Tuesday, 2 June 2015

PREVIEW: Mid-Week NPL & New-FM Games (June 2nd through June 4th)



1st Grade: Cooks Hill United (5th) v West Wallsend (6th)
Kickoff: Wednesday 3/6 8:00pm

It's set to be a crucial clash on Wednesday night as two sides that are sitting outside the top four face off at the Newcastle Athletics Field. The Bluebells have a couple of catch-up games up their sleeve compared to their opponents and will be hoping to turn around their recent poor form with a win against Cooks Hill.

Unfortunately for West Wallsend it won't be easy as the Cookers are yet to lose at the Athletics Field in 2015 and after taking the fight to ladder-leaders Valentine last Saturday, Cooks Hill will be eager to get back onto their home turf for the first time since April 18th and perhaps record a crucial victory in the race for finals football.

The Bluebells were downed at home by Toronto-Awaba on the weekend and after losses to Singleton and a 3-3 draw with Thornton the 6th-placed side are surely due a win. It's going to be tough to break down a Cooks Hill defence that one their day is one of the best in the league.

This'll be my first time seeing West Wallsend play this year so I'm excited to see what they bring to the table but being a home game and after a decent performance in going down against Valentine I'm backing the home side to get the points.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 3-1 West Wallsend


Under 23's: Cooks Hill United (7th) v West Wallsend (9th)
Kickoff: Wednesday 3/6 6:00pm

Cooks Hill's Under 23's side have pulled off some impressive results in recent times with a come from behind victory against previously unbeaten Thornton and another comeback in a 3-3 draw with Cessnock City. They were outplayed by top of the table Valentine on the weekend but will be full of confidence against out of form West Wallsend.

The Bluebells haven't had too much to offer in reserve grade this season with their only wins of the season coming against fellow lower-table sides Wallsend and Singleton. A 2-1 defeat to Toronto-Awaba wouldn't have boosted their confidence too much and I'm not sure I like their chances against a Cooks Hill side that have showed improvement in recent times.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 2-0 West Wallsend


Under 19's: Cooks Hill United (4th) v West Wallsend (5th)
Kickoff: Thursday 4/6 8:00pm

In what could be the best match of the four games between these two sides, Cooks Hill's 4th-placed Under 19's clash with the 5th-placed West Wallsend. The Bluebells have scored ten goals in two wins against struggling Toronto-Awaba and Singleton in recent times which will no doubt boost their confidence in front of goal.

I saw Cooks Hill's game against Valentine last week and they were unlucky not to escape Cahill Oval with a point. They played a quality opposition and really took it to the Phoenix in that 2-1 defeat, only losing in the final few moments of the match. 

It's a tough tip to make as West Wallsend did bag six on the weekend but against a Cooks Hill side that will be desperate to hold onto a top four spot I'm not too certain I like the chances of the visitors. This will be an entertaining match-up but I can see the home side grabbing the points.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 2-1 West Wallsend


Under 17's: Cooks Hill United (3rd) v West Wallsend (5th)
Kickoff: Thursday 4/6 6:00pm

Take note of the number 16. I know it's Under 17's but the number 16 is the point I'm making here. Cooks Hill have scored 16 goals in three games, albeit against lowly opposition. Still, that's impressive form in front of goal for a side that is gaining confidence week in week out.

I watched the Cookers 17's for the first time last week and was impressed with the fluency shown in the side's passing. With a +20 goal difference, this side is on track for finals football and a win against Westy will give them confidence ahead of a top four clash with Wallsend on the weekend. If they play like they've been playing it should be a fourth-straight victory.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 3-1 West Wallsend




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1st Grade: Valentine (1st) v Belmont-Swansea (8th)
Kickoff: Wednesday 3/6 7:45pm

Valentine remained top of the table on Saturday with a gutsy 1-0 win over a very game Cooks Hill United at Cahill Oval. I only caught the last twenty minutes of the game and the visitors were pushing hard for an equaliser but Valentine's defence was holding them out in waves. It seemed for every black and white shirt there was at least two orange shirts to match it. Desperate stuff from a side keen to keep their good form intact.

Belmont-Swansea are one of those sides that can produce a challenge on their day. They probably won't play finals but they can pull off an expected result or two. Their 2-2 draw with Kahibah continued some good form after a late victory at Thornton Park in their previous game. A night trip to local rivals Valentine isn't going to be an easy task though.

As I said before, Valentine are a side that can blow teams off the park but as Saturday's game showed, they can also defend their way to a close 1-0 result. If Wallsend draw with Kahibah on Wednesday night, Valentine can move up to seven points clear at the top of the table. I think it'll be another win for the undefeated ladder-leaders and one more step towards the premiership and promotion.

My Tip: Valentine 3-0 Belmont-Swansea


Under 23's: Valentine (1st) v Belmont-Swansea (5th)
Kickoff: Wednesday 3/6 6:00pm

Belmont-Swansea's reserves had their finals push halted by Kahibah on the weekend and the task gets no easier as they now face a Valentine side that have lost just one game this season. The Phoenix have picked up nine wins from ten games and stretched their winning streak to seven with a 2-1 victory over a decent Cooks Hill side on Saturday.

Looking over the season results Valentine have scored 41 goals in 10 games. Easy maths says that's 4.1 goals every game compared to 1.1 conceded. Cooks Hill took them to the limit on the weekend but they saw the challenge off and with two games in hand on their nearest challenger, the Phoenix 23's could potentially be off in the distance by the end of this weekend.

My Tip: Valentine 4-1 Belmont-Swansea


Under 19's: Valentine (2nd) v Belmont-Swansea (1st)
Kickoff: Thursday 4/6 7:45pm
Venue: Croudace Bay Complex

A changed venue for this highly-anticipated top of the table clash in the 19's as Valentine host the travelling Belswans at the Croudace Bay Complex. I've seen both this sides play and if you get to the game you'll be in for some entertaining football from two sides that can score a goal or two on their best day.

Belmont-Swansea are yet to taste defeat in season 2015 but face their toughest test to date against Valentine. The Phoenix looked destined for a draw against Cooks Hill last week but they took their chances late on and produced a memorable 2-1 victory, one that could mean a lot if they beat the visitors on Thursday night.

I don't like tipping games like this as it really could go either way but on recent form I can't go past the visiting Belmont-Swansea. The draw's a big possibility but I like this Belswans side and they've scored a few goals in recent times. Don't be surprised to see it go Valentine's way though. Either way it should be an entertaining clash, regardless of the result.

My Tip: Valentine 2-3 Belmont-Swansea


Under 17's: Valentine (9th) v Belmont-Swansea (6th)
Kickoff: Thursday 4/6 6:00pm
Venue: Croudace Bay Complex

Two sides that were both on the back end of defeats on the weekend will meet at Croudace Bay on Thursday night, both seeking to pick up a much-needed win. Belmont-Swansea are only two places outside the top four but need a whopping ten points to catch Wallsend, who have a game in hand.

Valentine on the other hand are out of finals contention but can still finish mid-table with a bit of form in the back end of the season. They were outclassed by Cooks Hill on the weekend but will like their chances at home against a Belswans side that lost in their last outing. Still I'm going to tip the visitors as once again, their form is a tad more impressive. It should be a good curtain-raiser for the big 19's clash as both these sides will be hungry for three points.

My Tip: Valentine 1-3 Belmont-Swansea




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1st Grade: Thornton (10th) v Lakes (4th)
Kickoff: Wednesday 3/6 8:00pm

Lake Macquarie City have the worst luck when it comes to weather as they've faced wash-out after wash-out over the last month and half. They should (weather permitting) finally take the field on Wednesday night, away to Thornton.

The Redbacks were stunned by Belmont-Swansea in a 2-1 loss not long back but bounced back in style with a 4-1 win over Cooks Hill, followed by a gutsy 2-2 draw with Cessnock in a bottom-of-the-table scrap on Saturday. This is no doubt one of their biggest tests to date.

Lakes have a mountain to climb if they want to steal promotion to the NPL from Valentine. The Roosters will no doubt still be kicking themselves after that shock home loss to Singleton on a day that feels like an eternity ago now. I still believe Lakes can push for promotion but this game is a vital one. 

Stunningly, Lakes have not played a match since May 13th. Some teams have played four or five games in that time. They will no doubt have the fresh legs and after such a long spell without a game I think they'll be back in a big way on Wednesday night.

My Tip: Thornton 1-5 Lakes


Under 23's: Thornton (3rd) v Lakes (4th)
Kickoff: Wednesday 3/6 6:00pm

Thornton are technically above Lakes on the league table in reserve grade but the Roosters do have two games in hand on their opponents this Wednesday. Both sides have lost just once this season and I happened to be there the night Thornton's unbeaten streak ended at the hands of Cooks Hill in a game that the Redbacks should have got something out of.

Lakes haven't played in three weeks so fatigue will not be a worry but going so long without a game can be a negative. Thornton will offer a fair bit in this match and I think it'll be a close one. Close enough to tip a draw I believe.

My Tip: Thornton 2-2 Lakes


Under 19's: Thornton (6th) v Lakes (3rd)
Kickoff: Thursday 4/6 8:00pm

Thornton picked up a 5th win of the season in the 19s with a 3-2 win over Cessnock on the weekend. It's a much tougher task on Thursday when 3rd-placed Lakes make the trip to Thornton Park. The Roosters haven't played regular week by week football for a while but they did pick up a 3-1 victory over Kahibah last time out.

Lakes' 19's will no doubt be hoping for a draw in the Valentine v Belswans clash and could put themselves firmly back in the race for top spot with a win at Thornton. It should be a victory for the visitors here.

My Tip: Thornton 1-3 Lakes


Under 17's: Thornton (11th) v Lakes (1st)
Kickoff: Thursday 4/6 6:00pm

Lakes 17's are still unbeaten at the half-way stage of the season and could very well move six points clear at the top with a win on Thursday night. Thornton picked up just their third point of the season on the weekend against fellow battlers Cessnock and will need a huge performance to see off a Lakes side that have blasted their way to nine wins from nine starts.

I'm a big fan of upsets and if Thornton can grab the win here it'll be the upset of the season in the Under 17's but I can't see Lakes letting this one slip. This Roosters side look destined for some sort of silverware this season and it'll be another crucial step towards the premiership with a win on Thursday. Sorry Redbacks but the number six is popping up a fair bit with Lakes' 17's this season.

My Tip: Thornton 0-6 Lakes




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1st Grade: Wallsend (2nd) v Kahibah (3rd)
Kickoff: Wednesday 3/6 7:45pm

It's a crucial match as two in-form promoted sides meet at the Gardens. Wallsend avoided a potential date with Lakes on Sunday but face one of their toughest tests in recent times when 3rd-placed Kahibah come to town. The Green and Blacks are unbeaten since Round 1 whilst Wallsend have won seven straight. Something's got to give on Wednesday night.

Kahibah lost Andre Gumprecht to injury on the weekend and if the captain-coach misses this one on Wednesday I think it'll play a massive part. In the game I watched Kahibah play, Gumprecht was the main man in defence and will be a big omission for the Green and Blacks if he doesn't play Wednesday night.

I'm going to tip the home side here as their form is just so impressive. Winning seven straight games doesn't just happen without being a good football side. I like their chances at home. A draw here would go a long way to crowning Valentine as the premiers but in my opinion it's going to be a Red Devil win.

My Tip: Wallsend 2-1 Kahibah


Under 23's: Wallsend (9th) v Kahibah (5th)
Kickoff: Wednesday 3/6 6:00pm

This will be a tough one for a Wallsend side that have won just one game in season 2015. Kahibah are sitting just outside the top four and know that a slip-up here could see them potentially drop to seventh. Wallsend have forced a draw or two this season but this match is one I can't see them getting too much out of.

My Tip: Wallsend 1-3 Kahibah


Under 19's: Wallsend (8th) v Kahibah (7th)
Kickoff: Thursday 4/6 7:45pm

This is a crucial match for both these sides as they're both seeing their finals hopes slip away with irregular form as of late. Wallsend didn't play on the weekend but Kahibah did and were outclassed by top of the table Belmont-Swansea in comfortable fashion.

These games are always tough to predict when neither side is setting the world on fire with their form so the draw is probably where I'm going to go with this one.

My Tip: Wallsend 1-1 Kahibah


Under 17's: Wallsend (4th) v Kahibah (2nd)
Kickoff: Thursday 4/6 6:00pm

There's been some big clashes in the 17's as of late and this one should be one of the best yet as Wallsend's free-scoring side meet the strongest defence in the league in Kahibah. It's an intriguing match to say the very least. Kahibah outclassed Belmont-Swansea on the weekend but they're against a Wallsend side that had the weekend off.

In their last two games, Wallsend have scored 14 goals in the Under 17's so I can't tip against them. Kahibah on the other hand have conceded just eight goals all season so I'm going to play it safe and tip a draw. It should be a cracker of a match on Thursday night.

My Tip: Wallsend 2-2 Kahibah



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Under 22's: Edgeworth (1st) v Maitland (7th)
Kickoff: Tuesday 2/6 7:30pm

This seems like a pretty easy on to predict as 7th-placed Maitland travel to top of the table Edgeworth. The Eagles have been impressive this season in reserve grade and should be good enough to get another three points in Tuesday night's catch up game.

My Tip: Edgeworth 3-1 Maitland



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Under 19's: Edgeworth (4th) v South Cardiff (7th)
Kickoff: Tuesday 2/6 5:45pm

It's interesting to see two different visiting sides come to Jack McLaughlan Oval tonight and this is actually a South Cardiff home game according to the draw. I'm not sure who made the decision to put these games on tonight as a lot of people (including myself) will be travelling to Sydney for the Chelsea match.

Anyway my tip here is going to be Edgeworth as they'll be keen to consolidate their spot inside the top four.

My Tip: Edgeworth 2-1 South Cardiff




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Under 19's: Hamilton (3rd) v Emerging Jets U/16's (5th)
Kickoff: Thursday 4/6 6:00pm

This is a tough one to predict as both these sides are very decent on their day. The Emerging Jets 16's picked up an impressive win over Edgeworth last week whilst Hamilton's last outing was a heavy defeat to top of the table Weston. Being at Darling St though I'm going to tip Olympic to grab the points.

My Tip: Hamilton 2-1 U16's Emerging Jets


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