Monday, 17 August 2015

SEASON REVIEW: Cessnock City Hornets (10th)

Note: Thanks to John at Valentine Sports Photography's for allowing me to use his photos from Cessnock's away game at Toronto-Awaba. The gallery of that game and more local sports photos can be found at his Facebook link below:


1st Grade:

Cessnock City came into the 2015 NewFM hoping to improve on their mid-table finish of 2014 and hoping to put a FFA Cup Round 1 loss to Thornton Redbacks behind them. Their first match was against an unknown and unpredictable promoted Cooks Hill United side. A goal from Gocha Abshilava allowed the Hornets to take a point from the Athletics Field.

Round 2 brought the first home game of the season for the Hornets and they would have been hopeful of their chances against Thornton Redbacks. Unfortunately for Cessmock they were downed 2-0. Their second home game didn't go much better as they fell to a 2-1 loss against Singleton Strikers.

After a tough opening period of the season, the Hornets finally had a chance to sing the team song as they recorded a 2-0 win over Toronto-Awaba via goals to Wade Attewell and Anthony Bower. It was a long-awaited win for the Hornets and one that they hoped would kick start their season.

That win over Toronto gave the Hornets some confidence and belief and they used it to their advantage as they downed Belmont-Swansea on the road in a stunning upset. A goal to Mitchell Cox boosted the Cessnock boys to what was arguably their biggest win of the 2015 New-FM season.

Credit: Valentine Sports Photography (

With form coming together, a run up the table didn't look out of the picture but a 2-0 loss to West Wallsend and a 3-0 loss to Wallsend on either side of the Round 9 bye brought the Hornets crashing back down to Earth. Both these games were at a Turner Park to make matters worse. It's never fun losing in front of your own fans.

A Round 8 wash-out game on June 13th brought a tough test against an in-form and freescoring Lake Macquarie City side. The Hornets put three in the back of the net but were still soundly beaten by the Roosters as Sam Walker fired an amazing five goals into the back of the net.

After a tough away trip to Lakes on the Wednesday night, the Hornets were on the road again on that weekend as they took on the other form team in the competition, Valentine. A Mitchell Cox goal wasn't enough to get a result as Valentine smashed five past Cessnock in the Round 11 meeting.

Cessnock were required to make another mid-week away trip (this time to Kahibah) and were once again beaten, losing 3-0 to Kahibah which ended a tough opening half of the 2015 season for the Cessnock City Hornets.

I only got to three Cessnock games this season and one of them was in my opinion their worst loss of the season as they went down 5-1 to a barnstorming Cooks Hill United outfit. The score was 5-1 at the break and it was lucky not to be more in the second half as Cessnock put on an awful display that day. Nothing went their way.

Credit: Valentine Sports Photography (

After five straight losses, the Hornets were at the foot of the table and really needed some points. They picked up a point against Thornton on the road as goals to Liam Stephenson and Wade Attewell secured a 2-2 draw against the Redbacks on the road at Thornton Park.

An away trip to Singleton was always going to be tough and the Hornets hung on for a 0-0 draw at Howe Park. Their third draw in as many games would come a week later as a Sam Garaty goal secured a 1-1 draw at home with Kahibah, a quality result for Cessnock on their home turf against a quality Kahibah side.

Round 16 at home against Lakes would have been a game Cessnock went into expecting a challenge and they certainly got that as Lakes would go on to in 4-1. Cessnock's lone goal that day came from Nick Hugo. The Hornets would have been delighted to see the back of Lakes and Sam Walker in particular.

Next up was an away trip to Lyall Peacock Field and a game against Toronto-Awaba. The Hornets scored through Ryan Maxwell but would go down to the Stags 2-1 in a result that saw Cessnock slip further towards a possible wooden spoon.

Round 18's 1-1 draw with the Belswans was secured by a Mitchell Cox goal and was the second time this season that Cessnock took points from Belmont-Swansea and ultimately cost Belswans a spot in the finals in my opinion. Cessnock can hold their heads high for that.

Their next game was the biggest of the season as they traveled to Johnston Park and faced a desperate West Wallsend side in a battle to avoid the wooden spoon. It was arguably Cessnock's biggest win of the season as they put five past Westy through goals from Nick Hugo, Wade Attewell, Alex King and two goals to Mitchell Cox. This would be the day that helped Cessnock avoid the dreaded wooden spoon and just their third win of the season.

Credit: Valentine Sports Photography (

Round 20 brought renewed optimism and the Hornets were gutsy against Wallsend and scored two through Mitchell Cox and Wade Attewell. The Red Devils pulled off a 3-2 win though inquiry game that I was on hand to watch. Cessnock were gallant and really gave a fight to Wallsend but it wasn't enough on that day.

After a Round 21 bye, the Hornets ended their season with a really gallant performance against promoted Valentine. They led at one stage through Wade Attewell (who scored twice on the day) but it wasn't enough to avoid a second consecutive 3-2 loss against a top four side.

I think most would agree it wasn't the best season for Cessnock but the high points against Belmont-Swansea and West Wallsend will be remembered. I believe Cessnock need to pick up their home results and really make Turner Park a fortress. It's something they could find success with. A tough season but one where they fortunately avoided the spoon.


Key Players:

I've been told to mention Jayden Gunther as one of the better players at Cessnock City. The 21-year old defender made the move from Weston to Turner Park last season and has been one of the Hornets' best this season. 

After writing the match reviews, I think Mitchell Cox deserves a mention as one of the club's best goalscorers. 23's star and regular 1st grader Gocha Abshilava is one to watch at Cessnock as well. The left winger is technical and has the ability to score a fair few goals as well. Not to mention, Abshilava's confidence in penalty taking has helped Cessnock throughout the year as well.


Young Stars:

Jayden Arriguetti has been mentioned to me as one of the club's rising stars and he has been rewarded with a chance to feature in the First Grade squad a handful of times this season. Luke Ford has also been one of Cessnock's best young players with 13 goals to his name and young goalkeeper Brandon Zechel has shined all season and will no doubt improve as he gains some experience in this level of competition.




Under 23's Wrap Up:

The only Cessnock City side to make finals are the Under 23's. I've seen these boys play twice and both times they've been entertaining to watch. Their 3-3 draw with Cooks Hill saw them choke up a decent lead but the other game I saw (3-0 over Wallsend) was all class.

Goals to Sam Garaty, Tobias King-Bell and Samuel Woods wrapped up a convincing win for the finals-bound Hornets and now they've been rewarded for their consistency with a two-leg date with the Thornton Redbacks in the New-FM Semi Finals.

The club have sent me two names to mention. One is Jason Zechal who has been impressive in attack and a personal favourite of mine in the two games I've watched, possibly the club's top goalscorer in Gocha Abshilava. He's got some decent skills about him and I'm sure he and the other players will do all they can to defeat Thornton and make the Grand Final.


Under 19's Wrap Up:

It has to be mentioned that Cessnock City had a shortage of players at the start of the season and this meant that the majority of the Under 19's squad were in fact only turning 17 this year. As to be expected, their results have wildly fluctuated over the course of the season.

In my opinion, the standout result for the Cessnock 19's would have to be the come-form-behind 3-3 draw away to the eventual Minor Premiers Valentine Phoenix. Goals to Justin Bradley, Liam Neild and Luke Ford guided Cessnock to a very gutsy draw.

Another standout match was the 6-2 victory over Toronto-Awaba in the earlier stages of the season. Luke Ford bagged a whopping five goals on a day where everything went to plan for the Under 19 Hornets.

Standout players include Jack Morris (one of the few players actually turning 19 this season), club young gun Jayden Arriguetti, Justin Bradley and Luke Ford who in his first season as striker bagged 13 goals. There were forgettable days (Belswans away comes to mind) and some memorable days (like the 1-0 at Cooks Hill on the opening day of the season.)

There's foundations to build on for this team. They finished well above wooden spooners Toronto and have scored a fair few goals this season compared other bottom four sides. Age=experience and the experience these boys went through this season will only see them come back bigger and better in 2016. They'll need it too as I believe the 19's will be a cracker of a comp next season.


Under 17's Wrap Up:

As mentioned, a shortage of players meant the 17's stepped up to 19's and the 17's was actually mostly 15 and 16 year olds. Their only win of the season came all the way back in Round 2 but it was a crucial win and one that would end up helping them avoid the wooden spoon.

On that day, the 4-1 win against Thornton, goalscorers were Ewan Gatt, Connor Garrington, Nathan McNamara & Liam Hunter. A 1-1 draw against mid-table Singleton was a decent result as well and also went a long way towards Cessnock avoiding the spoon.

Standout players included Kyle Gillis, Jared Deck and Darren Iliffe, all of whom I've been told backed up for Under 19's as well. Young goalkeeper Brandon Zechel deserves some praise as well and the 15 year-old hasn't looked out of his depth playing in the higher age groups this season.


Credit: Valentine Sports Photography (

Keys To The Future:

I've heard a few people from outside and inside the club at Cessnock that they really need to focus on player recruitment in 2016. I know some big changes a being made at other clubs and I believe every NewFM team need to step up or face being left behind. The competition is becoming more every season. Cessnock have some good players but need some quality to match it with the higher-placed teams.

I was told the first grade team weren't the most punctual in showing up at training some nights and if you want success in this competition, you simply have show up at training. Cessnock's got the volunteers, they've got a decent ground and a decent junior base. Hopefully success is right around the corner.

As always it's a big thanks to those who have helped me by messaging some info about the club and its players. I wish I could have wrote more than I did! Looking forward to having a closer working relationship with the club next season (all New-FM teams for that matter) and wish you all the very best of luck for Season 2016.

*Note: As I write this, the Under 23's are still in with a great chance of making the Grand Final and good luck to them in their 2nd Leg this coming Sunday. Talked to a couple of the players yesterday and they were great blokes.

Up The Hornets!

-Ty Stedman

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