Match of the Round
Cooks Hill United v Singleton Strikers
Fearnley Dawes Athletics Field – Saturday 2.30pm
Reigning premiers Cooks Hill United will look to build some momentum to get their season up and running when they host Singleton on Saturday.
Cooks Hill had endured a difficult start to the campaign, failing to register a point in their opening two games before scoring a much-needed 2-1 win over Kahibah in their rescheduled round four clash on Wednesday night.
Second half goals to Daniel Johnson and Nick Russell cancelled out Jye Hodson’s early opener at the Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility to hand Cooks Hill their first win of the campaign.
The win saw Cooks Hill climb to seventh, still with a match in hand on Kahibah and Singleton who share third place.
The Strikers have made a strong start to their season with convincing wins over Toronto Awaba and Wallsend, with coach Brendan Slade aiming to play finals football with his young squad.
A win away from home over the 2019 premiers would give Singleton a huge confidence boost and signal to the rest of the competition that the Strikers will not be pushovers this season.
Belmont Swansea United v New Lambton
Blacksmiths Oval – Saturday 2.30pm
New Lambton coach Tom Davies says the Eagles’ clash with 2019 champions Belmont Swansea United will be a huge test of their own title credentials.
The Eagles travel to Blacksmiths Oval on Saturday top of the NEWFM Northern League One table having enjoyed a perfect three wins from as many starts so far this season.
New Lambton have conceded just one goal, in a 2-1 win over last year’s premiers Cooks Hill United, and will head into Saturday’s clash with plenty of confidence and momentum.
But Davies warned that Belmont Swansea remained a dangerous opponent and one that needed to be respected.
“It is a great test from my point of view,” Davies said.
“The boys obviously want to play the best teams in the competition. We’ve beaten Cooks Hill and South Cardiff, now we play BelSwans.
“It’s a really good test as a group to see where we’re at and it couldn’t come at a better time for us.”
Belmont Swansea meanwhile saw their own perfect start to the season ended last weekend when they were upset 1-0 by Cessnock City.
It took a 30-metre screamer from Cessnock’s Brad York to end BelSwans’ unbeaten run with the reigning champions needing to win against New Lambton to keep in touch with the high-flying Eagles at the top of the table.
Toronto Awaba v Thornton Redbacks
Lyall Peacock Field – Saturday 3pm
Toronto Awaba and Thornton will be desperate for victory when they meet at Lyall Peacock Field on Saturday.
The Stags were given a week off to lick their wounds with the round four bye following their humbling 5-1 thrashing at the hands of Singleton.
Toronto Awaba have only a point to show from their opening two matches, with the Stags to host league leaders New Lambton in their rescheduled round one fixture on Wednesday night.
The Redbacks have also endured a tough start to their campaign. Thornton suffered single-goal defeats to Belmont Swansea United and Cessnock City before a 2-0 loss to West Wallsend last weekend.
Thornton need a win to start to climb away from the bottom of the table and help kick start their stuttering season.
West Wallsend v Cessnock City
Johnston Park – Sunday 2.30pm
West Wallsend coach Geoff Blomfield believes Cessnock City will provide a stern test of his side’s finals credentials when they meet at Johnston Park on Sunday.
The Bluebells belatedly returned from the COVID-19 suspension of football last weekend, having been handed the round three bye, with a 2-0 win over Thornton to score their first victory of the campaign and climb to mid table.
Blomfield has his sights set on finals football with West Wallsend this season. But while Cessnock have surprised many by sharing top spot after four rounds, Blomfield said his side would remain focused on themselves.
“Definitely if we can make the finals, that would be a good season for us,” Blomfield said.
“That top four mark would be good or top five this year. But if we can finish in the finals spots then great.
“We’ve lost four or five players who haven’t come back from [the COVID-19 suspension of football]. If we make semis and have a good crack we’ll be right.
“The boys have been training really well. They’re turning up every week and turning up for each other every week and having a go.
“Cessnock will be a really strong test for us. [But] we’ve just got to worry about ourselves more than anyone else.
“It’s too early to say who is going to do what. We’re only two games back in. So we just need to worry about ourselves.”
Cessnock City coach Michael Gatt believed his side’s hard-fought 1-0 away win over Belmont Swansea United last weekend would make the rest of the competition sit up and take notice
The Hornets are only behind New Lambton on goal difference at the top of the table. A win for Cessnock over West Wallsend could see them climb into the solo lead, with the Eagles facing a tough trip to Blacksmiths to face a motivated BelSwans on Saturday.
“To go to Blacksmiths Oval and get one over the big dogs of the competition really makes the rest of the comp stand up and take notice that the Hornets really are the real deal this year,” Gatt said.
“In previous years maybe we’ve not got the amount of respect we should have got. Maybe that was warranted. But this time in 2020 we’re really standing up. We’re ready for battle, we’re taking it to sides. I think a lot of sides are starting to realise the Hornets are ready to go in 2020 and we’re going all the way.
“I said to the boys [last] week at training that structure and shape was what we needed to work out. It’ll be the same scenario this week.
“Westy will be no easy game. It’ll be another hard-fought match, a highly contested match. You can never take Westy lightly, especially not going down to Wembley as they call it. You know you’re in for a battle every time.”
South Cardiff v Kahibah
Ulinga Oval – Sunday 3.20pm
South Cardiff and Kahibah will be looking to bounce back from disappointing defeats when they clash at Ulinga Oval on Sunday.
The Gunners went down to top of the table New Lambton 3-0 last weekend, while Kahibah lost 2-1 to Cooks Hill United in their round four clash on Wednesday night.
The defeat saw South Cardiff slip to seventh with three points from their opening three games, with their rescheduled round one match against Wallsend to be played at The Gardens next Wednesday night.
Kahibah meanwhile fell to third with their midweek defeat, with Andre Gumprecht’s side desperate to regain their momentum against the Gunners.
Wallsend have the bye.