Kahibah F.C (8th) vs New Lambton Eagles (7th)
Sunday 14 July, 2:30 pm, Kahibah Oval
A huge fixture will highlight Round 18 with Kahibah hosting New Lambton as the NEWFM Northern League One is nearing the crunch time of the season.
Both sides still have plenty to play for in 2019 and their seasons will be on the line in this game with the two clubs sitting in 7th and 8th respectively.
The two sides had to sit out last week due to wet weather but both have put themselves in positions to challenge for the top four, with the Eagles only a win away from the coveted positions while the Rams have won three of their past four outings to be on 17 points with a game in hand.
A victory in this fixture will keep the winner well in the frame for finals football while a loss could put a massive dent in any playoff hopes.
Both New Lambton and Kahibah have had similar seasons to date and both share the exact same points differential with 24 goals scored and 23 conceded to set up a potentially close game.
The Eagles enjoyed a 3-1 win at home earlier in the season against the green and black with Riley Taylor scoring twice on that occasion and the away side will want to get back to winning ways with their latest result a 2-0 loss to Wallsend.
As for Kahibah, a midweek win over Toronto just over a week ago has instilled confidence back into the line-up and a win would see them leapfrog the Eagles on the table.
Belmont-Swansea United (2nd) vs Thornton Redbacks (4th)
Sunday 14 July, 2:30 pm, Blacksmiths Oval
Round 18 will also feature a giant, top-four clash between Belmont-Swansea and Thornton at Blacksmiths Oval.
Both outfits have hit excellent form recently with the home side unbeaten since their loss to Cooks Hill in Round 11 and boast the best defensive record across the league, conceding only 14 so far this season – averaging only a goal a game, to be sitting in the second spot.
Although, the Thornton Redbacks have hit a purple patch themselves, winning their last two games while scoring a combined nine goals in those two fixtures to propel themselves into the top four.
The Redbacks recorded a 5-1 win over Wallsend midweek with Jake Millstead scoring a hat-trick while Jacob Golding also bagged himself a double and are now in the box seat to land a finals position.
The match promises to deliver another entertaining spectacle and if last time out between these two is anything to go by, with the match finishing 3-3, fans can expect another top-quality affair.
A lot will be on the line with only four points separating the two sides on the table, while a win could extend Belswans points difference to seven over the Redbacks. A win also for Belswans will assure them a finals spot while a win for the Redbacks will put them within a point of Belswans with a game in hand.
Belswans will be keen to continue their great run of form and coach Mick Stafford said his players are extremely dedicated to reaching their objectives.
“We re-evaluated our goals ahead of the Kahibah game, all the boys had input and now we are all 100% committed to reaching them,” Stafford said.
“Thornton are a very good side, they put 3 past us last time and that doesn’t happen often, it’s going to be a challenge, but we are prepared to do the hard work to get the win Sunday.
“I never think where we will be if we lose, that’s a terrible mindset, the only thoughts I have are positive ones, we are second at the moment and nine clubs would dream of being in our position, we have got here through hard work and mateship.”
Thornton will also want to continue their hot winning streak and coach Gary Wand said they must show consistency and rise to the challenge.
“It’s always a huge test against Belswans, especially at home, Mick has done a great job with them and they’ve been a lot more consistent this season so hopefully we can turn up and make it a really competitive game,” Wand said.
“Being able to have the same 11 was very helpful (for the win over Wallsend), I think the boys really enjoyed playing on a dry, flat surface and managed to play some decent football.
“If you can keep getting points, you take your position out of other teams hands, we’re going along ok, and Blacksmiths is always dry so hopefully will be a good game.”
Wallsend F.C (11th) vs Cessnock City Hornets (6th)
Sunday 14 July, 2:30 pm, The Gardens
Wallsend will play home to Cessnock City at the Gardens in another intriguing fixture in Round 18.
The Red Devils suffered a 5-1 defeat to Thornton midweek, damaging their chances of avoiding the wooden spoon but remain two points behind Toronto and will still be desperate to pick up the maximum points this weekend.
Cessnock have battled hard to be in the mix for finals football and currently reside in 6th spot, and will view this game as a must-win in order to bolster their chances of featuring in the playoffs.
The Hornets have only recorded the 16 goals so far this season and will want to improve their minus 9 goal difference, which could prove crucial with the competition so tight.
Last time out, Cessnock recorded a 1-0 win over Wallsend at Turner Park while both sides will be gunning for victory with only a few games left to play.
South Cardiff Gunners (5th) vs Singleton Strikers (9th)
Sunday 14 July, 2:30 pm, Ulinga Oval
Singleton will travel to play South Cardiff at Ulinga Oval to continue Round 18, with plenty still to play for.
South Cardiff have stalled in recent weeks to now drop to 5th on the ladder but remain only a point away from Thornton in fourth and will want to rectify their last outing, which was a 4-0 defeat to the Redbacks.
The Strikers are still in with a chance of making the finals but will want to push clear of the dreaded wooden spoon with some points, while the side sits seven points away from the Gunners and will view this game as their last chance to mount a finals run.
Both teams at their best are a daunting proposition for any team but South Cardiff will come in as favourites on their home track but will need to re-find their winning qualities with Cessnock, New Lambton and Kahibah close behind.
The Gunners recorded a 1-0 win over Singleton earlier in the year away from home and maximum points will be on the agenda for both teams again in a game that could go down to the wire.
Toronto Awaba Stags (10th) vs West Wallsend (3rd)
Sunday 14 July, 2:45 pm, Lyall Peacock Field
Round 18 will wrap up with the third-placed West Wallsend travelling to play the tenth-placed Toronto Awaba at Lyall Peacock Field.
The Stags are entrenched in a wooden-spoon battle with Wallsend but still have the upper hand while they have been beaten in their last three games, conceding 13 goals from those matches.
West Wallsend missed out on playing last week due to wet weather and will view this game as an ideal chance to cement themselves in the top four, with a chasing pack behind them.
The Bluebells picked up a strong 5-2 win over the Stags earlier in the season and will be wanting for more of the same on Sunday.
The Stags will be missing a few key personnel but coach Darrell McAllister said the players are determined to finish the season strong.
“We have a stack of injuries so just trying to get players back on the park is our main concern,” McAllister said.
“Young players are getting game time and will continue to, but it’s all about finishing the year on a high.”