PHOTO: VALENTINE SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
Match of the Round
Kahibah FC 1 (Hadlow 82’) def. Thornton Redbacks FC 0
Sunday 2nd July, 2:30pm at Kahibah Oval
Thornton were kept scoreless for only the second time this season as a solitary Kahibah goal condemned them to defeat and a fall from the top four, in a tight tussle at Kahibah Oval on Sunday afternoon.
Kahibah came out firing in this one, but it was the Redbacks who had the first real chance of the match on the counter as Jamie Subat and Nathan McAllister hit the keeper and side netting respectively.
Kahibah had chances of their own throughout the first half, but Murray Leyland and Jamie Hadlow were unable to get any effective shots away.
The second half was played mainly in the middle of the park until Kahibah found a breakthrough goal in the 82nd minute.
Thornton lost possession in the middle of the park and the ball found its way to Dave Hodgson, who in turn found Jamie Hadlow. The number 9 finished well past the oncoming Drew Olsen and handed his side a 1-0 victory.
The win was an exceedingly important one for Kahibah – it propels them to within five points of Cooks Hill at the top, with a game in hand on the league leaders.
It means Wednesday night becomes even more important, as neither Cooks or Kahibah can afford to drop points.
For Thornton, the result means they’re currently two points out of the top four. With Cooks Hill and South Cardiff on the horizon, Thornton need to find their feet if finals football hopes are to be realised.
West Wallsend SFC 1 (Knight 90+2’) def. South Cardiff 0
Saturday 1st July, 2:30pm at Johnston Park
It was a last gasp winner from a junior substitute for a ten man Bluebells outfit at Johnston Park on Saturday afternoon, as they did their best to keep their finals hopes alive.
South Cardiff were happy to test the West Wallsend defence with long balls early, while the Bluebells struggled to break down a compact defence.
It was the home side who’d have the first chance of the match, Sam Holt lashing at a loose ball which was sent for a corner via a deflection.
Brett Cowling registered South Cardiff’s first shot with a curling effort past the left-hand post in the 27th minute, before some controversy at the other end ten minutes later.
West Wallsend broke down the right, and the ball in from Bronson Marshall found its way to Jarrod Olivieiri who bundled it in.
Cue delirium from the home faithful, but the referee’s whistle disallowed the goal for an apparent ‘Hand of God’ from Olivieri.
South Cardiff’s best chance of the half came in the 43rd minute. Troy Runge was let free and put the ball in the back of the net after the offside flag was up, but the ref called play back for a foul in the lead up to allow the Gunners a second bite.
The ensuing free kick from Denis Fajkovic found Troy Runge, but he got under it and blasted it over from six yards out.
The second half began similarly to how the first ended – Runge missed a good chance from close by for the Gunners.
The match settled back into an extremely competitive one, and chances were limited.
Tye Jones nearly marked his return from suspension with a goal in the 71st minute but wasn’t able to find a target while South Cardiff’s Jackson Robb tried his luck from range.
A straight red card in the dying minutes would turn this one on its head – West Wallsend’s Quinn MacNeill the culprit, a lunging tackle on Brett Cowling caught the wide man on the ankle and earned the Bluebells defender his marching orders. Just a minute later, pandemonium at Johnston Park.
The resulting free kick was dealt with quickly by West Wallsend, who looked to counter quickly up the field. The ball was beyond any Bluebell, but Fajkovic delayed his pass back to Breckenridge and dallied on the ball.
It’d prove a costly mistake – Josh Knight was hot on his heels, seized on the eventual pass back, got a toe on it and sent it past the ‘keeper and into the back of the net to hand West Wallsend the win.
West Wallsend assistant coach Gary Wilson ran the show in place of an absent Gary Rowe, and he was pleased with the way his side adapted throughout the match.
“I thought we dominated the first half and controlled possession really well… but we really found it hard to break it down, so we tweaked things in the second half but again they showed why they’re in the top two,” Wilson said.
“Any win in the 93rd, 94th minute lifts everybody and it’s reward for the boys plugging away and sticking to the game plan, still fighting until the end. You might get one win like that in a season and you might cop one as well, it was vital for us because it puts us only a couple of points out of the top four.
“The boys are good, they’re a really good group and really good with the ball and we’ve given away a couple of games, they’re still raw a couple of them… if they can go on a bit of a roll, they’ll really give it a shake.”
Cooks Hill United FC 7 (Sutherland 30’, 31’, 49’, Yaxley 38’, Russell 80’, Fakes 85’, Gallagher 90+1’) def. Cessnock City FC 1 (Zechel 76’)
Saturday 1st July, 2:30pm at Newcastle Athletics Field
Cessnock desperately needed something to save their season this weekend, but unfortunately, couldn’t find it and were thoroughly dismantled and destroyed by a rampant Cooks Hill outfit in Newcastle West on Saturday afternoon.
The home side nearly opened the scoring from a Daniel Johnson corner in the 11th minute, before they did take the lead in the 30th minute through new recruit Joey Sutherland.
He’d double his own and his side’s tally with a second header in as many minutes to hand his side a 2-0 lead.
They’d score a third in the 38th minute after a trademark run from Daniel Yaxley, who played a one-two with his captain Cal Gallagher and finished well to give his side a three goal buffer at the break – which Sutherland would make four not long after half time, a 49th minute goal from the spot completing his hattrick.
The Cookers’ stayed quite for much of the second half before a Jason Zechel goal for the away side in the 76th minute sparked them into life.
Nick Russell finished off a Stephen Bramley cross in the 80th minute before Nicholas Fakes scored a goal on debut after some interplay with Emerson Augey to make it 6-1. Cal Gallagher chipped in with an injury time goal, and it finished 7-1.
It’s an important three points for Cooks Hill – it puts them five points clear at the top of the ladder but they’ll have to be on song midweek against West Wallsend if they’re to maintain their lead, as Kahibah have a game in hand and are close behind.
For Cessnock, it’s a heavy loss but as the wooden spoon is all but destined for Turner Park this season, it has little bearing on their season.
The big news from this one is that Cessnock coach Lino Gatti is reportedly tendering his resignation at season’s end and it’s unclear what impact the news may have for the Hornets as they attempt to chase down their first league win of the season with only five matches left. They have the bye next weekend.
New Lambton FC 0 def. by Belmont Swansea United FC 2 (Shearer 45+1’, 77’)
Sunday 2nd July, 2:30pm at Alder Park
Belmont-Swansea showed why they’re among the competition’s best sides with an assured 2-0 win over New Lambton, who had their faint finals hopes squashed at Alder Park on Sunday afternoon.
Joel Shearer was the hero for Belswans on the day – a headed goal at the death of the first half from a Chris Gazzard cross, which he followed up with a volley from range in the 77th minute to secure the three points for his Belmont-Swansea side.
Encouragingly for the away side, creative midfielder Josh Hall made his return from injury as he replaced his captain off the bench in the 80th minute.
His fitness will pose a tough question for coach Josh Rufo, who will now have to work out how best to slot his stars into the side each week.
The win moves Belswans up to third on the ladder, level with Kahibah with five goals the difference between the pair.
The two teams below them (South Cardiff in fourth and Thornton in fifth) have one and two games respectively in hand on Belmont-Swansea, which makes next week against Toronto all the more important for Belswans.
On the other hand, New Lambton looks to have avoided the bottom three and the top three – their finals hopes were dim at best, and have now been almost certainly dashed as a result of this loss. They’ll take on Wallsend next weekend, with that result likely to help decide who between the two sides will finish in 7th place.
Toronto Awaba FC 2 (Roberts 65’, 82’) def. by Singleton Strikers FC 3 (Muir 46’, McKye OG 58’, Bagnall 90+4’)
Sunday 2nd July, 2:30pm at Lyall Peacock Field
A 94th-minute goal condemned Toronto to their fourth defeat at home this season – Bowen Bagnall the Upper Hunter hero for Singleton as they edged their way closer to Wallsend and New Lambton above them on Sunday afternoon.
It took until the second half for the first of five goals to be scored in this one, and it was Tristain Muir returning from suspension who’d put it away in the 46th minute.
Singleton would have their lead doubled in the 58th minute, thanks to a Nick McKye own goal which put the Strikers in a commanding position.
The Stags were down but not out, and a Nick Roberts goal in the 65th minute got Toronto back in with a shout.
The captain doubled his tally and pulled back a share of the points in the 82nd minute, his eighth goal of the season looked like it’d be enough to see the two sides share the points until the 94th minute, when Bowen Bagnall popped up to score and snatch Singleton their second away win of the season.
This match shaped as a potential decider for tenth place on the ladder and Singleton’s last ditch goal managed to move them into ninth, five points clear of Toronto.
The Stags do have a game in hand, and if they’re unable to take at least a point from their midweek match against Kahibah then they may be destined to finish the same place they did last season – tenth.