Thursday, 11 June 2015

PREVIEW: New-FM 1st Division Round 15

1st Grade: Cooks Hill United (6th) v Thornton (9th)
Kickoff: Saturday 13/6 2:30pm
Last Time They Met: Thornton 4-1 Cooks Hill United (Round 5)

Starting my weekly previews with one of the toughest games to predict is never fun but it's sure to be a crucial contest for both these sides. Thornton were a total write-off in their 6-1 loss to in-form Lakes during the week but pulled off a major upset over Valentine on the weekend, a deserved upset.

Cooks Hill on the other hand were beaten by a strong Wallsend side on the weekend and with all due respect to Thornton, this is a game the home side should win. The Cookers are a side that can beat most New-FM teams on their best day and the fact is, losing 4-1 last time out to Thornton will have them gunning for the Redbacks on Saturday.

Finals football is potentially on the line here as I believe a loss for Thornton could see their already slim finals grow even less likely. Cooks Hill need to win or else they too will start to fall away from the top four. It's perhaps the most crucial game of the season for the home side and after losing their first home match of the year on the weekend, I think they'll bounce back here.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 3-1 Thornton

Under 23's: Cooks Hill United (7th) v Thornton (4th)
Kickoff: Saturday 13/6 12:45pm
Last Time They Met: Thornton 3-4 Cooks Hill United (Round 5)

Since their stunning collapse against Cooks Hill in the Round 5 catch-up game, Thornton's 23's have failed to hit the heights they were hitting in the first month or two of the season. The Redback 23's were up 3-1 against the Cookers and went on to concede three second half goals, losing their unbeaten streak in the process.

Cooks Hill have troubled some of the higher ranked sides, including a come from behind draw against Cessnock City. The Cookers beat West Wallsend last week but were outdone at the death by Wallsend on Saturday. A win over Thornton on Saturday will see the Cookers throw themselves firmly into top four contention.

Looking at recent form I'm going to tip the home side. If they can play to their potential they'll be able to record the double over Thornton. It's sure to be a cracker between two sides who really need to win this one.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 2-1 Thornton

Under 19's: Cooks Hill United (4th) v Thornton (7th)
Kickoff: Saturday 13/6 11:00am
Last Time They Met: Thornton 2-1 Cooks Hill United (Round 5)

Cooks Hill went down to Thornton last time they met in the Under 19's which was a result the Cookers will not be wanting to repeat. The Cookers are four points clear in fourth position and a win here would go a long way towards securing finals football, something I think they deserve after a very good season so far.

Thornton have conceded nine goals in their last two outings and I really don't like their chances against a Cookers side that will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing draw with Wallsend last Saturday.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 4-1 Thornton

Under 17's: Cooks Hill United (3rd) v Thornton (11th)
Kickoff: Saturday 13/6 9:15am
Last Time They Met: Thornton 0-5 Cooks Hill United (Round 5)

I'm keen to see this one on Saturday as the Cookers are a decent attacking side in the 17s and after putting five past the Redbacks last time out, I like their chances of doing something similar on Saturday. The Redbacks have been in horror form over the last couple of weeks and they'll really up against it in this one. If the Cookers get on top early, it could be a long day for the visitors.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 6-0 Thornton


*Update*: I forgot to mention that this weekend is a special one for Valentine as they raise money for pancreatic cancer research and the cancer council. Many of Valentine's teams in all age groups will be wearing specially made purple socks donated by kit designer Joma.

Kudos to Valentine for getting this together and I know they've already raised a bit just by selling the socks themselves. If you're in the area, get down to Cahill Oval or even Croudace Bay Fields and jump on board this great cause. I can't be certain but the 1st grade side might have special purple shirts, have to get that confirmed but good luck to Valentine for their fundraising!

1st Grade: Valentine F.C (2nd) v Singleton (7th)
Kickoff: Saturday 13/6 3:30pm
Last Time They Met: Singleton 0-3 Valentine (Round 5)

This is the biggest game of the season so far for Valentine. A third-straight loss wouldn't end Valentine's promotion hopes but it'd certainly dent them. Lakes are in form and have a game or two up their sleeve so it's important that Valentine pick up a win on the weekend.

Singleton have recorded two straight draws against Cessnock and Belmont-Swansea and I think they'll be up against it on Saturday. Valentine no doubt would have been put through some intense training this week as a punishment of sorts for two disappointing performances.

It was interesting to read Valentine coach Alan Hackett's comments after last week game. The gaffer believes his side aren't quiet good enough to play NPL which I'm not sure is an accurate statement. Valentine were the best side in the first half of the season and if they can match that form, they'll trouble a few sides in the top flight.

I'm tipping the home side to return to the winners' circle. Singleton haven't hit great heights in recent weeks and after going down 3-0 to Valentine last time out, it'll be a tough ask to beat a side that will be keen to put the last week or two behind them.

My Tip: Valentine 3-1 Singleton

Under 23's: Valentine F.C (1st) v Singleton (8th)
Kickoff: Saturday 13/6 1:45pm
Last Time They Met: Singleton 1-6 Valentine (Round 5)

Singleton's 23's have recorded back to back victories in the last week to blast themselves off the bottom of the table and into 8th position. It's good to see a team turn their form around like that but it'll be another step up to beat Valentine on Saturday.

The ladder leaders have been in very good form as of late and have just one loss this year, back in Round 3. They'll be confident of beating a Singleton side that had to play mid-week and have a long road trip ahead of them on Saturday afternoon. A win here could see Valentine stretch their already big lead atop the table.

My Tip: Valentine 3-0 Singleton

Under 19's: Valentine F.C (2nd) v Singleton (10th)
Kickoff: Saturday 13/6 12:00pm
Last Time They Met: Singleton 1-2 Valentine (Round 5)

Valentine missed a chance to go top in the Under 19's when they lost to Belmont-Swansea last week but bounced back in style on the weekend with a comfortable win over Thornton. Singleton on the other hand have just the one win this season against bottom-side Toronto-Awaba and coming off the back of a 3-3 draw with fellow strugglers Cessnock City. Also tonight (Thursday) they've just been beaten 6-2 by the Belswans so beating Valentine will be a tough ask.

Valentine are still in the running for the minor premiership and have to keep pace with the Belswans at the top. A win on the weekend would almost cement a finals spot for a very good Valentine 19's side. Singleton will take the fight to the home side but it's one I can't see them winning.

My Tip: Valentine 4-2 Singleton 

Under 17's: Valentine F.C (9th) v Singleton (7th)
Kickoff: Saturday 13/6 10:15am
Last Time They Met: Singleton 3-1 Valentine (Round 5)

Singleton's 17's are the only Strikers side currently above Valentine on the league table so they'll go into this one with a bit of confidence. Valentine lost to Belmont-Swansea on the weekend and will be keen to avenge their Round 5 loss to Singleton earlier this season. Looking at recent form though I'm going to back the draw between two sides that are evenly matched.

My Tip: Valentine 1-1 Singleton 

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------'s Match of the Round
1st Grade: Belmont-Swansea (5th) v Lake Macquarie City (3rd)
Kickoff: Sunday 14/6 2:30pm
Last Time They Met: Lakes 2-0 Belmont-Swansea (Round 5)

I've given this one my match of the round status as I believe it's a crucial clash for both sides. Lakes are gunning for promotion and with Valentine slipping up in recent weeks, the Roosters can take over at the top if they win their next few games, which are all very crucial for their promotion hopes.

The Belswans have been gutsy and are unbeaten in their last five. They've knocked Valentine off the top of the table, troubled in-form Kahibah and produced a stunning injury-time turnaround to defeat Thornton. The Belswans are the team to beat at the moment.

Last time they played, Lakes could only muster a 2-0 win which says a lot for the boys from Blacksmiths Oval. Lakes have put a few teams to the slaughter at Macquarie Field this year but were unable to do it against the Belswans. Something's got to give on Sunday.

As mentioned earlier, this is a crucial clash for both sides as the Belswans chase a top four spot and Lakes chase that all-important promotion spot. I honestly wouldn't be surprised to see the home side scrape a draw out of this but after beating West Wallsend 8-1 on the weekend, I simply can't go past the Roosters.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 1-3 Lake Macquarie City

Under 23's: Belmont-Swansea (6th) v Lake Macquarie City (2nd)
Kickoff: Sunday 14/6 12:45pm
Last Time They Met: Lakes 5-2 Belmont-Swansea (Round 5)

Looking at recent form, table placings and the last time they met, this one I think is only going one way. Lakes have been dominant in all four grades lately and with only one loss this season, the 23's are performing very well at the moment. They beat the Belswans 5-2 last time out and a scoreline like that wouldn't surprise me one bit on Sunday.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 1-4 Lake Macquarie City's Under 19's Match of the Round
Under 19's: Belmont-Swansea (1st) v Lake Macquarie City (3rd)
Kickoff: Sunday 14/6 11:00am
Last Time They Met: Lakes 3-3 Belmont-Swansea  (Round 5)

This is a very tough game to predict as two in-form sides meet at Blacksmiths Oval. It doesn't get much easier when you look at their last meeting and see that it was a thrilling 3-3 draw. These sides in my opinion are very evenly matched and I'm not sure I want to back either to win.

Lakes are one of only two teams to take points of Belmont-Swansea in the 19's this season and go into this clash with confidence after scoring nine goals in their past two outings. Belswans are a very good side in this comp though and a win here I think would install them as premiership favourites. A loss could see the race for top spot open right up so I'm tipping the home side to get over the line. Don't be surprised by a draw though.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 2-1 Lake Macquarie City

Under 17's: Belmont-Swansea (6th) v Lake Macquarie City (1st)
Kickoff: Sunday 14/6 9:15am
Last Time They Met: Lakes 5-1 Belmont-Swansea (Round 5)

Belmont-Swansea's 17's have struggled in recent weeks with a 3-1 loss to Kahibah and a 1-1 draw with Toronto-Awaba keeping them in 6th position. They do in fact play tonight (Thursday) against Singleton so I may change my preview a bit depending on that result but in all honesty this will be a very tough test for the Belswans. Lakes are 11 from 11 and there's not much to say it won't be 12 from 12 on Sunday. 

*Update: Belswans lost their catch-up game 3-2 to Singleton via a late goal. Sorry to the Belswans 17's but I'm sticking with my tip. These Lakes boys go alright and it would be a huge upset if they went down.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 1-6 Lake Macquarie City


1st Grade: Wallsend F.C (1st) v West Wallsend (8th)
Kickoff: Sunday 14/6 2:30pm
Last Time They Met: West Wallsend 1-2 Wallsend F.C (Round 5)

This is as important as any game Wallsend have played this season. They've won nine straight, sit top of the table and are looking to record a double against their fiercest rivals. Things are looking up for the Red Devils and if you missed my lengthy article about them mid-week, here it is below:

Anyway onto my actual preview for this game. I've seen both this sides come to Cooks Hill in the last week and in all honesty I can only see one team winning this. West Wallsend were put to the sword by Lakes on the weekend and will need arguably their best performance of the season to win this one.

There'll be a tonne of interest from a few clubs for this game. Valentine and Lakes will be keen to see the Bluebells get the win whilst some of the relegation-threatened NPL sides will be cheering on the visitors. It's a very crucial Wallsend derby.

As mentioned, I can't tip against Wallsend at the moment. They performed very well against a decent Cookers side on the weekend and will be keen to keep top spot and stretch their winning streak to ten. If their attackers can fire this could be a two or three goal win in my opinion. Although if Westy play their best football they could steal a point.

My Tip: Wallsend 4-1 West Wallsend

Under 23's: Wallsend F.C (9th) v West Wallsend (11th)
Kickoff: Sunday 14/6 12:45pm
Last Time They Met: West Wallsend 2-1 Wallsend F.C (Round 5)

This isn't the best looking game on paper and after watching the performance of these two sides at Cooks Hill in the past two games, I can't say it'll be a very entertaining clash. Wallsend were lucky to get over the line against the Cookers in a game that I thought wasn't the best by either side. It seemed to be a scrappy game between the sides.

West Wallsend picked up a draw mid-week with Kahibah which is a big turn-around from their heavy weekend loss to Lake Macquarie City but away to their arch rivals, I'm not sure I like their chances. The draw sounds like a good call to make for this one.

My Tip: Wallsend 1-1 West Wallsend

Under 19's: Wallsend F.C (8th) v West Wallsend (5th)
Kickoff: Sunday 14/6 11:00am
Last Time They Met: West Wallsend 2-0 Wallsend F.C (Round 5)

Wallsend's come from behind draw with Cooks Hill on Sunday did West Wallsned a huge favour but the Red Devils will be looking to dent the finals hopes of their arch rivals on Sunday. After losing 2-0 in the first meeting between these sides, the home side will be keen to turn that around.

West Wallsend need to win this game or risk falling up to seven points outside the top four. It's not a game the Bluebells can afford to lose but it's not one that will be easy against their rivals. After losing to Cooks Hill, then the heavy loss to Lakes and finally a mid-week 3-1 loss to Kahibah, I can't tip the Bluebells with the form their on. I'm going out on a limb and tipping the home side.

My Tip: Wallsend F.C 2-1 West Wallsend's Under 17's Match of the Round
Under 17's: Wallsend F.C (4th) v West Wallsend (5th)
Kickoff: Sunday 14/6 9:15am
Last Time They Met: West Wallsend 1-2 Wallsend F.C (Round 5)

I've seen both these teams play other the last week or so and I'm confident they'll put on an entertaining clash as the race for finals football heats up. Last time they met, Wallsend came out 2-1 winners but with a lack of form in their last couple of games, the Red Devils need to step it up in the 17's.

West Wallsend went down disappointingly to Cooks Hill mid-week before facing a slaughter against top of the table Lakes on the weekend. They went down on Tuesday night 4-2 to Kahibah so a win is much needed for the Bluebells' 17's. 

To be fair, Wallsend's losses in the last two games have been to higher-ranked teams so I'm going to tip them to get the job done at home on Sunday. Westy won't go down easily I think in a local derby but Wallsend can build some foundation in the top four with a win here.

My Tip: Wallsend 3-2 West Wallsend


1st Grade: Cessnock City (10th) v Kahibah F.C (4th)
Kickoff: Sunday 14/6 2:30pm
Last Time They Met: Kahibah 3-0 Cessnock City (Round 5)

With Belmont-Swansea and Cooks Hill breathing down their necks, the Green and Blacks from Kahibah need to keep winning games to keep their spot in the top four alive. They did the job over West Wallsend mid-week and have proven that they are prepared to win ugly if need be.

Cessnock City's season has been one without too much celebration as they've struggled to produce results so far in 2015. Two draws in two weeks against Thornton and Singleton will give the Hornets a bit of self-belief but Kahibah are a very tough side to beat on their best day.

If you want to play finals football you have to beat the lower-table sides so I'm tipping Kahibah to complete the double over Cessnock on Sunday.

My Tip: Cessnock City 1-3 Kahibah F.C's Under 23's Match of the Round
Under 23's: Cessnock City (3rd) v Kahibah F.C (5th)
Kickoff: Sunday 14/6 12:45pm
Last Time They Met: Kahibah 1-2 Cessnock City (Round 5)

As the race for finals football heats up, this clash is a very crucial one between 3rd-placed Cessnock and 5th-placed Kahibah. The Green and Blacks were outdone last time this sides met and go into this one coming off a disappointing 1-1 draw against bottom-placed West Wallsend last night. I'm tipping the home side to get over the line here and keep touch with 2nd-placed Lakes.

My Tip: Cessnock City 2-1 Kahibah F.C

Under 19's: Cessnock City (9th) v Kahibah F.C (6th)
Kickoff: Sunday 14/6 11:00am
Last Time They Met: Kahibah 7-0 Cessnock City (Round 5)

Cessnock have had a lack of numbers and some key injuries in the 19's this season and I can't be sure if those issues have been amended yet. With a 3-3 draw with Singleton last weekend, the Hornets are still in 9th place. Kahibah are coming off the back of a mid-week win over West Wallsend and if they play like they did on Tuesday they'll be able to get the points on Sunday.

My Tip: Cessnock City 1-3 Kahibah F.C

Under 17's: Cessnock City (10th) v Kahibah F.C (2nd)
Kickoff: Sunday 14/6 9:15am
Last Time They Met: Kahibah 5-1 Cessnock City (Round 5)

Cessnock City picked up a draw last weekend against Singleton and before that, recorded a scoreless draw with fellow cellar-dwellers Thornton the week before. The Hornet 17's need goals from somewhere if they want to get anything out of this game with a very good Kahibah side on Sunday. Unfortunately for Cessnock, I see this one only going the one way.

My Tip: Cessnock City 0-4 Kahibah F.C

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