from Nick McKye, but he could only fire it straight at Mikel Breckenridge in the Southy goal.
Toronto had perhaps the better of the opening half in terms of chances, a couple coming from free kicks delivered from deep. South Cardiff did have a fantastic chance to go ahead about midway through the half, but Cameron Herring sent his side-footed volley well over the top.
South Cardiff approached the second half with a renewed enthusiasm, and it nearly paid dividends early on as Brett Cowling put a shot across the keeper just wide. The number 8 nearly chipped Blake Redman in the 69th minute before Troy Runge put a free header from a corner straight at the goalkeeper soon after.
The Gunners were looking the most likely to find a breakthrough, and they did just that in the 75th minute. Dane Carroll had broken down the right-hand side and cut the ball back to the centre. It took a deflection and made its way slowly to a charging Denis Fajkovic, whose vicious hit from 25 yards out nestled into the top left-hand corner of the net.
The game would spin on its head in the 82nd minute when South Cardiff captain Corey Nicholas was sent from the field for a second yellow card after a rough challenge on his opposing captain Nick Roberts. Toronto nearly made the most of their man advantage when Tyler Ossington powered a header at goal from a Nick McKye free kick in the 85th minute, but some spectacular goalkeeping from Mikel Breckenridge kept Toronto at bay. McKye went close with a shot from some way out in the 89th minute, but it was dealt with by Breckenridge and the Gunners took all the points.