Match of the Round
New Lambton v South Cardiff
Alder Park – Saturday 2.30pm
New Lambton coach Tom Davies believes his side will take plenty of confidence out of their round three victory over reigning premiers Cooks Hill when they host South Cardiff in the NEWFM Northern League One match of the round on Saturday.
The Eagles came from behind to beat Cooks Hill 2-1 last weekend, with the victory maintaining New Lambton’s perfect start to the campaign.
New Lambton share second place with reigning champions Belmont Swansea United and surprise packet Cessnock City, a point behind leaders Kahibah after three rounds.
And Davies is keen for his side to continue their fine start to the delayed season.
“I guess it’s a confidence boost for me getting that consistency,” Davies said.
“New Lambton the last few seasons have had good results. Now it’s about stringing them together.
“It’s not only about performing well each week but also being on the right side of the score sheet at the end of each game. Our focus is on building momentum in terms of what we want to achieve as a group.
“I think for everyone the minimum is to make the finals. For our first grade group it’s about doing more than that and doing the best we can. We’re taking it one game at a time at the moment. It’s a bit cliché but we’re trying to achieve what we can in each game then focus and reset for the next week.
“The results will take care of themselves. Our goals and expectations individually and as a group are quite focused given the shortened season.”
South Cardiff suffered defeat in their return to football after the COVID-19 suspension, going down 2-0 to Belmont Swansea.
The loss left the Gunners with a win and a defeat from their opening two matches, sitting in sixth place on the table.
Meanwhile, South Cardiff are scheduled to face Wallsend while New Lambton will take on Toronto Awaba in their deferred round one fixtures on 29 July.
Singleton Strikers v Wallsend FC
Howe Park – Saturday 2.30pm
Singleton coach Brendan Slade will not allow his side to rest on their laurels when they host struggling Wallsend FC at Howe Park on Saturday.
The Strikers produced the result of round three when they hammered Toronto Awaba 5-1 to see them climb into the early finals places.
Slade was delighted with the way his side hit the ground running first up following the suspension of football. But that will count for nothing if the finals-chasing Strikers fail to fire against bottom of the table Wallsend.
“We’re just taking it game by game at the moment,” Slade said.
“We really focused the last few weeks on that Toronto game. We didn’t know too much about them so the focus was really on our game. And we got it spot on in terms of the way we wanted to play.
“We still have a lot of areas we want to improve on. Possession we turned over far too easy in the first half [against Toronto] and we had to win it back. The second half was a lot better.
“It was a great result but we need to focus again and back it up next week [against Wallsend].”
Wallsend are last after three rounds having conceded 11 goals in their two matches so far.
6-0 and 5-1 defeats to heavyweights New Lambton and Kahibah have made for a sub-optimal start to the campaign, with Wallsend desperate to get off the mark to kick start their season.
Kahibah v Cooks Hill United
Kahibah Oval – Saturday 2.30pm
Top of the table Kahibah host 2019 premiers Cooks Hill United on Saturday with both sides in need of the three points for different reasons.
Kahibah have flown out of the blocks to lead the way after three rounds. But they have played a game more than New Lambton, Belmont Swansea and Cessnock City who are a point behind in the chasing pack.
They will need to win to maintain their place at the summit. After just missing the finals last season, Kahibah are looking to step up a level in 2020 with finals football a necessity – with their eyes potentially on even bigger prizes.
Cooks Hill meanwhile have started slowly. The reigning premiers were upset 2-1 by New Lambton in their return to football last week and will be desperate to bounce back.
Cooks Hill sit ninth without a point after three rounds having also suffered a 2-1 defeat to South Cardiff in their only match before the break.
Cooks Hill will host their deferred round one grand final rematch against Belmont Swansea on 29 July.
Thornton Redbacks v West Wallsend
Thornton Park – Saturday 3.30pm
Thornton will hope a change in fortune is on the way when they host West Wallsend on Saturday.
The Redbacks fell 1-0 to Cessnock in their return to football last weekend in a hard-fought match that could have easily gone either way.
But regardless of their good shift against the Hornets, Thornton remain without a point from their opening two matches and sit second last after three rounds.
If their luck is to change it will be at the expense of West Wallsend, who endured an even longer break than the rest of the competition after being handed the round three bye.
It is unclear whether the Bluebells will be fresh from the extended break or underdone when they meet the Redbacks on Saturday. But they will be keen to secure three points having only picked up one point from two matches before the COVID-19 suspension.
Belmont Swansea United v Cessnock City
Blacksmiths Oval – Sunday 2.30pm
Cessnock City coach Michael Gatt believes his side have what it takes to win the NEW FM Northern League One competition this season.
But an early test of their title credentials will come when they travel to Blacksmiths Oval to face the 2019 grand final winners Belmont Swansea United on Sunday.
The Hornets edged past Thornton in their return to football last week but will likely face a tougher test against the 2019 champions.
Cessnock share second place with Belmont Swansea and New Lambton, with the trio boasting an identical record of two wins from as many games after three rounds to sit a point behind Kahibah.
Gatt said the clash with BelSwans would be a massive test.
“They were the grand final winners last year obviously so they’re sort of the measuring stick aren’t they in terms of where we are at,” Gatt said.
“Come next week we’ll know exactly what we need to work on and where we’re at.
“Honestly I think they’ll be in for a huge task to knock us over. It’ll be a big task for us to take them on down there as well. But I’m definitely confident.
“From what the boys showed [against Thornton], Thornton led [Belmont Swansea] in their first game for the first 60 minutes and we put [Thornton] to the sword.
“I think if BelSwans are the measuring stick and we can take three points down there it will install us as title contenders.”
Belmont Swansea downed South Cardiff 2-0 to maintain their perfect start to the season last weekend and will know a victory over Cessnock will keep them in touch with Kahibah at the top.