Thursday, 25 June 2015

PREVIEW: New-FM 1st Division Round 16

Wednesday's Results:

Just a quick word on last night's results. I heard these two games were entertaining draws and I've also heard that Toronto were able to play a couple of players that would normally be busy filling in for the 23's or 1st grade. I wasn't there so can't really comment on either.

What I can comment on is how big these results are in each grade. Toronto's 19's picked up what was just their second point of the season and denied Lakes a chance to move into second place. The Roosters beat top of the table Belswans last time out so the Stags should be proud of this result. It wasn't the win that they've been searching for all year but it was a very decent result.

I was a bit surprised to see the Under 17's result as well with dominant league-leaders Lakes held to a second-straight draw by a mid-table team. I'm not quiet sure what's happened with the 17's from Lakes (injuries, suspension, confidence lost, etc) but what I can say is that they'll lose top spot if they can't start picking up maximum points. Kahibah are in position to take top spot on the weekend as are Cooks Hill. Congrats to Toronto's 17's for what was no doubt a confidence-boosting result.

//---------------------//'s Match of the Round
1st Grade: Cooks Hill United (5th) v Kahibah F.C (4th)
Kickoff: Saturday 27/6 2:30pm
Last Time They Met: Kahibah 1-0 Cooks Hill United

I might sound like a broken record but this is another crucial match for both Cooks Hill United and Kahibah F.C. I know most weeks I saw both teams are playing a crucial match but it couldn't be any truer this week as the race for finals heats up. A win for Kahibah would do absolute wonders for them.

These two promoted sides have reached great heights in their maiden New-FM 1st Division season and I believe one of them will play finals. However with Belmont-Swansea in some good form recently anything could happen with fourth spot on the league table in the coming weeks. Only a sudden collapse will see Wallsend, Valentine or Lakes drop out of the four so there's only one spot left for finals in my honest opinion.

Anyway onto the actual game preview. I was there last time these sides played on a freezing night out at Kahibah Oval. I've seen a fair few games this season and that 1-0 Kahibah win was up there as one of the worst. Neither side clicked that night and I'm sure both will provide a more entertaining match on Saturday.

Kahibah's form has stalled recently. They lost to Wallsend at the start of the month and then dropped points to Belmont-Swansea at home. A 3-2 win against out of form West Wallsend wasn't really too convincing and drawing 1-1 with Cessnock wasn't expected at all. The Green and Blacks still have a catch-up game with Lakes so maximum points are crucial this weekend.

For Cooks Hill I missed their last game as I had my own match to play but I've been told they played well on the day and deserved the 3-1 victory over Thornton. If a 4-1 shocker to the same opposition earlier this season had not of happened the Cookers would be in the top four but ultimately their not.

Still, the games Cooks Hill have lost have all been fairly tight. They took Valentine to the limit, they almost came from 3-0 down against Wallsend and were only beaten 1-0 by Kahibah last time they met. The Cookers are certainly no easybeats and I think if they can play to their potential, they're a good chance of winning this one.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 2-1 Kahibah F.C

Under 23's: Cooks Hill United (7th) v Kahibah F.C (6th)
Kickoff: Saturday 27/6 12:45pm
Last Time They Met: Kahibah 1-0 Cooks Hill United

Again I was there for the last time these sides met and wasn't too impressed with either side on that night. Kahibah deserved the result on the night but their recent form is a bit shaky. A disappointing 1-1 draw with West Wallsend did some damage to their finals hopes and they were outclassed last time out when they went down 3-0 to Cessnock City.

Cooks Hill on the other hand have been up and down for the majority of the season. A superb mid-season run has ended and whilst they pushed Thornton to the absolute limit last time out they were still on the receiving end of a 3-2 loss. 

Just like 1st grade this is an important match for both sides as the time to make a push for finals football begins. Also just like 1st grade, if Cooks Hill can produce their best football they'll win this one. They played superb games at Thornton and Cessnock and if they produce similar on Saturday they'll get the points. I was going to go with a draw but I might go with the Cookers.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 2-1 Kahibah F.C's Under 19's Match of the Round
Under 19's: Cooks Hill United (4th) v Kahibah F.C (5th)
Kickoff: Saturday 27/6 11:00am
Last Time They Met: Kahibah 1-3 Cooks Hill United

Cooks Hill's form in the 19's hasn't been super impressive by any means and I think they'll need to step up a little bit to overcome Kahibah on Saturday. They got the job done against Thornton but it wasn't convincing; certainly not as convincing as Kahibah beating Cessnock 4-1 last time out.

A win for Cooks Hill on Saturday would go a long way towards securing a spot in the finals so I'm fairly certain Kahibah will take them to the limit. I think the Cookers will need to return to the goalscoring form they had throughout the back end of the first half of the season and indeed the goalscoring form they had when they beat Kahibah 3-1.

I'm liking the chances of a draw here. It's honestly the first thing that came to mind. A win by either team wouldn't surprise me though but I'm going down the middle.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 1-1 Kahibah F.C's Under 17's Match of the Round
Under 17's: Cooks Hill United (3rd) v Kahibah F.C (2nd)
Kickoff: Saturday 27/6 9:15am
Last Time They Met: Kahibah 1-0 Cooks Hill United

I have no hesitation in calling this game the 'Match of the Round' in the Under 17's as 3rd-placed Cooks Hill look to knock Kahibah out of 2nd spot. The recent form slip by previously out-of-sight Lakes at the top of the table has opened the minor premiership race wide open and this game could determine who challenges Lakes. 

Kahibah were superb in their last game, beating struggling Cessnock 7-1 but considering Cooks Hill beat the same opposition 5-0 that's definitely not a sign of who'll win on Saturday. What is a sign though is the fact that Kahibah beat fellow top four side Wallsend 3-1 whilst Cooks Hill could only muster a 1-0 win. 

Both these teams are defensively strong so a 1-0 result either way wouldn't surprise me nor would the draw. Neither team are in any real immediate danger of dropping out of the top four so it's one that both could technically afford to lose but still neither team will want to drop points here.

As for my prediction I'll stand by the theme I've taken in the higher grades. If Cooks Hill play to their potential they can definitely win this one but if they repeat the scrappy performance they gave against Thornton last time out I think they'll get beaten. I think the Cookers can do it. 

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 1-0 Kahibah F.C


1st Grade: Valentine F.C (2nd) v Toronto-Awaba (11th)
Kickoff: Saturday 27/6 2:30pm
Last Time They Met: Toronto-Awaba 1-3 Valentine F.C

Valentine put their form slump behind them two weeks ago when they defeated Singleton and being able to put the New-FM aside and focus on the FFA Cup last weekend might have refreshed the Phoenix ahead of a promotion-chasing run towards the finals. It's do or die for Valentine now.

First up is a clash with bottom-placed Toronto-Awaba and this is a potential banana skin game for the former ladder-leaders. A slip-up on Saturday could see Wallsend take a four point lead over the weekend and with a game in hand it would go a long way towards determining the minor premiership.

Last time they met Valentine were 3-1 winners and I think the Phoenix will be confident of their chances on the weekend. They took the fight to Adamstown last week in the FFA Cup and were in that game for a fair bit of time until the Buds took off in the second half.

The Stags won't be easy-beats if they play like they did in recent times. I've heard they were unlucky to go down to Belmont-Swansea last time out and I can see them pushing Valentine to the limits but the 2nd-placed side should be good enough to see off Toronto in this one.

My Tip: Valentine F.C 2-0 Toronto-Awaba

Under 23's: Valentine F.C (1st) v Toronto-Awaba (10th)
Kickoff: Saturday 27/6 12:45pm
Last Time They Met: Toronto-Awaba 1-3 Valentine

Valentine's Under 23's have kept their form in tact and remained top of the table with only the one loss this season, all the way back in Round 3. At the opposite end of the table, Toronto-Awaba have three wins under their belts but I honestly can't see them producing the win here.

Valentine are 10 points clear at the top with a game in hand so a win here could almost wrap-up the minor premiership. A loss wouldn't be the end of the world but the Phoenix 23's will want to remind the competition that they are the yardstick in 2015.

My Tip: Valentine 3-1 Toronto-Awaba

Under 19's: Valentine F.C (2nd) v Toronto-Awaba (11th)
Kickoff: Saturday 27/6 11:00am
Last Time They Met: Toronto-Awaba 1-2 Valentine F.C

Valentine won the last time these sides met but it certainly wasn't easy and with Toronto-Awaba coming off a confidence-boosting win against Lakes mid-week this one is not going to be easy for a side that have scored twelve in their last two outings.

Toronto-Awaba did Valentine a favour during the week by taking points off of Lakes but the Stags won't want to allow the Phoenix to take all three points. An upset win for Toronto could take them off the bottom of the table but I think Valentine will be too strong as they look to stay within reach of Belmont-Swansea at the top of the table.

My Tip: Valentine F.C 2-1 Toronto-Awaba

Under 17's: Valentine F.C (9th) v Toronto-Awaba (8th)
Kickoff: Saturday 27/6 9:15am
Last Time They Met: Toronto-Awaba 2-2 Valentine F.C

These sides are fairly evenly matched and it proved earlier this season when they drew 2-2 back in Round 8. Toronto-Awaba were in finals contention earlier this season in the Under 17's but have since fallen away from the top four and now find themselves lower mid-table with not much hope at all of making the playoffs.

Valentine on the other hand have yet to take off this year and have struggled against some of the higher teams. This game though is one the young Phoenix will believe they can win. At the end of the day it's not a game that will determine finals placings but eighth spot is on the line and neither will want to lose. I'll go with the draw as it seems fairly likely.

My Tip: Valentine F.C 1-1 Toronto-Awaba


1st Grade: Wallsend F.C (1st) v Belmont-Swansea (6th)
Kickoff: Sunday 28/6 2:30pm
Last Time They Met: Belmont-Swansea 1-2 Wallsend F.C

I know I gave my 'Match of the Round' status to Cooks Hill v Kahibah but this game here is also up there as a potential clash of the round as two in-form teams meet at the Gardens. To say the ladder-leading Red Devils are in-form would be an understatement. Ten straight wins have seen the New-FM new boys take top spot from Valentine and silverware is a real possibility for the historic club in their return season to 1st division football.

Belmont-Swansea's form recently have seen some call them a dark horse chance of playing finals football and if they can knock off the Red Devils I'll throw my approval onto that statement. If Kahibah and Cooks Hill draw their match then the Belswans could suddenly find themselves just a tad outside the top four.

Still, Wallsend are a very professional outfit and I think they'll win this one. It won't be easy as the Belswans are certainly no pushovers and have some form going into this one. Last time they met it was a 2-1 win for Wallsend but this time I think the Red Devils will get the three points and an extra goal.

My Tip: Wallsend F.C 3-1 Belmont-Swansea

Under 23's: Wallsend F.C (8th) v Belmont-Swansea (5th)
Kickoff: Sunday 28/6 12:45pm
Last Time They Met: Belmont-Swansea 1-1 Wallsend F.C

These two sides drew their Round 8 clash 1-1 and looking over recent form, I'd consider the draw a very real possibility on Sunday. The Wallsend 23's have picked up back to back wins with a tight 1-0 victory at Cooks Hill and a dominating 5-0 win over rivals West Wallsend.

Belmont-Swansea were impressive last time out, holding Lakes to a 2-2 draw so anything could really happen here. The Belswans are just three points outside the top four so it's a very important game for them but as mentioned, Wallsend have got some steel in them in this grade recently so I'll go with my original thought and tip the draw.

My Tip: Wallsend F.C 1-1 Belmont-Swansea

Under 19's: Wallsend F.C (8th) v Belmont-Swansea (1st)
Kickoff: Sunday 28/6 11:00am
Last Time They Met: Belmont-Swansea 1-1 Wallsend F.C

After falling to their first defeat of the season last time out against Lake Macquarie City, the top of the table Belswans' 19's are in need of a victory or face being caught by Valentine in the next few weeks. Their opponents on Sunday Wallsend are sitting eighth and will all but lose their slim finals hopes if they don't win on Sunday.

Any sort of silverware is craved out at Blacksmiths Oval and the minor premiership wouldn't be undeserved for this Belswans side but they need to keep winning. These sides drew last time they met so Wallsend won't be easybeats but I think Belmont-Swansea are a good chance of winning this one and bouncing back from the loss to Lakes.

My Tip: Wallsend F.C 1-2 Belmont-Swansea

Under 17's: Wallsend F.C (4th) v Belmont-Swansea (7th)
Kickoff: Sunday 28/6 9:15am
Last Time They Met: Belmont-Swansea 3-4 Wallsend F.C

Wallsend's Under 17's have hit a wall recently and drew their last outing against arch rivals West Wallsend 1-1. The Red Devils are falling away from the top three and their spot in the top four could soon be under threat, especially if they lose to 7th-placed Belmont-Swansea on Sunday morning.

The Belswans became the first team to take points off of ladder-leaders Lakes in their last outing and will be confident of overcoming the Red Devils in this one. Wallsend have two games in hand and are six clear of the visitors so the Belswans cannot afford to lose this one. It was a close seven-goal thriller when these sides met back in Round 8 and I think I'll go with the draw here.

My Tip: Wallsend F.C 2-2 Belmont-Swansea


1st Grade: Thornton (9th) v Singleton (7th)
Kickoff: Sunday 28/6 2:30pm
Last Time They Met: Singleton 5-0 Thornton

There's not much riding on this result when it comes to finals football or what not although both sides are still mathematically a chance I really doubt either could make the four. What is on the line here is pride and Thornton lost some of it when they were dominated 5-0 back in Round 8. They'll remember that lose and they'll want revenge. 

The Redbacks are a decent side when playing at home and their last home outing was of course the stunning 1-0 win over previously unbeaten ladder-leaders Valentine. Singleton have hit a wall form-wise recently after a mid-season resurgence so they too will be keen to get back into winning form.

As for my prediction I'm going to hesitantly go with the home side. It certainly won't end 5-0 to either side but at home I think Thornton will edge out a result. A loss could see the Redbacks drop to last so they'll be focused on avoiding a defeat and if they play like they did against Valentine they'll get the points. Don't be surprised by a draw though.

My Tip: Thornton 2-1 Singleton

Under 23's: Thornton (4th) v Singleton (9th)
Kickoff: Sunday 28/6 12:45pm
Last Time They Met: Singleton 0-2 Thornton

Thornton's 23's were flying high last time they met Singleton. They were unbeaten and seemingly on the way to some sort of silverware at the end of the season. Fast-forward eight rounds and they are in a fight just to stay alive in the top four and a whopping fourteen points off of the top spot.

Singleton are a dangerous opponent and have one or two decent wins in this grade, especially their last home game where they beat rivals Cessnock. Thornton though proved last time out that they aren't going to give in, winning 3-2 against a tough Cooks Hill side.

I'm writing this preview after the three others and really don't want to tip Thornton in all four grades as I think Singleton will pick up a point or three across the day but honestly in this grade I'm going with Thornton. They've got too much to lose in fourth spot.

My Tip: Thornton 2-1 Singleton

Under 19's: Thornton (7th) v Singleton (10th)
Kickoff: Sunday 28/6 11:00am
Last Time They Met: Singleton 1-5 Thornton

Last time they played, Singleton were beaten 5-1 at home by Thornton in the 19's and whilst I can't see this one on Sunday being as one-sided as that Round 8 encounter, I still think Thornton should be the favourites in this one. Singleton were on the back end of a heavy defeat against Valentine last time out whilst Thornton I thought really took the fight to Cooks Hill. I'm tipping Thornton to get the points in this one.

My Tip: Thornton 2-0 Singleton

Under 17's: Thornton (11th) v Singleton (6th)
Kickoff: Sunday 28/6 9:15am
Last Time They Met: Singleton 1-0 Thornton

I think I wrote after their last-start loss to Cooks Hill that Thornton's Under 17's are a lot better than their ladder position says. They were only denied by a late Cookers goal in the game two weeks ago and they'll definitely not lay down for Singleton on Sunday morning.

The Strikers were 1-0 victors when these sides met in their re-scheduled Round 8 fixture. Surely the Redbacks are due a win but whether or not that comes on Sunday is a question yet to be answered. I think Thornton could win if they make better decisions moving into the final third, it's what they were missing at Cooks Hill. It'll be a close one but I'm going out on a limb and tipping Thornton to win their first game of the season and jump off the bottom of the table.

My Tip: Thornton 1-0 Singleton


1st Grade: Cessnock City (10th) v Lake Macquarie City (3rd)
Kickoff: Sunday 28/6 2:30pm
Last Time They Met: Lake Macquarie City 6-3 Cessnock City

This is a very important match at both ends of the New-FM 1st Grade table. Lakes cannot afford to drop points as they keep storming towards possible promotion whilst Cessnock could very well drop to last if they don't get anything out of this encounter. Something's got to give.

Lakes stumbled over the line against Belmont-Swansea last time out and they'll need all three points here or risk falling up to eight points away from top of the table Wallsend. The Roosters would no doubt be frustrated by the fact that they've still got some catch-up games and wet weather seem to haunt them at the moment.

I can't see Lakes doing anything but winning this one. Cessnock pulled off a decent draw with Kahibah last time out but this is a whole other level as they welcome the Roosters to Turner Park.

My Tip: Cessnock City 1-4 Lake Macquarie City's Under 23's Match of the Round
Under 23's: Cessnock City (2nd) v Lake Macquarie City (3rd)
Kickoff: Sunday 28/6 12:45pm
Last Time They Met: Lake Macquarie City 0-0 Cessnock City

I've saved this preview until the very end after a good three hours of writing so it may be a bit of a scrappy preview but it is nonetheless my Under 23's 'Match of the Round.' With Valentine flying high and almost over the hill, this match could go a long way towards determining who finishes in second spot.

Cessnock City were 3-0 victors over Kahibah last time out whilst Lakes were held to a 2-2 draw with Belmont-Swansea. I saw Cessnock play a while back and they looked very decent in this grade so I'm going to go out on a limb and back them to win. Last time these sides met it was 0-0 so let's hope for a few goals.

My Tip: Cessnock City 3-2 Lake Macquarie City

Under 19's: Cessnock City (9th) v Lake Macquarie City (3rd)
Kickoff: Sunday 28/6 11:00am
Last Time They Met: Lake Macquarie City 3-1 Cessnock City

Lake Macquarie City's shock win over Belmont-Swansea gave them a look in at the minor premiership but a shock 1-1 draw with bottom-side Toronto-Awaba last night (Wednesday) took them right back to square one in the race for silverware.

Cessnock City's 19's have been the victims of a shortage of players throughout the season and their topsy-turvy results are an example of this. On their day Cessnock can match it with a few of the mid-table sides but beating Lakes, especially after the Roosters dropped points mid-week will be a tough ask. Roosters by a couple.

My Tip: Cessnock City 1-3 Lake Macquarie City

Under 17's: Cessnock City (10th) v Lake Macquarie City (1st)
Kickoff: Sunday 28/6 9:15am
Last Time They Met: Lake Macquarie City 6-0 Cessnock City

The shock of back-to-back draws will have Lakes' 17's lacking a little bit in confidence but the Roosters cannot afford to do anything but win this game on the weekend or they'll face the real possibility of losing the top spot they've held since the beginning of the season.

I don't really want to call Cessnock easybeats but the Hornets' results against top-four sides this season have been unfavourable to say the very least. They're not having the best season and last time they met Lakes they were beaten 6-0. The Roosters have to win. Anything less than that would see their status as competition favourites fall to the wayside.

My Tip: Cessnock City 1-5 Lake Macquarie City


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