Thursday, 2 July 2015

PREVIEW: New-FM 1st Division Round 17's Match of the Round
1st Grade: Kahibah F.C (4th) v Valentine F.C (1st)
Kickoff: Sunday 5/7 2:30pm
Last Time They Met: Valentine F.C 2-2 Kahibah F.C

Valentine's run into the finals takes a massive step-up on Sunday when they face fourth-placed Kahibah F.C at Kahibah Oval. Valentine's promotion hopes go on the line in this one as a draw or loss would see them drop vital points and allow Lakes to take a stronghold at the top. The Phoenix still have games to play against both Wallsend and Lakes and also a tough outing against in-form Belmont-Swansea. It's not an easy run of fixtures at all.

Kahibah's win over Cooks Hill United last week saw them take the advantage in the race for finals football and if Matt Lee can fire like he did last week then there may well be trouble for the visitors. The Green and Blacks hold a four-point advantage over fifth-placed Belswans and also have a game in hand, albeit a tough fixture against Lakes on Wednesday the 15th.

Instead of beating around the bush some more I'll simply put, this is a very important games for both these sides. A loss for Valentine would see their promotion hopes take a dent whilst a loss for Kahibah could very well swing the door open for Belmont-Swansea to make a top-four push and with Cooks Hill still within distance, the Green and Blacks can't afford to slip up formwise.

Last time they met, Kahibah held Valentine to a 2-2 draw at Baxter Field so there's definitely a lot to like about Kahibah's chances on Sunday. However, Kahibah did manage to score four last weekend but Valentine scored eight so they're my tip for this one. Promotion is up for grabs and every win counts.

My Tip: Kahibah 2-3 Valentine's Under 23 Match of the Round
Under 23's: Kahibah F.C (5th) v Valentine F.C (1st)
Kickoff: Sunday 5/7 12:45pm
Last Time They Met: Valentine F.C 4-1 Kahibah F.C

Kahibah's Under 23's picked up a decent win at Cooks Hill last weekend but they face a much, much harder task this Sunday when runaway ladder-leaders Valentine come to town. The Phoenix 23's have had almost the perfect season with only the single loss to their name this year, against Thornton all the way back in Round 3. They're the form team of any New-FM grade.

Kahibah are threatening to take Thornton's spot in the top four but it's going to be a very tough ask to end Valentine's winning streak. Only a monumental collapse would deny Valentine of lifting the minor premiership and considering they beat Kahibah 4-1 last time they met, I think they deserve to be the favourites going into Sunday's game.

My Tip: Kahibah 1-3 Valentine's Under 19 Match of the Round
Under 19's: Kahibah F.C (5th) v Valentine F.C (2nd)
Kickoff: Sunday 5/7 11:00am
Last Time They Met: Valentine F.C 2-1 Kahibah F.C

Kahibah had a very decent day out at Cooks Hill last week although their Under 19's went down 5-1 so I don't give them too much of a chance to beat in-form Valentine. The Phoenix 19's are intent on chasing down Belmont-Swansea and perhaps win the minor premiership and considering they've already beaten Kahibah this season I think they'll like their chances going into this one.

My Tip: Kahibah 0-2 Valentine

Under 17's: Kahibah F.C (2nd) v Valentine F.C (8th)
Kickoff: Sunday 5/7 9:15am
Last Time They Met: Valentine F.C 2-1 Kahibah F.C

I witnessed first-hand what this Kahibah side could do when they put Cooks Hill to the sword last Saturday morning, winning 7-0 away from home. The Cookers fell apart in that game but Kahibah were all class across the park as they eased to a big win and one that temporarily took them to the top of the table.

The minor premiership isn't settled in the Under 17's just yet and if Kahibah can win this they could put a lot of pressure on Lakes who of course have the bye this week. Valentine picked up a win over Toronto last week but their form against the top four sides has been poor to say the very least. I think the Green and Black will reign supreme here.

My Tip: Kahibah 5-1 Valentine


1st Grade: Belmont-Swansea (5th) v West Wallsend (8th)
Kickoff: Sunday 5/7 2:30pm
Last Time They Met: West Wallsend 4-1 Belmont-Swansea

West Wallsend are back in action this week for the first time since their tough outing against Broadmeadow Magic in the FFA Cup and it doesn't get much harder in the New-FM 1st Division than an away trip to Belmont-Swansea at the moment. The Belswans are in good form and have big victories against Valentine and Wallsend under their belts so they're definitely the favourites going into this one.

Last time they met, West Wallsend were comfortable 4-1 victors but with Belswans in such good form I wouldn't be surprised to see that scoreline reversed. I know West Wallsend were short of fitness going into that horror show against Broadmeadow but the fact is they almost lost to a Zone League One side on the Saturday. Discipline is a worry for the Bluebells. They allowed Jesmond back into the game that day with three conceded penalties so they can't afford to give Belmont-Swansea the luxury of spot kicks this time.

This game could very well make or break Belmont-Swansea's finals hopes. With all five games kicking off at 2:30pm on Sunday, the Belswans won't have the luxury of knowing the all-important Kahibah v Valentine result so they have to go into this one believing that they could be just a single point outside the top four with a win. And with the form they're in, I can't tip against them.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 3-1 West Wallsend

Under 23's: Belmont-Swansea (6th) v West Wallsend (11th)
Kickoff: Sunday 5/7 12:45pm
Last Time They Met: West Wallsend 2-3 Belmont-Swansea

Belmont-Swansea are travelling well, sitting mid-table in the Under 23's and only just three points outside the top four, although they've played extra games than some of the teams above them so their finals hopes I'm not too certain about.

What I do know is they'll be confident going into this match with bottom-placed West Wallsend. The Bluebells have conceded eleven goals in their last two outings and unless things change I think they'll lose again on Sunday. Belmont-Swansea won 3-2 last time these sides met and I wouldn't be surprised if it's a wider margin this time if West Wallsend don't improve on their past few results.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 3-0 West Wallsend

Under 19's: Belmont-Swansea (1st) v West Wallsend (6th)
Kickoff: Sunday 5/7 11:00am
Last Time They Met: West Wallsend 0-3 Belmont-Swansea

I know I throw the words 'important game' around a fair bit and at this stage of the season nearly every game in every grade is important. The Belswans' 19's are leading the way at the top of the table but they must be fully aware of Valentine in second place and they'll know any slip-ups could open the door for the Phoenix.

West Wallsend I think need to win this to keep their finals hopes alive. They're nine points off fourth-placed Cooks Hill United and they risk falling even further behind if they fail to win on Sunday. I believe the Under 19's are Belswans' best chance of winning silverware this season and I think they'll get three points on Sunday.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 3-1 West Wallsend's Under 17 Match of the Round
Under 17's: Belmont-Swansea (7th) v West Wallsend (5th)
Kickoff: Sunday 5/7 9:15am
Last Time They Met: West Wallsend 6-3 Belmont-Swansea

Nearly every time I mention something about West Wallsend, I mention the fact that they have some decent youngsters coming through the ranks and it's certainly shown with their Under 17's currently sitting in fifth position. Belmont-Swansea have had their on and off days this year and unfortunately for them it's been more of the latter.

West Wallsend won a nine-goal thriller when these sides met back in Round 4 and whilst I don't think this one will produce a goalfest, I think the Bluebells deserve to go into this as favourites. West Wallsend's thin finals hopes would grow even thinner if they drop points here.

I'm making a cautious tip here as it wasn't too long ago that the Belswans' 17's ended Lakes' incredible winning streak. West Wallsend have some very good attackers in this grade and if they can fire they'll win it in my opinion.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 1-3 West Wallsend


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

Singleton's mid-season purple patch saw them overtake Cooks Hill United at one stage but the Strikers have fallen by the wayside in the race for finals as of late and a loss on Sunday could all but end their hopes of making the playoffs. It's an important game for Cooks Hill as well as they look to bounce back from the heavy 4-1 loss to Kahibah last week.

The Strikers were washed out last week at Thornton Park so they do have that game up their sleeve but their only chance of making the finals, apart from a win here, is for Kahibah to suffer a poor run of results and with the Green and Blacks still to play Valentine, Lakes twice and Wallsend, Singleton are still mathematically a chance, as are Cooks Hill.

Last time the sides met, Cooks Hill were comfortable 2-0 winners but this weekend is a danger game on the road. I don't have my own transport so won't be able to make this game which is a shame as I wouldn't have minded a nice road trip to Singleton. Both sides will be keen to win so it could very well be a cracker of a game.

Anyway as for my prediction I'm going with the visitors. Cooks Hill have been decent against the teams below them (excluding the 4-1 loss away to Thornton) and I think if they can string some passes together a bit more than last week than a win would be a possibility. Singleton are no easybeats so the Cookers will need to be at their best.

My Tip: Singleton 1-3 Cooks Hill United

Under 23's: Singleton (9th) v Cooks Hill United (8th)
Kickoff: Sunday 5/7 12:45pm
Last Time They Met: Cooks Hill United 1-0 Singleton

Cooks Hill's Under 23's are the first of the Cookers' sides to see their finals hopes go by the wayside. It's still mathematically possible but considering fourth-placed Thornton have two games in hand, I'd consider it very unlikely and honestly I think the Cookers 23's themselves would admit they haven't done enough to make finals this year.

Singleton were looking destined for the wooden spoon in the Under 23's but some recent wins has turned that around and a win on Sunday would go a long way towards seeing the Strikers avoid the dreaded spoon. The Cookers won 1-0 last time these sides met but that's not enough to turn me against tipping the home side in this one.

My Tip: Singleton 2-1 Cooks Hill United

Under 19's: Singleton (10th) v Cooks Hill United (4th)
Kickoff: Sunday 5/7 11:00am
Last Time They Met: Cooks Hill United 2-0 Singleton

It's no secret I'm a Cookers man and try to get to all their games (except maybe at Singleton!) and I've been very impressed in recent times with the Under 19's. They're in great form and looking destined to play finals football, a great achievement for the club in it's first New-FM season, albeit with a few players not originally at Cooks Hill.

Singleton's 19's have just the lone win this season and to be brutally honest, if Cooks Hill want to make the finals and challenge for the title and not just make up the numbers, they need to be winning games like this one. Singleton lost 2-0 at Cooks Hill earlier this season but looking at recent form, I think it could very well be more if Cooks Hill play to their best.

My Tip: Singleton 1-5 Cooks Hill United

Under 17's: Singleton (6th) v Cooks Hill United (3rd)
Kickoff: Sunday 5/7 9:15am
Last Time They Met: Cooks Hill United 1-0 Singleton

It's arguably do or die for Singleton's already slim finals hopes when they host Cooks Hill United on Sunday morning. The Cookers are coming off an absolute horror show against Kahibah last week and will be missing a couple of players due to suspension and injury. Still the depth Cooks Hill have is very strong to say the least.

Singleton have been in decent form in their last few games but playing a Cooks Hill side coming off their worse loss of the season will be a tough ask for the Strikers' 17's. I think Cooks Hill will want to win this one and win it well. They've got top of the table Lakes next week and will be aiming to send a message to the currently shaky ladder-leaders that they may throw a spanner into the works when it comes to the title race between Lakes and Kahibah. 

As for this game, I'm tipping Cooks Hill to bounce back from the heavy loss last week and trust me it's not very often I tip a team to win when they're coming off a 7-0 loss.

My Tip: Singleton 1-4 Cooks Hill United


1st Grade: Toronto-Awaba (11th) v Cessnock City (10th)
Kickoff: Sunday 5/7 2:30pm
Last Time They Met: Cessnock City 2-0 Toronto-Awaba

This is a genuine 'six-pointer' if ever I've seen one as last-placed Toronto-Awaba face second-last Cessnock City at Lyall Peacock Oval. The winner of this game could go a long way towards avoiding the wooden spoon, especially if Thornton fail to beat Wallsend on Sunday.

The Stags amazingly have six of their last seven games at home. They've already played and lost 3-1 to Lakes last night but they had the lead at one stage and recent results tend to suggest that the Stags would be the favourites going into this one. Just ignore the fact that they lost 8-2 to Valentine last week!

Cessnock would be bottom of the table right now if it wasn't for a run of draws they've had recently, including a very decent 1-1 draw at home to Kahibah. The Hornets though haven't won since their 1-0 away victory at Belmont-Swansea in Round 6, all the way back on April 12th. They desperately need three points sooner rather than later or risk being handed the wooden spoon.

As for my tip in this all-important bottom-of-the-table clash I can't go past Toronto-Awaba at home. The Stags have lost all five home games this season so they're due for some success at Lyall Peacock and considering they've got a fair few games to play there, they'd love nothing more than to beat Cessnock and maybe begin to string some form together and record an admirable mid-table finish.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 2-0 Cessnock City

Under 23's: Toronto-Awaba (10th) v Cessnock City (3rd)
Kickoff: Sunday 5/7 12:45pm
Last Time They Met: Cessnock City 5-1 Toronto-Awaba

Cessnock City's Under 23's just need to keep winning to keep their spot in the top four alive. They'll know Kahibah have two games in hand and could very well dump the Hornets out of the four if Cessnock can't keep getting victories. The Hornets have been in irregular form as of late with losses against Singleton and Lakes along with an impressive 3-0 win over Kahibah.

Toronto-Awaba haven't done much lately to give me enough confidence to tip them to win at Cessnock. Last week's 6-0 loss to Valentine was a tough one to take and considering Cessnock won the original meeting between these two sides 5-1, it could be another long day for the Stags' reserve side.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 0-4 Cessnock City

Under 19's: Toronto-Awaba (11th) v Cessnock City (9th)
Kickoff: Sunday 5/7 11:00am
Last Time They Met: Cessnock City 3-1 Toronto-Awaba

I'm not the biggest fan of previewing lower-table clashes and that's with all due respect to these two sides. You tell me you'd rather write about Hull v QPR and not Chelsea v Manchester City. Anyway onto the preview. Toronto are only two spots behind Cessnock on the league table but are a whopping ten points behind the Hornets.

Cessnock City won the last meeting of these two sides although I was told they've had some troubles with injuries and numbers this season. Their form as of late has been rather awful, albeit with games against the top sides so I'm cautious in tipping them but I'm tipping them nonetheless.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 1-3 Cessnock City

Under 17's: Toronto-Awaba (9th) v Cessnock City (10th)
Kickoff: Sunday 5/7 9:15am
Last Time They Met: Cessnock City 1-8 Toronto-Awaba

Cessnock's Under 17's have failed to hit any great heights this season and they won't have fond memories of their last game against Toronto-Awaba. It was a horror show in every sense of the occasion with the Stags running out 8-1 winners.

Toronto's Under 17's were performing well during the opening month and half of the season but their campaign has gone off track in recent times. A couple of their losses were slightly unlucky but at the end of the day, the Stags haven't achieved what they set out too when they were making bold statements like the 8-1 victory early on in the season. I think Toronto will get the win over a struggling Cessnock side on the weekend.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 5-0 Cessnock City


1st Grade: Thornton (9th) v Wallsend F.C (3rd)
Kickoff: Sunday 5/7 2:30pm
Last Time They Met: Wallsend 3-1 Thornton

I'm fairly certain Wallsend's away kits are purple and they'll need them on Sunday when they travel to Thornton Park to take on the Redbacks. Thornton were washed out last week but were generally unimpressive in their last outing, a 3-1 loss to Cooks Hill.

Thornton's last home game though was the shock 1-0 win over Valentine so they'll be keen to do the same to a Wallsend side that saw their superb winning streak come to a crashing end at the hands of Belmont-Swansea last Sunday. The Red Devils can't afford to lose this one or their title hopes will be rapidly fading.

Wallsend have a make or break game against Lakes next Wednesday which I hopefully will be attending to watch one of the games of the season and they'd love nothing more than to get back into form with a win on Sunday going into such an important match. The Redbacks are unpredictable and can trouble the top teams on their best day so it's a danger game but one I'm tipping Wallsend to come out of with the victory.

My Tip: Thornton 1-3 Wallsend F.C

Under 23's: Thornton (4th) v Wallsend F.C (7th)
Kickoff: Sunday 5/7 12:45pm
Last Time They Met: Wallsend 2-4 Thornton

Wallsend have seen some improved results as of late and if they can knock off Thornton on Sunday, they'll be just three points away from the top four. Long story short, this is a must-win game for the Redbacks. Thornton beat Cooks Hill 3-2 last time out which avenged that shocking night when the Cookers came back from the dead to end the Redbacks' unbeaten streak.

Wallsend will need a big effort to get over a Thornton side that know they threw away a top two spot. The best result for the Redbacks now would to overtake Cessnock, finish third and avoid facing Valentine in the Semi Finals. Anyway as for this week's game, I think the Redbacks will win it.

My Tip: Thornton 2-0 Wallsend

Under 19's: Thornton (7th) v Wallsend F.C (8th)
Kickoff: Sunday 5/7 11:00am
Last Time They Met: Wallsend 1-0 Thornton

Both these teams haven't been in that good of form as of late and despite sitting below the Redbacks on the table, I think Wallsend have a bit more going for them at the moment. The Red Devils took top of the table Belswans to the limit last week and looking at recent results I can see them just getting over the line in this one.

Interestingly, Thornton are yet to draw a game in 13 outings this season so rule that out and considering my original thought was to tip the visitors, I'm going with the Red Devils. Not to mention the fact that Wallsend won the last clash between these sides back in Round 4.

My Tip: Thornton 0-1 Wallsend

Under 17's: Thornton (11th) v Wallsend F.C (4th)
Kickoff: Sunday 5/7 9:15am
Last Time They Met: Wallsend 5-1 Thornton

I tipped Thornton's 17's to pick up their first win of the season last week against Singleton but unfortunately the game was postponed and will now be played on Tuesday July 21st. I said after their late 1-0 loss at Cooks Hill that they'll win a game this season and I stand by that statement...just not this week.

Wallsend have their arch rivals West Wallsend not too far behind them in fifth-place on the Under 17's table so a win here is a paramount to their finals hopes. Let's face it, a team on 26 points should beat a team on 3 points. As I said I think Thornton have some decent players just a lack of confidence and missing that final touch. Wallsend in this one.

My Tip: Thornton 1-4 Wallsend

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