Thursday, 27 August 2015

PREVIEW: Zone League Semi Finals Week 1


ZPL Semi Final 1st Leg
Cardiff City (4th) v Beresfield United (1st)
Kickoff: Saturday 29/8 3:00pm
2015 Meetings: CAR 1-1 BER & BER 4-2 CAR

Cardiff City's form over the middle part of the season is what got them to the Semi Finals but 4-2 losses to their opponents on Saturday, ZPL Minor Premiers Beresfield United and to mid-table side New Lambton has seen the Tigers drop to fourth. It's not the sort of form you want to enter a Semi Final with.

Beresfield United have cruised home in the race for top spot and have been by far the best team in the Zone Premier League this season. They'd almost have a cause for New-FM promotion if not for their ground facilities holding them back. I have no doubts that the Hawks will get to New-FM sometime in the next decade.

Beresfield suffered their first loss of the season last week to Dudley-Redhead and I'm not sure whether they rested some players or what happened but it's certainly not a cause for worry. Cardiff City will need to defend their backsides off. If Beresfield can get some away goals than this tie could be over before you know it. I think the Hawks will get the win.

My Tip: Cardiff City 1-3 Beresfield United

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ZPL Semi Final 1st Leg
Swansea F.C (3rd) v Newcastle Suns (2nd)
Kickoff: Sunday 30/8 3:00pm
2015 Meetings: NSU 3-4 SWA & SWA 0-1 NSU

The late season form of both these sides has been impressive, especially the Newcastle Suns who in their first ZPL season have finished runner-up to Minor Premiers Beresfield United. The little brother to Broadmeadow Magic, Newcastle Suns have won five straight, including a hard-fought 1-0 win against Swansea at Chapman Oval.

Swansea's form hasn't been as impressive but they possess a very tough style and are very hard to beat. I doubt there'll be too many goals in this one and as with the other game, I feel as though Swansea will need to work hard to not allow the Suns a chance to score any away goals. I think it'll be the visitors who win but you never quiet know do you.

My Tip: Swansea F.C 1-2 Newcastle Suns


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ZL1 Semi Final 1st Leg
Stockton Sharks (4th) v Morisset United (1st)
Kickoff: Saturday 29/8 3:00pm
2015 Meetings: MOR 3-2 STO & STO 1-1 MOR

Make no doubt, Saturday is a big day for the Stockton Sharks as they host ZL1 Minor Premiers Morisset United at Corroba Oval. It's been a successful year for the Sharks and they're eyeing off a dream Grand Final appearance. They've matched it with Morisset in both games and drew the home game against the Strikers so the dream is definitely alive.

Morisset United have been superb all season in this competition and would consider it a disappointment if they don't make the Grand Final. The ZL1 GF is at Speers Point so I feel as though Morisset would bring a decent crowd backing up the road to Macquarie Field. Don't get me wrong, so would Stockton, a GF appearance for the Sharks would be massive.

Stockton's form has been impressive with wins over Kotara South and Charlestown as of late. Home draws against Cooks Hill United and yes, their opponents on Saturday Morisset have been an indication that there's some quality in the Stockton squad. A 3-3 draw with cellar-dwellers Westlakes Wildcats last week wouldn't have helped. I'm going tip the Sharks to earn a draw, and Morisset to score a vital away goal.

My Tip: Stockton 1-1 Morisset

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ZL1 Semi Final 1st Leg
Warners Bay (3rd) v Cooks Hill United (2nd)
Kickoff: Sunday 30/8 3:00pm
2015 Meetings: CHU 1-2 WAR & WAR 1-1 CHU

Warners Bay finished behind Cooks Hill on the table only due to goal difference and based on results this season, they have Cooks Hill's number. The Cookers have a fair few players who have featured in Grand Final after Grand Final in the Zone Premier League and they'll no doubt want to be there on the final day again in 2015. The club have found success in the New-FM league but they're history in the Zone competition cannot be undersold.

Warners Bay come into this week's Semi Final with five wins from their last six starts, the only blemish in that time was a 1-1 draw at home to Cooks Hill United. I feel like the Bay will see this Sunday's first leg as a crucial chance to put some pressure on the Cookers. I'm going to tip a 1-1 draw like the last time these sides met. I feel as though it'll be decided next week at the AthField.

My Tip: Warners Bay 1-1 Cooks Hill United



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ZL2 Semi Final 1st Leg
Hamilton Olympic (3rd) v University F.C (2nd)
Kickoff: Saturday 29/8 3:00pm
2015 Meetings: UNI 1-0 HAM & HAM 3-1 UNI

This one is an interesting one as both teams share a win against the other throughout season 2015. It's good to see Hamilton Olympic allow their Zone boys to use Darling Street Oval for this Semi Final and I feel as though that'll create a bit of atmosphere compared to Islington Park.

Olympic were storming towards the Semi Final with five straight wins before losing a nine-goal thriller away to Kurri Kurri. University's form has been decent but losses to Minor Premiers Raymond Terrace and Hamilton really stick out. The Uni will need to turn around a 3-1 away loss to Hamilton a few weeks back and produce the goods on Saturday. I'm tipping a Hamilton win though.

My Tip: Hamilton 2-0 University

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ZL2 Semi Final 1st Leg
Hunter Simba (4th) v Raymond Terrace (1st)
Kickoff: Saturday 29/8 3:00pm
2015 Meetings: RAY 2-2 SIM & SIM 0-5 RAY

It's a big day for the Hunter Simba as they play host to a Semi Final clash with Raymond Terrace. The proud ethnic-backed club have a passionate community following and it's good to see them find success this season and good to see them rewarded with the chance to host a Semi Final. I'm sure there'll be a lot of noise coming from the TAFE No.2 field on Saturday afternoon.

Raymond Terrace are no easybeats, in fact they haven't lost a single game. They've played eighteen, won seventeen and drawn one. That one draw came at home to Hunter Simba. The Rangers have scored 88 goals in 18 games, just think about that for a second. This is a mountain of a challenge for Simba.

My Tip: Hunter Simba 1-3 Raymond Terrace



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ZL3 Semi Final 1st Leg
RAAF Williamtown (4th) v Wallsend F.C (1st)
Kickoff: Saturday 29/8 3:00pm
2015 Meetings: RAF 4-5 WAL & WAL 6-3 RAF

It's a big weekend for Wallsend F.C with their New-FM side playing in Sunday's Grand Final and the club's ZL3 side playing a Semi Final with RAAF Williamtown. Both these sides have been involved in some crazy scorelines this season (it's part and parcel of playing in Zone League Three).

Twice they've met this season, twice Wallsend have won and twice has there been nine goals scored. The RAAF cannot afford to have Wallsend score five away goals like they did at Tomago earlier in the season. Their from away from Tomago recently hasn't been impressive, especially a 6-3 loss to their opposition on Saturday at The Gardens.

Wallsend have lost just once this season (all the way back in May) and have won their last seven, including a 13-1 victory over a rather poor Mayfield side. I think the Red Devils will get the win here and I have a feeling it could be another one of those goalfests.

My Tip: RAAF Williamtown 3-4 Wallsend F.C

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ZL3 Semi Final 1st Leg
New Lambton F.C (3rd) v Dudley-Redhead Jr. (2nd)
Kickoff: Sunday 30/8 3:00pm
2015 Meetings: DUD 2-1 NLA & NLA 3-0 DUD

New Lambton F.C have found success in their first season in this grade and are no doubt eyeing off a potential Grand Final berth. Standing in their way is a tricky Dudley-Redhead side that have recorded three straight wins on the road to the Semi Finals.

New Lambton will have a lot of confidence going into this as their form (apart from a loss to minor premiers Wallsend) is superb. Their only other loss of the season came away to Dudley all the way back in the opening month and considering they beat Dudley at Alder Park 3-0 not that long ago, the Eagles will like their chances of a potential Grand Final.

My Tip: New Lambton 3-1 Dudley-Redhead



*For what it's worth, West Wallsend (the hosts of the 2015 ZL3 Grand Final) have asked me to write a match preview for the Grand Final on September 12th. It'd be great if the club's could send through their Semi Final goalscorers, I'll put up another remind closer to the date.

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