Match of the Round
West Wallsend (3rd) vs Cooks Hill United (1st)
Sunday 7 July, 2:30 pm, Johnston Park
Round 17’s Match of the Round will feature a gigantic, top of the table clash between West Wallsend and Cooks Hill United at Johnston Park, which could be a preview to one of the big games at the end of the season.
There’s no denying these two sides have been two of the premier sides of the competition so far in 2019 with both sitting in first and third respectively.
West Wallsend scored late to save a draw against Cessnock City last round while the Cookers returned to form with a 6-2 victory against Toronto Awaba, while the black and white now sit eleven points above the Bluebells on the table.
The game will also showcase the two best-attacking sides in the league, with Cooks Hill leading the statistics with 44 goals while West Wallsend sits on 32 but will welcome back leading goalscorer Tye Jones to the line-up.
The ladder leaders accounted for the Bluebells earlier in the season with a 3-1 victory where attacker Nick Russell scored two on that day and bagged another double last round to again be in good form.
West Wallsend will want to get back into winning form with South Cardiff, Cessnock, Thornton and New Lambton hot on their tails while interim head coach Steve Thompson said the side would be up for the big challenge.
“The boys are keen, they played well against Singleton two weeks ago and Cessnock, we controlled the game for the first half but went away from what was working for us,” Thompson said.
“Cookers is always a hard game, they ask plenty of questions so to come away with points will be good.
“Tye Jones is back, while Ryan Cole will still be a couple of weeks, there is still a couple of niggles, but we’ll be there about.”
Cooks Hill shook off losing back to back games to put six goals past Toronto Awaba last round, and coach Graham Law said his side must be prepared again for another tough encounter.
“They’ve got such a good team, got great respect for Westy and always tough to play at home,” Law said.
“We have to win the battles, individually we’re the best football team, but we have to really show we’re up for the battle.”
New Lambton Eagles (7th) vs South Cardiff Gunners (4th)
Saturday 6 July, 4:30 pm, Alder Park
Round 17 will also serve up a giant encounter in terms of the top four race, with New Lambton and South Cardiff locking horns at Alder Park and will be regarded as a six-point game.
The Eagles showed their promise in downing West Wallsend and Cooks Hill recently but slipped up against Wallsend last round to slide down to seventh while the Gunners have hit a bit of a roadblock having only won one of their previous five games and will be reeling from their 4-0 defeat to Thornton last round.
Only two points separate the two sides, and a win in this fixture will go along way to playing finals football at the end of the season with South Cardiff still sitting inside the top four with six games remaining.
South Cardiff got the chocolates last time out against New Lambton with a 3-1 triumph earlier in the season and will be determined to reverse their performance of last round.
The match will also showcase two of the league’s top goalscorers with New Lambton’s Riley Taylor on ten goals and South Cardiff’s Sam Ford on nine goals, while the winner of this battle will go along way to earning a victory for their respective sides.
New Lambton would also have been disappointed with their showing last round, and a win would be massive while coach Jim Foley said the players have to get back to their winning mindset.
“The two games we won (Cooks Hill and West Wallsend) we showed great discipline and focus, and it was more of a mental thing the loss to Wallsend as they didn’t lose their technical ability,” Foley said.
“We weren’t switched on and paid for it, but I encourage my teams to treat the season like a marathon and to be in touch and then threaten the finish line.
“Southy beat us quite convincingly last time so that it will be a tough game.”
The Gunners will want to keep a foothold on their top four placing while captain-coach Denis Fajkovic said his side have taken ownership of their poor results and are determined to turn it around.
“To be honest our performances have been below par, I think we have stuck with the same thing and just trying to force it to work,” Fajkovic said.
“As for New Lambton, we have watched them a few times after we played them and they do have dangerous weapons, if we play as we did against Thornton, they will put six past us.
“I believe this week has been a massive reality check, and now we will see what we are made of.”
Toronto Awaba Stags (10th) vs Belmont-Swansea United (2nd)
Sunday 7 July, 2:30 pm, Lyall Peacock Field
Toronto Awaba will welcome the high-flying Belmont Swansea to Lyall Peacock Field to continue Round 17.
The Stags suffered a 6-2 loss to Cooks Hill last round and are entrenched in a wooden spoon battle with Wallsend while Belswans has hit great form with a 2-0 win over Kahibah the last start.
Toronto stunned the defending champions earlier in the campaign with a 2-1 victory at Blacksmiths Oval to set up another intriguing encounter with both sides eager to win.
Belswans sit on 26 points, and a win would see them almost assured of a finals spot while the Stags only sit two points away from Wallsend in the race to avoid the wooden spoon.
Belswans still have the best defensive record of the league but will need to be wary of Nathan McAllister who scored last time against the yellow and green and scored in his previous encounter, while Belswans attacker Ty Goldsmiths will be looking to continue his good touch in front of goal with two goals in his last two matches.
Wallsend F.C (11th) vs Singleton Strikers (9th)
Sunday 7 July, 2:30 pm, The Gardens
Wallsend will take on Singleton in a battle to avoid the wooden spoon, with both sides out to collect victory.
The Red Devils hit back from a couple of tough defeats, with a resilient 2-0 win over New Lambton last round while Singleton sat out last round with the bye but their latest result was a 2-0 defeat to West Wallsend.
Six points separate the two sides heading into this fixture while Wallsend has a game in hand on the Strikers.
Singleton will be wanting to win with tough fixtures coming up against South Cardiff and Belmont Swansea and are still in with a shot of qualifying for finals, while last time out against the Red Devils, they won 3-1 at home.
The Strikers will need to be wary of Wallsend striker, Lez Wallace who scored a double last round and Red Devils coach Jesse Pryce said they have a plan in place to defeat Singleton.
“It was long overdue the win against New Lambton, and we’ve got a bit of a plan from last time we played them, so we hope it comes off,” Pryce said.
“No one wants to win the wooden spoon, not a nice feeling, and we’ve got no expectations and no pressure on us.
“There is a couple of guys coming back from suspension, but apart from one player out, we’ll be full-strength.”
Thornton Redbacks (6th) vs Kahibah F.C (8th)
Sunday 7 July, 2:30 pm, Thornton Park
Thornton Park will host a big game between Thornton and Kahibah with the Redbacks firmly in the mix for finals football while Kahibah still has slight hopes.
The Redbacks achieved a massive 4-0 victory last round against South Cardiff and are only two points away from the Gunners with two games to make up while Kahibah went down 2-0 to Belswans last round, but there were some positives from the defeat.
The green and black are on 14 points but also have two games in hand on the teams above, and a couple of wins on the bounce could put them within range of making the final four.
The last encounter between these two, they played out a 4-3 thriller at Kahibah Oval with the Redbacks finishing on top and both sides will be desperate to attain victory on Sunday.
Thornton will want to build on their excellent showing last round and coach Gary Wand said he’s looking for more of the same.
“We need to keep up that intensity, we always talk about consistency, but that’s what we need,” Wand said.
“It’s a good position were in that it’s in our hands, if we lose then it’s on us, but if we stay healthy there is no reason why we can’t make the finals.
“We had a thriller last time against them, and Kahibah is a tough team to play, they play a different style to most teams.”