PHOTO: VALENTINE SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
Match of the Round
Cooks Hill United FC 3 (Ashton 30’, Russell 62’, Canli 77’) def. South Cardiff FC 0
Saturday, May 6, 2:30pm at Newcastle Athletics Field
Cooks Hill compounded the misery for a stuttering South Cardiff and extended their lead at the top of the table with a strong 3-0 win on Saturday afternoon.
South Cardiff were playing their third match in six days, and this one was perhaps their toughest assignment yet – made harder still when Lee Ashton opened the scoring for Cooks Hill with a cracking goal on the half hour mark.
Corey Nicholas was awarded a yellow card in the 62nd minute and Nick Russell scored from the resulting free kick to push the Cookers’ advantage out to two goals with just under half an hour to play.
A Hakan Canli goal in 13 minutes from time sealed the deal for Cooks Hill.
The win means Cooks Hill’s lead at the top of the table – but Thornton pose a threat to the top of the ladder with two games in hand still. South Cardiff remain in fifth on the ladder but could slip to sixth if New Lambton win their midweek catch-up game – against Thornton.
South Cardiff player-coach Denis Fajkovic was upbeat despite the result.
“Cooks Hill are a quality side, but in saying that we matched them, all game really,” Fajkovic said.
“We definitely stepped it up compared to our previous games, if we play the way we did against Cooks Hill this weekend against Singleton we’ll do well.
“Credit to Cooks Hill, they can play… they’ve had half a dozen NPL players come down and it puts some perspective as to where they’re at and where we need to be at.”
Cooks Hill face New Lambton away at Alder Park next Sunday, while South Cardiff are on the road also heading to Singleton.
West Wallsend SFC 2 (Jones 9’, Price 25’) def. Wallsend FC 1 (Williams 90+2’)
Saturday, May 6, 2:30pm at Johnston Park
A resurgent West Wallsend took the spoils in the Wallsend derby for the first time since the Reds’ promotion to the second division in 2015 with a 2-1 win at Johnston Park on Saturday afternoon.
A clumsy challenge from Wallsend captain Kyle Macorig collected Tye Jones inside the Wallsend box and earned the home side an early penalty. The striker stepped up to take the penalty he won and slotted it, giving West Wallsend an early 1-0 lead.
Sam Holt had a golden opportunity to send his side two ahead in the 21st minute, but couldn’t control a bouncing ball smack-bang in the middle of the box. West Wallsend would double their advantage just four minutes later, a Brad Andrews ball in from the left found Fletcher Price in miles of space in the area.
Price was able to get the ball under control, and slam home into the roof of the net to put the home side 2-0 ahead with 25 minutes played.
Wallsend’s best chance of the half came in the 40th minute when a West Wallsend attempt to play out from the back went horribly wrong. Matt Williams robbed Michael Baillie and played in Johnathon Olivares, whose shot went close but was palmed away by Zac Park, who preserved the home side’s 2-0 lead at the break.
Bryson Cox nearly forced a third goal in the 57th minute when he charged down a Wallsend defender and a miscued clearance from Darcy Hall went close to finding the Wallsend net.
West Wallsend should have put the match out of sight in the 59th minute, a Bryson Cox header was cleared off the line by Wallsend’s Jason McGuire and the follow up blazed over the bar.
The chances were coming every ten minutes for the Bluebells, Bailey Cox curled a free kick into the crossbar in the 69th minute and Fletcher Price screwed a shot narrowly wide in the 79th.
Wallsend would score in the second minute of injury time through Matt Williams to give West Wallsend a late, but it ultimately wasn’t enough and it was the Bluebells who’d take the spoils in the Wallsend Derby and move into sixth on the ladder.
West Wallsend will travel to last-placed Cessnock next Saturday, while Wallsend are at home to Kahibah.
Thornton Redbacks FC 2 (McAllister 5’, 22’) def. Singleton Strikers FC 0
Saturday, May 6, 2:45pm at Thornton Park
It was the Nathan McAllister show once again as Thornton battled hard to down a resilient Singleton side at Thornton Park on Saturday afternoon.
The Redbacks were heavy favourites for this one, and a bit of Nathan McAllister magic got the ball rolling in the fifth minute. A weak clearance under pressure from Singleton keeper Stuart Plant went as far as McAllister, who finished with aplomb from 35 yards out to make it 1-0.
Both sides were finding their way into the match, with a clear emphasis on playing out from the back. It brought Singleton unstuck in the 22nd minute after some pressure from Thornton’s front four got the ball loose which found its way out to Wade Atwell. The left winger fired in a low cross wormed through a sea of legs and to McAllister, who scored his second of the day and made it 2-0.
It was a half devoid of any real clear cut chances, but McAllister nearly put the game to bed in the 41st minute if not for some brave goalkeeping from Plant in the Singleton goal. Jack Halverson almost scored a stunning goal right on halftime after a weaving run in from the right beat a handful of Singleton defenders, but he blazed his shot over the bar and Thornton took a 2-0 lead into the sheds.
Nathan McAllister wasted no time after the restart, dragging a shot wide in the 47th minute. Singleton hassled Thornton at every opportunity and both sides struggled to create any openings. Liam Penglaze fired wide for Thornton in the 75th minute, and a Joe Civello cross in the 79th minute was probably the closest the Strikers came to threatening the Thornton goal.
Wade Atwell had a chance to finish it off in the 83rd minute, but his point-blank header forced a fantastic reflex save from Plant in the Singleton goal, and Thornton finished 2-0 victors.
Thornton face New Lambton midweek and Belswans next weekend, while Singleton are up against South Cardiff next Saturday.
Toronto Awaba FC 2 (Glennie 48’, Morgan 51’) drew Cessnock City FC 2 (McCabe 86’, 90+3’)
Sunday, May 7, 2:30pm at Lyall Peacock Oval
It was a comeback for the ages from a 10-man Cessnock who rallied superbly to score two at the death for only their third point of the season against a stuttering Toronto Awaba.
Nick Roberts had the opening chance of the match but had his 3rd minute shot pushed wide by Adrian Jones in the Cessnock goal. Blake Glennie had a header pushed wide six minutes later, and a collision between a Toronto keeper Blake Redman and Cessnock winger Jason Zechel held up a play for a minute or two.
Zechel had a half chance but couldn’t capitalise in the 14th minute, before Glennie went close again a minute later but fired his header into the post.
The stakes were high for both sides, keen to pull themselves up the ladder and tensions were bubbling. Things boiled over in the 39th minute when an incident between Cessnock’s Max Wallington and Toronto defender Josh Davis earned the Hornets man a red card and left Cessnock with 10 men.
Zechel fired another chance wide in the fourth minute of first-half stoppage time, and the sides went into the sheds level.
Toronto wasted no time in making the most of their man advantage following the presumption of the second half and it was talisman Blake Glennie who’d do the damage in the 48th minute – heading a Josh Bruce cross to make it 1-0.
Travis McCabe had a chance for Cessnock at the other end only two minutes later, but Josh Bruce would pop up again in the 51st minute and make the Hornets pay – a weaving run through the middle of the park and pass found substitute Connar Morgan, who blasted his shot into the roof of the net to put Toronto 2-0 ahead.
Cessnock looked down and out and their day went from bad to worse when key player Jason Zechel broke down with a hamstring injury and had to be taken from the field.
Toronto settled into their lead and were happy to have the ball without searching for much penetration, despite the urging of the likes of Blake Glennie to put the foot on the throat and make sure of it.
Their complacency seemed to only inspire the Hornets and substitute Kyle Gillis looked threatening down the left – a shot in the 75th minute and a run inside and ball to McCabe in the 76th a sign of things to come for Cessnock.
With under five minutes of normal time to play, Cessnock would get one back through Travis McCabe. The right-sided winger steered a bouncing ball into the net with his head from outside the box, was clattered by Toronto keeper Blake Redman for his troubles but had made it count, Cessnock halving the advantage to 2-1.
Two minutes into injury time, and disaster for the Stags. A tussle between Toronto defender Nick McKye and a Cessnock attacker had the Toronto man seeing red and striking out at his opponent on the ground. Having earned a first yellow for a similar incident in the first half, McKye was shown his second and sent from the field – Cessnock awarded a penalty.
Hearts were in mouths around Lyall Peacock Oval as McCabe stepped up to take the penalty – and dispatched it past Redman in the 93rd minute to make it 2-2 Cessnock, which is how it finished.
Cessnock coach Lino Gatti had mixed emotions following his side’s late comeback.
“I’m always happy when the boys apply themselves… they didn’t adhere to some of our structures and plans which was disappointing,” Gatti said.
“We had moments in the game up until the red card but we didn’t take some early opportunities which we missed, and my boys were intimidated by the physicality of the game.”
Gatti said his camp was a little confused by the red card situation.
“No one seems to know (what the second yellow card was for), it wasn’t for dissent… so we’re a little perplexed.”
Cessnock take on West Wallsend next weekend, while Toronto has the bye.
Kahibah FC 2 (Hodgson 29’, Hadlow 61’) def. Belmont Swansea FC 0
Sunday, May 7, 2:30pm at Kahibah Oval
Kahibah shot into second while Belmont Swansea hung on to their place in the top four after the home side edged out the visitors with a comfortable 2-0 win at home on Sunday afternoon.
Belmont Swansea had scored in every one of their league matches coming into this one, whereas Kahibah boasts the best defence in the league – only six goals conceded from their previous six.
The likes of Tega Marcus were threatening up front for Belswans but was struggling to find a way through. Kahibah marquee man Dave Hodgson popped up to score in the 29th minute to give his side an early 1-0 lead.
Jamie Hadlow scored Kahibah’s second in the 61st minute to hand his side a 2-0 advantage, which is how it stayed at Kahibah Oval.
The win launched Kahibah into second place – which they may lose if Thornton wins their mid-week clash against New Lambton. The Green and Black do have a solid defence to build upon, however, and will be confident of grinding out similar results as the season progresses.
Belswans coach Josh Rufo was disappointed with his side’s finishing on the day.
“I thought we played quite well, we just weren’t as clinical as we should have been in that final third,” Rufo said.
“I think that (the Westfield FFA Cup loss to Edgeworth) didn’t have much to do with it, Kahibah were better on the day but there were a lot of positives from us and we’ll look to bounce back next week.
“To summarise it, lots of possession and lots of opportunities but no end product.”
Kahibah takes on Wallsend at The Gardens next Sunday, while Belswans are at home to high fliers Thornton.