Match of the Round
New Lambton Eagles (7th) vs Kahibah F.C (8th)
Saturday April 20th, 4:30 pm, Alder Park
The Match of the Round sees two mid-table sides do battle with New Lambton taking on Kahibah at Alder Park.
The Eagles have conceded the second most amount of goals with 12 to be sitting in 7th while Kahibah has only knocked in eight efforts, three of them penalties to set up a close encounter.
New Lambton went down to South Cardiff 3-1 last start while the green and black got beat at the death by Thornton 4-3.
In last season’s fixture between the pair, New Lambton claimed the bragging rights with a 3-2 victory on their home turf.
The key to having any successful team is a solid defence and Eagles coach, Jim Foley, said they must tighten things up at the back if they are to pick up three points.
“I have known for a very long time that if you concede three goals a game, as we have in each of the last four, you are not going to win many games,” Foley said.
“Kahibah will be hard to break down, however, we’ll need to find a way to do it four times or more, or improve defensively if we are to win.”
West Wallsend (5th) vs Toronto Awaba Stags (9th)
Friday April 19th, 6:30 pm, Johnston Park
The opening match of the weekend sees West Wallsend host Toronto Awaba at Johnston Park with both sides coming off impressive wins.
The Bluebells jumped up to fifth with a midweek 2-0 win over Thornton with Bailey Jensen and Sam Holt grabbing the goals.
Meanwhile, the Stags picked up their first victory of the season last round with a gutsy 2-1 win over defending premiers, Belswans.
West Wallsend was one of the Stags’ two wins last season with a 3-1 win away from home before last year’s grand finalists returned serve with a 3-0 win towards the end of the season.
The Bluebells latest result has them on the brink of the top four and coach, Brendan Slade, said the win over Thornton was great for confidence.
“To the player’s credit they dug deep and defended very well, we will take a lot of confidence from this performance as we were missing some experienced players in Brendan Frost, Ryan Cole, Tom Sparre and Ash Illfield so the younger players who filled in did their jobs well,” Slade said.
“Toronto are a very different side (from last season), coach Darrell McAllister is very experienced and knows all about this competition and what it takes to be competitive.
“We all can’t wait for this game as a win could get our team into 3rd if results go our way, we will be ready.”
Singleton Strikers (3rd) vs South Cardiff (4th)
Friday April 19th, 6:45 pm, Howe Park
Round 7 continues with an early season top four battle as Singleton and South Cardiff prepare to face-off at Howe Park.
Both recorded big wins last start with Singleton running out 3-1 victors over Wallsend while the Gunners downed New Lambton 3-1 to set up another exciting match-up.
Singleton had the better of the two fixtures last season with a 1-0 win at Howe Park before a 1-1 draw in the corresponding game.
The Strikers opened their account at home last round and coach David Willoughby believes his side will have to improve again if they are to register a win against the Gunners.
“We were competitive last week but we can’t look back, we need to utilise possession better in the attacking third and also we will need to concentrate and execute our game plan well for the entire 90 minutes to be any chance against South Cardiff,” Willoughby said.
“South Cardiff are an exceptional team with numerous attacking dangers, they are also very well coached and move the ball at pace and outside, Cooks Hill, one of the best teams in the league with possession.”
After a minor blip with two straight losses, South Cardiff got back on track last round and captain-coach, Denis Fajkovic, said this Friday is another chance to build on their strong ladder position.
“We just want to build on what we did against New Lambton, we will look at fixing a few little moments from last time out and try to stick to our guns for a longer period,” Fajkovic said.
“Singleton knows exactly who they have got personal wise, they will be structured in defence and will hope to get us on the counter.
“Easter Friday night game under lights, you would hope it means a big crowd and a good game.”
Thornton Redbacks (6th) vs Belmont Swansea United (2nd)
Saturday Aril 20th, 6:45 pm, Thornton Park
Thornton Park will play home to another potentially captivating match, with two title contenders going toe-to-toe in Belmont-Swansea and Thornton this Saturday.
The Redbacks had a mid-week loss to West Wallsend to bump them down to sixth while Belswans had a shock defeat to Toronto and will be looking to bounce back although still sit in the second spot.
Both sides shared the victories last season with Thornton winning 3-0 at their home ground before Belswans hit back later in the year with a 2-0 triumph.
Thornton knows a win will get them back into the top four while coach, Gary Wand, was displeased with the West Wallsend performance.
“First half we did okay, probably had the best couple of chances to score but just didn’t come out of the shed, right up there with the worst halves of football I’ve been involved with but take nothing away from West Wallsend they really deserved the win,” Wand said.
“Like most teams, we have a couple out for Easter, so we will give some boys another chance but going to be a very tough game with both sides coming off a loss so it’s going to be interesting.”
Belswans had a blistering start to the season before a setback against Toronto last start and coach, Mick Stafford, said his side are eager to get back on the pitch and return to winning ways.
“The boys are keen to get back to work, the effort lately has been top shelf but just lacking that polish around the goal and discipline, but that will come with time,” Stafford said.
“Thornton away is always tough, they finished 2nd last year for a reason, they’re well coached by Gary and have some quality footballers, we will definitely come to play our strengths and enjoy that underdog tag for once.”
Cessnock City Hornets (11th) vs Wallsend F.C (10th)
Sunday April 21st, 5:45 pm, Turner Park
The final match of the round sees a battle of the cellar dwellers with last-placed Cessnock City taking on second-last, Wallsend, with both sides desperate to claim maximum points.
Cessnock are yet to register a win so far in 2019 and it will be the first game for new head coach, Lino Gatti after the club recently parted ways with Arthur Hodgetts.
As for Wallsend, the Red Devils went down to Singleton last start and have now conceded 18 goals to be only a point above the Hornets.
Cessnock will look to their last game against Sunday’s opposition as a motivator, winning 3-2 at the back end of last season.
A win for either side will be massive towards their season and pushing further up the table.