Match of the Round
Belmont Swansea United v West Wallsend
Blacksmiths Oval, Sunday 2.30pm
Belmont Swansea United coach Mick Stafford will not allow his side to become complacent as they face an important clash with West Wallsend on Sunday.
BelSwans welcome the Bluebells to Blacksmiths Oval looking to build on the momentum of their impressive 3-2 victory over New Lambton last weekend which hauled Belswans level with the Eagles at the top of the table.
But if the 2019 grand final winners are to build on their momentum they will need to get past a West Wallsend side that Stafford rates among the best in the competition.
“In my opinion Westy are one of the top three teams in the comp,” Stafford said.
“They’re just a good team. A good, hard-working team with some good players in important areas.
“We just want to take it a game at a time at the moment. We’ll look to get a result in every match we play. But I think it’s too early to look at the ladder and points and things like that now. We’ll see where everyone is at the end of the season.”
BelSwans were scheduled to play Cooks Hill United, a meeting between last season’s grand finalists, in their rescheduled round one clash on Wednesday night as part of what Stafford described as a “very tricky run.”
But with that match washed out, BelSwans were able to turn their attention to West Wallsend.
Despite losing Reece Newton and Cameron Tapp to NNSW NPL club Lake Macquarie earlier in the year, Stafford said his side had dealt with the difficulties surrounding the restart of football following the suspension brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“To be honest I’ve found it pretty easy. Our group has been together for a few years now. A lot of the younger guys have still been at the club for five or six years,” Stafford said.
“Everyone here is friends outside of football. So it was really easy to stay connected during the break and that time away.
“We were happy to get back to work a few weeks ago and I think we’re all enjoying being back. It’s just about keeping that going and looking to build on it.
“Our [reserve grade side] are doing well as well. So we’ve got lots of bodies and good depth. And I think depth will come into it this season. The club with the most depth and the best depth in their squad will have a big advantage.”
Meanwhile West Wallsend will be desperate to win to stay in touch with the leaders at the top of the table.
The Bluebells are seventh on the table with four points but have one match in hand on almost all the teams above them and two games in hand on fourth-placed Singleton.
Geoff Blomfield’s side though run the risk of being underdone heading into the BelSwans clash.
West Wallsend were unfortunate in being handed the round three bye, giving them an extra week off as teams returned to action after the four-month long suspension.
They then beat Thornton in their belated return to the park before their clash with Cessnock City was washed out on Sunday, meaning West Wallsend have played just once since 15 March, while BelSwans have already played three times since the resumption of football.
Kahibah FC v New Lambton
Kahibah Oval, Saturday 2.30pm
Kahibah and New Lambton will look to regain their momentum when they meet at Kahibah Oval on Saturday.
Kahibah had been top of the NEWFM Northern League One table earlier in the season but a defeat to 2019 premiers Cooks Hill United saw them slip to fifth.
They have had some time to regroup since that loss after their round five clash with South Cardiff was washed out on Sunday. But Andre Gumprecht’s side will be desperate for a win to keep themselves within reach of the leaders.
Meanwhile, New Lambton saw their perfect start to the season ended with a 3-2 defeat to Belmont Swansea United last weekend.
With Cessnock City now level on points with New Lambton at the top of the table and with a game in hand, the Eagles will be keen to bounce back with a win.
Toronto Awaba v Cessnock City
Lyall Peacock Field, Saturday 3pm
Toronto Awaba will be the latest side tasked with ending Cessnock City’s unblemished start to the season when they clash at Lyall Peacock Field on Saturday.
The Stags had endured a difficult start to the campaign but finally secured their first win with a 3-1 triumph over Thornton last weekend.
Meanwhile, Cessnock have surprised many to be flying high at the top of the table, winning all three of their matches so far to be level on points with New Lambton and Belmont Swansea United.
But the Hornets have a match in hand on their rivals and will look to continue their great start with a win over Toronto Awaba to maintain their advantage.
Cessnock should also be fresh having not played for a fortnight, with their round five clash with West Wallsend washed out last week.
Thornton v Wallsend
Thornton Park, Saturday 3.30pm
Thornton and Wallsend meet at Thornton Park on Saturday with both sides desperate to notch their first win of the season.
The Redbacks and Red Devils are yet to secure a point between them in 2020 having lost their opening four and three games respectively.
Thornton went down 3-1 to Toronto Awaba last weekend but, while they have lost all four of their matches so far, the Redbacks have not suffered a defeat of more than two goals.
Meanwhile, Wallsend are coming off the round five bye. Given the Red Devils hold a game in hand over Thornton, a win could be a huge boost in the early battle to move away from the foot of the table.
South Cardiff v Singleton
Ulinga Oval, Sunday 3.20pm
South Cardiff will look to get their season back on track when they host Singleton on Sunday.
The Gunners have slumped to ninth place on the table but have had arguably the toughest draw of any side so far this season.
South Cardiff have faced 2019 grand finalists Belmont Swansea United and Cooks Hill United as well as top of the table New Lambton in their opening three fixtures.
The Gunners also have two games in hand on the fourth-placed Strikers, who have been one of the surprises of the competition so far.
Singleton are entrenched inside the top five as they look to break a long drought without playing finals football.
South Cardiff had their round five clash with Kahibah washed out last weekend, while Singleton picked up another impressive point away from home against Cooks Hill.