1st Grade: Cooks Hill United 3 def. Thornton Redbacks 1
Apologies for not having much of a report on this one as I had my own game to make across the road at National Park (lost that one 5-0 by the way). It was a much-needed win for the Cookers after losing their match against Wallsend last week. The win leaves them one point outside the top four, although Kahibah can stretch that gap at Cessnock tomorrow.
Under 23's: Cooks Hill United 2 def by. Thornton Redbacks 3
I was preparing for my game and chatting to one or two people for this one so excuse the lack of real observations but I did manage to get a few things. The visitors started the better of the two sides and forced Cookers' keeper Andrew De Souza into one or two decent early saves.
James Purazeni was threatening for the visitors and had some pace to burn. I think he may have grabbed a goal that I somehow missed, despite watching most of the game. The Cookers scored a long-range goal from Nick Tantos I believe and the visitors hit back not long after as their captain fired one in from out wide, rolling past the keeper and finishing inside the post.
Neither of these long range goals was spectacular by any means but got the job done nonetheless. Tim Salter scored just before half-time to send the visitors in with a 3-1 lead.
At around the mid-way point of the second half, Cooks Hill scored a second as a dangerous free kick was smashed in by Ryan Bartlett. From here on the Cookers looked a different side as they threw everything into seeking an equaliser.
Last time these sides met the Redbacks squandered a 3-1 lead and didn't want to do the same again today. They pressured very well and closed down a lot of Cooks Hill's momentum. I think it was Greg Campbell (#2?) who was putting pressure on the Cooks Hill back line.
All in all it was another tight loss for the Cookers and one that leaves them six points outside the top four. Thornton though return to the winners' circle after a couple of bad results.
Under 19's: Cooks Hill United 1 def. Thornton Redbacks 0
I thought the Cookers started the better of the two sides in this one and looked very decent going down the wings and getting around the Thornton fullbacks. A couple of missed chances cost the home side the chance to grab an early lead as Thornton worked their way into the match.
Both of these teams I thought had better fluency than the 17's sides in the first game. It seemed more passes were finding their target and it made for some up-tempo football. The home side did open the scoring just before half-time through their number 8. Apologies for not getting the name.
The second half was much of the same and continued the entertaining match-up. Tanner White looked dangerous at striker for the visitors and showed some good pace at times. Their midfielder, Jayden Bartlett I believe, was decent too and stole possession back a couple of times.
The Cookers would hold on for a gutsy one-nil win that consolidated a top four spot for them. I thought Aden Luker had a decent game up front and Seb Lewis showed some skill on the wing. Rocky Sovechles had a good game as well for the home side. A big result that boosts their finals hopes.
Under 17's: Cooks Hill United 1 def. Thornton Redbacks 0
I've got a load of notes written down for this one as I was watching with a keen eye and not having conversations like the later games. Anyway, to be fair I tipped Thornton to lose this game 6-0 and they certainly proved that wrong. The Redbacks looked the better side early on and forced Cookers keeper Kaia Roth into some early action.
The home side I thought were sloppy at the start and for the majority of the game. I think anyone from the Cookers 17's will admit this wasn't their best game. There were missed chances for both sides in a somewhat sloppy first half.
The latter part of the half probably should have seen an opener if not for a missed chance from the Cookers' Campbell Guest and some poor shooting from Thornton's attackers. Michael Dalton looked decent in the midfield role for the home side whilst Travis Howard looked impressive on the right wing for Thornton and troubled the Cookers a couple of times.
Discipline began to go out the door as Cooks Hill gave away a few niggling fouls that just slowed the game down rather than anything else. As mentioned earlier it wasn't the best day for this Cooks Hill side and it seemed their timing and first-touches was just slightly off compared to normal.
I thought Thornton's captain Connor Galbraith directed his side very well when defending set-plays and was decent when playing out from the back as well. The Redbacks 17's aren't as bad as I thought they'd be and just a little bit of better build-up play and better options could go a long way...that and a bit of height as well. There were a few short players in the Redbacks side and they weren't doing too well in the air.
The full back for Thornton Mitchell Roy was having a strong second half I thought and had a lot to deal with as the Cookers threatened down the wings. Milan Lettau had one or two barnstorming runs down the wing from his full back position and almost scored one as well, just scraping the crossbar.
It looked like Thornton were going to hold on for a much-deserved draw but they were downed at the very end as Campbell Guest smashed home from about three yards out as a six-yard box scramble left the ball in a very dangerous position. Unfortunately for Thornton they were unable to deal with it and the Cookers scored that crucial match winner.
It was a heartbreaking defeat for Thornton but I thought they performed very well and in my opinion they may knock off one or two sides in this competition if they play like they did today. Just some better decision making and a bit more luck in front of goal and this one easily could have gone the other way.
For Cooks Hill, the 1-0 result was certainly an ugly win but a crucial one as it moved them one step closer to finals football. However with big games coming up against Kahibah and the free-scoring Lakes, the Cookers need to refresh over their week off next week and come back firing in Round 16.
As I said, Thornton I think will have a decent shot of knocking off a couple of sides if they play like they did today.
Valentine 5 def. Singleton 2
What a crucial victory this was for the Valentine Phoenix as they put themselves back on track in the promotion race. Singleton bagged two goals, which is decent enough against Valentine but were unable to stop the home side from putting five into the back of the net. A much-needed win for the home side ahead of next week's FFA Cup break.
In the lower grades, Valentine's 23's stretched their dominant lead at the top of the table even further with a 4-1 win whilst the 19's smashed seven past the visitors. Singleton's lone highlight of the day came in the opener as their 17's picked up a 1-0 win.
Cessnock City 1 drew. Kahibah F.C 1
This isn't a result Kahibah would have wanted with Cooks Hill hot on their tail and the Belswans also not far off in the race for a top four spot. Cessnock left Toronto-Awaba at the bottom of the table with the 1-1 draw but more importantly, Kahibah missed a chance to stretch their position inside the top four.
In the lower grades, Cessnock put some recent bad form behind them with an impressive 3-0 win whilst it was the complete opposite for the Hornets in the 19's and 17's as Kahibah ran out 4-1 and 7-1 winners respectively.
Belmont-Swansea 3 def by. Lake Macquarie City 4
It wasn't convincing by any means and was only secured at the very end but Lakes have beaten Belmont-Swansea 4-3 and kept their form intact and their climb towards the top of the table alive. A Sam Walker goal in stoppage time was the winner as Lakes came awfully close to seeing their promotion hopes fade further away. It was Walker's second goal of the game.
Credit to Belmont-Swansea as they pushed the Roosters until the very end and were unlucky to go down in the end. A late finals push is certainly not off the cards if the Belswans can keep improving. Other goalscorers for Lakes were Bradley York and Brad Tate.
In the lower grades, Lakes recorded a 2-0 win in the 23's, boosting their finals hopes in the process. Goalscorers were Gabriel Cerda and Bushiri Husein.
In the 19's, Belmont-Swansea's unbeaten streak came to a stunning end as Lakes pulled off their biggest of the season. Ashah Roberts was the hero on the day for the Roosters as they ended what was one of only two unbeaten records in the New-FM 1st Division. The other of course belongs to Lakes' 17's.
Talking of the 17's, Lakes suffered their first draw of the season in another stunning result. Belmont-Swansea scored two penalties and picked up a big scalp. Lakes are still unbeaten though and will focus on keeping that record for the rest of the season. Goalscorers for Lakes' 17's were Joshua Richardson and Joshua Panther.
Wallsend 5 def. West Wallsend 0
The ladder-leaders made it ten-straight victories with a 5-0 2nd half demolishing of their nearest and fiercest rivals. After a scoreless first half, Wallsend fired themselves to a commanding victory on their club's Old Boys Day. The Red Devils remain top of the New-FM competition and go into next weekend's FFA Cup bye week with ten straight victories.
For West Wallsend though it's another hard loss to take after a season that started with so much promise. It was a sixth-straight loss for the Bluebells and none would hurt more than a 5-0 loss to the arch rivals. They'll need to put their league form aside for next week's FFA Cup playoffs.
In the 23's, Wallsend smashed six past the Bluebells in an emphatic victory whilst it was a pair of draws in the 19's and 17's. A good result for Westy in the 17's as they held a decent Wallsend side to a 1-1 draw.