1st Grade: Cessnock City 1 def by. Cooks Hill United 5
(Hornets Stung By 1st Half Cookers Raid)
There was only one game played in the New-FM competition this week and it was pretty much over by half-time. Cooks Hill came out firing like they did at Thornton a few nights ago but this time they found the net early on as Bowen Bagnell put the visitors up well within the first ten minutes.
Watching from the sidelines I can't describe how badly the Hornets were playing in the first ten or fifthteen minutes of the game. Their defending was poor at best and they couldn't keep possession. It wasn't long before Jackson Pett doubled Cooks Hill lead and at that stage the game looked like it'd blow out.
Cessnock turned things around and started to keep more meaningful possession. A free kick chance was converted by Nick Hugo (might have the wrong name there, couldn't hear the ground announcer). The kick swung in and Cookers keeper Kaia Roth was unable to stop it from creeping into the net.
In the game I've seen the young keeper hasn't made too many mistakes but he certainly made up for it not too long later, calmly palming away a serious chance from a Cessnock attacker. The Hornets had their tails up (if Hornets have tails) and looked the better side for a few moments but it didn't last.
Peter Pryce scored a somewhat lucky goal to restore Cooks Hill's 2 goal advantage and then not too long after that, the visitors were given a penalty as Pouria Bashardoust was brought down inside the box. Pryce stepped up and slotted it into the bottom left corner of goal.
Bowen Bagnell completed a storming first half from the visitors as he bagged his second and Cooks Hill's fifth after a one-sided first forty-five. The second half ended scoreless and probably didn't match the first half in terms of entertainment to be honest.
Cessnock will know they can put on better displays than what they did today and make no doubt they were somewhat lucky it wasn't more than a 5-1 loss. Cooks Hill spurred a couple of chances in the second half but it was still a memorable day on the road for the team in an unusual shade of blue.
If a 5-1 win wasn't impressive enough, the Cookers did it missing a host of regular first graders who were out through injury/work commiments.
I was impressed with the turnout at Turner Park. It was my first away trip to a New-FM game on a Sunday afternoon and it certainly was enjoyable. The fans up there are passionate and the ground was in very good condition. Loved the fact that the PA announcer did the lower grades and not just first grade. Makes it a lot easier to get a hold of goalscorers and what not.
Cessnock will need to bounce back at Thornton next week if they want to keep their slim finals hopes alive whilst Cooks Hill will be looking to produce a huge upset against Valentine next Saturday.
Under 23's: Cessnock City 3 drew. Cooks Hill United 3
I made it to Turner Park in time to watch the majority of this game and it really came to life in the second half. Cessnock were up 1-0 at the half and it was 2-0 early on in the second stanza as Gocha Abshilava blasted one in from around 30 metres out. I was impressed with the Cessnock winger's technique, he had a fairly good game and also scored Cessnock's opener.
Cooks Hill's defence was improved in the second half and I thought Jarod Neale was doing well at left-back. It was Neale who scored off a corner to allow Cooks Hill back into the contest against the 2nd-placed Hornets. The visitors could smell blood in the water and saw a potential for a second comeback in five days after overcoming Thornton last Wednesday.
Adrian Higgins was the main threat at Thornton Park on Wednesday and turned provided again today, scoring the equaliser. Cessnock let complacency set in and paid the price as Cooks Hill's #6 (didn't get the name, sorry) scored a third-straight goal for the visitors and gave them a shock lead.
Cessnock hung around and to their credit scored a third to tie things up and end the match 3-3. It was an entertaining reserves match and set the stage for 1st grade fairly well. Still, it's two points dropped for a Cessnock side that will now slip further away from top spot if Valentine win their catch-up game from today.
Under 19's: Cessnock City 1 def by. Cooks Hill United 4
I ran late getting to Turner Park so didn't get to catch any of the 19s match but it was another convincing win for a Cooks Hill side that are now in third-place. The Cookers bounced back from a mid-week defeat to Thornton and gave themselves a sixth-win of the season. Good to see one or two 19s make the step up to 23s and provide some quality there as well.
Under 17's: Cessnock City 0 def by. Cooks Hill United 5
Cessnock have struggled in the 17s this season with injuries and a lack of numbers at fault. This continued on Sunday as Cooks Hill consolidated a spot in the top four with a 5-0 victory. The big win is Cooks Hill's second this week after seeing off Thornton 6-1 during the week.
All other New-FM Round 12 games were