Match of the Round
Cessnock City v Wallsend FC
Turner Park, Sunday 2.30pm
Cessnock City will look to bounce back when they host struggling Wallsend in the NEWFM Northern League One match of the round at Turner Park on Sunday.
The Hornets missed the chance to return to a share of the competition lead as they were held to a 1-1 draw by West Wallsend in their rescheduled round five fixture on Wednesday night.
The point left them in fourth place, two behind New Lambton and Belmont Swansea United. Cessnock also remain a point behind Singleton but have a match in hand on the Strikers.
Cessnock’s fine start to the season has ground to a halt in the last week as they suffered their first defeat against Toronto Awaba before dropping more points against the Bluebells.
They will have an extra day of rest in their favour when they host Wallsend, who welcome South Cardiff to The Gardens for their rescheduled round one clash on Thursday night.
At time of publishing, the Red Devils were still awaiting their first point of the season having lost their opening four fixtures. Wallsend suffered a heart-breaking 3-2 loss to Thornton last weekend having led 2-0, only to concede the latest of winners.
A win in their catch-up match against the Gunners would give Wallsend some much-needed confidence before the weekend, with Turner Park a notoriously difficult place to go for visiting teams.
New Lambton v Singleton Strikers
Alder Park – Saturday 2.30pm
Singleton will face a stern test of their premiership credentials when they make the long journey to Alder Park to face New Lambton on Saturday.
The Eagles are flying high at the top of the NEWFM Northern League One table and coming off a 7-0 demolition of Kahibah last weekend.
Singleton though have been one of the biggest surprises of the competition so far. The Strikers are third on the table, one point behind New Lambton.
A win for Singleton and Belmont Swansea United failing to earn three points against Kahibah on Saturday would even see the Strikers end the weekend alone on top of the table.
Saturday will see Singleton play their third match in a row in Newcastle but the Strikers have shown they are not daunted by the long road trip south.
The Strikers earned another valuable three points when they downed South Cardiff last weekend following on from their entertaining 3-3 draw with 2019 premiers Cooks Hill United.
Kahibah v Belmont Swansea United
Kahibah Oval – Saturday 2.30pm
Belmont Swansea United coach Mick Stafford says his side will not take Kahibah lightly at Kahibah Oval on Saturday with the hosts coming off a heavy defeat.
Kahibah were beaten 7-0 by New Lambton last weekend following their 2-1 defeat to Cooks Hill United. A loss to BelSwans on Saturday would be their third in a row and potentially see Andre Gumprecht’s side lose touch with the top five.
BelSwans climbed into a share of the competition lead last weekend with an impressive 3-0 victory over West Wallsend.
And Stafford said his side would be prepared for the challenge this weekend.
“Beware of the wounded side, as they say. We know they’ll be looking to bounce back,” Stafford said.
“I still think we’ve got a lot of improvement in us. I know what we’re getting better at. But with injuries we may have to give some younger guys a go.”
Belmont Swansea are likely to be without Clayton Poole after he suffered a potentially serious quadriceps injury in the win over the Bluebells. But they will look to get even more out of Joel Nicholson in Poole’s absence after the young striker notched a 25-minute hat-trick against West Wallsend.
While happy with the result if slightly disappointed with the performance against West Wallsend, Stafford said he was pleased with the direction the club were heading.
“We beat Westy in every grade on the weekend which is a really good achievement,” Stafford said.
“We’ve got plenty of good young kids. Now is the time to give them a chance to learn from the older guys. I back them 100 per cent.
“That was a massive effort for us. We’re a little club and we’re getting better. We need to keep it going.”
Cooks Hill United v Thornton
Fearnley Dawes Athletics Field – Saturday 2.30pm
Thornton will look to build on the momentum of their first points of the season when they take on Cooks Hill United on Saturday.
The 2019 premiers will be fresh from the round six bye and desperate to get their stuttering campaign going.
Cooks Hill are eighth on the table with just four points from their opening four matches.
Thornton have the chance to climb above Cooks Hill thanks to their last-gasp 3-2 victory over Wallsend last weekend.
Redbacks coach Gary Wand said the win over the Red Devils would give his side some much-needed confidence but was under no illusions as to the difficulty of Saturday’s task.
“From a confidence side of things hopefully that win will be good for the boys,” Wand said.
“[But] it’s going to be a tough one. It’s always tough down there. They might be a bit older now but they still play good football. They’re a good, experienced side so it’s going to be tough.
“We know that if we pinch a goal or two on them they are not going to be super confident at the moment and goals change games.
“If we can pinch something and don’t concede early we can make a real game of it.”
Wand said he hoped the victory over Wallsend might also be the change in fortune his side were looking for but reiterated the Redbacks needed to improve in the attacking third.
“We’ve been struggling to score. Mind you, we’ve had some absolute Hail Mary’s scored against us as well,” Wand said.
“We’ve been conceding early goals and then having to chase the game. When that happens your structure and plan goes out the window.
“The last thing you want to be doing is chasing the game after five minutes and conceding cheap goals. Obviously we can’t afford to do that [against Cooks Hill].”
West Wallsend v Toronto Awaba
Johnston Park – Sunday 4pm
Toronto Awaba will look to cement their place in the top five when they travel to Johnston Park to take on West Wallsend on Sunday.
The Stags climbed to fifth with an impressive win over Cessnock City last weekend as they handed the previously undefeated Hornets their first loss of the campaign.
Steve Piggott’s side also have a match in hand on three of the four sides above them and two matches in hand on third-placed Singleton.
Toronto Awaba have also enjoyed an uninterrupted week to prepare for the clash while the Bluebells were in action against Cessnock on Wednesday night.
West Wallsend earned a point with a 1-1 draw at Turner Park that left them in seventh place on the table.
The Bluebells have endured a difficult week having also been beaten 3-0 by Belmont Swansea United last weekend.
West Wallsend will hope a return home to Johnston Park will see them return to form.