HUNTER SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
Match of the Round
Cooks Hill United 3 (Nick Russell x2, Ashley Balcomb) def. West Wallsend 1 (Tye Jones)
Saturday April 13th, Fearnley Dawes Athletic Field
Cooks Hill United have continued their stunning start to the campaign making it five wins on the bounce against a resilient West Wallsend outfit in another superb Match of the Round.
Both sides finished in the top four last season to set up a blockbuster clash at the Fearnley Dawes Athletic Field, and it was the home side who got off to the perfect start with Ashley Balcomb knocking in the opening goal.
The Cookers then firmed their grip on the game, doubling their lead with Nick Russell finding the back of the net to put themselves well on the way to victory.
The Bluebells, however, continued to apply pressure on the black and white with Tom Sparre providing the spark down the right wing.
West Wallsend were then rewarded with a penalty, which Tye Jones dispatched into the net to put the score to 2-1 while bringing up his third goal of the season.
A couple of chances went begging for the away side as the scores remained 2-1 at the break.
Both sides missed two crucial penalties after half-time with Jones putting one over the bar while Cookers captain, Daniel Johnson had an effort saved by Blake Redman.
However, the competition frontrunners would wrap up the victory with Russell slotting away his second of the day to hand the Cookers all three points.
The result sees Cooks Hill stretch their lead at the top to five points and Assistant Coach, Jarrod Gorsuch, said the club is delighted with their excellent start in the league.
“The coaching staff put a big emphasis on starting the season well with the run of home games and to this stage, the players have delivered,” Gorsuch said.
“We’ve had a settled squad at the club for a couple of years now, the added depth in the Under 23’s is also extremely beneficial and the standards have been set at the start of the year.”
Cooks Hill will also have a chance to boost their lead to a commanding eight points when they take on Cessnock City this Tuesday in a rescheduled match at Fearnley Dawes Athletic Field.
As for West Wallsend, last year’s grand finalists are now one win from four to start the season to be sitting in 9th spot and coach Brendan Slade lamented a host of missed opportunities.
“We missed those 3 to 4 chances in front of goal in the first half, which we needed against a quality team in Cooks Hill,” Slade said.
“We are not finding the back of the net early enough in games and I’ve told my players these are areas we need to work on in training.
“Another issue is we have missed four penalties in four games, a couple of them go in and we draw with Belswans and New Lambton and get a point.”
The Bluebells will have an opportunity to put their latest result behind them when they take on an in-form Thornton outfit this Tuesday at Johnston Park.
Singleton Strikers 3 (Ryan Dean, Jackson Cox, Jordan Phelan) def. Wallsend F.C 1 (Lez Wallace)
Saturday April 13th, Howe Park
Singleton has stormed into the top four with an assertive 3-1 win over Wallsend at Howe Park.
The Strikers sealed the victory in their first game at home to move into 3rd while Wallsend has now conceded a competition-high 18 goals to be sitting in 10th.
The Red Devils struggled to deal with dead ball situations as the home side found their goals through set pieces as Ryan Dean, Jackson Cox and Jordan Phelan all got on the scoresheet, while Wallsend’s sole goal came through Lez Wallace, who has now tallied three strikes in as many games.
Singleton were without a few key players including Joe Civello and Hayden Nicol, but still managed to pick up the victory showcasing their depth to have seven points from the first four games.
As for Wallsend, they’ve been handed another setback after their first win of the season last round to be still sitting on three points.
The Strikers have never qualified for the semi-finals in their time in the NEWFM Northern League One, although the season still has a long way to go, Coach David Willoughby is pleased with their ladder position so far.
“I’m very happy with where we sit, we’ve struggled with injuries so we’re punching above our weight and the boys who have come in have done really well,” Willoughby said.
“With the team we had in the game, it was a great result and it’s what we wanted.”
Kahibah F.C 3 (Rhys Tippett x2, Jamie Hadlow) def by. Thornton Redbacks 4 (Jake Millstead x2, Jye McKellar, Wade Attewell)
Saturday April 13th, Kahibah Oval
Thornton has picked up a valuable three points, knocking over Kahibah 4-3 in one of the most thrilling games of the season so far.
The Redbacks shot out of the blocks scoring early as Jye McKellar grabbed his first goal of the campaign.
The away side would have the better of the opening half ball although the score remained 1-0 at the break.
Play resumed and Thornton got their second goal with Jake Millstead finding the net to start an extraordinary half of football and double the Redbacks lead, however, Kahibah have been spirited in their opening games and weren’t going to lie down in front of their home faithful with Rhys Tippett nabbing a goal back from the penalty spot.
The in-form attacker was soon awarded another penalty which he settled into the goal to level the scores before the green and black hit the lead through Jamie Hadlow to mark a truly stunning turnaround in scoring three goals in the space of 16 minutes to make it 3-2.
The loss of the lead kicked Thornton back into gear as they threw numbers forward and soon found the equaliser as Jake Millstead scored his second of the night.
With time ticking closer to full time, both teams scrambled for the breakthrough, and it was the Redbacks who produced the killer blow with Wade Attewell scoring the winner from the penalty spot.
The result moves Thornton into the top four on six points while scoring an impressive nine goals from their last two outings.
The Redbacks will have a chance to consolidate on their strong ladder position on Tuesday night against West Wallsend while coach Gary Wand said he was proud of his player’s fightback against Kahibah.
“It was a bit of a topsy-turvy game but defensively we can do better but we played good and Kahibah will be a big test for any side this season,” Wand said.
“We just want to keep being consistent, we’ve got a couple of big games coming up including the West Wallsend game so we’ll focus on that.”
Kahibah were ever so close to recording their first home win since 2017 and now sit in 7th spot.
Coach Andre Gumprecht said he was disappointed in conceding so many goals in the defeat.
“All four goals were mistakes and could have been avoided but credit to the team though to come back from two nil down and be 3-2 up with ten minutes to go,” Gumprecht said.
“Losing from there is hard to swallow and I feel the team weren’t rewarded for their unbelievable hard work, dedication and passion in that game.”
South Cardiff Gunners 3 (Dino Fajkovic x2, Tom Butzmann) def. New Lambton Eagles 1 (Lachlan Hodgetts)
Sunday 14th April, Ulinga Oval
South Cardiff have moved back into the winner’s circle with a confidence-boosting 3-1 win over New Lambton at Ulinga Oval.
Both teams were desperate to get back to winning ways after losses in Round 5 and it was the Gunners who started the livelier with Dino Fajkovic going close with a couple of chances.
The home side was then awarded a penalty which Fajkovic slotting it home to get the ball rolling for South Cardiff to take in a 1-0 lead at the break.
New recruit for New Lambton, Lachlan Hodgetts, would enter the fray after half-time, making the switch from Cessnock City.
The Gunners would double their lead soon after though, with Tom Butzmann finding the back of the net.
Both sides traded opportunities with Dino Fajkovic continuing to ask questions of the Eagles defence while New Lambton livewire, Riley Taylor, hit the woodwork with a great shot.
The away side would soon find their goal through Hodgetts, marking his debut with a stunning strike to bring the scores to 2-1, however, it was South Cardiff’s day as Dino Fajkovic fired in his second close to full-time to seal an outstanding win for the home side.
The result sees South Cardiff move up to 5th spot on the ladder and instil some confidence into the side after two straight losses, while New Lambton is a spot below in 6th.
The high-quality affair proved that both squads have the potential to do real damage in the competition this season with the two clubs now sitting just outside the top four.
South Cardiff Captain-Coach, Denis Fajkovic, said his side executed their game plan well.
“We set out and did what Chris Moylan (First Grade Coach) wanted us to do today, it was far from perfect but definitely in the right direction to where we want to be,” Fajkovic said.
“We continue now to work hard and we’ve got Singleton next, who themselves had a good result.”
Belmont-Swansea United 1 (Joel Nicholson) def by. Toronto Awaba Stags 2 (Jarrod Purcell, Nathan McAllister)
Sunday April 14th, Blacksmiths Oval
The final match of a spectacular round of NEWFM Northern League One football saw arguably the biggest upset of the season take place with Toronto Awaba downing Belmont-Swansea 2-1 at Blacksmiths Oval.
The Stags came into this game as heavy underdogs against the 2018 champions and being last season’s wooden spooners themselves and residing in the same position heading into this fixture.
Belswans would have the better of the opening stanza with Joel Nicholson scoring his second goal of the campaign to give the hosts the lead.
The side sitting in 2nd spot on the ladder continued to create several chances but failed to capitalise on their opportunities with the Toronto defence holding strong and soon finding their break with Jarrod Purcell and Nathan McAllister both hitting the back of the net.
2-1 was how it stayed with Belswans youngster Harry Rapp picking up a red card just before full time to cap off a forgetful day for the premiers while the Stags rejoiced their first win of the campaign.
The win marks a stunning turnaround for the Toronto Awaba Football Club after running last in 2018 with only one win to their name to now knocking over the champions on their home paddock.
The Stags now climb up to 8th on five points and coach Darrell McAllister said the win was a just reward for their hard work so far this season.
“We could have easily had our first win before this game so we don’t see it as we did something different, we are a work in progress and today we were rewarded with the three points,” McAllister said.
“We gave Arbi Watt a chance today in the top grade after playing Under 19’s so far and he was brilliant, Jarred Penfold was brilliant too and Nick Roberts, who played injured and was at the club last year.
“To be honest, everyone did their job today and filled their roles.”
As for Belswans, the side hasn’t executed as they would have liked in their past two games to now be five points behind leaders, Cooks Hill, and coach Mick Stafford said his side is ruing not taking their chances.
“I can’t fault the boy’s effort, we created more chances in the game than the last three combined but we need to be more clinical in front of goal and put the game to bed,” Stafford said.
“Credit to Toronto, they hung in there and fought hard to make us pay and took their two chances well.
“We can improve in every aspect, but accountability and discipline will be addressed this week and we will keep working hard to get back on track.”