Match of the Round
West Wallsend v Wallsend
Johnston Park, Sunday 2.30pm
Wallsend will look to take confidence and momentum from their first win of the season when they take on West Wallsend on Sunday.
The Wallsend Derby will be played at Johnston Park, with Wallsend looking to make it two wins in a row after their brave 1-0 win over Cessnock City last weekend.
The victory wasn’t enough to drag the Red Devils off the foot of the table but a valuable three points with 10 men against the high-flying Hornets had coach Craig Tsemblis in a buoyant mood.
“This derby is like a grand final,” Tsemblis said.
“The boys will be pumped. I know they’re already looking forward to it. It’s always a good rivalry.
“They are really tough games. Hopefully we turn up with the same attitude as we did [against Cessnock].
“I think [the win over Cessnock] will give us a bit of confidence. Hopefully we can continue that.
“I’m really looking forward to it. It probably couldn’t come at a better time for us.”
Wallsend have endured a difficult recent run. The Red Devils threw away an early 2-0 lead over Thornton to be beaten with the last kick of the game before they were hammered 6-2 by South Cardiff.
They only had three days from that rescheduled round one fixture before they took on Cessnock. But, down to 10 men for more than half the match and with one day less rest, Wallsend somehow managed to climb off the canvas to score their first win of the campaign.
“There hasn’t been a game where I’ve been displeased with the boys. It’s just been these five-minute spells where we go to sleep and make a mistake or concede a silly goal. But we’ve been in every game,” Tsemblis said.
“We just have to keep trying to do the right things. As the old saying goes, you can’t put an old head on young shoulders. But as our young boys get more experience that will come.
“Even the week before [against Thornton] they gave everything and were beaten with the last kick of the game. I would have taken any win after the struggles we’ve had and where we are on the table. Obviously we hadn’t won a game but now they’re buzzing. Everyone has got a smile. We’ll see it at training this week and they’ll train even harder.
“That Thornton one felt bad. I wasn’t disappointed, more heartbroken. I felt for these young lads. Every time we put something in front of them they do it.
“[Against South Cardiff] I was really disappointed with the way we played because we went away from what we’ve practiced. We made stupid mistakes. I think the short turnaround [to Cessnock] helped us. I think the boys realised it themselves, the way they spoke to each other there was a different feeling in the sheds. They were all buoyed and geed up and I think wanted to do it for themselves and the club.
“That win was massive, really. Hopefully that is a turning point for us.”
Meanwhile, West Wallsend are coming off an impressive 3-1 win over Toronto Awaba that saw them maintain touch with the top five.
A Joshua Carroll double and a goal from Jed Conway gave West Wallsend the three points against the Stags, with the Bluebells now sixth on the NEWFM Northern League One table heading into the match of the round, two points behind Kahibah.
A win in the derby could see Geoff Blomfield’s side climb back into the finals places at the midway point of the season.
Singleton v Kahibah
Howe Park, Saturday 2.30pm
Singleton and Kahibah will look to consolidate their place in the top five when they meet at Howe Park on Saturday.
Singleton have been one of the big surprises of the competition so far, with the Strikers third on the table heading into round eight, one point off the competition lead.
They also sit one point above fifth-placed Kahibah, who will be keen to maintain their position in the finals places ahead of the chasing pack.
Singleton will be fresh after their clash with New Lambton was postponed last weekend.
Meanwhile Kahibah will look to build on their impressive 2-1 win over 2019 champions Belmont Swansea United last weekend.
Second half goals from Jamie Hadlow and Riley Ferguson saw Kahibah come from behind to secure an important three points.
Thornton v South Cardiff
Thornton Park, Saturday 3.30pm
Thornton and South Cardiff will see an opportunity to move away from the foot of the table when they meet at Thornton Park on Saturday.
Both sides will be fresh going into the contest after the Redbacks’ fixture with Cooks Hill United was postponed last weekend, while South Cardiff had the round seven bye.
It has been a fortnight since Thornton scored their only win of the campaign as they showed good character to come from two-goals down to beat fellow strugglers Wallsend.
Coach Gary Wand will look for the Redbacks to build on that result, while South Cardiff have not been in action since their 6-2 thrashing of the Red Devils in their rescheduled round one fixture on 6 August.
Cessnock City v Cooks Hill United
Turner Park, Sunday 2.30pm
Cessnock City will look to bounce back from a disappointing week when they host Cooks Hill United at Turner Park on Sunday.
The Hornets were held to a draw and fell to a defeat against West Wallsend and Wallsend respectively in two home matches in the space of five days that they would have hoped to take more from.
Instead, Cessnock slid out of the competition lead to fourth, two points behind top of the table New Lambton.
Cessnock’s shock 1-0 defeat to 10-man Wallsend, who had previously failed to pick up a point, was a blow that Hornets coach Michael Gatt will hope his side can bounce back from against the 2019 premiers.
Meanwhile Cooks Hill United are stuck in ninth place on the table having only played four matches entering round eight.
Cooks Hill are yet to play this month following a bye, wash out and postponement.
They will be desperate to secure an important three points that would help them climb the table, helping them make a charge for the finals places during the second half of the campaign.
Belmont Swansea United v Toronto Awaba
Blacksmiths Oval, Sunday 3pm
Belmont Swansea United will also look to bounce back from an unexpected defeat when they host Toronto Awaba at Blacksmiths Oval on Sunday.
BelSwans were upset 2-1 by Kahibah last weekend, seeing them give up the competition lead to New Lambton.
Joel Nicholson will look to continue his good form, after the young striker scored BelSwans’ goal against Kahibah on the back of his 25-minute hat-trick against West Wallsend the previous week.
BelSwans are second, level on points with New Lambton who have a match in hand.
Toronto Awaba will also look to bounce back from a loss after they were beaten 3-1 by West Wallsend.
Jarrod Purcell’s goal could not stop the Stags from slipping to seventh with the defeat.