Friday, 31 July 2015

OPINION: Thoughts From Post-Northern NSW Meeting

I had the pleasure of meeting with Northern NSW Football CEO David Eland today to discuss some of the issues I brought up in my editorial last week and he made a fair few good points on behalf of the federation. I'm not going to run through a big list at this stage and make corrections as I simply have too much work to do with the NPL preview. However I will stand up and say, the federation do a lot more work than what people tend to believe.

Mr. Eland quoted some of the problems are from the clubs not raising their hands and asking for help. Northern were a driving force behind the recent upgrades at Cooks Hill's Newcastle Athletics Field and he made it clear that he's open for discussions with clubs and so is his staff.

It's all good to complain on social media and complain on forums but if complaints are going to be meet with answers, they simply have to be formally to the federation themselves. I've been told there is a joint NPL/New-FM review meeting scheduled to discuss promotion requirements and the ins and outs of NPL football. The number of New-FM club presidents who've said they'll attend that meeting, 0. None.

Mr. Eland admitted that Northern aren't perfect by any means but you tell me a company that is. He went over how difficult it has been this season to re-schedule games. Using the NPL and NPL Youth as an example, a wash-out weekend at say South Cardiff for example would require four nights of football during the week with volunteers forced to give up their week and what not. It's not a system that works right now.

I still believe there are pressing issues in the Premier Competitions but Northern have made it clear that reviews are being done and contact with clubs is being upheld. The point to make here is if you have a valid complaint, talk to your secretary, talk to your president and phone/email Northern directly.

The community-based work Northern do is unappreciated and a big point to make is that the registration fees here are a lot less expensive than those in Sydney.

That being said I feel like there were a few points I didn't agree with and of course everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Northern have made it clear that the NPL is the top-tier competition and the majority of their resources are to be put into the NPL. That's understandable and that's why I thrive to showcase the New-FM 1st Division on this site as much as I do.

What I didn't agree with was the pathway of player development. Mr. Eland kept talking about the Emerging Jets/Jets Youth as the stepping stone to the A-League, it's not. That might be how the rulebook reads but why can't a player at say Broadmeadow or Edgeworth get picked up for a trial at the Jets. That's something the Jets need to look at. It's not a Northern issue, it's a Jets issue.

And being told the Emerging Jets have the best coaches going is just not accurate. They might have the certificates or whatever and I understand that Northern have a big hand in the Emerging Jets, but telling me Gary Van Egmond is a quality Technical Director is like telling me David Moyes was as good as Sir Alex Ferguson.

One thing I didn't mention in the meeting as it slipped my mind as I wrote down some dot points was that a SAP (that's Skills Acquisition Program for those who don't know) coach told me directly that he had 10 year olds who left the Emerging Jets and didn't want to go back. Says a lot about the Emerging Jets doesn't it.

I've heard of a few instances where the Emerging Jets system has failed. A prominent Jets Youth coach supposedly blasting a bunch of 16 & 17 year olds on the weekend was one that has been spread around by not just one source, but multiple. How about a certain higher-up sitting a bunch of 17 year olds in the middle of Ulinga Oval and giving them a mouthful for all to see.

The feeling at Northern is that you must play NPL to then be recruited for a higher level. The vibe they gave is that club's need an NPL license to be given any extra attention. I didn't agree with everything that was said today but I've had my say and I'll continue to do what I do here on Newysports.

Mr. Eland made some great points about the work Northern do but if anyone's got more to say about it, he also said he's happy to speak to the clubs directly. Speak up if you have a problem. I know it's tough because some clubs may fear a repercussion from the federation but from what I saw today, they seem very approachable and keen to see football in Northern NSW excel.

Onto this site though. After the vibe I got today, it's safe to say this site is the home of lower-tier football in Northern NSW. 63% of people visit this site to see New-FM 1st Division news and results. I'm delighted with that and I've got plans to make the coverage even better next season.

New-FM football is something I believe in and yes some clubs need to get off their proverbial backside, pull their finger out of said backside and start working hard at building foundations for the future. 

The talk about senior clubs and junior clubs not getting on needs to be sorted out. Teams like Mayfield United, Beresfield United, New Lambton, there's tonnes more. These teams can get to New-FM if they do a little bit of work. Not just engage with the juniors but get the field up to a New-FM standard. It's something that Northern have told me are happy to see. If a club asks for help, Northern have said they're happy to provide it.

Northern have a problem I have here. You can't please everyone. I've had my say. I've earned respect for the federation today and I can see that they're trying to improve year in, year out. If you want to blast their $12 million dollar footballing facility, why don't you build your own and make it better? Just a hyperbole.

With all that being said, I still believe Northern aren't doing everything they could right but as mentioned, nobodies perfect. The standard is rising though and it seems from the outside looking in that the federation are trying hard to keep football on the up.

I'm going to hit some clubs that I won't name (they might know who they are) with some brutal truth. The New-FM competition will be made infinitely better if every single team was aiming for the NPL. There are some clubs who are happy with the status quo and really need to step up their game. I'm sure over the next few seasons, every New-FM club will realize this and begin to put the foundation in place for a real crack at promotion.

Another thing to clear up is promotion to the New-FM. Beresfield United will not be promoted whilst they play at Pasadena Oval. The field is too small, the facility is not up to it. That's been made clear. In fact, it was made clear that no Zone teams will be moving up to New-FM at the end of the season.

Clubs like Toronto, Cessnock and Belmont-Swansea will feel hard done by after featuring in the top-flight at some stage but they've got to live by the new standards put in place by the FFA (not Northern) and try and build some new foundations. 

Cessnock is a magnificent sporting area. They've got a quality rugby league team and a spectacular new league field. The Hornets should be doing better than finishing second last. They'll know it as well. Recruitment is key now that the New-FM competition is improving rapidly.

Singleton's another one that should really aim for the NPL. Having a team that represent the Upper Hunter would provide the competition with a bit more of a challenge. A road trip to Howe Park isn't an easy one. I know it's hard and there's a lot more to it than on-field performance but I'd love to see every New-FM team fight for the top.

Anyway, Newysports will continue the work that this site has become known for. Consistency, punctuality and professionalism. I'll continue to be at New-FM games, not just first grade but 17's right through to the top grade. I'll continue to write about Zone League Premier, 1, 2, 3, you name it! It's going to continue to be a quality site promoting quality local football.

Yes this site's not perfect and it's missing a few comps (NPL Youth, WPL, etc) but as a one-man operation, I'd like to think it's been a success and it will only grow next year as I look at expanding the site.

I think today proved that whilst everyone's entitled to their own opinion, there are indeed two sides to every story. Thank you to David Eland and Northern for opening their doors and providing me with a decent look-in at their operations and just how hard they work at Speers Point. It's been an eye opener for sure.

And for the Newysports readers, hopefully I've helped provide you with a bit of knowledge today, a bit of understanding. This site averages 600 visits a day and I believe a community-driven website like this helps grow the game. A big thank you to the constant support. From Singleton to Blacksmiths, Rathmines to Tomaree, Cessnock to Maitland, thanks for the support.

P.S, for those who don't know yet, I'm considering sponsorship options for next season. I'd love to see the Newysports logo on the front of some jerseys and will be trying my best to make it happen. As well as this, more video content will be a must for the site in 2016.

Personally I'll be looking at perhaps an assistant coach option. It'd be something I'd love to do. Anyway, that's another story for another day. If you've got any thoughts or suggestions or anything really, feel free to send me an email or comment below.

Thanking you as always,

Ty Stedman


*NOTE: Apologies for the lack of 22's/19's Previews for this week, they will return as always for Round 17. I've written some quick 1st Grade previews tonight (Saturday) for tomorrow's fixtures. For those who don't know, Edgeworth beat South Cardiff 2-0 last night with two late goals.

1st Grade: Edgeworth F.C (1st) v South Cardiff (10th)
Kickoff: Friday 31/7 7:30pm
Last Time They Met: South Cardiff 1-3 Edgeworth

Edgeworth have been generously allowed to move their Sunday fixture to Friday night, allowing them ample time to prepare for what is the biggest game in the careers of many of their players when they host high-price A-League side Melbourne City in the FFA Cup Round of 32.

Before the FFA Cup, they have a tricky fixture against a desperate South Cardiff side. The Gunners stunned Broadmeadow last week and were unlucky not to score all three points against Hamilton before that. The Gunners aren't going down without a fight and it's something that Edgeworth will no doubt be worried about as they look to remain at the top of the table.

With all that's happened in recent times, a South Cardiff victory wouldn't surprise me tonight but Edgeworth really should be good enough to score the three points.

My Tip: Edgeworth 3-1 South Cardiff

Under 22's: Edgeworth F.C (1st) v South Cardiff (7th)
Kickoff: Sunday 2/8 12:45pm
Last Time They Met: South Cardiff 1-2 Edgeworth

Edgeworth were held by third-placed Lambton last weekend but will like their chances against South Cardiff on Sunday. The Eagles can seal the minor premiership depending on Hamilton's result this weekend and I can see them getting over the line against a South Cardiff side that haven't hit great heights in season 2015.

My Tip: Edgeworth 3-0 South Cardiff

Under 19's: Edgeworth F.C (3rd) v South Cardiff (8th)
Kickoff: Sunday 2/8 11:00am
Last Time They Met: South Cardiff 0-2 Edgeworth

South Cardiff's Under 19's aren't an easy team to beat and have tested some decent sides throughout the season. Consistency has let them down and some days they get brushed aside rather easily. Beating Edgeworth is a tough ask in any grade this season and I'm not sure I like the Gunners' chances in this one. A win for Edgeworth would keep the slim hopes of the Eagles claiming a three-peat minor-premiership winning season across all NPL Senior grades alive.

My Tip: Edgeworth 2-0 South Cardiff


1st Grade: Adamstown Rosebud (6th) v Lambton Jaffas (4th)
Kickoff: Sunday 2/8 2:30pm
Last Time They Met: Lambton 1-1 Adamstown

Adamstown's finals hopes may be unrealistically slim but the Rosebud are still mathematically alive in the race for the top four. A win over Lambton on Sunday would make things interesting but the Jaffas hold a fair advantage nonetheless over the sixth-placed Buds.

Last time they met, it was a 1-1 stalemate and looking over recent form, I'd expect another tight match tomorrow. I'm going to predict a Jaffas win as I feel they'll know how important this win could be. It could very well secure a finals spot for a third-straight season.

My Tip: Adamstown 1-3 Lambton

///---------------------------------------------///'s Match of the Round
1st Grade: Hamilton Olympic (2nd) v Weston Workers (3rd)
Kickoff: Sunday 2/8 2:30pm
Last Time They Met: Weston 1-3 Hamilton

Hamilton Olympic have only lost one game all season but a string of draws has cost them top spot on the league table. Tomorrow they host 3rd-placed Weston in a battle that will determine who challenges ladder-leaders Edgeworth for the minor premiership. The Eagles would no doubt love a draw for this one.

Last time these sides met, Hamilton were 3-1 victors at Rockwell Automation Park and at their Darling Street home, they are incredibly tough to beat. Weston can forget about the minor premiership if they fail to get the three points in my opinion. Both teams will be fighting for a big win.

Weston have been rather unspectacular in recent weeks. A 0-0 draw with Maitland was hard-fought but still a poor result and last week's scrappy 1-0 win over Charlestown City left a lot to be desired. Hamilton on the other hand were 7-0 winners over a woeful Jets Youth side last week so I'm going to go with an Olympic win in this one. Hamilton have something to prove and I believe they'll do it tomorrow.

My Tip: Hamilton 3-1 Weston


1st Grade: Charlestown City (8th) v Maitland F.C (9th)
Kickoff: Sunday 2/8 2:30pm
Last Time They Met: Maitland 3-0 Charlestown

When Maitland put three past Charlestown earlier this season, the Blues looked in freefall and the wooden spoon looked a near-certainty. Fortunately for the Whitebridge-based Blues, they've picked up some crucial wins over both Broadmeadow and South Cardiff and have turned their season around.

With South Cardiff finding their feet as of late, there's no room for complacency, especially from Charlestown's visitors tomorrow, the Maitland Magpies. Maitland put up an admirable fight against Weston the other week in the 0-0 draw but fell to in-form Adamstown last weekend.

The winner tomorrow in my opinion will be safe of relegation. In fact, Charlestown still have a game in hand against the Jets Youth so I believe this is a more important game for Maitland. Neither team have been that impressive as of late but I have a feeling about Maitland in this one. They know a win is needed to avoid falling back into a relegation-scrap with South Cardiff.

My Tip: Charlestown City 1-2 Maitland


1st Grade: Broadmeadow Magic (5th) v Newcastle Jets Youth (7th)
Kickoff: Sunday 2/8 2:30pm
Last Time They Met: Jets Youth 2-5 Broadmeadow

There's some harsh truths surrounding both these teams. Both Magic and the Jets Youth were simply not good enough last weekend. The Jets Youth especially lacked big time in their 7-0 loss to Hamilton. They were down on men and forced to play some younger players so I can't be too harsh. I believe the Jets Youth program needs a look at but that's a story for another day.

Broadmeadow Magic were blown off the park by Victorian powerhouse Heidelberg United in the first half of Wednesday night's FFA Cup tie. To their credit, the Magicians turned it around in the second half. Their last NPL result was a 3-1 loss to cellar-dwellers South Cardiff and I've heard it was one of the poorer displays Magic have put on this year, injuries played a part but it wasn't good enough.

Both sides will be very desperate tomorrow and it will provide for a good game. Magic I believe will not play finals football unless they win this game. It's a tough ask for Magic to turn around a five-point gap between them and Lambton as it is and if they drop more points tomorrow, then the season will be a write-off.

The Jets will hopefully be boosted by the return of a number of players who have been on tour with the A-League squad. They need to recover some pride after a horror loss last week. Still, I'm tipping Magic to get over the line as it's simply not good enough for a squad that have recruited the way they have to miss the finals. It's do or die for Magic.

My Tip: Broadmeadow 3-0 Jets Youth

Thursday, 30 July 2015

PREVIEW: New-FM 1st Division Round 21

*Note: You may notice my Under 17 previews are longer than the rest in some games. I went in the order of 17/19/23 and then 1st Grade. Probably not the best idea as by the time I started previewing 1st Grade, my mind was absolute tired. Good luck to all teams for a very important penultimate round of the season though!'s Match of the Round
1st Grade: Belmont-Swansea (5th) v Valentine F.C (1st)
Kickoff: Sunday 2/8 2:45pm
Last Time They Met: Valentine 1-3 Belmont-Swansea

What a crucial game this is for the Belmont-Swansea boys. It's win or go home for the Belswans and considering they beat Valentine at Cahill Oval, I'm sure the Blacksmiths-based squad will like their chances against the promotion favourites. 

Valentine in my opinion are safe at the top, barring a miracle eleven goal turnaround from Lakes. The only thing standing between Valentine and the 2016 NPL is the free-falling Newcastle Jets Youth side. Valentine will go up unless the Jets finish bottom which isn't impossible by any means.

This game I feel is one that the Belswans will give absolutely everything for. Kahibah aren't a sure thing of beating Wallsend or Lakes so that crucial fourth finals spot is by no means closed. Belswans must win this game and in my opinion, they will.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 2-1 Valentine

Under 23's: Belmont-Swansea (7th) v Valentine F.C (1st)
Kickoff: Sunday 2/8 12:45pm
Last Time They Met: Valentine 2-1 Belmont-Swansea

Runaway Under 23 minor premiers Valentine travel to Blacksmiths on Sunday to face an out-of-form Belswans side. Valentine had the week off last weekend but their previous game was a convincing 6-0 minor-premiership sealing win over Lake Macquarie City. I feel the Phoenix will be too strong in this one.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 1-3 Valentine's Under 19 Match of the Round
Under 19's: Belmont-Swansea (2nd) v Valentine F.C (1st)
Kickoff: Sunday 2/8 11:00am
Last Time They Met: Valentine 1-2 Belmont-Swansea

One could argue that this is the biggest game across any New-FM grade this week as two premiership-chasing teams clash at Blacksmiths Oval. Valentine's last outing two weeks ago was an absolute horror show as they crashed to a 7-0 defeat at Lakes. I've been told they had a few out that day and they bounced back firmly by beating Wallsend 3-0 in a mid-week fixture.

Belmont-Swansea I saw play last week at Cooks Hill and I have to say, they were not as convincing as they were when I saw them play the Cookers in the reverse leg. They stumbled home for a draw and now they have to step it up if they want to overcome a keen Valentine side.

Lakes will be keeping a keen eye on this result and I feel like it'll swing their way as I'm tipping a 1-1 draw at Blacksmiths Oval. The minor-premiership race in this grade is set for a thrilling final day ending. Don't forget, Lakes still have a game in hand.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 1-1 Valentine

Under 17's: Belmont-Swansea (6th) v Valentine F.C (9th)
Kickoff: Sunday 2/8 9:15am
Last Time They Met: Valentine 0-1 Belmont-Swansea

Valentine's Under 17's have failed to match the result of their older squads but they've got a foundation for next season and of course will possibly be playing in the NPL come 2016. They've had a tough year but not as tough as a couple of the other Under 17 squads.

Belmont-Swansea got the job done at Cooks Hill last week and from the sideline, they looked like a quality defensive outfit and one that was quick to close down opportunities for the other side. The Belswans' 17's won at Cahill Oval earlier this season and I'm tipping them to do it again at Blacksmiths on Sunday morning.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 2-0 Valentine


1st Grade: West Wallsend (11th) v Cooks Hill United (7th)
Kickoff: Sunday 2/8 2:30pm
Last Time They Met: Cooks Hill 2-1 West Wallsend

Cooks Hill United will most likely be happy to end their season on Sunday. The Cookers' maiden New-FM campaign started strongly but a poor second-half of the season and with five straight defeats going into this game, the Cookers will surely be prepped for a big effort on Sunday. In my opinion, they have to win, they simply have to.

With all due respect to West Wallsend, they've hit rock bottom and last week's heavy loss to Thornton was arguably their worst result yet. Both teams will be desperate for victory but I feel like Cooks Hill United have more riding on this than West Wallsend.

My Tip: West Wallsend 0-2 Cooks Hill United

Under 23's: West Wallsend (11th) v Cooks Hill United (6th)
Kickoff: Sunday 2/8 12:45pm
Last Time They Met: Cooks Hill 3-1 West Wallsend

With finals out of the question for both these teams, hopefully this will be a free-flowing and high-attacking game as Cooks Hill travel to Johnston Park. The Bluebells are dead last and will be fighting tooth and nail to get a win on the board but Cooks Hill's 23's have been in some decent form as of late and really showed some quality against Belswans last week. I'm tipping the visitors in this one.

My Tip: West Wallsend 0-2 Cooks Hill United

Under 19's: West Wallsend (6th) v Cooks Hill United (4th)
Kickoff: Sunday 2/8 11:00am
Last Time They Met: Cooks Hill 1-0 West Wallsend

Cooks Hill's 19's took it to Belswans last week and were perhaps unlucky not to leave the Athletics Field with all three points. Whilst the Cookers 17's have struggled recently, the 19's have been quality over the last month or so. There's some very decent players in that squad.

West Wallsend were big winners over Thornton last weekend and will be full of confidence in front of their home crowd. I feel like Cooks Hill will get the win though as they'll know this is the last chance to impress before the finals series. Going into the finals off the back of a loss is not good preparation.

My Tip: West Wallsend 1-3 Cooks Hill United

Under 17's: West Wallsend (5th) v Cooks Hill United (4th)
Kickoff: Sunday 2/8 9:15am
Last Time They Met: Cooks Hill 2-1 West Wallsend

West Wallsend have a rough brand of football that they're becoming very well known for. It's one that has ultimately seen them cop a lot of yellow cards and a few reds as well. This isn't just 17's, this is all four grades. Westy have discipline issues and even someone who plays New-FM for them admitted this to me last week. It's something that needs to be looked at in the off-season.

Cooks Hill United's Under 17's have lost their way in the second half of the season. Perhaps the thought of them not being able to miss the finals played a part in recent week's but truth has to be told, they need to improve now or face being dumped out of the finals rather unceremoniously by either Kahibah or Lakes.

I feel like the Cookers will benefit from a tough game against a West Wallsend side that will be looking to score their fourth-straight victory. It was fiery when these sides met earlier in the season and Cooks Hill came out on top. This time round I feel Westy will bring even more to the table. They've got quality attackers in this squad and they'll need them on Sunday.

As I said though, the Cookers need to produce the goods ahead of the playoffs. They've got the bye next weekend which makes Sunday's fixture their last before the finals series. Cookers for me here.

My Tip: West Wallsend 1-2 Cooks Hill United


1st Grade: Kahibah F.C (4th) v Wallsend F.C (3rd)
Kickoff: Sunday 2/8 2:30pm
Last Time They Met: Wallsend 2-0 Kahibah

Kahibah F.C have it all to play for on Sunday. A win would guarantee them a spot in the Semi Finals in their first season of New-FM 1st Division action and it certainly wouldn't be undeserved as the team in green and black have been solid all year under the strong leadership of Andre Gumprecht.

Wallsend were sloppy winners last week against Cessnock City and were arguably lucky to come away from that game with the three points. The Red Devils are safely in the finals so I judge that Kahibah will just put in that little more effort in this game.

That being said, Wallsend will not go down easily but their form has been inconsistent over the past month or so and Kahibah will know very well that this game could be the one that seals them a finals berth.

My Tip: Kahibah 2-1 Wallsend

Under 23's: Kahibah F.C (5th) v Wallsend F.C (8th)
Kickoff: Sunday 2/8 12:45pm
Last Time They Met: Wallsend 1-1 Kahibah

Kahibah's finals hopes will be over if they can't win against Wallsend on the weekend so I feel like they will put in all they can to produce a result. They were 3-0 winners over Toronto last week whilst Wallsend lost to Cessnock by the same scoreline. Kahibah at home should get the job done.

My Tip: Kahibah 3-1 Wallsend

Under 19's: Kahibah F.C (5th) v Wallsend F.C (9th)
Kickoff: Sunday 2/8 11:00am
Last Time They Met: Wallsend 1-2 Kahibah

I'm not a big fan of dead rubbers. Sure the two teams will be prepped for this game but trying to come up with a thoughtful preview can be a tad difficult. Wallsend put on a quality match with Cessnock last weekend so the dead rubbers can sometimes produce an entertaining, free-flowing game between two sides who have nothing to lose.

Kahibah really did a number on Toronto-Awaba last weekend and at home, I think they'll like their chances against a Wallsend side that they've already beaten once in 2015.

My Tip: Kahibah 3-1 Wallsend's Under 17 Match of the Round
Under 17's: Kahibah F.C (1st) v Wallsend F.C (3rd)
Kickoff: Sunday 2/8 9:15am
Last Time They Met: Wallsend 1-3 Kahibah

Last time these sides met, they produced not an infamous game but an infamous scoreline. The same infamous scoreline that Northern took a month and a half (or until I mentioned it on here) to put up on Fox Sports Pulse. I know it's sour grapes but I had people wondering why my ladders were different to the official ones and it was a bit of a headache.

Anyway, this is a crucial match as Kahibah put their premiership hopes on the line. Lakes still have a game in hand, against Wallsend and if the Green and Blacks fail to get maximum points, they'll have to beat the undefeated Lakes on the final day of the season.

Wallsend were all class in their 7-0 (that scoreline again) victory over Cessnock City last weekend but they'll need to step up against a very strong Kahibah outfit. Just a quick fun fact, I've counted six games in the past two months that have ended 7-0 in the Under 17's, including two last week. That won't mean a thing for this game between two quality sides.

Last time they met, Kahibah were victorious away from home and in my opinion, I think they'll be able to do the same at home against the Red Devils. This is a key match-up for the home side.

Barring a miraculous goal difference turn-around for Cooks Hill, Wallsend will finish third regardless of their last three results. They can however influence who finishes with the minor premier's medallions. They play both Kahibah and Lakes over the next two weeks so they'll definitely go into the playoffs with some knowledge of their opponents.

As for this game, I'm tipping Kahibah.

My Tip: Kahibah 2-1 Wallsend


1st Grade: Lake Macquarie City (2nd) v Thornton Redbacks (8th)
Kickoff: Sunday 2/8 2:30pm
Last Time They Met: Thornton 1-6 Lakes

Thornton were beaten last night by Kahibah but put four past hapless West Wallsend on the weekend. Confidence will be needed going into this match against a Lakes side that have crashed out of the promotion race. The Roosters will no doubt feel as though they should finish inside the top two and they can go a long way towards securing a top two finish with a win on Sunday.

When these sides met earlier in the season, Lakes eased to a 6-1 win and at home I feel like they will get the three points. Consistency is key going into the playoffs and Lakes really do need to return to the winners' circle.

My Tip: Lakes 4-1 Thornton's Under 23 Match of the Round
Under 23's: Lake Macquarie City (4th) v Thornton Redbacks (3rd)
Kickoff: Sunday 2/8 12:45pm
Last Time They Met: Thornton 0-1 Lakes

This one is a very important match for both sides as the winner will go a long way towards securing third spot on the table and as a result, avoid runaway premiers Valentine in the Semi Finals. Lakes especially will want to avoid the Phoenix after losing 6-0 at home to the ladder-leaders in their last home match. I'm tipping Lakes to get over the line in this match. 

My Tip: Lakes 3-2 Thornton

Under 19's: Lake Macquarie City (2nd) v Thornton Redbacks (7th)
Kickoff: Sunday 2/8 11:00am
Last Time They Met: Thornton 0-4 Lakes

Thornton's Under 19's were on the back end of a rather disappointing loss to West Wallsend on their home turf last weekend. I fear for their chances against a minor premiership-chasing Lakes outfit on Sunday. The Roosters are locked in a intriguing three-way race for the title and nothing short of a win here would be a poor result for the boys from Macquarie Field. Their last home match was a 7-0 smashing of premiership-hopefuls Valentine and I think they'll brush Thornton aside in this one.

My Tip: Lakes 5-0 Thornton

Under 17's: Lake Macquarie City (2nd) v Thornton Redbacks (11th)
Kickoff: Sunday 2/8 9:15am
Last Time They Met: Thornton 0-3 Lakes

I'd love to see the Redback 17's pick up just one win in their remaining two games as it's never good to see a side go through the whole campaign without a win. They produced a stellar effort and scored three last week in a losing effort against West Wallsend but unfortunately, I feel like they're going to be put through the ringer for a lack of a better term by a classy Lakes outfit. The Roosters put seven past Singleton last week and could very well do the same to Thornton. That 7-0 scoreline keeps popping up in this comp.

My Tip: Lakes 7-0 Thornton


1st Grade: Toronto-Awaba (9th) v Singleton (6th)
Kickoff: Sunday 2/8 2:30pm
Last Time They Met: Singleton 1-2 Toronto

Singleton picked up a massive win over Lakes last week, crazy if anything, as they pulled off a nine-goal thriller over the Roosters at Howe Park. Their finals hopes gained a slight boost but were dashed by Kahibah's mid-week win against Thornton. Singleton will need to win both remaining fixtures and rely on Kahibah losing theirs. Not impossible but considering Belswans are still alive in the finals hunt, the Strikers don't have the best of chances.

Toronto-Awaba were beaten by Kahibah last week but will no doubt want to win this one to move away from a potential wooden spoon. Singleton though have been a tough side to predict some weeks and on their day, they can match it with the best. They've beaten Lakes twice this season and I feel like they can do the same to nearby Toronto-Awaba.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 1-2 Singleton

Under 23's: Toronto-Awaba (10th) v Singleton (9th)
Kickoff: Sunday 2/8 12:45pm
Last Time They Met: Singleton 3-1 Toronto

Both Toronto and Singleton go into the Under 23's match-up backing up from a 3-0 loss last week, to Kahibah and Lakes respectively. Toronto I feel have more riding on this game. A win would go a long way towards safety away from the wooden spoon and considering they lost the away match to Singleton, the Stags will be keen to get a win on the board in Sunday's match-up.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 2-0 Singleton 

Under 19's: Toronto-Awaba (11th) v Singleton (10th)
Kickoff: Sunday 2/8 11:00am
Last Time They Met: Singleton 2-1 Toronto

These are the games that I don't really enjoy previewing but this one in particular has a bit riding on the result. The wooden spoon could potentially be decided on Sunday at Lyall Peacock Field. Toronto-Awaba are winless in 2015 but I saw their match against Cooks Hill two weeks back and they didn't look too bad at all.

I saw Singleton play not too long ago and they weren't impressive what so ever so I feel like Toronto will go into this one believing that they're a chance of picking up their first win of the season. At home in front of their own club, this is do or die football for the Stags' 19's. It's a crucial match for both sides.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 2-1 Singleton

Under 17's: Toronto-Awaba (8th) v Singleton (7th)
Kickoff: Sunday 2/8 9:15am
Last Time They Met: Singleton 6-2 Toronto

Neither of these teams are any chance of playing finals football but pride is still on the line as well as seventh spot on the table as Toronto-Awaba host Singleton. Earlier this season, Toronto were smashed for six by a Singleton team who haven't hit great heights in 2015 so no doubt the Stags will be primed for a big result on Sunday. I think the Stags will get over the line against a Singleton side that were soundly beaten by Lakes last week.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 3-1 Singleton