VALENTINE SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
Match of the Round
Wallsend FC (6th) vs. West Wallsend Bluebells SFC (5th)
Sunday 22nd July, 2:30pm, The Gardens
Perhaps the biggest Wallsend derby in recent history, West Wallsend will travel to The Gardens to face their red arch-rivals in a match that may prove paramount in both teams’ hopes for the top four.
This season’s NEWFM Northern League One season has proven to be one of the closest we’ve seen, with only four points separating third and seventh, meaning a loss for either team may see them tumble out of the finals race.
Just one month ago, the Red Devils were looking out-of-luck having lost four in a row, but since then, they’ve picked up some crucial victories against top opponents to place them with a strong chance to return to the finals, however, their opponents have also picked up some big wins.
The Bluebells are coming off the bye but prior to that crushed Cessnock’s finals hopes with a 4-0 victory and although they’ve scored 10 goals in their past three matches, their defence will need to be solid in order to win.
Despite Wallsend sitting mid-table, they have the second best attacking record in the competition and have only been kept scoreless once this season which, interestingly enough, was in their previous outing with West Wallsend.
Wallsend coach Ben Edwards said he was expecting as tough of a match that they experienced last time.
“I’m expecting it to be a physical game, but the derby always is,” Edwards said.
“I feel the confidence has always been there, we’ve just struggled with personnel. We only had a full team, excluding Sam Bradbury, for the first time last week.
“The confidence never really left, it’s just trying to get everyone there and doing their job they need to do.”
Edwards admitted that despite losing to the Bluebells in their last derby, that they weren’t out to seek revenge and were just focusing on fulfilling their game plan in order to get the win.
“It’s not on our mind at all, we’re not going out for revenge, we’re just going out to show what we can and should do, hopefully it pays off for us this weekend.”
Belmont-Swansea United (2nd) vs. South Cardiff FC (4th)
Saturday 21st June, 2:30pm, Blacksmiths Oval
This match is another fixture that will be critical in deciding finals positions.
Belswans have now spent 11 games undefeated and are now remarkably sitting in second place despite only managing two wins in the first ten weeks of the season.
In addition to that, the boys from Blacksmiths have not conceded a goal in their past three games but that defence is sure to be tested this Saturday as they face one of the competition’s better attacking teams including the league’s equal-leading goal scorer in Nathan McCallister.
South Cardiff looked set for a spot in the top four but after losing important matches to Wallsend and Cessnock, are now needing to battle to retain their position.
South Cardiff player-coach Denis Fajkovic admitted the experience in Belswans’ squad was their major strength but that his team would be focusing on their own game plan rather than their oppositions.
“We’re up against it. Josh Rufo is a great coach and that side has plenty of experience,” Fajkovic said.
“In big games like this, when you have young boys and players who aren’t experienced, they can often lose focus in those big moments where it gets tough.
“We’ve got to make sure we stay to the way we play.
“We’re going to give it everything we’ve got in this push for the semis,” said Fajkovic.
Singleton Strikers (7th) vs. New Lambton (9th)
Saturday 21st June, 2:30pm, Howe Park
After looking like they would qualify for the top four for the first time in club history, it’s been a disappointing fall from grace for Singleton having only won one game from their past eight, leaving them four points outside the top four. Making it all the more important to collect three points against New Lambton this weekend.
One of the reasons for the Strikers’ decline in form has been due to their poor offence and even though now they possess the worst attacking record in the league (and at home), they’ll have the chance to change that, as they face a New Lambton side who they defeated 8-2 in their last meeting and have conceded 15 goals in their past four matches.
Despite this, New Lambton’s 3-0 loss to Belswans last weekend stands as the only game this season where the Eagles have been kept scoreless – showcasing their abilities in front of goal.
Singleton’s coach David Willoughby believes although results haven’t gone their way in the back-half of the season, it hasn’t been due to anything in particular with their on-field performance.
“Unfortunately for us our form has come down to players being unavailable in the back half of the year,” Willoughby said.
“The amount of draws we’ve had is probably going to hurt us in the end.
“I don’t think our performances have dropped off, I think we’ve just missed that little bit of luck.
“Although we’re outside the top four, I don’t think anyone wants to play us during finals time.”
Willoughby confessed he was expecting a New Lambton side that would be tough to defeat.
“They will be going up there to win. Jim Foley is going to send them in very well organised and very well structured.
“They’re building their foundations to hit the ground running in Round 1 next year,” concluded Willoughby.
Kahibah FC (10th) vs. Thornton Redbacks (3rd)
Sunday 22nd July, 2:30pm, Kahibah Oval
Thornton will visit Kahibah Oval this Sunday in a desperate attempt to keep their position in the top four which has been placed in jeopardy following their last two results. To make matters harder, they’re facing one of the three teams that has been able to best them this year.
In more positive news for the visitors, Kahibah have still yet to manage a victory when playing at home this season and have only managed one clean sheet that came when away from home.
The Green and Blacks have shown some decent form in their past matches though, having grabbed a point against Singleton and were unlucky to not gain a result against Wallsend last weekend.
Although Kahibah will be only playing for pride, a win for Thornton could see them move to second, however a loss could see easily them tumble down to fifth.
Toronto Awaba Stags FC (11th) vs. Cessnock City Hornets (8th)
Sunday 22nd July, 2:30pm, Lyall Peacock Field
After experiencing a fantastic and promising start to the season, Cessnock’s finals’ hopes have come crashing down in the past few weeks due to losses to Cooks Hill, West Wallsend and New Lambton and although it’s mathematically possible for them to still qualify for finals, it would take nothing short of a miracle and definitely a win against Toronto this Sunday.
Toronto’s 2018 woes continued last weekend with another beat-down courtesy of South Cardiff who scored six goals against them taking their conceded tally to a whopping 74.
The Stags are the first team since 2013 to concede double digit goals on multiple occasions in a season, however they now have a luxury that not many other teams in the league possess – playing with nothing to lose.
The last time these two faced-off Cessnock comprehensively won 6-2 and the Stags will be out for revenge and keen on ending any hopes the Hornets have of qualifying for finals.
Cooks Hill United (1st) have the bye.