Match of the Round
Cessnock City Hornets (8th) vs West Wallsend (10th)
Sunday 7th April, 2:30 pm, Turner Park
Turner Park will host this week’s Match of the Round between Cessnock City and visitors West Wallsend, with both outfits looking to secure their first win of the season this Sunday.
Both sides missed last round’s matches due to wash-outs and will be eager to get back on the park and boost themselves further up the ladder.
The Hornets returned to the pitch with a mid-week fixture in the FFA Cup, knocking over Mayfield United JSFC with a strong 6-0 victory, while the Bluebells also progressed to the next round with a 3-1 triumph over Zone Premier League premiers, Mayfield United Senior on Wednesday night.
West Wallsend had the edge over the black and yellow in this fixture last season with 4-0 and 2-1 successes, although, have yet to register a single point out of their two games this season.
Meanwhile, Cessnock has had back-to-back draws in the league and coach Arthur Hodgetts said it sets up an intriguing game.
“We’ve had some mixed results as well so it should be an interesting game,” Hodgetts said.
“In the FFA Cup, the boys put in and got the result, but we need to keep working together.”
The fixture will also be West Wallsend coach Brendan Slade’s first game against his former club.
Last season’s grand finalists also started the previous year’s campaign slowly, however, coach Slade said his side would be back to full strength and be determined to seal a victory.
“A win would be great, we’ve also had a few washouts so it will be good to get some more game time under our belt,” Slade said.
“Cessnock are a good side and I know them pretty well, they’ll be tough to play at home and they certainly play for the full 90 minutes.”
Belmont-Swansea United (2nd) vs Kahibah F.C (4th)
Saturday 6th April, 2:30 pm, Blacksmiths Oval
Round 5 kicks off with an enthralling match-up as Belmont-Swansea takes on rivals, Kahibah at Blacksmiths Oval.
The boys from Blacksmiths have been in red-hot form to start the season with three wins on the bounce and their latest being an emphatic 3-0 victory over South Cardiff, while the green and black drew 1-1 with Toronto Awaba last start.
Kahibah’s, Rhys Tippett, has shown his quality so far this campaign notching three goals to begin the year while Belswans attackers David Swain and Clayton Poole have been instrumental in attack delivering a combined five goals.
This fixture has been known to serve up some cracking games over the years with the latest being a 3-0 win to the defending premiers last season.
Both outfits also showed there in great touch in progressing to the next round of the FFA Cup as Belswans cruised to an 8-0 victory over West Wallsend Junior while Kahibah defeated Thornton 2-0.
The home side has given themselves a stable platform to build on for the rest of the campaign and coach Mick Stafford believes the club is currently in a great spot.
“The vibe around the club is the best I’ve seen it, so we look to continue that momentum through unity and hard-work,” Stafford said.
“It’s always a tough game against Kahibah, they were a lot better than their showing last season and Andre, with his football knowledge, is definitely coming with a hungry side.
“The FFA Cup was a good hit-out and a good event for the local football community, three players made their first-grade debut and it was a solid performance.”
Kahibah comes into this match sitting inside the top four and would have been jubilant with their mid-week cup win over Thornton, however, coach Andre Gumprecht said Saturday’s game would be a very tough prospect.
“We had a great 2-0 win over a second-strength Thornton team, we rested a few players who had some big workloads against Toronto, all players involved though did a terrific job,” Gumprecht said.
“We’re expecting a very physical encounter against Belswans, therefore, we’ll need to move the ball quickly and not give Belswans an opportunity to play to their strengths, we will be the underdogs who hopefully can raise a few eyebrows.”
Cooks Hill United (1st) vs Toronto Awaba Stags (9th)
Saturday 6th April, 2:30 pm, Fearnley Dawes Athletic Field
Cooks Hill will be back in action against a tough Toronto Awaba side at the Fearnley Dawes Athletic Field this Saturday.
The league leaders haven’t missed a step so far in 2019 winning their opening three games before a wash-out last round, while the club is embarking on a remarkable run with all grades from the Under 13’s to the Under 23’s also picking up maximum points.
Meanwhile, Toronto has shown increasing improvement in their three games and have picked up two draws which include a 1-1 draw against Kahibah last start after coming from behind.
This match will determine how far Toronto has come after leaking a combined 23 goals against Cooks Hill alone last season in 10-1 and 13-0 annihilations with Nick Russell scoring nine against Saturday’s opposition in the previous two fixtures, however, last year’s wooden spooners look to be a much different prospect this season.
The Cookers will be confident of picking up another three points, although, coach Graham Law is expecting a much sterner test this time around against the Stags.
“They’ve shown they know how to stay in games this year and they’ve got some experienced players but our boys are keen having missed out last week,” Law said.
“The club has gone 25 wins from 25 across all grades and it’s a testament to the hard work we have put in as a club, we know people are watching us this year and we’ve got fantastic coaches and players throughout the club.”
“However, nothing is won this early in the season so we’ll continue to work hard,” Law continued.
Toronto picked up their first win of season 2019 with a 5-1 mid-week victory in the FFA Cup against Westlakes and coach Darrell McAllister said it was important for his side to try out a few things.
“Some things worked, some didn’t but we are a work in progress and it also gave a few players a chance, but overall we won the won the game and move onto the next round and learnt a few things doing so,” McAllister said.
“We will make a few decisions to work out the best way to come up with a plan and get something against Cooks Hill with who we have available, but we’re looking forward to seeing where we are at against one of the best side’s in the competition.”
New Lambton F.C (3rd) vs Wallsend F.C (11th)
Saturday 6th April, 4:30 pm, Alder Park
The first league match of the season to take place at Alder Park will see hosts New Lambton taking on the under-fire Wallsend this Saturday.
The Eagles have had a strong start to the season to be sitting in third with two wins and a loss while the Red Devils have struggled in their opening three games, going down in all of them comprising a 5-2 loss to Thornton last round.
Both sides clashed in the FFA Cup mid-week with New Lambton running out 3-0 victors while Wallsend triumphed over their upcoming opposition 2-1 in their pre-season Ampcontrol Heritage Cup fixture earlier in the year.
The Red Devils shining light has been the form of their striker, Ty Goldsmith, who has already fired in four goals to lead the top goalscorers list while New Lambton attacker, Riley Taylor, isn’t far behind with three strikes.
The Eagles will undoubtedly take some confidence out of their convincing victory over the same opposition in the cup, however coach Jim Foley said they wouldn’t get carried away with the result.
“It was a hard-earned victory, thanks to three second-half goals and having to meet the same opponent again in the space of three days is a tricky prospect,” Foley said.
“Wallsend has our utmost respect and we fully realise that we’ll need to play well if we are to succeed a second time.”
Wallsend haven’t been able to plug their holes in defence so far this campaign, although coach Jesse Pryce said they weren’t far-off against the Eagles.
“We held our own in the first half, if we took our chances, the second half could’ve been different,” Pryce said.
“They keep the ball well and try to play out from the back, so we know what we need to do just need to get the job done on the weekend.”
Thornton Redbacks vs South Cardiff Gunners
Saturday 6th April, 6:45 pm, Thornton Park
The Thornton Redbacks will play home to South Cardiff, in their first match at Thornton Park in an eagerly-awaited fixture.
The Gunners come into this match suffering a mini form slump, going down in their last two games with their latest a 3-0 defeat to Belswans while Thornton ran out convincing winners in a 5-2 rout over Wallsend in round 4.
Thornton failed to qualify for the next stage of the FFA Cup mid-week going down to Kahibah, although, rested a number of key players for their next test against the Gunners who’ll be desperate to bounce back with a good result.
The Redbacks, Dan Toohey, will be hoping to continue finding the back of the net after claiming a hat-trick last start, while team-mate Jye McKellar has a decent record against Saturday’s opponent having scored three goals in two matches last season.
South Cardiff have lacked confidence in their past two outings, however, Thornton coach, Gary Wand, said he’s not underestimating his upcoming opposition.
“They’re a very strong side, they’ve lacked a bit of cohesion, but I hope they can struggle for one more week because they will come good,” Wand said.
“The fact we scored goals in our last game was important and getting that first win under our belt and of course we want the three points again on Saturday.”
It’s still early days in South Cardiff’s season while captain-coach Denis Fajkovic said his side need to address their problems quickly if they’re to turn it around against Thornton.
“It’s been a bit of a reality check for us (last week’s loss), we didn’t address our issues from the first defeat and relied too much on our quality up front,” Fajkovic said.
“The more games you lose, the more pressure that’s built on you, so we want to bounce back this weekend.”