Thursday, 13 August 2015

SEASON REVIEW: Thornton Redbacks (8th)

1st Grade:

The Redbacks began their 2015 competitive season with a 5-2 victory over Cessnock City on the opening day of the Preliminary FFA Cup Rounds. Next up was a game against Zone League Two side Medowie and the Redbacks were far too good, winning 12-0 in that one. Their FFA Cup campaign would come to an end at the hands of West Wallsend in the 3rd Qualifying Round.

The New-FM season began with a bye in Round 1 for the Redbacks but they would go on to play Cessnock City for the second time in a month in Round 2. They'd get the opening round win over Cessnock with goals to Nathan McAllister and Tim Gleeson.

Round 3 brought a tough trip to Valentine's Baxter Field and despite a goal from Jason Thomas, the Redbacks were outclassed 5-1 by the eventual promotion winners. Another road trip (to Wallsend this time) ended in a 3-1 loss with Kyle Duncan putting his name on the scoresheet.

It took until April 12th for the Redbacks to finally play on their home turf at Thornton Park due to the end of the cricket season and it wasn't the best homecoming as they went down 2-0 to Toronto-Awaba. A second-straight home game against Kahibah this time also ended in defeat as the Redbacks slumped to the foot of the New-FM table.

Photo Credit: Maitland Mercury

Next up was one of Thornton's gutsiest results of the season as they came from behind to draw with West Wallsend 3-3 at Johnston Park after a lengthy break between games due to the April storms. 

Next up was Thornton's 5-0 loss to Singleton in a mid-week game. They were reduced to ten men in the first half and missed one or two crucial chances on a night where nothing was going their way.

Darrel McAllister's side needed some luck and it wasn't forthcoming in a heartbreaking loss to Belmont-Swansea. After leading through Kyle Duncan, the Redbacks were stunned as the Belswans equalised in the final minute of regular time and then stole all three points in the dying moments of stoppage time. It summed up Thornton's season to that point.

Their next game was the only Thornton game I managed to catch this season and it was definitely one of their best as they produced a 4-1 victory over Cooks Hill United. Goals to Jason Walton, Nathan McAllister and a double to Kyle Duncan saw the Redbacks secure an impressive win over the Cookers.

Photo Credit: Maitland Mercury

The bye allowed the busy Redbacks to get a well-earned break over a few days and with a third clash against Cessnock City approaching, confidence was growing slightly. Unfortunately for Thornton, despite goals from Jason Walton and Jock Thompson, they were unable to get maximum points against the Hornets this time round.

Thornton's biggest loss of the season was next on the card as the Walker brothers (Sam and Tom) and their Lakes side put six past the Redbacks at Macquarie Field. It was another result where nothing really went the way of the Thornton side.

Round 14 and Sunday the 7th of June should be a day the Redbacks remember well as it was the day they stunned the entire competition and handed Valentine their first defeat of the season (one of only two all year for the NPL-bound side) via a Nathan McAllister goal. It was a famous win at Thornton Park and one that gave the Redbacks some hope of making the finals.

A second match against Cooks Hill in a month was a chance for the Redbacks to build some form but they would end up going down 3-1 at the Athletics Track.  Another long break between games ended with some joy as the Redbacks secured their second-straight big home win, this time a 1-0 win over Wallsend F.C via another crucial Nathan McAllister goal.

Confidence was again evident in the Thornton side and they would go on to win just their second away game of the season, a 2-1 result against Toronto-Awaba. Nathan McAllister again popped up for a goal and so did Jason Thomas as the Redbacks secured a second-straight win.

Next up was a second wash-out fixture against Singleton and like the first one, the Redbacks would have a tough night at the office. Daniel Robinson scored a goal but the visiting Singleton were too good on the night.

Finals hopes were starting to slim but Thornton's biggest win of the season was forthcoming. Goals to Tallan Martin, Jessi Smith, Nathan McAllister and one who didn't make the official scoresheet, the Redbacks smashed West Wallsend 4-0 at Thornton Park. A great day for the club and one that boosted their slim finals hopes.

Their finals hopes would go on the line on the night of Wednesday July 29th as they traveled to Kahibah Oval. The Redbacks would go down 2-0 in a result that ended their tilt at the playoffs, despite their best efforts.

Their last two matches of the season saw an improved effort against Lakes but still a loss in a 2-0 defeat and a final day loss to Belmont-Swansea at Blacksmiths Oval. The Redbacks gave their best but lost 1-0 to the Belswans in another close affair.

All in all it wasn't the best season for Thornton but there were some results that show the Redbacks have some quality in their squad. Wins against Valentine and Wallsend prove that there is foundation to build on at Thornton Park.


Key Players:

I think if you read through the results you won't be surprised at all to see me mention Nathan McAllister in the Key Players section. He was Thornton's top goalscorer and I've been told that his work rate and creativity is up there with any at the club. I'd go as far as saying, McAllister's goals have helped Thornton finish as high as they did. Both of their big wins (against Valentine and Wallsend) were due to Nathan McAllister goals.

I've been told Jock Thompson was the club's best young player in 1st grade and was their best defender. Thompson played every 1st grade game this season and that in itself is impressive considering it is a 20 game season and so many players have to deal with injuries, suspension and at this level, work commitments. 

Photo Credit: Maitland Mercury


Young Stars:

I've been given two names for this by the club, Dylan Lawrence and Tanner White. Lawrence has featured mostly for the Under 23's from what I can see on the stats page of SportingPulse and White has been a more regular feature in the Under 19's. Both have some goals this season and both have been rewarded for their efforts with call-ups to the 1st Grade squad. 




Under 23's Wrap-Up:

It's a bit pre-mature writing a season wrap-up for the Redback 23's as they're in the finals series and in my honest opinion, a big chance of making the Grand Final. They led the competition for a bit this season and have picked up some impressive results along the way, including a 3-0 win over Lakes just two weeks ago.

The season started well with a 2-2 away draw with Cessnock City (their Semi Final opponents) and a 3-2 win over eventual minor-premiers Valentine. In fact that result, driven by a brace to Mitchell Kiczynski and Ryan McNamara was Valentine's only loss of the season to date.

Another stand-out result was their big 8-0 win over Toronto-Awaba. A hat-trick to main man Kyle Duncan, a double to upcomer Dylan Lawrence and goals to Mitchell Kiczynski, Jordan Smallhorne and Ranganai Purazeni helped the Redbacks to their biggest win of the campaign.

Newysports wishes them the best of luck for their Semi Final against Cessnock City and maybe even beyond.


Under 19's Wrap-Up:

The Under 19's finished mid-table with a foundation to build on for 2016. They were one of just four teams across the entire New-FM competition not to draw a game this season and with eight wins, it certainly wasn't a bad season at all. 

Mason Brett was their top goalscorer this season and was the key to victory in their only win against a top four side this season, 2-1 win over Cooks Hill United. Brett was goalscorer twice that night and helped steer the side to a big win over a decent Cooks Hill outfit.

Their biggest scoreline of the year was a 5-1 win over Singleton. Goals were shared around that night with Damian Spohr, Brady Broderick, Tanner White, Jayden Bartlett and Mason Brett.

Another win to mention was their quality 4-1 victory against Wallsend. Mason Brett got a double and Tim Walker and Tanner White helped guide the Redbacks to a quality win in front of their home fans.


Under 17's Wrap-Up:

Thornton's Under 17's never really had luck on their side this season and never did get to see their victory song but there are some foundations in place to build on in 2016. A 2-2 draw with a quality West Wallsend side stands out as a big result, especially away from home.

The only game I've seen these boys play all season was their heartbreaking 1-0 loss at the Newcastle Athletics Field. Granted, Cooks Hill had an off-day but Thornton played well and played fair, only to be unlucky when it came to the final touch. With the scores locked at 0-0, they were downed in the final moments as luck deserted them again.

The season ended on a high with a 1-1 draw at Belmont-Swansea. As for key players, no-one has sent much through about this squad and there isn't much on SportingPulse so I'll go by what I saw in the game I watched at Cooks Hill.

I thought captain and key defender Connor Galbraith showed great communication skills on set-plays and steered the ship at the back fairly well. Fullback Mitchell Roy had a quality second half and the wingers tried their hearts out all game.

Correct me if I'm wrong but it seemed like a few of the players that day were still only 15 or 16 (they looked young) and with a bit more experience in this competition, improvement will definitely come. Hopefully the boys can have a quality pre-season and results can come their way in 2016.


Keys To The Future:

Consistency is the key word for the Thornton Redbacks in 2016. Darrel McAllister himself admitted that the side just didn't have the luck this season and wins against Valentine and Wallsend really proved that this team do have it in them to cause a ruckus in the New-FM 1st Division.

The fact is the season wasn't a total write-off at all and there is definitely foundation to build on. There's some quality younger players stepping into first grade and if the majority of the squad stays together, than Thornton will no doubt improve in 2016. 

Photo Credit: Maitland Mercury

I've promised myself to get to a couple more Redbacks games next season as I only made the one first grade game due to my own match to make when they played Cooks Hill away. The team can play some entertaining football on their day from what I've heard.

Have a great off-season and best of luck in 2016!


-Ty Stedman

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