By Jack Antcliff
COOKS HILL UNITED v SOUTH CARDIFF
Having been forced to wait another week to start their season due to wet weather, Cooks Hill United will look to continue the form which saw them cruise to the premiership last season when they take on South Cardiff on Saturday afternoon.
It will be the first game of the season for both sides after the Gunners’ round one clash against Wallsend was rained out, while the grand final rematch between Cooks Hill and Belmont Swansea also fell victim to some welcome rain.
South Cardiff head into the match having last taken the field more than three weeks ago. In their last start they chalked up a 3-1 win over Newcastle Suns in a trial.
On paper the clash sets up to be a thriller, with South Cardiff bolstering an already strong side with the addition of former Lambton and Valentine NPL player Alex Tserepas.
Proven goal scorer Matt Williams also re-joins the NEWFM Northern League One competition after signing with Cooks Hill.
Kick-off at Fearnley Dawes Athletics Field is at 2.30pm.
BELMONT SWANSEA v THORNTON
Granted the bye in week one, Thornton kick-off their 2020 campaign with a difficult road trip to Blacksmiths to take on last year’s champions Belmont Swansea.
Both sides will look to kick start the season with a win, after Belswans’ first round clash with Cooks Hill was called off due to wet weather.
The challenge for Belswans coach Mick Stafford will be how to best integrate his youth players into a side looking to win the top silverware for the third year running.
Off-season recruits Cameron Sullini and Jack Tressider bring with them plenty of experience but it is the young talent coming through the system at Blacksmiths who many are keen to see take to the field for the defending champions.
There will be no shortage of motivation for Thornton either. They proved a tough opponent in 2019 but were unable to crack the top four, a result they will be looking to change this year.
Saturday evening’s clash at Blacksmiths Oval kicks off at 6.10pm.
WEST WALLSEND v SINGLETON
It is a similar tale for West Wallsend and Singleton as they head into round two after both sides came off second best in a bruising first round of the competition.
For the home side they will look to bounce back from a 3-0 loss at the hands of a Kahibah side out to impress in 2020. Singleton were also first start losers, with the Strikers going down to Cessnock in an entertaining clash at Turner Park.
There is no shortage of talent in a Bluebells line-up looking to flex its muscle early in the year. Last season’s golden boot winner Tye Jones is pulling on the jersey for another season, while a strong and compact midfield including Brendan Frost and Bailey Jensen make West Wallsend a frightening opponent.
Add in the fact Johnston Park proved a tough location for visiting sides last year and it is hard to see West Wallsend not featuring come finals time.
Last season’s form would suggest it could be a simple afternoon for West Wallsend. The Bluebells prevailed on both occasions including a 7-0 thumping of Singleton in round four. But the Strikers will head into the game with plenty to prove.
Kick-off at West Wallsend’s Johnston Park is at 2.30pm.
WALLSEND v NEW LAMBTON
The old saying declares a week to be a long time in football and there is no doubt Wallsend and New Lambton will be champing at the bit to take to the field this weekend after Mother Nature took home the chocolates in round one.
Both sides were forced to extend their off-season by an additional week due to the rain but Sunday night’s clash at The Gardens won’t be Wallsend’s first major hit out for the year.
The Devils featured in the pre-season Heritage Cup, where they recorded a narrow win over Minmi Wanderers in round one of a three-week campaign. A heavy loss later in the pre-season tournament to NNSW NPL side Lake Macquarie served as a good hit-out for the young squad, who hope to improve on a 10th-placed finish last season.
Meanwhile, New Lambton will be eyeing off a strong start to the season in their first up clash. Consistency proved the challenge for the team last year but there is no shortage of firepower at the Eagles.
Kick-off is at 6.40pm.
TORONTO-AWABA v KAHIBAH
He is arguably the biggest signing of the off-season in the NEWFM Northern League One competition but Mother Nature had other plans for Jobe Wheelhouse’s Toronto-Awaba debut last week with their clash against New Lambton washed out.
The forced delay sets the stage for an exciting match-up against a Kahibah side boasting plenty of top-flight experience.
Former NNSW NPL player and 2019 NEWFM Northern League One Player of the Year Rhys Tippet headlines a squad looking to continue its winning ways after a first round triumph over West Wallsend.
Wheelhouse’s inclusion will no doubt add fire to the belly of a Toronto-Awaba side looking to improve on a disappointing 2019 season in which they recorded just three wins and finished bottom of the table.
The now 34-year-old played much of his junior football at the club before going on to play for the Newcastle Jets as well as making 12 appearances for Australia’s under-20s side.
The match at Lyall Peacock Field kicks off at 7.10pm on Sunday night.
CESSNOCK CITY HORNETS HAVE THE BYE