Sunday, 29 July 2018

LOW-SCORE DRAWS ON THE FIELD BUT DRAMA APLENTY ON THE LEAGUE TABLE:




LOW-SCORE DRAWS ON THE FIELD BUT DRAMA APLENTY ON THE LEAGUE TABLE:

Well it wasn't quite an action packed day of goals as yesterday but if anything, today just added more suspense to what is the closest finals race in recent memory. It's still all to play for. Meanwhile today saw a turn in the 19's with Belswans leap-frogging Toronto into the top four.

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UNDER 19's: Cessnock City (Lachlan Lewis) 1 def by. BELMONT-SWANSEA (Harry Rapp x2 & Liam Lucas) 3

Belswans' season was kept alive by the under-age player drama at Toronto last weekend and they headed to Cessnock knowing that a win would lift them back into the top four but it was the Hornets surprisingly starting the game better.

After some underwhelming performances as of late (we're not counting the 3-0 "win" over the Stags), Cessnock started well and had the first look in attack as Connor Garrington got in behind and forced a corner.

Saying it was a sloppy start from the visitors would be an understatement. They looked like they hadn't woken up and realised that a football game was on with some of the stuff they were serving up. A couple of players were voicing their frustrations and soon enough they'd find their feet better.

There were one or two worrying moments for Cessnock's defence and then it all came apart as it has done each week. In the 23rd minute, a Matthew Shaw ball over the top bounced right over Cessnock keeper Jackson Bartlett but somehow Harry Rapp put his chance wide of the open net.

Moments later and it was all going wrong again. A miscommunication between defender Bowen Schmidt and his keeper Bartlett saw Harry Rapp bounce and this time there was no mistake as he made it 1-0.

Another chance for Belswans in the 26th minute saw their skipper Arch Johnson pop up on the end of a free-kick with a close header and then moments after that a free kick really tested the shaky Cessnock resolve.

It was mostly one-way traffic but Cessnock had a rare attacking moment in the 31st minute. The ball was put into the box and met by a quality acrobatic shot from Zac Kronholm. Easy enough for Danilo Apollonio to save but nice skill on show to get the shot away.

Two minutes later and things were back to square one for the home side. A handball call against what looked to be Bowen Schmidt saw Belswans awarded a penalty and gave a chance for the Golden Boot-chasing Harry Rapp to add to his season tally of ten.

The penalty attempt was saved well by Jackson Bartlett but Rapp was able to get to the rebound before any defenders and blasted it into the roof of the net for his 11th goal of the campaign, just one behind Kurtis McRitchie.

After the break, Cessnock made a goalkeeping change as Bartlett was brought off for Brandon Zechel. One or two eyebrows raised in the crowd and a visible frustration from the reliable keeper.
The game looked done and dusted at the break but Cessnock were able to keep it at 2-0 until the 58th minute when their stupidity cost them dear. An unneeded push after the ball was gone saw a Belswans player crash into the fence.

The resulting free kick saw some fairly average defending as Solomon Amos found Liam Lucas who did it fairly easily in the end as he looked towards goal and fired in a third and seemingly put Belswans out of reach. Definitely a player to keep an eye on heading towards a potential finals appearance.

Cessnock improved as time ticked by and managed one or two decent attacks but it still wasn't doing anything for them on the scoreboard. Angus Bland doing well at times but was subbed off and it was a substitute who got the headlines for the home side on the day.

The 74th minute saw Lachlan Lewis fire in a decent left-footed strike and score what according to the stats on SportsTG his first goal for the Cessnock City Hornets in New-FM football after three years and 30 matches! That was the only highlight for the Hornets today but a good one nonetheless.

3-1 is how it would end with Cessnock again just costing themselves with errors. A miscommunication, a handball penalty and pushing a guy into the fence. That's how they conceded their three goals. All very much avoidable.

As for Belswans, it's into 4th place they go with the bye next weekend. It wasn't spectacular today but it was a comfortable win in the end. They can ill-afford the slow start in their final game against Westy in two weeks. More of a complete performance from start to finish is needed.

Player-wise, it was their top goalscorer Harry Rapp doing the job for them again. Who would have foresaw him being a leading Golden Boot contender. Centre-back pairing Will Dunn and Sam Houston also very reliable, the latter being from the 17's and looking right at home with the higher age group.

NEWYSPORTS MOTM VOTE:
3 (MOTM)-Harry Rapp (BEL)
2-Will Dunn (BEL)
1-Sam Houston (BEL)


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UNDER 23's: Cessnock City (Kyle Gillis & Brodie Williams) 2 drew. Belmont-Swansea (Will McMaster & Luke Lethbridge) 2

Cessnock 23's were looking to consolidate 2nd position but were up against a Belswans side that had some of their normal players back on board. No 17's starting the game this week for the visitors as the likes of Angus Joseph and Josh Anstess returned to the fold.

It was a lively start from the home side and indeed they'd have the first real chance of the game and the first goal. It was the 18th minute when Josh Bailey's swiftly hit ball into the box was directed goalbound by Kyle Gillis. Belswans calling for offside but nothing doing. 1-0 Hornets.

The dust had barely settled before suddenly scores were level. A free-kick in a dangerous area saw Will McMaster step up to take it. As he channeled his inner-Ronaldo by spreading his legs slightly in a pre-kick stance, the bench and supporters were calling for someone else to take it.

Quiet stunningly he'd shush the lot of them with a kick that beat the wall and Mat Zechel, finding the back of the net and tying things up after just two minutes. He'd celebrate in style and it was again game on.

Half-time approached with neither team in control of a very even match up, There was a chance for Cessnock in the 36th minute as a quick corner saw Ben Priest put the ball in towards Kyle Gillis. Gillis' header was decent but didn't trouble the score-sheet.

After the break, it was Belswans who took control. Will McMaster came close to a second with a decent hit on the run that breezed past the far top corner. That would have been something but in the 44th minute, just moments later, they were 2-1 up.

Matt Ellis would produce a good through ball to send Luke Lethbridge in behind and he'd make no mistake as he slotted it in for Belswans' 2nd of the game and their first lead on the day. The Hornets had dropped off and paid the price.

In the 55th minute, Belswans would lose a man to injury as Matt Ellis injured his wrist. He'd come off looking worse for wear and then after the game had his shirt wrapped around his arm, signifying that his season might be over one game early. Matt Carroll's yellow card may also end his campaign as apparently it was his fifth of the season.

That injury stoppage saw the tides turn a little and Cessnock would soon find themselves level. In the 58th minute, the ball broke well for Brodie Williams who eyed off goal and put it away comfortably to make it 2-2.

Angus Joseph looked to have fired Belswans back ahead just moments later with a wonderful strike from range that was met by a superb Mat Zechel save. Diving well and getting solid contact to force it out for a corner.

Cessnock needed a win on the day and came close with some late chances. Kyle GIllis went on a good run and produced a shot in the 65th minute and followed that up by forcing a good Will Reeves save not long after.

Gillis was on hand again for a chance that came close to winning the game. His header in the 74th minute somehow was denied only by the post. It hit the woodwork and came back out before being cleared.

Both teams had some moments in the last twenty or so but ultimately it would end in a 2-2 stalemate. A good result on reflection for Belswans and but like Cessnock they probably felt like it was a winnable match.

Just one more game remains for the Belswans 23's and they'll look back on a lot of positives this year despite their ladder position. Some good talent in the 18-22 age bracket doing well at the club.

Cessnock's no doubt looking at today as a missed opportunity as the door remains open for Cooks Hill to pip them to 2nd spot. Still, they managed to fight back from 2-1 down and at that point it looked as though 3-1 would soon happen. They turned momentum and left with a point.

The last two games for the Hornets look to be "winnable" as they face Singleton and Kahibah. They need to build some belief ahead of what will be a big finals series for the team as they become the first Cessnock side since 2015 to play late into August.

*Special thanks to the Cessnock 23's who together donated $100 towards the cost of the Newysports Awards Night. Absolutely stunned at the offer and gracious to have the full support of Skip and the team.

NEWYSPORTS MOTM VOTE:
3 (MOTM)-Will McMaster (BEL)
2-Kyle Gillis (CES)
1-Jeremy Noone (CES)



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1ST GRADE: Cessnock City 0 drew. Belmont-Swansea 0
Everyone's favourite football score eventuated today and it was a fairly forgettable affair on reflection but it definitely wasn't without some drama throughout and in particular late in the game.

Belswans' best player as of late has been Josh Sutton but after an unfortunate snowboarding incident, he wasn't able to pass a late fitness test today to slot into the team. He was missed as their attack just lacked that extra bite.

It was an even opening to the game in very windy conditions on a very hard and dry Turner Park surface (hearing water/irrigation issues have caused headaches for the club). Belswans would gain some advantage as time ticked by.

That said, the best chance of the first 25 minutes or so fell to Cessnock as Brad York hit a free-kick just over the bar. Another free kick for the Hornets from near abouts halfway would have Ben Parmenter back-peddling and relieved as it hit the crossbar and fell into his grasps.

Belswans were looking to unlock the Cessnock defence and thought they did so in the 37th minute. A clear shove from Jake Peters on Joel Shearer saw the Belswans' skipper go down but the referee had nothing of it. Josh Rufo very animated as expected on the sideline.

A few minutes later the away side were on the break and poured numbers forward into the box. Eventually the ball came to Corey Wilson but he'd skew his shot wide of the target. Again frustrations showed and 0-0 is how it would remain at the end of a fairly uneventful half.

Belswans looked to warm into the 2nd half but nearly threw it all away as they were caught napping just moments in. Kane Rodgers pounced on an opportunity that went fairly close. Close enough to bring Josh Rufo up out of his seat to demand focus from his team. "Too easy" was Rufo's call as Belswans allowed Cessnock the first chance of the half.

It was to and fro at some stages and there were some real quick-fire moments that some may have missed. The 57th minute saw the ball scrambled towards goal by Belswans and the goal was only denied by Cessnock keeper Jed Horder as he slapped the ball out of the air.

The Hornets keeper had one or two nervy moments but was cool under pressure on a couple of close-call backpasses. His futsal background definitely on show as he used some fancy footwork to get out of some tough one-on-one situations. Cessnock comfortable to play their keeper the ball.

Midway through the half, Corey Wilson came close for Belswans as his header on the end of a corner was saved by the aforementioned Horder. Time started to tick away and suddenly 0-0 was looming a likely result.

Some were predicting late drama and there certainly was some moments. Chris Gazzard came close in the 81st minute as his shot was saved and then Cameron Lodge also threatened for Belswans with a good shot from range in the 83rd minute.

Belswans looked the likelier to maybe come away with all three points but alas Cessnock would have the key moment of the dying stages fall their way, with one of the more dramatic late chances of the season.

It was almost stoppage time when a free kick dropped into the box. Belswans' defence was caught napping, Tom Stewart found space, eyed off goal and blasted it wide. Belswans like statutes and the goal was absolutely gaping.
Stewart almost collapsed at the immediate shock of missing such a huge chance and cue more words from the Belswans bench as the side were barrated for almost throwing it all away in the end. It should have been 1-0 right there and then. One of the misses of the season.

The full-time whistle brought frustrations from both side but easily more from Cessnock. They were that close to a famous victory for their club considering where they've come from over the last few years. They went toe-to-toe with a top two side and almost won it.

Again the day ends with familiar disappointment but this season has been a positive one for Cessnock 1st Grade and they are already working towards next season with one or two ideas being chucked around. Whether that comes with Brendan Slade in charge or not is the question as different sources are giving different opinions.

Turning the attention to Belswans and today just was a little bit underwhelming considering where they sit on the table and the form they've been in. Yes the unbeaten streak remains but it was one miskick away from being gone in the dying seconds.

They just don't have that clear goalscoring striker and it showed today. Klaudon Ahmataj great physically today and at holding the ball up but not potent in the final third, nor Joel Shearer, nor Cameron Lodge. Post-game thoughts from Newysports were of "what-if?", namely what if Josh Sutton had of been fit and started.

What Belswans do have is the best defence in the competition and that could be very handy in a few weeks time when they look to make yet another Grand Final. No the top four isn't mathematically assured yet but it'd take a disaster to miss it from here.

NEWYSPORTS MOTM VOTE:
3 (MOTM)-Brad York (CES)
2-Cameron Tapp (BEL)
1-Corey Wilson (BEL)


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SOUTH CARDIFF v SINGLETON STRIKERS:

UNDER 19's: South Cardiff 0 def by. SINGLETON STRIKERS (TBC) 1

Heard from a Southy source that this game was one of missed chances for both sides. Singleton's goal apparently came from a free-kick but ultimately the match was full of poorly-taken shots. "My grandmother could've scored" were the sarcastic words from this particular Gunners source about "three open goal" misses.

Singleton winning another game and again it echoes the sentiment from the Belswans review. What if they didn't have 12 losses, 1 draw and only 6 wins this year. This team were capable of so much more this season. Oh well, a positive for them today.

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UNDER 23's: SOUTH CARDIFF (TBC) 5 def. Singleton Strikers (TBC) 2

The Gunners kept alive their 23's Finals hopes with a fairly convincing 5-2 win over lowly Singleton. Unsure on goalscorers just yet (will edit them in once known) but it's a positive result and keeps the wheels turning for their season.

The race for 4th in the 23's is really heating up. New Lambton are holding Southy and Wallsend at bay but face the runaway leaders Thornton next weekend. If they lose that, and Southy and Wallsend win their games, it'd set up a big final round, including New Lambton v Wallsend.

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1ST GRADE: South Cardiff (Nathan McAllister) 1 drew. Singleton Strikers (TBC) 1

This game was the story of the season for the Singleton Strikers but also a story of what has been a frustrating last month or so for the Gunners as they look to prevail in the race for finals football.

Firstly, this was Singleton's 9th draw of the season. That is an amazing stat considering they've only played 19 matches. That is what has cost them in the long run and it'll hurt knowing that just two or three different results could have changed everything.

Anyway, Southy are the side in contention and Golden Boot leader Nathan McAllister added another goal to his collection but also missed a couple of chances and missed opportunities apparently summed the day up for Southy according to a neutral source at the ground.

With Westy short-priced favourites to down the out-of-form Toronto, and Thornton desperate to win at home against New Lambton, Southy's trip to Kahibah Oval next weekend will define their season. If they can't beat the 10th place team, they have no business in the finals. Harsh but true.

Even if Southy beat Kahibah, things might not be assured. What is for sure is it would set up a mouth-watering final round clash with Thornton. The pressure is firmly on for the Gunners and they need to rise in the next two weeks and find a way to pick up three points next week.

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***NL1 YOUTH RESULTS***

WEST WALLSEND v COOKS HILL UNITED:

UNDER 14's: West Wallsend 0 def by. COOKS HILL UNITED (TBC) 1

Unsure on the Wallsend result as of now (9:29pm) but a very big confidence-boosting win for Cooks Hill today at Johnston Park against the in-form Westy side. Tight top four in the 14's and it's sure to be a very keenly-fought finals series.

UNDER 15's: WEST WALLSEND (Ryan Chandler x2) 2 def. Cooks Hill United 0

Not sure on the mathematics but believe Westy have wrapped up another finals spot in the 15's after a 2-0 win over Cooks Hill. Ryan Chandler's wonderful comeback from long-term injury continues with two more goals and the Bluebells are doing well as they approach the business end of the season.

UNDER 17's: WEST WALLSEND (Caden Hall x2 & Jasper Shipley) 3 def. Cooks Hill United (TBC) 2

Wasn't going to write a wrap for each youth game but did so just so we could talk about this result. The last unbeaten team standing in Northern League One football was Cooks Hill 17's and today they met their match in the form of West Wallsend. Caden Hall and Jasper Shipley becoming familiar names on the scoresheet and a big, big win for the Bluebells today.

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WALLSEND F.C v NEW LAMBTON:

UNDER 14's: WALLSEND F.C (TBC) 6 def. New Lambton (TBC) 3


*Added late. Already written the other comments and not changing them around now but here is the latest news, Wallsend 14's beat New Lambton 6-3. That big win takes Wallsend a step closer to the Premiership whilst it ends the finals hopes for the injury-plagued Eagles. The top four is now confirmed (if my maths is right)



UNDER 15's: Wallsend F.C (Ryan Healey) 1 def by. NEW LAMBTON (TBC) 5

Again it's too late at night to try and add numbers on the league table but think this win seals finals football for New Lambton. Wallsend are a good side on their day so to win it 5-1 shows a lot of class and the Eagles will head into the finals with confidence.

UNDER 17's:


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THORNTON REDBACKS v SOUTH CARDIFF:

UNDER 14's: Thornton Redbacks (Ryan Formosa) 1 def by. SOUTH CARDIFF (Jacob Prebendarcik, Own Goal & Finn Abbott) 3


Have a feeling that the top four is assured now in the 14's depending on the Wallsend v New Lambton result but with injuries apparently hindering them, the Eagles will have to do it the hard way if at all. As for these teams, they're now both out of contention but a good win for Southy and had to look twice at Ryan Formosa's name as a Thornton goalscorer on the message I received. The goalkeeper somehow found the back of the net.

UNDER 15's: Thornton Redbacks (Harrison Bridges) 1 def by. SOUTH CARDIFF (Harrison Black & Tom Sainsbury) 2

This talented Thornton side will miss out on finals football due to their inconsistency this season. That's now 7 wins and 8 losses with 0 draws so a platform to build on for next season. As for Southy, they are heading to the finals and can build their form in whatever games they have remaining before the playoffs begin.

UNDER 17's: Thornton Redbacks (Brayden Smallwood) 1 def by. SOUTH CARDIFF (Mitchell Preston x2 & Kai West) 3

For the third time in four seasons, the U17's Wooden Spoon will unfortunately be heading to Thornton after the Redbacks succumbed to Southy in a bottom of the table match-up. Some bragging rights here with ex-Redback Mitchell Preston scoring two against the club he left during pre-season.

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TORONTO-AWABA v SINGLETON STRIKERS

UNDER 14's: Toronto-Awaba (TBC) 1 drew. Singleton Strikers (TBC) 1

A huge points gap separates Toronto in 8th and Singleton in 9th but today the Strikers came away with a positive result on the road as they held the Stags to a 1-1 draw. Very tough game for Singo but something out of it at least. Toronto will be frustrated at not winning no doubt.

UNDER 17's: Toronto-Awaba (TBC) 1 drew. Singleton Strikers (TBC) 1

Singleton to their credit have put together a decent second half of the year to climb the 17's ladder a little bit but still, Toronto dropping points is a slight surprise considering the finals race that they find themselves in. That leaves them in a tight spot. Haven't updated the ladders yet but assuming it'll be tough from here to make it.

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