1st Grade: Valentine (1st) v Lake Macquarie City (2nd)
It's a top of the table clash at Cahill Oval on Saturday and in my opinion this is the biggest game of the season so far in the New-FM 1st Division. Even though there's still just under three quarters of the season left, this is a massive game towards a possible promotion to the NPL.
Valentine were absolutely dominant in their 6-0 win over West Wallsend last week and picked up a mid-week 3-0 win over Singleton. The Phoenix are in goalscoring form with 17 goals over their past four outings. They're still alive in the FFA Cup and they could very well hand Lakes their first defeat of the season this Saturday.
Lakes were tested last week by a Cooks Hill side that were at one stage tied 3-3 with the Roosters before the ladder-leaders turned momentum around and won the match 5-3 with goals to Sam Walker and Jack Frith.
So who do I think will win this game. To be honest, I can't split it. I'm tipping a draw but nothing would surprise me. It could end 0-0, it could 5-5 or anywhere in between. The Phoenix will be hoping to avoid a loss as they'd fall five points behind the ladder-leaders if they lose this game. But as I said, a draw seems like a real possibility between two evenly-matched teams.
Under 23's: Valentine (3rd) v Lake Macquarie City (1st)
Another top four clash between these two sides with the 3rd-placed Phoenix 23's taking on the ladder-leading Lakes 23's. Valentine's last three games have finished 4-1, 5-0 and 6-1 so to say they're in goalscoring form would be a massive understatement.
Lake Macquarie City got past Cooks Hill 2-1 last week and are top of the table but this is a huge test for the Roosters. Fatigue could play a part after Valentine picked up a 6-1 win at Singleton on Wednesday night but I think the Phoenix will be primed for this chance to go top and to be honest, I think they will. They're in great form and this I'm expecting that to continue.
Under 19's: Valentine (2nd) v Lake Macquarie City (3rd)
I wasn't going to write a preview for this game as the Phoenix 19's are playing a catch-up game at Singleton tonight but I firmly expect them sweep aside the bottom of the table Singleton team and move closer to 1st-placed Belmont-Swansea.
I will change my preview once tonight's result comes through but at this stage I can't go past this Valentine side. Lakes were held to a scoreless draw by Cooks Hill last week and will need to step it up to another level if they're to beat Valentine on Saturday. Phoenix 19's for my money.
*Thursday Catch-Up Tip: Singleton 0-3 Valentine
Under 17's: Valentine (8th) v Lake Macquarie City (1st)
Valentine's 17's also play tonight at Singleton so I may or may not change this preview as well after that result comes through but at this stage, I'm feeling very confident about Lake Macquarie City's chances in the opening match of the day on Saturday.
Five from five to start the season, Lakes saw off their nearest challenger in Cooks Hill with a 5-3 victory at Macquarie Field last weekend and I'm expecting them to make it a perfect six from six to start the season and depending on other results, they could really stretch their lead at the top.
*Thursday Catch-Up Tip: Singleton 1-1 Valentine
1st Grade: Valentine FC 2-2 Lake Macquarie City
Under 23's: Valentine FC 5-2 Lake Macquarie City
Under 19's: Valentine FC 3-1 Lake Macquarie City
Under 17's: Valentine FC 1-3 Lake Macquarie City
1st Grade: Cooks Hill Utd (8th) v Toronto-Awaba (11th)
This is an interesting match-up between Cooks Hill United and resurgent Toronto-Awaba at the Newcastle Athletics Field. Cooks Hill have fallen to eighth on the New-FM table after last week's 5-3 loss to ladder-leaders Lake Macquarie City but the Cookers will be full of confidence in front of goal after putting three past the Roosters in that game.
Now before last week I would have called this an easier fixture for Cooks Hill but Toronto-Awaba finally broke their losing streak with a 2-0 result at Thornton Park in Round 6. Cooks Hill are a good defensive unit and they'll need to be on their toes to prevent Toronto-Awaba from gaining momentum early on.
I'm going to tip Cooks Hill to win this game. They've got goals in them and they'll be keen to start climbing the table. This is what the Cookers will see as a winnable game at home as long as they can play the way they played in their last home game against Singleton.
Under 23's: Cooks Hill Utd (6th) v Toronto-Awaba (8th)
Both Under 23 sides are coming off a last start loss but it's Cooks Hill who'll be going into this game as the favourites. Toronto-Awaba have lost their last three games whilst Cooks Hill were on a three-game winning streak before going down to ladder-leading Lakes last weekend.
Toronto-Awaba went down to Thornton last week and have conceded seven goals in their last two outings. They'll need to sharpen up defensively if they want to produce a result at the Newcastle Athletics Field.
I think Cooks Hill will get the job done here and keep in touch with the top four. A win could push them as far as 3rd and I think they'll get the three points on Saturday afternoon.
Under 19's: Cooks Hill United (4th) v Toronto-Awaba (10th)
This is the most one-sided game of the day as an in-form Cooks Hill side clash with a Toronto-Awaba side that are winless in 2015 and conceded three against mid-table Thornton last weekend. This will be a tough game for the young Stags.
Cooks Hill have not lost since Round 1 and will be keen to stay inside the top four and could very well move into 2nd if Lakes and Valentine draw their match. I think Cooks Hill will win this and I think they'll win it soundly. Toronto need improvement if they're to get anything on Saturday.
Under 17's: Cooks Hill United (2nd) v Toronto-Awaba (3rd)
Toronto's only in-form team is their Under 17 side. The young Stags started the season slowly but have found form in recent weeks with three straight wins and 16 goals in the process, albeit against teams in the bottom half of the table.
Cooks Hill are almost the opposite to Toronto-Awaba. They started the season in impressive form but haven't exactly set the world on fire since then. They managed to find the net three times against top of the table Lakes and will be keen to keep in pace with the table-toppers with a win against the Stags.
Toronto can score goals, in fact they've got 19 in five games but against Cooks Hill I don't think it'll be as easy. The Cookers will hopeful of a win here and I think they'll get it.
1st Grade: Cooks Hill United 2-0 Toronto-Awaba
Under 23's: Cooks Hill United 4-1 Toronto-Awaba
Under 19's: Cooks Hill United 3-0 Toronto-Awaba
Under 17's: Cooks Hill United 4-2 Toronto-Awaba
1st Grade: Singleton (9th) v Wallsend (4th)
Singleton are back at Howe Park again this Sunday with a home match against in-form Wallsend. The Strikers are without a win since their derby win over Cessnock in Round 3 and are in danger of slipping into last place depending on other results this weekend.
Wallsend meanwhile are on a three-game winning streak and sitting in fourth place which really shows just how well the Red Devils are performing in their return to the 2nd tier of Newcastle football.
It's not a very hard tip this one as Wallsend's just on a roll at the moment and the Strikers are coming off a mid-week 3-0 loss at home to Valentine. Wallsend should be making it four straight wins on Sunday afternoon.
Under 23's: Singleton (11th) v Wallsend (10th)
A bottom of the table clash in the Under 23's is an important game for both sides. Wallsend only played in a bottom of the table clash with West Wallsend a couple of weeks back and went down on that day. If they lose this one they will be dead last and making the finals will be extremely unlikely.
Singleton too need this win but coming off the back of a 6-1 loss to Valentine on Wednesday night doesn't give me much confidence in tipping the home side. Wallsend are coming off the bye so they'll be fresh and I can see them getting the job done and leaving Singleton in last place.
Under 19's: Singleton (11th) v Wallsend (8th)
Singleton's Under 19's are dead last but can move away from the foot of the table with a win over Valentine in their catch-up game tonight but I really doubt their chances of beating the 2nd-placed Phoenix and I'm not feeling too confident about their chances against Wallsend this weekend either.
The Red Devils' 19's won their last match, three weeks ago against Thornton. They were washed out in Round 5 and had the bye last week so they'll be keen to get back out on the field and I'm tipping them to take the three points away from Howe Park on Sunday.
Under 17's: Singleton (9th) v Wallsend (6th)
Whilst they're only separated by three points on the league table, Singleton's 17's are up against it on Sunday morning. They've got the catch-up game tonight against Valentine and I like their chances against the Phoenix more than I like their chances against the Red Devils on Sunday.
Wallsend haven't played in three weeks due to wet weather and the bye but their last match was a 5-1 victory over struggling Thornton which came just a week after they held what was at the time table-topping Cooks Hill to a 1-1 draw.
A three week break is a long one to have during the season but I think the young Red Devils can grab a win this weekend.
1st Grade: Singleton 0-2 Wallsend
Under 23's: Singleton 1-3 Wallsend
Under 19's: Singleton 1-2 Wallsend
Under 17's: Singleton 0-3 Wallsend
1st Grade: Thornton (10th) v Kahibah (7th)
Thornton Redbacks have lost three straight games and were beaten by last-placed Toronto-Awaba at home last weekend. The Redbacks are in need of some results and they've got two chances with back to back home games against Kahibah on Sunday and then Cooks Hill on Wednesday night.
Their chances against Kahibah aren't that good though. The New-FM newcomers picked up their first win of the season with a 3-2 result at Singleton last weekend and can move up the table with another win this weekend against the out-of-form Redbacks.
Thornton need to fire up this weekend and try and get a result but I'm not backing them to do it. Kahibah for me.
Under 23's: Thornton (4th) v Kahibah (7th)
Thornton's Under 23's are in good form and have not lost since the opening round. A 2-0 win over Toronto-Awaba boosted the Redbacks 23's into fourth position and they'll sense a big chance to win against Kahibah on Sunday afternoon.
Don't write off the visitors though as they picked up a 3-1 win on the road in Singleton last weekend. Thornton will be a step up though and I'm not sure if Kahibah can get the win on the weekend. I'm going with the Redbacks here to keep their unbeaten run alive.
Under 19's: Thornton (6th) v Kahibah (9th)
Two sides that picked up wins last week clash in the Under 19's with the Redbacks in 6th and the visiting Kahibah in 9th. Last weekend's 2-1 win over last-placed Singleton was Kahibah's first win of the season whilst Thornton picked up a 3-0 result at home against Toronto-Awaba.
For this game, I'm going with the draw. Based on last week's results, there doesn't seem to much separating these two teams. A draw wouldn't be a surprise here.
Under 17's: Thornton (11th) v Kahibah (4th)
It could be a tough week for the Thornton 17's side. They've got to take on fourth-placed Kahibah on Sunday before a clash with second-placed Cooks Hill on Tuesday night. I don't see either of those games as winnable for the last-placed Redbacks.
Kahibah picked up a 3-1 win at Singleton last week and moved into the top four. A win here could push them as far as 2nd but a loss could send them crashing down to sixth. I'm tipping Kahibah to make it two wins in a row.
1st Grade: Thornton 1-2 Kahibah
Under 23's: Thornton 3-1 Kahibah
Under 19's: Thornton 1-1 Kahibah
Under 17's: Thornton 1-3 Kahibah
1st Grade: Cessnock City (5th) v West Wallsend (3rd)
After two straight home losses, this is a very important game for the West Wallsend Bluebells. I'm not sure if they can be promoted to the NPL due to ground requirements and what not but a third-straight loss would dent their title hopes nonetheless.
Cessnock picked up an upset win at Belmont-Swansea last week, their second in a row and can overtake West Wallsend with a win here. Amazingly Cessnock's goals for and against read 5-5. They're not a team that score a lot of goals but they are a strong defensive unit and that helps make up for their lack of goals.
West Wallsend weren't too far off the pace in their local derby with the Red Devils two weeks ago but were dismantled by Valentine last week. It wasn't a good day at the office for the Bluebells but I'm tipping them to turn it around this week.
Under 23's: Cessnock City (2nd) v West Wallsend (9th)
Cessnock City's Under 23's are unbeaten in season 2015 and take on a West Wallsend side that lost 5-0 to Valentine last week. This could be another poor result for the Bluebells' 23's. Cessnock have bagged ten in their last two outings and can possibly move into top spot if Lake Macquarie lose which I have tipped them to do.
In my opinion this will be a Cessnock win but the question is by how much. West Wallsend will need a massive improvement on last week and unfortunately for the Bluebells, I can't see them getting the win at Turner Park on Sunday.
Under 19's: Cessnock City (5th) v West Wallsend (7th)
West Wallsend's 19's went down to Valentine 4-0 at home last week and are meeting a Cessnock side that suffered an 11-1 loss to Belmont-Swansea in their last outing. Make no doubt about it, that 11-1 loss was not a reflection of the Cessnock side. I've heard they had a few injuries and what not.
I'm not sure if Cessnock didn't have the numbers last week or anything like that. Whether they have the same problems this week is another question so I'm not really sure which way to go here. I'm going with a win for the visitors but anything could happen depending on line-ups and what not.
Under 17's: Cessnock City (10th) v West Wallsend (5th)
Again, Cessnock City are a hard side to read at the moment. Their 17's have shipped 23 goals in three games. I'm confident that's due to a lack of players or injuries or both. Not being someone who's around the Hornets' club I don't really know what the problem is.
I'm tipping West Wallsend here. Not just because Cessnock are in a huge form slump but also because Westy picked up a 4-0 win over Valentine last weekend. A win here could propel the young Bluebells into the top four and if Cessnock's last few results are anything to go by, it could be a blowout.
1st Grade: Cessnock City 1-2 West Wallsend
Under 23's: Cessnock City 5-1 West Wallsend
Under 19's: Cessnock City 1-6 West Wallsend
Under 17's: Cessnock City 1-8 West Wallsend