NFA Football Safety Officers Association Benevolent Bowl Semi Finals preview
Wallington v. Newcastle Blue Star
Holders Wallington are hoping that home advantage can give them an edge against Northern Alliance Premier Division leaders Blue Star.
The Greens will look to pack out their leafy rural Oakford Park ground and with the crowd running tight right along the barrier at the touchline, they can generate a good atmosphere.
“We had a good win (4-0) against Percy Main in the quarter final. We took the lead after 30 seconds and never looked back after that. It was a strong performance from us over the course of the full 90 minutes, against a dangerous opponent, and the win gives us the chance to take on Blue Star at our place in the semis,” said Wallington manager Trevor Baston.
“We beat them 2-1 at their place in the league in August but then got well beaten by them in the semi-final of the Challenge Cup in November, when we just didn’t turn up at all. We’ll go into the semi-final full of confidence though and hope to make full use of home advantage. If anyone is going to win anything this year they’ll need to beat Blue Star enroute, and this is our last shot of silverware this season!” he admitted.
Blue Star’s impressive season continues apace and the Scotswood side are not only in the semi-finals of the FSOA Benevolent Bowl but are also in the final of the Alliance Challenge Cup and maintain a keen interest in the League Cup.
“We get the feeling that if we want to win ‘The Bowl’ then we are going to have to do it the hard way, as successive always trips to Alnwick and up to Haltwhistle Jubilee, where we eventually ran out comfortable winners (5-0), now they are followed with yet another tough away game at Wallington FC. Once again it's not going to be an easy ride but it's one we relish as we try to maintain our positive start to the season,” said secretary John Graham.
“Whilst our priority remains as a successful conclusion to our league efforts, this cup competition is without doubt prestigious to all taking part and forms an integral part of our plans for the season.”
Burradon & New Fordley v. Newcastle Independent
With a walkover win against Alliance First Division side Bedlington in the quarter finals, Burradon & New Fordley welcome the Goat to the Welfare as they look to book a spot at Blue Flames.
The two sides drew a blank in the League back in October so will perhaps be anticipating another closely fought encounter. Burradon retain second spot in the Alliance Premier while Independent are in fourth.
Although the hosts have the greater goal difference with just 17 conceded while Independent have shipped 32, it’s impossible to transfer those stats to an important one-off Cup semi-final where anything could happen.
Lee Waugh is the dangerman at the other end of the pitch with 19 in the League for Burradon & New Fordley so far this term while Independent’s Harvey Walsh is also into double figures for the visitors.
Newcastle Independent ran out 5-1 winners at Seaton Delaval in their quarter final fixture and will remain confident in their approach to the game after that resounding success in the road.
“I was really pleased with the performance against Seaton Delaval especially considering we had ten men for 35 minutes. The lads on the pitch fought for everything and were clinical in front of goal,” said secretary Daniel Webster.
“We will need to take that graft and attitude into the game against Burradon and New Fordley - they are well organised and having a good season in the league. Our last and only meeting was a hard fought 0-0 back in October so we know the thinnest of margins could make the difference in wherever we reach the final or not.”
Ties are scheduled to be played on Saturday 4th March with a 1.30pm kick-off.