Match of the Round
Belmont Swansea United (3rd) vs New Lambton (5th)
Sunday, April 28th, 2:30 pm, Blacksmiths Oval
The Match of the Round sees the third-placed Belmont Swansea take on fifth-placed New Lambton at Blacksmiths Oval in another anticipated encounter.
Belswans had a 3-3 draw with Thornton after leading multiple times in the game in round 7, however, was bumped down to third after West Wallsend had a mid-week victory.
The Eagles are coming off a strong performance after knocking over Kahibah 3-1 last round with their striker Riley Taylor expected to be the danger man after finding his form with two goals.
The defending champions had the edge over their upcoming opposition last season, with a 3-0 victory at home while the pair also played out a 2-2 draw early in 2018.
A win for New Lambton would see them leapfrog Belswans into the top four while the home side will be chasing that all-important three points to keep ladder leaders, Cooks Hill in sight.
After a blistering start to the season, Belswans have stalled with two draws and a loss, however, coach Mick Stafford isn’t too concerned with the ladder position just yet.
“Every game we play has the same importance around it, the table has little relevance at this stage of our season so we just need to adhere to our structures and earn a result,” Stafford said.
“We’ve got a bit of experience to come back in pending on fitness tests, there are some tough decisions to be made in regards to the starting eleven.”
New Lambton would have been lifted by their bounce back result against Kahibah while coach Jim Foley knows his side will have to be at their best if they’re to down Belswans.
“We expect our upcoming game against Belmont Swansea to be a serious test of our progress,” Foley said.
“We go into the match with a healthy respect for our opponent, but also with the belief that we are capable of achieving a good result.
“Our starting eleven will be unchanged, so we are hopeful that continuity will assist in further progressing our performance.”
Thornton Redbacks (6th) vs Toronto Awaba Stags (10th)
Saturday, April 27th, 6:45 pm, Thornton Park
Thornton will come up against Toronto Awaba this Saturday with only two points separating the two teams on the ladder.
The Redbacks fought hard to earn a 3-3 draw with Belswans the last start and have scored a combined 12 goals from their five games with Jacob Golding and Jake Millstead proving lethal in attack.
Toronto went down 5-2 to West Wallsend in their latest result after leading 2-1 at one stage in the match.
The Stags currently sit in 10th spot on the table and will be eager to move clear of the wooden spoon with a victory while the Redbacks are in touching distance of the top four and a win would seem them reduce the gap.
Nick Roberts has been a standout for Toronto so far this season with three goals while Nathan McAllister is starting to find his deadly form while Thornton has strike weapons all over the park to set up an intriguing affair.
Kahibah F.C (8th) vs Singleton Strikers (7th)
Sunday, April 28th, 2:30 pm, Kahibah Oval
A mid-table clash will take place on Sunday with Kahibah playing at home to Singleton with both teams eager to get back to winning ways.
The green and black suffered a 3-1 defeat to New Lambton last start to now be sitting in 8th spot while Singleton endured a demoralising 7-0 loss to West Wallsend in mid-week to fall to 7th.
Only two points separate the two outfits heading into this clash with Kahibah looking to improve on their sole win so far in 2019 while Singleton will be hoping to bounce back after their significant loss.
The Strikers had the better of the two fixtures last season with a 3-2 win at Kahibah Oval before a 1-1 draw later in the campaign.
Both sides have only produced nine goals so far this season, however, at their best, can be difficult to breakdown in defence.
Wallsend F.C (11th) vs Cooks Hill United (1st)
Sunday, 28th April, 2:30 pm, The Gardens
Round 8 continues with first place coming up against last with Cooks Hill taking on Wallsend this Sunday at the Gardens.
The Cookers served the bye last round but still sit on top with six wins from six while Wallsend has only recorded the sole victory to be sitting in eleventh.
The Red Devils latest result was a narrow 1-0 loss to Cessnock City away from home but will be keen to get back in front of their home support and test themselves against the competition frontrunners.
Ashley Balcomb has been on fire for Cooks Hill with six goals to his name while Wallsend’s Ty Goldsmith and Lez Wallace will look to combine to cause the Cooks Hill defence problems.
The home side will be heavy underdogs in this fixture with the black and white holding a superior record with two wins in their last two outings including 4-1 and 3-2 victories last season.
South Cardiff Gunners (4th) vs Cessnock City Hornets (9th)
Sunday, 28th April, 4:00 pm, Ulinga Oval
The final game of the round sees South Cardiff play home to Cessnock City at Ulinga Oval with both sides coming off confidence-boosting wins.
The Gunners downed Singleton with a resilient 1-0 victory last round while the Hornets overcame going down to ten-men to record a 1-0 triumph over Wallsend.
Both teams sit far apart on the table with the Gunners now inside the top four, however, Cessnock has shown steady improvement in 2019 and are beginning to come back to full strength to set up a close match.
The game will also be new Cessnock coach, Lino Gatti’s second match in charge after taking the reins in their last victory.
Cessnock will look to last season’s results as a motivator to produce an upset on Sunday boasting 3-0 and 4-2 wins over their upcoming opposition.
In the previous season, however, South Cardiff will want to consolidate their ladder position and put back-to-back wins on the board.