Match of the Round
Belmont-Swansea United (2nd) vs Cooks Hill United (1st)
Sunday 18 August, 2:30 pm, Blacksmiths Oval
Season 2019 in the NEWFM Northern League One has reached the final round with teams either vying to finish the season on a positive note or preparing for a huge semi-final series.
What better way to conclude the regular season with a top of the table clash between Belmont-Swansea and Cooks Hill United at Blacksmiths Oval with the defending champions colliding with the reigning three-time premiership winners.
The two clubs have been the two premier sides over the course of the 22 rounds finishing in 1st and 2nd respectively and the match could be a prelude to another colossal encounter to come.
The home side knocked over Cessnock 1-0 last round to assert themselves in second while the Cookers went down to Kahibah 2-0 to suffer only their third loss this campaign.
The match will also pit the best defensive side in Belswans, up against the side who has scored the most goals in Cooks Hill and will give both squads a gauge of where they sit heading into the finals.
Cooks Hill defeated the yellow and green earlier in the campaign with a comprehensive 3-0 result at the Athfield, while Belswans last defeated the Cookers in the 2018 semi-final series and again could rise to the occasion on their Old Boys Day.
Key match-ups will include Cooks Hill’s top scorer Nick Russell up against Mark Finlayson at the back while Cookers’ defender Jack Wilkinson will collide with Belswans’ leading goal-scorer amd mid-season signing Ty Goldsmith in another intriguing battle.
Sunday afternoon’s game is set to send the 2019 regular season out with a bang while Belswans coach Mick Stafford said the whole club is excited for a huge day at Blacksmiths.
“The boys are in a real good place at the moment, reaching the goal we set in pre-season is a great achievement, we have used more players throughout the year than any other team, this shows the talent and culture we have at Blacksmiths,” Stafford said.
“We’re excited by another finals series, 4 years in a row now.
“We’re at home on Old Boys Day, there is only one outcome we want which is three points, continuing that momentum into the semis is key, whilst enjoying what should be a good day for the local community.”
Cooks Hill always welcome a challenge and history shows they rise to it, while the squad will be determined to achieve another three points heading into two massive semi-final games.
Assistant coach, Jarrod Gorsuch, said the whole club is excited for the games ahead.
“It’ll be a classic game out at Belswans, physical and up-tempo, we know what to expect when we go out there, the only added bonus is there is little to play for with the league already wrapped up,” Gorsuch said.
“We are settled and ready to go for finals time, the club has been there before and done it, pressure will be on other teams to knock off the minor premiers, we’ve carried the target for the past three seasons.”
New Lambton Eagles (7th) vs Singleton Strikers (8th)
Saturday 17 August, 4:30 pm, Alder Park
New Lambton and Singleton will conclude their 2019 season when they host the first of the weekend’s matches in Round 22 at Alder Park.
The Eagles have had a season that has ebbed and flowed as they sat as high as the top four at one stage, but now reside in seventh, however the young New Lambton outfit can take a lot of positives out of their campaign.
New Lambton knocked over Toronto Awaba 4-0 last start and can finish as high as sixth on the table and have amassed seven goals in their last two outings.
Singleton’s campaign has been largely affected by injuries and absentees to fall short of expectation after a strong start to season 2019.
Regular performers, Jake Barner and Joe Civello struck a goal each as the Strikers downed Thornton 2-0 last round to do the double over the Redbacks.
Both sides will take confidence away from their last start victories as they head into their final match of the season.
New Lambton claimed a 2-1 win last time these two played while both outfits will back themselves to taste victory and finish the campaign on a high.
Kahibah F.C (5th) vs West Wallsend (4th)
Sunday 18 August, 2:30 pm, Kahibah Oval
A match that will have a significant bearing on the top four make-up will be the clash between two in form sides in Kahibah and West Wallsend at Kahibah Oval.
West Wallsend have a chance to leapfrog South Cardiff into third, however only a victory will suffice for the Bluebells if they intend to make the move.
They will not have it all their own way as Kahibah have hit a purple patch of form and recently accounted for Cooks Hill away from home with a 2-0 victory, with leading goal-scorer Rhys Tippett bagging a double taking his season tally to 15.
The young Kahibah side will be jubilant with their recent form, while a win in this fixture will see them finish a point away from the top four spots, but the club will take great confidence into 2020 season knowing they have what it takes to compete against the top four sides.
West Wallsend still remain in fourth and took the lead twice against South Cardiff last start to eventually only come away with a draw.
A win for the Bluebells will see them take on Belswans over two legs in a huge semi-final series and Grand Final rematch, however a draw or a loss will see them play premiership winners, Cooks Hill.
The match will also be a good test for West Wallsend before their semi-final games and interim head coach, Steve Thomson said the side is prepared to put in the performance required.
“The boys are up for it as we want to finish as high as possible,” Thomson said.
“All the coaches are pretty stoked about the three senior sides playing semi-final football.”
Thornton Redbacks (6th) vs Cessnock City Hornets (9th)
Sunday 18 August, 2:30 pm, Thornton Park
Thornton will host Cessnock as both sides will look to close out the season with a victory over a local rival.
Thornton’s season has fallen off the tracks with three straight losses to now sit in sixth spot, however the side has endured a tough run of injuries to key players.
The Redbacks challenged for the top four spots throughout stages of the campaign but couldn’t keep their best eleven on the paddock but have been buoyed by some promising youngsters coming through the ranks.
In recent results, Thornton went down 2-0 to Singleton last round while Cessnock lost a close game to Belswans 1-0 at home.
The Hornets have been busy re-signing some of their key players that has seen them have a positive season that they can build upon into 2020.
Four straight games without a win has been a blow to the Hornets, however they did record a 1-0 win over Thornton earlier this season.
After a string of poor performances, both sides will look to reverse their runs and cap off their seasons with a strong victory.
Wallsend F.C (10th) vs Toronto Awaba Stags (11th)
Sunday 18 August, 5:15 pm, The Gardens
The final game of the regular season will showcase the cellar dweller battle as Wallsend and Toronto Awaba will collide.
The winner will avoid the dreaded wooden spoon with both side’s desperate to evade the unwanted title.
The Red Devils only need a draw to keep them off the bottom place, although have endured a three-game losing streak against tough opponents including a 4-1 loss to Kahibah recently.
The Stags are also undertaking a three-game losing streak including conceding nine goals in their last two games with the latest a 4-0 defeat to New Lambton.
The two outfits endured a 0-0 draw against each other last time out, but both will be eager to claim a victory that has been hard to come by in 2019.
Wallsend will have the home ground advantage and coach Jesse Pryce said the squad is determined to do whatever it takes.
“Everyone is keen to get the job done, no one wants to finish last and to be able to do it at home is the icing on the cake,” Pryce said.
“The boys need to make sure we shut down Toronto going forward, that is definitely where Toronto pose a big threat.”