HIT106.9 Northern League One Round One Review: Wallsend shock the Gunners, while BelSwans upset the Hornets in a 13-goal thriller

Match of the Round
West Wallsend SFC v Singleton Strikers FC 

The match was postponed due to wet weather. 

South Cardiff FC 0-4 Wallsend FC 

The 2024 HIT 106.9 Northern League One competition began with a bang on Friday night when Wallsend scored a 4-0 victory away from home against last season’s grand finalists South Cardiff. 

It was a remarkable start to the season for a club that only a few months ago was in danger of not even featuring in the competition this year following a turbulent off-season.  

South Cardiff was the favourites heading into the contest and they looked the stronger of the two sides in the opening 25 minutes as they controlled the pace and tempo of the match but were unable to convert their chances. 

But it was the Red Devils who broke the deadlock on the half-hour mark when Oliver Hilton scored the first goal of the 2024 campaign after sending Gunners keeper Izaac Terry the wrong way from the penalty spot after his strike partner Ethan Kulupach had been brought down in the box moments earlier. 

The season was just 39 minutes old when Cody Halpin scored what will likely still be the goal of the year at the completion of 27 rounds as the dangerous midfielder picked up possession just inside his own half and sent the ball sailing over Terry with a sensational shot from halfway.  

The Gunners came out firing after the break and almost pulled a goal back 20 seconds into the second stanza but a Justin Banek volley cannoned away off the crossbar before Brendon King forced a brilliant save out of Wallsend’s keeper Wil Goodwin in the 49th minute. 

Wallsend tripled their advantage in the 71st minute when substitute Alejandro JuradoArboleda sent an explosive strike from about 30 yards out into the top right corner less than two minutes after entering the field. 

Fellow substitute Renato Fataccioli made the score 4-0 in the 78th minute with a classy chip from distance that found the back of the net via crossbar. 

The Red Devils were determined to keep a clean sheet as they secured a 4-0 victory to get their campaign off to a flying start.  

Wallsend’s coach Chris Gallagher said that while there was still a lot of work to be done, he was pleased with his side’s performance and proud of the players’ effort. 

“I’m extremely proud of the boys. They all worked really hard and they all worked really hard in the pre-season,” Gallagher said. 

“We’ve still got a lot of improvement in us. We set up a certain way and it worked and helped us get the result. I think there’s a few things that we didn’t do so well, but there’s a lot of things I thought we did really well.” 

The result not only saw Wallsend pick up three points but it also saw them start the 2024 Gallagher Shield series against South Cardiff on top.  

Wallsend will be hoping to continue their momentum on Sunday afternoon when they host defending premiers Toronto Awaba at The Gardens. South Cardiff has the bye in round two but coach Perry Mellon has organised a trial match to help his side move on quickly from Friday night’s loss and sharpen up for their return to Ulinga Oval when they take on Kahibah in Round Three. 

Toronto Awaba FC 3-3 Thornton Redbacks FC 

It was an action-packed afternoon at Lyall Peacock Field on Saturday afternoon as Toronto Awaba and Thornton Redbacks battled through wet conditions and a heavy playing field to produce a 3-3 draw and secure a point each. 

The 2023 premiers Toronto Awaba were determined to start their season off with a win just as they did last year, but they were unable to find the back of the net in the opening 45 minutes as the two sides entered half-time locked at 0-0. 

It only took the Stags four minutes to open the scoring in the second stanza through a Ryan Inglis own goal.  The Redbacks defender, who otherwise had a solid game, turned the ball into his own net 

But the victors equalised a few minutes later when Jack Wetney scored on debut.

Toronto Awaba regained the lead in the 64th minute when a failed clearance allowed the hosts to get the ball to their frontman Nick Roberts who made no mistake. 

Thornton hit back again soon after as Thomas York entered the contest in the 66th minute and made an almost immediate impact as he found the back of the net to make the score 2-2. 

The hosts established the lead for the third time in the 74th minute when Flynn Fittler fired his side ahead 3-2.  

But the Redbacks equalised again when Wetney scored his second goal of the game with a tremendous volley into the top left corner to make the score 3-3.  

Toronto Awaba’s coach Jarrad Hiles thought the game was there for the taking for his side but declared that 3-3 was probably a fair result and Thornton deserved a point. 

“It was probably a fair result, I guess,” Hiles said. 

“We huffed and puffed in the first half but they probably had the better of the chances. Drew (Olsen) made a couple of good saves to keep us in it. 

“We took the lead three times in the second half but we just couldn’t hang on. Their third goal to equalise was brilliant, a beautiful volley, and you have to applaud that. But I was a bit disappointed with the way we conceded the first two goals. 

“We had plenty of chances but we just couldn’t get that second-goal buffer and we paid the price in the end. 

“Thornton did play well. They were pretty disciplined and set up their defensive blocks and made it hard to play through. They were keen and eager and credit to them, they did well.” 

Thornton Redbacks co-coach Gary Wand agreed that a draw was a fair result and was pleased with the fight that his men put up. 

“Toronto are a really good team and they move the ball well. We basically let them have possession and set up a midfield block and we did alright,” Wand said. 

“We countered quite well a few times too. Both teams had some decent chances and we both had shots cleared off the line. 

“We haven’t played much or had much of a pre-season, but to our guys’ credit, we stuck to the plan and made it difficult for them. If we play to that level each week, we’ll make things hard for most teams.” 

The Redbacks and the Stags will both be away from home in round two as they go in search of their first win of the season. Thornton will travel to Johnston Park on Friday night to challenge defending champions West Wallsend and Toronto Awaba will meet Wallsend at The Gardens on Sunday afternoon. 

Belmont Swansea United FC 10-3 Cessnock City Hornets FC 

Blacksmiths Oval may have managed to avoid the weekend’s wet weather, but it was raining goals as Belmont Swansea United kicked off the 2024 season with a crushing 10-3 victory on home soil against Cessnock City Hornets. 

BelSwans established a 2-0 lead early in the contest after brothers Matt Hall (second minute) and Ethan Hall (11th minute) both scored on debut.  

But the visitors hit back when Curtis Johnston netted for Cessnock in the 29th minute and then equalised in the 40th minute when Zac Kronholm found the back of the net to make the score 2-2. 

The contest was still locked at 2-2 at half-time and it remained that way until the 55th minute before an Adam Woodbine strike deflected off a Cessnock player on its way into the back of the net for an own goal. 

That opened the floodgates for BelSwans, who piled on four more goals in a seven-minute period as Kane Woolston scored a hat-trick on his return to Blacksmiths Oval and debutant Adam Blunden also got on the scoresheet. 

The scoreline was 7-3 after 67 minutes before Woolston netted his fourth in the 77th minute before Brendon Hall became the third Hall brother to score on the night when he found the back of the net in the 86th minute. 

The Hornets pulled one back late in the contest when substitute Kevin Van Gool netted Cessnock’s third goal of the game in the 88th minute, but BelSwans had the final say when Woodbine became their fourth debutant to get on the scoresheet with a stoppage time strike that made the final score 10-3.

The result saw Belmont Swansea finish the weekend at the top of the table as one of two teams on three points.  

BelSwans coach Mick Stafford was thrilled with his side’s start to the season but was also disappointed to have conceded three goals on home soil. 

“It’s massive to get a win at home, especially with the crowd we had there, and get off to a positive start,” Stafford said. 

“They had the wind behind them in the first half and it was pretty close. They were full of energy, to their credit, and they took their two chances well. We created a few chances, but we weren’t as cut-throat as we need to be, but I think 2-2 was a fair summary of the first half. 

“I think that fitness and the depth of our team was the difference to get us over the line in the end. We obviously came home really strong there in the second half. 

“It’s a really positive start but we’re not going to get carried away. We’re still a work in progress. We conceded three goals and I’m pretty bitter about that. I thought we were sloppy in conceding those three goals and we went away from what we focused on. It gives us something to work on because conceding three at home isn’t ideal.” 

Belmont Swansea will travel for their first away game of the season this Sunday when they challenge Kahibah under lights at the Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility. Cessnock will be determined to put their Round One result behind them when they host Singleton Strikers at Turner Park on Saturday afternoon. 

Kahibah FC had the bye.