Thursday, 14 May 2015

PREVIEW: New-FM 1st Division Round 11

1st Grade: Valentine FC (1st) v Cessnock City (9th)
Kickoff: Saturday 16/5 3:30pm

After a rough night on Wednesday at Macquarie Field, the Cessnock City Hornets are back in Lake Macquarie to take on top of the table Valentine at Cahill Oval. Match fitness will favour the home side who had the bye last week and didn't play a catch-up game on Wednesday night.

I can't see Valentine having too much trouble in this match-up. The Phoenix are unbeaten in eight starts and against a struggling Cessnock City side, this should be another routine win for the ladder leaders. A slip-up against the Hornets would open the door for Wallsend to steal top spot and that's something the Phoenix won't want to do going into the second half of the season. 

Under 23's: Valentine FC (1st) v Cessnock City (2nd)
Kickoff: Saturday 16/5 1:45pm

It should be a much tighter contest in the Under 23's with 1st place Valentine hosting 2nd place Cessnock. The Hornets played mid-week and kept their unbeaten run alive with a scoreless draw against Lakes at Macquarie Field. They'll be looking to go one step further at Cahill Oval and take the three points.

Valentine should get the points here in my opinion. A weekend off and no mid-week game will give the Phoenix an advantage over a Cessnock side that have played twice in that same period. This is a chance for Valentine's 23's to prove themselves as the title favourites for this division and I think they'll get over the line in this one.

Under 19's: Valentine FC (1st) v Cessnock City (6th)
Kickoff: Saturday 16/5 12:00pm

Cessnock's Under 19's have to play a catch-up game at Macquarie Field tonight (Thursday) and backing up just 36 or so hours later isn't going to do them much favour against a top of the table Valentine side. The Phoenix 19's took back the top spot on the table with a 2-1 win over Toronto-Awaba on Wednesday and although it's a worrying sign they could only manage a 2-1 win over a lowly side like Toronto, I think they'll get the points here on Saturday.

*Update: Cessnock's 19's lost 3-1 to Lakes in their catch-up game Thursday night and as a result I'm sticking by my original prediction.

Under 17's: Valentine FC (9th) v Cessnock City (10th)
Kickoff: Saturday 16/5 10:15am

It's a different situation in the 17's as two sides desperate for a win clash in the first game of the day at Cahill Oval. Again, Cessnock have the catch-up game to play tonight and after losing 7-0 at home to Wallsend last week, they'll need turn their fortunes around both tonight and on Saturday.

For Saturday's game I think Valentine will get the job done. Holding a decent Toronto-Awaba side to a 2-2 draw on Wednesday would have given them confidence and a win on the weekend could be the start of a turn-around for the Phoenix 17's.

*Update: Cessnock's 17's fell to the ladder-leading Lake Macquarie City 6-0 on Thursday night. I stick by my original prediction of a Valentine 2-1 win, maybe even one or two more.


1st Grade: Singleton (7th) v West Wallsend (5th)
Kickoff: Sunday 17/5 2:30pm

Resurgent Singleton will be seeking their third-straight victory in the space of eight days when they take on West Wallsend at Howe Park on Sunday. I looked at this game and honestly didn't know which way to go and then I looked at recent form and saw that the Bluebells were held by Thornton 3-3 at home last weekend, the same Thornton that were smashed 5-0 by Singleton on Wednesday night. 

West Wallsend started the season strongly but haven't hit great form recently and I'm going to back against them on Sunday. I'm not sure what's happened up in Singleton but it's worked as the Strikers are finding some form and a win on Sunday could see them climb to within two points of the top four. Singleton by two for me.

Under 23's: Singleton (11th) v West Wallsend (9th)
Kickoff: Sunday 17/5 12:45pm

The 1st graders are finding some form at Singleton but the reserves are still winless in 2015. Looking over their last few results, the Strikers' 23's aren't getting smashed by three or four like some of the other struggling teams across the four New-FM grades but they also aren't doing enough to win games.

West Wallsend were unlucky not to get anything out of a 3-2 loss to Thornton last week and with the Strikers losing 2-0 to the Redbacks mid-week I like the visitors chances to win here. It's a crucial clash for both sides but I'm tipping the Bluebells to get the points.

Under 19's: Singleton (11th) v West Wallsend (5th)
Kickoff: Sunday 17/5 11:00am

Seven games played and seven games lost. That's the situation the Singleton 19's find themselves in and it's not going to get much easier with in-form West Wallsend looking to climb closer to the top four with a win on Sunday. Both sides play catch-up games tonight (Thursday) so depending on those results, I may come back and redo my predictions but for now I can't see the Bluebells losing this one.

*Update: West Wallsend build some more form on Thursday night with a catch-up game win over Wallsend. They could potentially move into the top four with a win on Sunday and I'm still backing them to do just that.

*Another Update: Singleton's 19's remained bottom with a 5-1 loss to Thornton on Thursday night.

Under 17's: Singleton (8th) v West Wallsend (4th)
Kickoff: Sunday 17/5 9:15am

These two sides play tonight in catch-up games and despite Singleton having a couple of wins under their belt for the season, the young Strikers haven't found much form over recent memory. West Wallsend have found a spot in the top four and with Cooks Hill having the bye this weekend, the Bluebells' 17's can consolidate a top four spot with a win on the weekend.

Again, tonight's games might cause me to come back and re-write my prediction tomorrow but for now I'm going with a Bluebells win as they look to move deeper into the top four of the Under 17's ladder.

*Update: West Wallsend lost their catch up game to their neighbours on Thursday 2-1 but should still be strong enough to get a victory at Howe Park on Sunday afternoon.

*Another Update: Singleton's 17's won 1-0 against Thornton on Thursday but I'm still staying with my original tip.


1st Grade: Kahibah (4th) v Lake Macquarie City (3rd)
Kickoff: Sunday 17/5 2:30pm

Kahibah's first official Sunday afternoon home game is in my opinion their toughest test in their short time in the New-FM 1st Division. The team in green and black are one of two sides to avoid defeat to ladder-leading Valentine this season and will move into the top three with a win on the weekend.

Kahibah have won four straight and have not tasted defeat since the opening round. After watching their 1-0 win over Cooks Hill last night they seem to be a very defensive-minded side that use the long ball to break down tiring opposition defences. 

Lakes are a very serious threat to Kahibah's unbeaten streak. The Roosters were stunned at home by Singleton last Saturday but bounced back with a 6-3 victory over Cessnock on Wednesday night. 

As for my prediction I honestly don't know which way to go. Kahibah have been strong recently but this is a much harder task than some of the teams they've beaten in recent times. Lakes scoring four or five wouldn't surprise me but I'm going to back Kahibah to be strong and pull off a 2-2 draw.

Under 23's: Kahibah (6th) v Lake Macquarie City (3rd)
Kickoff: Sunday 17/5 12:45pm

Kahibah's 23's recorded another win on Wednesday night against Cooks Hill and have hit some form recently but again this is a much tougher test for the Greens. This Lakes team isn't that much of a free-scoring side like the other Lakes sides in the New-FM division but they still know how to win.

After being held to a scoreless draw last night against Cessnock, I think the Roosters' 23's will bounce back with a win against Kahibah on Sunday. Maybe not a goalfest but I can see them getting over the line by one or two.

Under 19's: Kahibah (7th) v Lake Macquarie City (4th)
Kickoff: Sunday 17/5 11:00am

The Kahibah 19's were the only side to lose mid-week, going down 3-1 to top four side Cooks Hill on Tuesday night. Lakes are also in the four and could be third if they win tonight's catch-up game with Cessnock. Again I may change my prediction based on tonight's results but after seeing off Singleton 7-0 last weekend, I can't back against the Roosters in this one.

*Update: Lakes won their catch-up game against Cessnock City 3-1 on Thursday night which helps boost my confidence for this one.

Under 17's: Kahibah (2nd) v Lake Macquarie City (1st)
Kickoff: Sunday 17/5 9:15am

This is one of the games of the round across all five venues in the New-FM this weekend as the only side in all four grades not to have dropped a single point this season clash with the strongest defensive side in all four grades on Sunday morning.

Kahibah's 17's picked up a big mid-week victory over Cooks Hill and by the time Sunday rolls around, Lakes could well be eight from eight this season. This is a huge test for Kahibah but unlike the ladder leaders, they've got nothing to lose. Lakes have to play tonight and if they brush aside Cessnock like I've backed them to do, they'll be eight from eight going into this game. They will not want to drop any points at Kahibah Oval on Sunday.

I'm going to back the visitors to get the points here but I don't think they'll find the net five or six times like they're becoming accustomed to doing. If they do manage to put five or six past Kahibah then give them the trophy now. Lakes to win two goals to one is the way I'm going in this one.

*Update: Due to Wallsend's win on Thursday night, this is no longer a top of the table clash technically but it's still one of the matches of the round nonetheless.

Lakes 17's won 6-0 against Cessnock City and have now scored 30 goals in five games. This will be the biggest test for Kahibah's defensive line yet. If you're a player or supporter of either club get down to Kahibah Oval on Sunday morning and watch these two teams go at it. For their age group it should be a cracker. Defensive vs attack will be key.


1st Grade: Wallsend FC (2nd) v Toronto-Awaba (11th)
Kickoff: Sunday 17/5-2:30pm

Wallsend Football Club are on the rise in 2015. Six straight wins and now the Red Devils are eyeing off the top spot on the table. If Valentine lose to Cessnock, Wallsend will go top with a win over lowly Toronto-Awaba. Who saw that coming in the pre-season.

The Red Devils are a perfect example of how to handle a promotion. Top-quality recruiting has paid off and anything but a win against the struggling Stags will be a disappointment on Sunday. Toronto have just one win all season and that was against fellow cellar-dwellers Thornton. This isn't a game I can see the Stags winning.

Under 23's: Wallsend FC (8th) v Toronto-Awaba (10th)
Kickoff: Sunday 17/5 12:45pm

Wallsend's Under 23's aren't hitting the great heights their first grade counterparts are reaching but they'll see this match against Toronto-Awaba as a real chance of recording just their second win of the campaign. The Red Devils' 23's knack for drawing games is the only thing keeping them above the Stags on the table and I think they'll add another three points to that gap on Sunday afternoon.

Under 19's: Wallsend FC (8th) v Toronto-Awaba (10th)
Kickoff: Sunday 17/5 11:00am

Wallsend's 19's play tonight (Thursday) against West Wallsend and with some form behind them, I think they'll be the stronger side against Toronto on Sunday. Tonight's result may change my mind and I have tipped them to lose to their neighbours but Toronto just don't have enough form right now in the 19's to give me confidence in backing them.

*Update: Wallsend's Under 19's went down 2-0 to West Wallsend on Thursday night but I'm still fairly confident in their chances for Sunday's game.

Under 17's: Wallsend FC (3rd) v Toronto-Awaba (6th)
Kickoff: Sunday 17/5 9:15am

After finding some good form earlier in the season, Toronto's Under 17's have fallen away from the top four. Wallsend on the other hand have quietly climbed the table in recent times. Last week's 7-0 victory over Cessnock is their fourth straight victory and if they pick up the points against West Wallsend tonight (Thursday) they'll be just two points off the top of the table.

Tonight's result may very well change my mind about Sunday but for now I'm tipping the Red Devils to get over the line. They're in form and will look to continue that against a stuttering Toronto on Sunday morning.

*Update: The Red Devil 17's picked up a 2-1 victory over West Wallsend on Thursday night and have now moved into second place. I stand by my original prediction of 3-0 for Sunday's game.


1st Grade: Thornton (10th) v Belmont-Swansea (8th)
Kickoff: Sunday 17/5 2:30pm

Just ignore the incorrect date in the graphic above, this game will be played on Sunday the 17th of May, not the 19th. Anyway, Thornton I thought had turned a corner in their 3-3 draw with West Wallsend last Sunday but losing 5-0 to Singleton last night would have taken away any confidence built from the gutsy draw last weekend.

I saw the Belswans play last week and they looked like a side that could string a few passes together and create chances every now and then. Thornton need to avoid another loss and I think it'll be tough against a Belswans side that could move further away from the bottom with a win on Sunday. Belswans for me.

Under 23's: Thornton (4th) v Belmont-Swansea (5th)
Kickoff: Sunday 17/5 12:45pm

It's a crucial clash in the 23's as Thornton meet Belswans. Thornton are in the top four and could potentially build a six point gap between themselves and 5th place by the end of the round. Belmont-Swansea were impressive in their 4-1 win over Cooks Hill last week. The Belswans' 23's took advantage of the gusty conditions at Blacksmiths and were extremely dangerous on free kicks.

Thornton did enough to get past West Wallsend last weekend and overcame Singleton last night. I'm going to back them to get another win this weekend against the Belswans and consolidate their spot in the top four.

Under 19's: Thornton (9th) v Belmont-Swansea (2nd)
Kickoff: Sunday 17/5 11:00am

I don't give the home side much of a chance here. They do have a catch-up game with Singleton tonight but against a Belswans side that are yet to lose this season and coming off the back of an impressive 4-1 win over a decent Cooks Hill side, I think this'll be a bridge too far for the Redbacks.

*Update: Thornton scored an impressive 5-1 victory over bottom-placed Singleton on Thursday but I still don't like their chances against the Belswans.

Under 17's: Thornton (11th) v Belmont-Swansea (7th)
Kickoff: Sunday 17/5 9:15am

Thornton's last home game in the Under 17's was an embarrassing 8-0 loss to Kahibah but to their credit they bounced back last weekend with a 2-2 draw at West Wallsend. It's a tough test this weekend though as they take on a Belswans side coming off a confidence-boosting 2-0 win over what was at the time last week a top four side in Cooks Hill.

Thornton play tonight at Singleton which again may change my tip but for now I'm tipping the Belswans to grab the points and potentially climb into the top half of the table.

*Update: The Redback 17's went down 1-0 on Thursday night and remained at the foot of the table.

Full Prediction:

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