HUNTER SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
Match of the Round
Cooks Hill United (1st) vs West Wallsend (7th)
Saturday April 13th, 2:30 pm, Fearnley Dawes Athletic Field
This weekend’s Match of the Round will see two of last season’s top sides do battle for the first time in 2019, with Cooks Hill United coming up against West Wallsend at the Fearnley Dawes Athletic Field.
Both clubs had successful 2018 campaigns to finish inside the top four, however, the two clubs have started the new season quite differently with the in-form Cookers jumping out of the blocks to lead the competition on 12 points while the Bluebells have had a few mixed results, sitting in seventh.
West Wallsend is coming off a confidence-boosting 2-1 win over Cessnock last start to pick up their first three points of the year while the frontrunners rallied late against Toronto Awaba to win 3-0 and also moved into the next round of the FFA Cup midweek with a 10-0 demolition of Lake Macquarie FC.
Cooks Hill won their past two fixtures against Saturday’s opposition with 3-0 and 5-3 triumphs last season and this match is set to be captivating as both squads can potentially challenge for the title this year.
The black and white have started the year as they mean to go on and coach Graham Law said they know nothing has been won yet.
“They [West Wallsend] seem to be a very similar squad to last year, so we’re expecting a tough game, but we still want to exercise pressure on the teams around us by winning,” Law said.
“Tyler Curran will be back available but it’s hard to change up a winning side as we’ve got such a strong squad.
“The next four games for us will be crucial and obviously, we will have a run of fixtures away from home, so if we can get through the next few we will be in a good position.”
Last year’s grand finalists know they’re only a performance away from getting back to their scintillating best and coach Brendan Slade said he hopes they can turn it on come Saturday.
“We will look to improve again and play our game and hope to come away with a win,” Slade said.
“They can score goals from anywhere, so we will have to limit their space and be tight to play through.”
Singleton Strikers (5th) vs Wallsend F.C (9th)
Saturday April 13th, 2:30 pm, Howe Park
The Singleton Strikers will host Wallsend for the first fixture at Howe Park this season, with both sides eager to propel themselves up the ladder.
Singleton served the bye last round and have had a win, a draw and a loss to start the season, with their most recent result in the league being an encouraging 2-1 loss to Cooks Hill before going down in the FFA Cup to Nelson Bay, while the boys from Wallsend found their form to capture their first victory of the season last start against New Lambton.
New signing, Lez Wallace, will look to continue his form for the away side after bagging a double against the Eagles in Round 5 to create an imposing strike force alongside leading goal-scorer, Ty Goldsmith, while the Strikers will be desperate to win their opening home game to turn Howe Park into a fortress again.
Wallsend had the edge over their rivals in their past two encounters with a 1-0 win in the last meeting, while only one point separated these two clubs last season.
Singleton will look to rely on their experience at the back to shut out the Red Devils attack that has already fired in eight goals from four games.
Last round’s win would certainly have been a relief for Wallsend coach Jesse Pryce who said his side will need to show up again with the same attitude.
“The boys need to fight as hard as they did last weekend again this weekend all game,” Pryce said.
“We need to play our game and not fall into playing the way they want us to play.
“We can’t take anything for granted as it will be a tough test for our boys.”
Kahibah F.C (4th) vs Thornton Redbacks (6th)
Saturday April 13th, 6:45 pm, Kahibah Oval
Round 6 continues with another riveting encounter as Kahibah prepares to take on Thornton for the first match at Kahibah Oval this season.
The green and black have already made a strong impression on the competition having picked up a win and two draws including a come from behind draw with Belmont-Swansea in Round 5, while Thornton missed out due to a washout with their latest result being a 5-2 thumping over Wallsend.
Both outfits have recently met in the FFA Cup with Kahibah running out 2-0 victors away from home, although both teams were understrength.
Andre Gumprecht’s men appear to have the right blend of experience and youth to give themselves a strong squad while last season’s semi-finalists will be eager to get back on the field and create some consistency after a few washouts and having only played two games.
Last season, Kahibah had the better of the two encounters claiming a 1-0 win before a 2-2 draw towards the end of the season.
The home side will also be wanting to continue their solid start to 2019 in front of their fans and coach Andre Gumprecht says his team is looking forward to the challenge on Saturday night.
“Thornton is a quality side led by a passionate coaching staff. It will be a great challenge for us on Old Boys Day to showcase our newly formed team against a very capable opponent,” Gumprecht said.
“We played Thornton already in the FFA Cup successfully but I expect a totally different line-up and therefore my team and preparation will not relate to that game.
“The key message for our team will not change in relation to the principles of play when we don’t have the ball.”
South Cardiff Gunners (8th) vs New Lambton (3rd)
Sunday April 14th, 2:30 pm, Ulinga Oval
New Lambton will travel to play South Cardiff this Sunday to craft another interesting match-up in Round 6.
Both sides will be looking to bounce back with a solid performance after the Eagles went down to Wallsend last start while the Gunners latest result was a 3-0 loss to Belswans to now be sitting in eighth.
South Cardiff have a strong side on paper and will see this game as an ideal opportunity to boost confidence and return to the winners’ circle while New Lambton has been one of the highest scorers in the competition so far with eight goals to be sitting in third position.
The Gunners will look to their history against the Eagles as a motivator, after knocking over Sunday’s opposition 4-3 and 4-1 last campaign.
The home side will be willing to get back on the park and prove they’re more than capable of challenging for the top four with coach Denis Fajkovic saying they’re putting in the hard yards.
“We have just been working hard and the rewards will come, washouts are not ideal but all that is out of our control,” Fajkovic said.
“The commitment shown by everyone has been superb, competition for spots is definitely something that is healthy and we have it.
“We’re excited to be back out playing and we welcome back Daniel Wells from injury, which is a great addition.”
The new-look New Lambton outfit will want to consolidate on their stable ladder position and coach Jim Foley is hoping to rely on the bounce-back factor.
“Up until our loss to Wallsend, I’d been very happy with the attitude, application and progress of the team,” Foley said.
“I am certainly looking for a resumption of the form we’ve shown in the first three weeks of competition.”
Belmont-Swansea United (2nd) vs Toronto Awaba Stags (11th)
Sunday April 14th, 2:45 pm, Blacksmiths Oval
Round 6 wraps up with the undefeated Belmont-Swansea hosting Toronto Awaba at Blacksmiths Oval.
The reigning premiers have started the 2019 season very promisingly to be sitting in second, while the Stags have yet to register a win but are not far off a breakthrough performance with their latest result a 3-0 defeat to Cooks Hill.
Toronto will herald the underdog tag although will view this game as an ideal chance to claim a win and kickstart their season against last year’s champions.
Belswans dominated last season’s fixtures against Sunday’s opposition with 5-1 and 3-1 triumphs while attacker Clayton Poole will again look to find the scoresheet and continue his impressive form with three goals so far in 2019.
The Stags are still a work-in-progress but have shown steady improvement in their four games and coach Darrel McAllister said Sunday’s game will give him another chance to evaluate where his side sit in terms of development.
“We have improved in some areas but still need to work hard to fine tune a few other areas,” McAllister said.
“I know they (Belswans) have quality players as I’ve coached a few of them, but don’t know a lot about how they set up so look forward to finding out Sunday.”