Saturday, 15 August 2015

REVIEW: New-FM Semi Finals Week 1 (Saturday)

Under 17's: Kahibah F.C 0 drew. Cooks Hill United 0

Cooks Hill United arrived at Kahibah Oval as the underdogs in the Under 17's and were forced onto the backfoot throughout the first half as Kahibah probed for a way through on goal. The Cookers' defence was standing strong and they came in at half-time with an admirable scoreline of 0-0.

Kahibah came out a different side in the second half and started to push their way through. The addition of key goalscorer Matthew Hughes gave Kahibah a slight edge but the Cookers had a game-changing substitute up their sleeve in Kurt Suleiman. Both players brought some quality to their squads and I thought Suleiman in particular changed the game when he came on.

The Cookers attacked well but were unable to get the crucial final touch towards goal. A crazy moment of the game saw Kahibah keeper Brock Turner stranded as the ball went under him and rolled agonisingly close to the goal-line before being booted to safety. A bullet-dodged for the Green and Blacks.

Cooks Hill's defence owned the game though and should hold their heads high. They helped prevent keeper Kaia Roth from doing too much work but when he was needed, he stepped up to produce a handful of crucial saves, including one or two entertaining dives.

Kahibah knew an away goal (on their home turf) would be crucial towards their chances of winning this two-legged tie and they came within a whisker of taking the lead late on when Matthew Hughes came close to getting on the end of a cross.

All in all, a tale of survival for Cooks Hill United who'll know that the advantage is now swaying towards them. Away goals are crucial and the Cookers will be looking to strike early next week at Valentine. A 0-0 draw, but an entertaining 0-0 draw.


Under 19's: Cooks Hill United 0 def by. VALENTINE PHOENIX F.C 3

As a Cooks Hill player and supporter, this one was particularly tough to watch. I thought the Cookers' 19's would be a good chance of winning this tie but after Valentine swept them aside with a 3-0 away-leg victory, surely it's curtains on Cooks Hill's season, barring a massive turn-around at the home of the Phoenix next weekend.

Cooks Hill just never got started in this game and looked in danger early on, although Valentine's wayward shooting cost them in the opening stages. The opening goal would come in the 16th minute as Sam Powell smashed one home. It was doubled in the 27th minute when Carlo Godina scored for the Phoenix.

Half-time saw the Cookers come out with some renewed focus but their chances took another turn for the worse in the 47th minute as Jordan Godina added to his brother's first-half goal and put Valentine in the box seat.

The Cookers didn't throw in the towel and created one or two decent chances but luck simply wasn't on their side today. It certainly wasn't a lack of effort as they were simply outclassed by a hungry and focused Valentine outfit. The Phoenix have one foot in the Grand Final and surely they'll be able to progress without too much trouble next week. Cooks Hill will need a mammoth effort at Cahill Oval.


Under 23's: LAKE MACQUARIE CITY F.C 2 def. Valentine Phoenix F.C 0

After losing 6-0 to Valentine just a month ago, one could forgive Lake Macquarie City's Under 23's for being a tad cautious at the start of this game. Once they got their groove going, the Roosters were looking a real chance of causing an upset over the runaway Minor Premiers.

To be fair, I wasn't taking too many notes throughout the day as I really just wanted to enjoy the football so I can only really comment on the goals. Don't get me wrong though, Lakes deserved the lead when they got it through a 25th minute goal from Jarrod Horne. It gave them some confidence and they took the 1-0 lead into the half-time break.

The second half was a slightly dire affair as the rain started to tumble down and play began to look a tad sloppy. I think we can all agree that Kahibah Oval isn't the best surface in the wet. The travelling Valentine fans (who were great all day) were cheering on their reserve grade but Lakes just kept plugging away.

Some sloppy tackles began to make their way into the game (as expected in wet conditions) and with Lakes holding a 1-0 lead going into the final ten minutes, you wouldn't blame Valentine for counting their losses and trying to hold out for next week. They were unable to and Lakes doubled their lead through Kane Rodgers.

I firmly believe Valentine will stage some sort of comeback next week although I'm not sure they'll be able to turn this tie around and make the Grand Final. Full credit has to go to Lake Macquarie City who hand Valentine just their second defeat of the season and their first since Round 3.


1st Grade: Kahibah F.C 0 def by. VALENTINE PHOENIX F.C 1

Kahibah F.C's big day saw them take to their home turf in the pouring rain (somewhat suitable after the season that's been) and ready to take on NPL-bound Valentine Phoenix F.C. The home side I thought were the better of the two team's in a first half that wasn't the greatest half of football you'll see but it was decent enough considering the weather.

The crowd at Kahibah were shoulder-to-shoulder or so it seemed in the packed pavilion and if the Green and Blacks are serious about staying in the New-FM 1st Division, I strongly suggest they put some more cover in and maybe even some seats as the ground wouldn't hurt from getting an upgrade.

The first twenty minutes of the second half was completely dominated by Kahibah. They had Valentine looking in all sorts of trouble and forcing the Phoenix onto the back foot. Chances were crucially missed though for the home side. Luck was not on their side and one certain goal was denied by the woodwork. They could have had a two or three goal lead but instead were tied at 0-0.

I've seen this happen so many times this year (the Kahibah v Lakes 1st Grade match earlier this season comes to mind) where one team dominates the chances but fail to score and then get beat. Within two minutes of me realizing that it was reminiscence of that Kahibah v Lakes match, Valentine took the lead, somewhat luckily from a corner. It was heartbreak for the home side that had fought so hard to get to this point at 0-0.

The match was turned on its head by Chris Brown's goal and Valentine completely dominated the latter stages. They could and probably should have scored two or three as they closed out the game in style. All in all, missed opportunities cost Kahibah and luck was not on their side. Valentine showed why they can't be underestimated and why they know how to win in all situations.

With Valentine having a crucial away goal, I believe it'll be the Phoenix playing on Grand Final day if they play as well as they should on their home turf next week.

Note: No team sheet for First Grade as I was unable to stick around and wait for the referees.


Note: I'll be making the early trek out to The Gardens in the morning and am keen for another full day of New-FM Semi Final action. Headlined by the 1st Grade fixture between Wallsend F.C and Lake Macquarie City, it certainly looks like a quality day of football tomorrow. See you there!

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