HIT106.9 Northern League One Round 26 Review: West Wallsend wrap up second spot as Singleton make ground on Kahibah in the battle for third

Match of the Round 
Belmont Swansea United FC 0-1 West Wallsend SFC 

West Wallsend secured second place on the table on Saturday when they edged out Belmont Swansea United 1-0 at Blacksmiths Oval in the Match of the Round. 

The contest was decided by a 39th-minute Jake Bower lobbed strike that deflected off the crossbar and away from goal but ended up in the back of the net after striking the retreating BelSwans goalkeeper Joel Perrin in the back and rolling in. 

The away side were able to hold onto the one-goal advantage as their goalkeeper Blake Redman produced a man-of-the-match effort to deny the hosts a handful of clear chances. Redman’s performance helped keep the side’s ninth clean sheet in 17 matches after they conceded in all of their first seven.  

The biggest of saves made was in the 93rd minute when he pulled off a game-winner to keep out a Cameron Lodge volley from just outside the 18-yard box as the visitors held on to earn all three points. 

Bluebells coach Bailey Cox thought that his side looked sharp early on and played well in patches throughout the match. 

“We were good in patches. I thought we started heaps good and could have been winning 4-0 after 15 minutes. We had four really clear chances that we missed,” Cox said. 

“After that start, we went patchy and come good again, then patchy and come good again. 

“We got in behind them a fair bit though, which was good, and I was pretty happy with us defensively. We just could have been a bit better with the ball. 

“Reddo had a big game. He pulled off three really good saves, and one of them was a cracker at the end. He went down early when his back seized up but he come good after that and did really well.” 

West Wallsend have now locked in a home qualifying final as they moved six points clear of third-placed Kahibah and fourth-placed Singleton, giving Cox the option to rest players in card trouble or battling niggling injuries in the final round when they travel to Ulinga Oval to meet South Cardiff. 

BelSwans’ coach Mick Stafford thought both teams had their moments on Saturday. 

“I think it was a good, high-paced game with some good players. All in all, it was a good game to be a part of,” Stafford said. 

“I thought Westy started really well. For the first 20 minutes they were very dominant and they played some good football. 

“We hung on, though, and created a couple of half chances, but they got a lucky goal to go in 1-0 at half-time, which is probably a fair reflection of the first half. 

“In the second half, our boys put everything forward and showed a lot of spirit and belief, but again, we just come up short on top of a great goalkeeping display by Blake Redman and our inability to put our chances away again. We fell just short but the effort was super again. We did everything we could. 

“I was proud of the way the boys played and the spirit that we showed. A few of our young guys really stood out, and that’s a big plus to our youth development at the club. 

“It’s been a tough year but I can’t fault anyone’s effort. We’ve still got next week, and hopefully we can kick one in the net and enjoy old boys’ day at Blacksmiths. 

“Good luck to Westy in the semis.” 

BelSwans will not play finals football in 2023 as the loss left them four points behind fifth-placed South Cardiff with just one round to go. Stafford’s men will take on Thornton at Blacksmiths Oval this Sunday and will be playing to end their season on a high while hopefully climbing above Wallsend into sixth place. 

Thornton Redbacks FC 3-3 Kahibah FC 

One of the most entertaining games of the season unfolded at Thornton Park on Friday night where Thornton and Kahibah were forced to settle for a point each following a frantic finish. 

The Redbacks opened the scoring in the 29th minute when Kyle Williams scored a classy goal from long range that flew in off the post.  

Kahibah struck first in the second stanza when Riley Ferguson scored unconvincingly from a penalty kick in the 62nd minute. They found themselves pushing hard for the three points in their pursuit of third place, and finding a winner became even more likely in the 83rd minute when Thornton’s Sam Rossi received his second yellow card and the hosts were reduced to 10 men.  

But it was the Redbacks that scored next when Williams broke away in the 86th minute and scored a one-on-one strike to put his side ahead 2-1. 

Kahibah remarkably hit the lead early in stoppage time after Tyson Masters netted in the 89th minute and again in the 90th as the visitors seemed certain to have snatched the three points. 

But a goalmouth scrap following a long throw-in in the 95th minute led to the Redbacks’ Liam Hardy finding the back of the net through the legs of Kahibah’s goalkeeper George Stephens to make the final score 3-3 with the last kick of the game. 

Kahibah’s coach Mat Moncrieff thought both sides played well in patches, but admitted his side should have put the game to bed. 

“We had to rest a few players with card trouble and injury and bits and pieces. We went out with six different players from the week before,” Moncrieff said. 

“I have to put my hand up. We played a formation that just didn’t work in the first half and we were down 1-0 at half-time after a really good goal. But there were hardly any chances for either side in the first half, I thought. 

“We changed formation in the second half, and for 10 minutes, they razzed us a bit and had a couple of good chances. But after that, we dominated. We created 10 to 12 chances and missed some sitters to be honest. 

“They got one sent off, but then not long after they scored to go 2-1 up, and then we were peppering them and got two scrappy goals to go up 3-2 on 90 minutes. We were waiting for the final whistle to blow and we didn’t really do well in the game management side of things, and they got a goal. There wasn’t even enough time to kick off after that. 

“Now we just have to wait and see how Singleton go in their next two games and find out who we get in the finals and get ready for them.” 

Kahibah finished the weekend locked on 40 points alongside Singleton after the Strikers beat South Cardiff 3-2 on Sunday but Kahibah remains third as they boast a superior for and against difference.  

Kahibah they have the bye this weekend in Round 27, which means they will slip to fourth if Singleton gets a point when they host Toronto Awaba at Howe Park. 

For Thornton, their finals hopes have now evaporated after they were unable to pick up a crucial three points and remained five points behind fifth-placed South Cardiff. 

The Redbacks will travel to Blacksmiths Oval this Sunday to challenge Belmont Swansea United where both teams will be battling to finish as high as sixth place and to also avoid finishing eighth. 

Toronto Awaba FC 2-1 Wallsend FC 

It was another day of celebrations at Lyall Peacock Field on Saturday as premiers Toronto Awaba scored a 2-1 old boys’ day victory against Wallsend. 

The Stags suffered two early blows as Harry Relf and Jarrod Purcell were forced off with injuries in the opening 25 minutes that are going to leave both players fighting fit come finals time. 

Neither side were able to find the back of the net in the first half but it only took the hosts three minutes to strike in the second stanza when Zane Winslade made the score 1-0 in the 48th minute.  

Winslade then doubled Toronto Awaba’s lead in the 75th minute when he found the back of the net directly from a corner kick.  

Wallsend struck late with 10 minutes to go when Brad York made the score 2-1, but the hosts held on to claim the three points, all but ending Wallsend’s finals hopes. 

While the Red Devils are only three points behind fifth-placed South Cardiff with one round remaining, Wallsend’s for and against difference is 21 less than the Gunners, making it almost impossible to overtake them. 

For the Stags, the win sees them remain seven points clear of second-placed West Wallsend at the top of the table.  

The victory was their 17th of the season from 23 matches, and coach Jarrad Hiles said that although it wasn’t pretty, he was proud of his depleted side for getting the job done with several regulars missing through injury or being rested due to being in card trouble with the finals around the corner. 

Toronto Awaba will travel to Howe Park this Sunday in the final round of the regular season where they will challenge Singleton in a potential finals match preview, although the Stags will be missing even more first grade regulars than they were on Saturday. 

 Wallsend remained in sixth place following their loss and will be hoping they can pull off a miracle on Sunday when they host Cessnock City Hornets at The Gardens. 

South Cardiff FC 2-3 Singleton Strikers FC 

Singleton Strikers have given themselves a fighting chance of finishing third on the table after outscoring South Cardiff 3-2 at Ulinga Oval on Sunday. 

It was the Gunners’ old boys’ day but the Strikers struck first when fullback Brad Cox made a charging run down the right edge and unleashed a brilliant strike from a tight angle to make the score 1-0 following some brilliant build-up play by the visitors. 

Singleton went into half-time ahead 2-0 after South Cardiff’s Jock Thompson headed the ball over his goalkeeper Jacob Morgan and into his own net in the 41st minute when he and Joel Barner contested a Marcus Morris long ball in the 18-yard box. 

The Gunners hit back five minutes into the second stanza when Brendon King continued a purple patch of goal-scoring form as he netted his seventh in five games to make the score 2-1. 

Singleton restored their two-goal lead from the penalty spot nine minutes later when Joel Barner was fouled in the box. The skipper Hayden Nichol stepped up and blasted his strike straight down the middle and just underneath the crossbar. 

Vincent Asembo pulled one back for the Gunners in the 77th minute to set up a grandstand finish, but Singleton held the hosts out to earn three crucial points that sees them move level on 40 points with Kahibah with a game to go. 

Singleton’s coach Mick Jarvis said that the third-place race was not a concern for him and his men heading into Sunday’s clash, with the focus solely on gaining momentum heading towards the finals. 

“We really didn’t focus on that. We are playing finals football and we knew that, so we haven’t been focusing on second, third, fourth or fifth coming into the back end,” Jarvis said. 

“We’re just trying to focus on getting everyone fit, healthy and available, and focusing on getting back to playing some decent football, which we did today. 

“There was a lot of energy in the way we went about our business. We were pretty disciplined; didn’t give away too many cards or opportunities. We also got forward really well. 

“It was a good win, a tough win. It was exactly what we needed. We needed someone that was going to push us all the way to make sure that we competed ‘til the 90th minute because we hadn’t really done that recently.” 

Singleton will host their final match of the regular season when they welcome Toronto Awaba to Howe Park on Sunday. The Strikers only need one point in that game to rise to third. 

South Cardiff have almost certainly guaranteed a finals spot despite their loss on Sunday as they finished the weekend three points ahead of Wallsend but boast a goal difference that is 21 greater than the Red Devils’. The Gunners are home again this Sunday when they host West Wallsend. 

Cessnock City Hornets had the bye.