Friday, 26 August 2016

NPL & Zone League Semi Finals (Weekend of 27th/28th August)

Northern NSW NPL 2nd Leg Semi Finals 

Saturday August 27th
Jack McLaughlan Oval, Edgeworth
First Grade-Edgeworth F.C v Maitland F.C (2:00pm)
Under 22's-Broadmeadow Magic v Weston Workers (12:00pm)
Under 19's-Emerging Jets v Weston Workers (10:00am)

Saturday August 27th
Darling Street Oval, Hamilton
First Grade-Hamilton Olympic v Broadmeadow Magic (6:30pm)
Under 22's-Hamilton Olympic v Emerging Jets (4:30pm)
Under 19's-Broadmeadow Magic v Hamilton Olympic (2:30pm)

NPL Youth

Sunday August 28th
Darling Street Oval, Hamilton
Under 13's-Hamilton Olympic v Football Mid North Coast (10:00am)
Under 14's-Broadmeadow Magic v Emerging Jets (11:30am)
Under 15's-Emerging Jets v Football Mid North Coast (1:00pm)
Under 17's-Broadmeadow Magic v Emerging Jets (2:30pm)

Sunday August 28th
Adamstown Oval, Adamstown
Under 13's-Weston Workers v Emerging Jets (10:00am)
Under 14's-Football Mid North Coast v Weston Workers (11:30am)
Under 15's-Adamstown Rosebud v Lambton Jaffas (1:00pm)
Under 17's-Hamilton Olympic v Adamstown Rosebud (2:30pm)


Zone Football League 1st Leg Semi Finals

Saturday August 27th
Connolly Park, Carrington
First Grade-Newcastle Suns v Mayfield United (3:00pm)
Reserve Grade-Mayfield United v New Lambton (1:15pm)
Third Grade-Beresfield United v University F.C (11:30am)

Sunday August 28th
Ray Watt Oval, Callaghan
First Grade-University F.C v Dudley-Redhead (3:00pm)
Reserve Grade-Dudley-Redhead v University F.C (1:15pm)
Third Grade-New Lambton v Dudley-Redhead (11:30am)


Saturday August 27th
Corroba Oval, Stockton
First Grade-Stockton Sharks v Jesmond F.C (3:00pm)
Reserve Grade-Jesmond F.C v Warners Bay (1:15pm)
Third Grade-Barnsley v Cooks Hill United (11:30am)

Sunday August 28th
King Park, Raymond Terrace
First Grade-Raymond Terrace v Cooks Hill United (3:00pm)
Reserve Grade-Cooks Hill United v Kotara South (1:15pm)
Third Grade-Jesmond F.C v Kotara South (11:30am)


Saturday August 27th
Victoria Park, Muswellbrook
First Grade-Muswellbrook F.C v Westlakes Wildcats (3:00pm)
Reserve Grade-University F.C v Hamilton Olympic (1:15pm)

Sunday August 28th
Islington Park, Islington
First Grade-Hamilton Olympic v Wallsend F.C (3:00pm)
Reserve Grade-Wallsend F.C v Westlakes Wildcats (1:15pm)


Saturday August 27th
Victoria Road Complex, Bolwarra
First Grade-Bolwarra-Lorn v Argenton United (3:00pm)
Reserve Grade-Dudley-Redhead v Bolwarra-Lorn (1:15pm)

Sunday August 28th
Smith Park, Hamilton North
First Grade-Hamilton Azzurri v Kahibah F.C (3:00pm)
Reserve Grade-Argenton United v Kahibah F.C (1:15pm)

UEFA Champions League Group Stage Draw

The 2016/17 UEFA Champions League Group Stage draw was conducted in Monaco this morning and Newysports has decided to take a quick look through each group as well as make predictions for how it will all play out over the next few months.


Group A:
-Paris Saint Germain FC (France-Champions)
-Arsenal FC (England-2nd)
-FC Basel (Switzerland-Champions)
-PFC Ludogorets Razgrad (Bulgaria-Champions)

Arsenal fans will know all too well of their recent exploits in Europe. Six years in a row of being bundled out in the Round of 16 and when focusing on last year, they had to overcome a nervy Group Stage that almost saw them crash out to Olympiacos. 

Now the Gunners find themselves up against the might of PSG, albeit without Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Arsene Wenger's men have not played the French powerhouse since 1993/94 when they defeated PSG 2-1 on aggregate in a season that saw Arsenal win the UEFA Cup Winner's Cup.

Whilst PSG will threaten, Arsenal need to win the group to boost their knockout stage hopes. Coming 3rd and missing the ROF16 could be the end of Arsene Wenger's time. The Frenchman against PSG will be delightful to watch and no doubt is one of the matches of the group stage. 

Bulgarian champions Ludogorets Razgrad have a history with FC Basel. In 2013/14, they missed their first chance to play in the UCL Group Stage as they went down 6-2 on aggregate to the Swiss powerhouse. Then two years ago, the Bulgarian's picked up their only ever Group Stage win with a 1-0 home victory over Basel. They'll most likely battle it out with Basel to finish 3rd and guarantee Europa League knockout football.

Prediction: PSG without Zlatan is yet to debut on the European stage but that team are as strong as any in Europe. PSG to top the group and Arsenal to come in at 2nd behind them. Basel to take the Europa spot and Ludogorets to finish 4th.

Is this the year that Arsene Wenger's side finally break their Quarter Finakl drought?

Group B:
-SL Benfica (Portugal-Champions)
-SSC Napoli (Italy-2nd)
-FC Dynamo Kyiv (Ukraine-Champions)
-Besiktas JK (Turkey-Champions)

Benfica are the Portuguese champions and last year made the Quarter Finals of the UEFA Champions League. Overcoming Russian powerhouse Zenit St. Petersburg in the Round of 16 before losing out to Bayern Munich in the Quarter Finals. They'll be delighted with their group although it is admittedly a tricky one.

Napoli need no introduction. One of Italian football's all-time best sides and they'll be looking to qualify for the Round of 16. Dynamo Kyiv of the Ukraine cannot be underestimated and Turkish champions Besiktas completes what is a real testing group and one that is incredibly difficult to predict.

Prediction: Whilst Benfica enter as the top-ranked side, Napoli will like their chances of finishing top. The Italian's to top the group with Benfica behind and then Besiktas to beat out Dynamo Kyiv and take the Europa League spot.


Group C:
-FC Barcelona (Spain-Champions)
-Manchester City FC (England-4th)
-Borussia Monchengladbach (Germany-4th)
-Celtic FC (Scotland-Champions)

It wouldn't be the UEFA Champions League without a group of death and Group C proves to be just that. FC Barcelona are the kingpins of the group and a proven team in Europe whilst Manchester City are still looking to find a real foothold in the competition. Pep Guardiola will make a return to Camp Nou in what is a glamour clash.

It's those two teams that headline the group but Borussia Monchengladbach are one of Germany's most entertaining football sides and provided some decent clashes with City last season. And of course there's Celtic FC who need absolutely no introduction. Brendan Rodgers' side will look forward to filling Celtic Park for that Barcelona clash once again.

Prediction: This year is as good as any for Manchester City to become a powerhouse in Europe. Pep Guardiola is as serious as managers come and to one-up his old side would send a direct message around Europe that City are here to stay. Barcelona will finish top though. City behind and then Monchengladbach to finish 3rd.

The master tactician will look to take down one of his old side's and take City to new heights in Europe.

Group D:
-FC Bayern Munich (Germany-Champions)
-Athletico Madrid (Spain-3rd)
-PSV Eindhoven (Netherlands-1st)
-FC Rostov (Russia-2nd)

Group D provides a clash that is on par with a UCL Final as Bayern Munich and Athletico Madrid resume their big-time rivalry in European competition. Last year it was Athletico who sent the Germans' packing and no doubt, revenge will be on the cards.

PSV Eindhoven are the Dutch champions but will struggle against the might of the top two sides. Athletico and Bayern in the same group all but means PSV will be playing the compete in the Europa League. FC Rostov make their UEFA Champions League debut. The Russian outfit came from nowhere to finish 2nd last season; denied the title on the final day by CSKA Moscow.

Prediction: This one's easy enough to predict. Bayern top, Athletico 2nd, PSV 3rd and then FC Rostov last.


Group E
-CSKA Moscow (Russia-Champions)
-Bayer 04 Leverkusen (Germany-3rd)
-Tottenham Hotspur FC (England-4th)
-AS Monaco FC (France-3rd)

Tottenham Hotspur's return to the elite of European football comes with a fairly good-looking draw in the Group Stage. They downed Monaco last season with ease and will host them on Matchday 1 at new surroundings in the form of Wembley Stadium.

CSKA Moscow enter as the top-ranked side but are without doubt the firm outsiders. Bayer Leverkusen will like their chances of progressing as well so it's really another tough group to predict. Spurs will need to finish top to set up an easier trip through the Round of 16 but no doubt they'll need to produce the goods at tricky away venues like Leverkusen and of course the ever-tough trip to Moscow.

Prediction: CSKA Moscow will struggle and finish bottom. Monaco will take the Europa League spot whilst Tottenham will edge out the challenge of the German side Leverkusen and finish top of the group.

Tottenham were held to a 1-1 draw in Monaco last year but blasted them 4-1 at White Hart Lane.

Group F:
-Real Madrid CF (UCL Title Holders and Spain-2nd)
-Borussia Dortmund (Germany-2nd)
-Sporting Clube de Portugal (Portugal-2nd)
-Legia Warsaw (Poland-1st)

The European champions Real Madrid find themselves in Group F with a fellow powerhouse of European football in Borussia Dortmund. That is the glamour match-up of the group but Cristiano Ronaldo's clash with the side that made him in Sporting Lisbon will also be an interesting two matches to watch.

Legia Warsaw of Poland are the heavy-ranked outsiders of the group and only just made it in after edging out the fairytale side Dundalk of Ireland in the playoffs. Clashes with Real and Dortmund will likely break the attendance record at the Polish Army Stadium of just over 30,000. Big-money for the club but a massively tough ask to overcome the odds.

Prediction: Legia will be just making up the numbers in this tough group. Sporting would have enjoyed a place in an easier group whilst Dortmund and Real should cruise as they normally do at this stage of the competition. Real to finish top.


Group G:
-Leicester City FC (England-Champions)
-FC Porto (Portugal-2nd)
-Club Brugge KV (Belgium-1st)
-FC Copenhagen (Denmark-Champions)

It still feels strange to write Leicester City's name as the English champions but nonetheless, football's fairytale side of last season will make a stunning debut in the UEFA Champions League in what is essentially the easiest group one could ask for. There'll be no glamour match with Dortmund or Athletico. Instead they face Porto, Club Brugge and Copenhagen.

It's a very even group but Scandinavian powerhouse FC Copenhagen will probably enter as the outsiders. Club Brugge come from a very tough Belgian league but it's Porto and Leicester who'll most likely battle it out for top spot. Leicester City have a lot to prove and the potential is there to make the knockout stages.

Claudio Ranieri's side may never play in this competition again so making the absolute most of it is without a doubt crucial.  

Prediction: Leicester City are the favourites to win the group but FC Porto's experience will come in handy. The Portuguese side to take top spot whilst Club Brugge will deny Copenhagen the chance to play in the UEFA Europa League.

The unlikely EPL Champions are into the UEFA Champions League.

Group H
-Juventus FC (Italy-Champions)
-Sevilla FC (Europa League Winners and Spain-7th)
-Olympique Lyonnais (France-2nd)
-GNK Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia-Champions)

It wouldn't be the Champions League without Juventus. The Italian giants are back and the two time champions are looking to match the form that took them to the final two years ago. Last year they met their match in Bayern Munich in the Round of 16. That followed a Matchday 6 loss to none other than Sevilla.

The UEFA Europa League winners had a poor season domestically in Spain but lifted a third-straight Europa League crown to re-enter European football's elite competition. French side Lyon are a tricky side to take down as well and no side will be looking forward to a trip to a very hostile ground in Zagreb. 

Prediction: Juventus will flex their muscles and ease their way into the knockout stages. Anything short of topping the group will be a disappointment. Sevilla have proven themselves year-in year-out in the Europa League but this year is one of their best chances to avoid that competition and make the Round of 16. Lyon should edge out Dinamo Zagreb for 3rd.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

PREVIEW: 2016 New-FM 1st Division Grand Final Day

Under 17's Grand Final
Lake Macquarie City FC (1st) v West Wallsend SFC (2nd)
2016 Meetings: WWB 1-3 LMC & LMC 3-1 WWB
Kickoff: 9:00am

This is the Under 17's Grand Final neutrals have been hoping to see. The two best sides in the competition have warded off all challenges and now collide in the biggest match of the season. It should be one of the best U17's games this season and has a big chance of being the most entertaining match-up across the day on Grand Final day.

Lake Macquarie City have cruised at times this season in the Under 17's. A nine-game winning streak ended last weekend but they've only lost twice all season. West Wallsend on the other hand, come into the Grand Final with a nine-game winning streak in-tact and their only blemishes this year was a frustrating loss to lowly Thornton early on and of course, two losses to Lakes.

Semi Final Review: Lake Macquarie City were delighted to avoid the challenge of Cooks Hill United in the Semi Finals and overcame a lesser-attacking threat in Kahibah. A reasonably even 1st Leg was won 2-0 after some lapses from Kahibah's defence. The story of Lakes' Semi Final was their defensive line. Adam Mitchell and Adam Kenyon were ultra-solid at the back and kept Kahibah quiet for the majority of the two games.

West Wallsend didn't employ a defensive tactic like Lakes. They simply blew their opposition off the park. Derby rivals Wallsend were blasted 3-0 in the 1st Leg and then Westy cruised to a crushing 5-0 victory last weekend. 8-0 on aggregate and all the attacking confidence in the world. Their defensive line and goalkeeper Josh Snedden warded off any threat from Wallsend. They look incredibly solid across the park at the pointy end of the season.

Season Review: As mentioned, Lakes won both meetings this season. First-up wasn't a day where their reliable attackers shined. Instead players from midfield and further back produced the goods. Westy scored through Josh Knight but a brace to Kallum Garbett and a goal to Jack Smith gave the Roosters a 3-1 win in Round 3.

Defenders proved vital for Lakes in the Round 14 clash. Jaryd Hayter got a goal for Westy in the mid-week game but again a back scored a brace for Lakes, this time Adam Mitchell. Kurtis McRitchie rounded out another 3-1 victory in a game where Westy were without attackers Josh Knight and Khye Drayton.

Prediction: Lakes provided a defensive masterclass in both of their Semi Finals. As mentioned, Adam Mitchell and Adam Kenyon were both extremely solid throughout both games. They simply could not be broken and often started counter-attacks as well. It's a brick wall that Westy need to break through and then there's the reliable Brady McRitchie between the sticks.

West Wallsend though have the best attackers in the competition and the most in-form at the moment. Josh Knight and Jaryd Hayter in particular have been amazing this season and will take some stopping. They've got a rock-solid defensive line, a quality midfield and the best goalkeeper in the Under 17's competition in Josh Snedden. An all-round team that can strike from anywhere on the park.

This is a classic example of attack versus defence. Both teams possess incredible talent in both departments and it is going to be a highly-interesting contest. Attacking-wise, Lakes looked off in both Semi Finals whilst West Wallsend were clinical. It's Westy who'll have a huge crowd behind them and these players could bring a rare trophy back to Johnston Park.

My Prediction: Lake Macquarie City 1-3 West Wallsend


Under 19's Grand Final
Belmont-Swansea United (2nd) v West Wallsend SFC (4th)
2016 Meetings: BEL 2-1 WWB & WWB 2-2 BEL
Kickoff: 11:00am

The Under 19's Grand Final offers a major surprise packet. West Wallsend have overcome the odds and booked themselves a well-deserved Grand Final spot against a quality Belmont-Swansea side. It is a big time match-up on the biggest stage of all. Grand Final Day football at its finest.

Belmont-Swansea were arguably the best team this season. Ultimately they missed out on the premiership to Lakes due mainly to a 2-2 mid-week draw in the latter part of the season to West Wallsend. The Bluebells however started as the best side in the comp but their form has been patchy since then. Now they find themselves in the best form of the season at the perfect time.

Semi Final Review: Belmont-Swansea came out trumps in arguably the most entertaining of the eight Semi Final ties. Their clashes with Kahibah were fairly even and in the 2nd Leg, Dale Robertson's side found themselves under the pump before the reliable Joel Nicholson fired them into the Grand Final. A steely test over two legs that will have them primed for the big day.

West Wallsend were taken to the limit against minor premiers Lake Macquarie City. In the 1st Leg, the Bluebells won 2-0 despite being outplayed on the day and then they found themselves down 2-0 in the 2nd Leg within ten minutes. With some luck and some will they found what it took to down the Roosters. Matt Turner's Man of the Match performance and a vital goal from the #7 put them on the path to victory.

Season Review: These sides met for the first time all the way back in Round 2. James Barnes scored for Westy but goals from Will Dundas and Bien Simba gave Belswans a 2-1 lead. Dundas and Simba both enjoyed a quality Semi Final 1st Leg where they combined for the two goals once again and will be two of a few danger men for Westy to keep an eye out for.

Their second clash is the important one to note. By the time the Grand Final kicks off it'll be just past a month to the day that Belswans' saw their premiership hopes come crashing down as Westy drew them 2-2 in a hard-fought mid-week game. James Barnes and Sam Jones cancelled out an opener from Will Dundas but Joel Nicholson provided another crucial goal. That result proves that West Wallsend have every chance of grabbing a result on Sunday.

Prediction: A few weeks ago, this one would have been easy to call but West Wallsend's season has hit a high-point at the right time. After a mid-season slump, they've come from nowhere to make the Grand Final and send an impressive Lakes side crashing out. 

With the Westy 17's playing before them, there'll be a huge contingent of Bluebells' supporters on hand. As much as one would say it doesn't play a part, it certainly did help drive them to victory last week at Lakes.

Belmont-Swansea enter as the higher-ranked side and favourites but Westy have proven the doubters wrong time and time again. Belswans have better attackers than Lakes so the test in my mind will be greater. The Belswans boy's look primed for a huge Grand Final win. Their attack just edges out Westy's defensive line.

My Prediction: Belmont-Swansea 3-1 West Wallsend


Under 23's Grand Final
Lake Macquarie City FC (1st) v South Cardiff FC (3rd)
2016 Meetings: SOU 1-1 LMC & LMC 3-4 SOU
Kickoff: 1:00pm

Well here it is. The 23's Grand Final that for the better part of the season looked destined to happen. Lake Macquarie City were the runaway premiership winners and have sealed an expected spot in the Grand Final with the side looking to add the championship to their premiership trophy and complete the double.

Lakes no doubt have been by far the best side in this competition but not far behind them were South Cardiff for most of the campaign. The Gunners are a side that bring a hard physical game to every match they compete in but more importantly, an unpredictable style and they bring a real threat to Lake Macquarie City's double-winning plans.

Semi Final Review: Lake Macquarie City were frustrated by a testing Belmont-Swansea side in the 1st Leg but they came out 3-0 winners in the 2nd Leg with ease and were never really tested by a Belswans team that just imploded at times and fell away with no real challenge to the scoreline. The Roosters finished 5-1 winners on aggregate with the only blemish an own goal to defender Michael Wright who cancelled out that with the final goal of the game last weekend.

South Cardiff would have been delighted with a 2-0 win in the 1st Leg against a disappointing Cooks Hill side. Despite going down to ten men, the Gunners grabbed a lead and took that advantage to the 2nd Leg...a 2nd Leg that was completely one-way traffic as Southy smashed a poor Cooks Hill side with three goals in ten minutes to seal an easy spot in the Grand Final.

Meetings This Season: Interestingly, South Cardiff have not lost to the Roosters this season. Back in their first meeting, Southy's opener through Aaron Gunn was cancelled out in the 2nd Half by Jordan Harper. And then the infamous 2nd meeting finishing 4-3 to Southy and seeing them grab a finals spot thanks to a Trent Lamborn hat-trick. It's a good advantage for the Gunners to hold.

Prediction: Both of these sides love a physical battle. Lakes have been tested throughout the year and got into a fairly spicy match with Belswans last week that they of course came out winners. South Cardiff's got multiple players who try and get under the opposition skin. They've got a strong style to their game and they have attackers who can produce goals on their day.

The referee will play a key part nonetheless. If the officials crack down on the physical style early on then it will no doubt change the match. Neither side will back down though and it's sure to be an entertaining match up regardless of the result. Lake Macquarie City, despite not beating South Cardiff in two meetings this season will enter as favourites as they look to complete a trophy double in the Under 23's.

Attacking-wise, this may be the least entertaining of the four clashes as neither side possess a supreme striker. The 23's comp has often been a case of taking the chance when it comes. Defence will be crucial and the goalkeepers will play a big part. Don't expect more than two or three goals in this one.

My Prediction: Lake Macquarie City 2-1 South Cardiff


1st Grade Grand Final
Belmont-Swansea United (2nd) v Wallsend FC (4th)
2016 Meetings: WAL 0-3 BEL* & BEL 2-1 WAL
Kickoff: 3:00pm

What a way to end the season! Belmont-Swansea meeting Wallsend in the Grand Final has to be arguably the best match-up on paper you could ask for. A brilliant way to end an era before the division is potentially re-structured and re-named next season. It's all come down to this and it doesn't get any better.

Belmont-Swansea have been the standouts of the season. After losing their coach and having to ward off rumours of a lack of players, they proved every single doubter wrong and have made their first Grand Final since 1986. And how about Wallsend. They just do not go away. The defending champions have lost their coach, lost players and lost points but still they remain and they make another Grand Final.

Semi Final Review: Belmont-Swansea overcame a challenging Kahibah squad last weekend. A horror referee performance allowed the game to turn into a physical slug-fest at times and on a bumpy pitch, it was Belswans who scored a scrambled-in goal to book a Grand Final spot in a very tight match.

Wallsend F.C's Semi Final matches with Lakes played out in almost exactly the same fashion. They had a 1-1 lead from the 1st Leg and came out 1-0 winners with a scrappy goal just after half-time. Like Belswans, they weren't tested that much after grabbing the lead by a disappointing Lakes side and the Red Devils booked a spot in a second-straight Grand Final.

Season Review: The Round 11 meeting between these two sides will be forever tainted. Wallsend came from behind in one of the games of the season but they were later found out to be fielding a suspended player. The result was reserved and Belswans were given a 3-0 win by forfeit. Nonetheless, Wallsend won on the day and proved themselves to be a team that never gives in.

The second game, just three weeks ago, took place in the final round. Jake Kepreotes gave Wallsend a lead but Joel Shearer evened it up before young gun Joel Nicholson took all three points for Belswans. A dramatic 2-1 win to seal 2nd spot and set-up what eventually helped them in the end, a 2nd Leg Home Semi Final.

Prediction: Wallsend will be without a key player in the form of Cameron Tapp. He was shown a second yellow card last week and will devastatingly miss the Grand Final. Belswans have no such worries with potentially too many players to pick from for Brad Paul and Michael Stafford. It's a settled line-up at Blacksmiths.

Wallsend have won ugly at times this year and are always involved in tight matches. They don't possess the same attacking prowess as their opponents but it's experience that drives them on. Dave Hodgson has been enormous this season; player-coach, top scorer, he's helped guide the way and along with Chris Gazzard and Paul Wheeler, brings years of experience and more importantly, calmness to some of the younger players.

Defensively this will be a key game. Two of the very best New-FM goalkeepers will go head to head. Nick Popel has been a lifesaver for Belswans at times and the same can be said for Wallsend and Luke Jennings. The goalkeepers will need to be in the zone from the opening whistle as there could very well only be one goal in it.

The referee has an important job. Both teams are known for a physical style and whilst no doubt it'll be an entertaining tussle; a lenient referee, combined with a wet and muddy field could prove to be a match-killer. The niggle has to be cracked down on early and then good football should prevail.

If 2016 has taught anything, it's never underestimate either of these teams. Wallsend have overcome the odds time and time again and they could very well go back-to-back. There's a feeling of opportunity in the air at Belswans though. It's been thirty long years, era after era, and here they are. Grand Final day and a chance to make history.

My Prediction: Belmont-Swansea 2-1 Wallsend FC

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

PREVIEW: New-FM 1st Division Semi Finals-2nd Leg

Under 17's:
West Wallsend (2nd) v Wallsend F.C (3rd)
Kickoff: 9:00am
2016 Meetings: WWB 2-0 WAL & WAL 3-5 WWB
Last Week: Wallsend F.C 0-3 West Wallsend

1st Leg Review: These two sides played two hotly-contested matches during the regular season and it was more of the same at Kahibah Oval last weekend. West Wallsend however came away big winners and put on one of their best team displays of the season

Khye Drayton scored early on before fullback Jack Blomfield grabbed a delightful goal from range. Their victory was sealed with a towering header by captain Callum Melville. A Man of the Match display from Melville helped lead from the back in what was a true team performance.

Preview: At 3-0 down on away goals, the young Red Devils find themselves with the biggest test of any Semi Final side following the 1st leg. There's no doubting they've got classy attackers that can help turn it around but it's a mammoth test against a steely West Wallsend defensive line and the ever-reliable Josh Snedden in goals.

Wallsend can take some comfort knowing they played well last weekend. It wasn't if they weren't in the match. It just wasn't their day as Westy proved to be just a bit better. The 1st Grade Wallsend F.C side proved last season that 2nd leg comebacks can be possible but not grabbing an away goal last weekend makes this even more difficult.

Should West Wallsend score at all, the task becomes greater. Wallsend would need 4 goals if Westy find the back of the net at all at Blacksmiths. So as much as it'd be expected that Wallsend try and put a lot of work into their attack, it's the defensive line that needs to be extremely cautious. A tough job could be made tougher with Westy scoring a goal or two.

As mentioned earlier, West Wallsend have won three from three against their rivals this season and they'll be aiming to seal a Grand Final appearance in some style. Should Wallsend produce a comeback, it has to go down as one of the all-time great comebacks in two-legged Semi Final football in the New-FM competition.

Prediction: Nothing's impossible in football and a comeback is surely a chance but West Wallsend have too great a lead for my liking. The young Bluebells have not been held scoreless at all this season which means Wallsend realistically may need four goals or more. That 1st Leg was too damaging, especially taking away goals into account.

My Tip: West Wallsend 3-1 Wallsend F.C

Is there any stopping the Bluebells 17's? As it stands, they're on track for a GF appearance.

Wallsend F.C need all hands on deck this weekend if they want to produce a comeback.

Under 19's:
Belmont-Swansea (2nd) v Kahibah F.C (3rd)
Kickoff: 11:00am
2016 Meetings: BEL 2-3 KAH & KAH 2-3 BEL
Last Week: Kahibah FC 0-2 Belmont-Swansea

1st Leg Review: It was an even match on paper going into the fixture last weekend and that's how it played out in the first half. Belswans took their time settling in without main striker Joel Nicholson but they found two quickfire answers to their goalscoring questions in the 2nd half.

William Dundas produced a fine right-footed finish to fire them ahead 1-0 on away goals and then mere moments later, the 17's winger who gave an assist for the first goal, Bien Simba scored a goal of his own. Kahibah threatened but would go down 2-0 on the day.

Preview: Belswans would have been disappointed with missing out on the minor premiership but two weeks later they find themselves in a a dream position. 2-0 up on away goals with a home Semi Final and Joel Nicholson still to re-enter the squad after missing the game last weekend.

Kahibah are the sort of side who'll never say never and push Belswans all the way. Mat Moncrieff's side have enjoyed quality patches throughout the year. Ups and downs have been the story of the season and to progress to the Grand Final, they'll need their biggest win of the season at a tricky away venue.

Belswans' defensive line has been undersold this season by many as the action further forward has done all the work but last week's clean sheet would have no doubt pleased coach Dale Robertson. They haven't conceded a goal in their last two games and that's all they need to progress.

Belswans have some freedom to take a risk or two and with the combination of Dundas and Nicholson back together, it could be a long day for Kahibah. The Green and Blacks need the perfect storm of attack + defence to all come together and complete a gutsy comeback. It's more than possible meaning this game could be the best of the lot at Blacksmiths Oval.

Prediction: Kahibah won 3-2 last time they travelled to Blacksmiths but that scoreline wouldn't do enough for them this week. They need to be near-perfect and try and hold Belswans out. The home side proved themselves as a solid GF chance last week and they'll look to hammer it home this weekend. Expect Joel Nicholson on the scoresheet in an open game.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 4-2 Kahibah F.C

Bailey Chaplain was one of Kahibah's best last weekend.
William Dundas threw the credit to Bien Simba for his opening goal assist.

Under 23's:
Cooks Hill United (2nd) v South Cardiff (3rd)
Kickoff: 1:00pm
2016 Meetings: CHU 4-0 SOU & SOU 1-2 CHU
Last Week: South Cardiff 2-0 Cooks Hill United

1st Leg Review: It was probably the least entertaining of the eight matches last weekend and after a fairly tame first half, it all went one way in the second. Giles Boyd missed a vital penalty for Cooks Hill late in the 1st Half and it kept the door open for South Cardiff.

Southy's day looked to take a turn for the worst when Nic Tantos was sent off but they'd find a way into the lead. Mathew McAtear bagged a goal and then when Cooks Hill had captain Cam Shepard sent off and a penalty given away as a result, Trent Lamborn doubled the lead. Southy with ten men winning 2-0 against a disappointed Cooks Hill side.

Preview: Cooks Hill's effort last weekend was arguably the worst of the 16 competing teams in the Semi Finals. They had a penalty chance that was wasted and then against ten men they'd go down 1-0 before giving away a silly penalty and seeing themselves down to 10. Lucky not to go down by one or two more goals, it's all against them ahead of the 2nd Leg.

South Cardiff have a huge advantage as they'll be looking for away goals this weekend and really forcing pressure onto the Cooks Hill defensive line. There were worries when Ben McCabe's season was ended by injury but now they're on the verge of a Grand Final appearance with three straight victories giving them confidence.

Cooks Hill's inconsistency cost them any hope of knocking Lakes off the top of the table and now they find themselves needing a huge turn-around in the 2nd Leg. Their 4-0 win over Southy earlier this year will give them hope but it needs to be a solid team effort across the park. 

Prediction: South Cardiff didn't exactly blow the roof off with their performance last weekend. Cooks Hill made it easy at times for the Gunners and now the advantage is purely with the away side on Saturday. One goal would all but seal a Grand Final spot for the Gunners.

My Tip: South Cardiff 2-1 Cooks Hill United

South Cardiff look a side destined for Grand Final football. They lead 2-0 after the 1st Leg.
Seb Lewis was kept well contained by the South Cardiff defenders.

1st Grade:
Belmont-Swansea (2nd) v Kahibah F.C (3rd)
Kickoff: 3:00pm
2016 Meetings: KAH 2-2 BEL & BEL 0-1 KAH
Last Week: Kahibah FC 1-1 Belmont-Swansea

1st Leg Review: A tight match was expected between these two sides and that's exactly what we got at Kahibah Oval last weekend. Scoreless at the break and then 1-1 at full-time. Neither side were better than the other on the day and there's still everything to play for. Belswans hold a slight advantage on away goals after Jamie Hadlow's header last weekend.

Preview: These two sides are developing a very competitive rivalry. Quality football is produced every time they meet and it's fast becoming the division's stand-out fixture. Kahibah hold a slight mental advantage as they've never lost to Belswans in five New-FM 1st Division meetings.

For Belmont-Swansea, they go into this game with the same mentality and formation as the first leg. They will look to trouble Kahibah in front of a big crowd at Blacksmiths for Old Boy's Day. Brad Paul has plenty of attacking talent in his line-up and they'll look to put it to good use as the club look to qualify for their first Grand Final in 30 years.

Kahibah F.C will be boosted by the inclusion of Andre Gumprecht. The Kahibah kingpin returns after missing last week via injury. Tactically it will be a vital game for Gumprecht and indeed whoever partners him in the central defensive position. Belswans' attack is a pacey one and can be hard to handle at times.

The Green and Blacks have a successful history in Interdistrict football but this game is the most important in their history as they look to cap off a brilliant rise over the last two years with a Grand Final appearance. It's been quality nearly every time these sides have met and more should be expected on a massive day at Blacksmiths Oval. Only one can make it to the Grand Final.

Prediction: Old Boy's Day at Blacksmiths Oval will provide Belmont-Swansea with a huge vocal support that'll drive them on but Kahibah come into this with the knowledge that a Grand Final is only one win away. The home side hold the away goal advantage which could play a big part. Belswans to win this one and seal a dramatic Grand Final berth.

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

Belswans scored what may be a vital away goal at Kahibah last weekend.
Kahibah scored their only goal of the game through defender Skii Webster.


Under 17's:
Lake Macquarie City (1st) v Kahibah F.C (4th)
Kickoff: 9:00am
2016 Meetings: LMC 4-1 KAH & KAH 2-3 LMC
Last Week: Kahibah FC 0-2 Lake Macquarie City

1st Leg Review: Kahibah's Under 17's team went into last week's 1st Leg on the back of multiple do-or-die wins that saw them clinch 4th position. They'd gotten used to playing vital games and they more than matched it with minor premiers Lakes for the majority of the first half.

The second half is where the damage was done. Lakes got on the front foot and scored twice through Jack Smith and Caleb Morley-Davies. Both goals were avoidable from a defensive standpoint for Kahibah and they fell away towards the end.

Preview: Lake Macquarie City are at home in every grade after sweeping the minor premierships which means it could very well be one of the all-time great days in the club's history. The 17's will be aiming to start the day off with a bang and they hold that vital 2-0 away leg lead.

Kahibah will be more than likely missing at least Seb Crecca or Kyle Williams and maybe even both after they suffered injuries (Crecca-knee & Williams-fractured wrist) last week. Tony Birleson's side find themselves in need of a backs against the wall comeback.

Lakes have won nine-straight in the Under 17's and holding a 2-0 advantage means they can play with a little bit of freedom. Their defensive line stood firm for the majority of the game last weekend and they'd be bitterly disappointed not to turn that 1st Leg lead into a Grand Final appearance.

Lakes have won the three meetings between these side and with a fair few former Roosters' players in the Kahibah line-up, they'd be certainly aiming to send some familiar faces packing from finals. Expect an open game with Kahibah chasing the goals and Lakes looking to seal a GF spot.

Prediction: It's not very often you see 2-0 away goal leads turned around in the 2nd Leg. A neutral ground would play into Kahibah's favour but a trip to Macquarie Field is not an easy ask. It's been a graveyard for visiting Under 17's this year. Lakes have won 10 from 10 and outscored their opponents 40-11 in those fixtures.

My Tip: Lake Macquarie City 3-1 Kahibah F.C

Impossible isn't a word for the Kahibah 17's. Pat Waller's goal sent them to finals in dramatic fashion.

Kurtis McRitchie and the Lakes' 17's will be first of four Lakes sides to take the field at The Gardens.


Under 19's:
Lake Macquarie City (1st) v West Wallsend (4th)
Kickoff: 11:00am
2016 Meetings: WWB 3-1 LMC & LMC 4-0 WWB
Last Week: West Wallsend 2-0 Lake Macquarie City

1st Leg Review: West Wallsend went in last week with the intentions of stunning the Roosters and they proved a fair few doubters wrong. An early opener to James Barnes put them on the front foot and then Liam Muir scored later in the match to hammer home a 2-0 first leg advantage.

The Bluebells were delighted with a vital clean sheet but coaches Evan Gardiner and Gary Rowe kept a lid on celebrations with no team song being performed after the match. Gary Rowe described it as being 'only half-time' after the 2-0 win.

Preview: West Wallsend know exactly where they stand in all of this. A 2-0 away goal lead is a big advantage but Lake Macquarie City have class that can strike on any given day. They're the minor premiers for a reason and not making the Grand Final would disappoint them no doubt.

The Bluebells did keep a clean sheet last week but it wasn't without riding their luck at times. Lakes had an off-day which means the visiting Bluebells cannot afford any shred of complacency this weekend. A strong defensive performance is as key as a goal or two.

Due to Westy being the away side here, Lakes have to be mindful at the back. If they concede one goal, they'll need at least four to make the Grand Final. It's a vital task that they don't concede goals against a confident West Wallsend side. It'll likely be a tight match-up as a result.

West Wallsend have won two from three meetings this season but a 4-0 loss to Lakes last time they visited Macquarie Field proves that the Roosters can indeed make the Grand Final. It needs to be a solid team effort from front to back and side to side for the minor premiers.

Prediction: Unlike the other 19's game, Westy are leading 2-0 and are the away side this week. That plays major into their favour. One goal could almost be enough as it'd force Lakes into having to score 4 goals to win. It's Westy's to lose at this point.

My Tip: Lake Macquarie City 1-2 West Wallsend

Josh Richardson and his fellow attackers were unable to find the net on an unlucky day.

Westy celebrating James Barnes' opening goal last weekend.

Under 23's:
Lake Macquarie City (1st) v Belmont-Swansea (4th)
Kickoff: 1:00pm
2016 Meetings: LMC 0-0 BEL & BEL 1-3 LMC
Last Week: Belmont-Swansea 1-1 Lake Macquarie City

1st Leg Review: Lake Macquarie City captain Gabriel Cerda got the Roosters off to a quality start with a goal last weekend but Belswans hung with the minor premiers and frustrated them for the majority. An own goal at the expense of Michael Wright sees the scores level going into the second leg, albeit with Lakes having the away goal advantage from last week's 1-1 draw.

Preview: It's all locked up in the Under 23's. Lakes hold an away goal lead but Belmont-Swansea won't be holding back from playing the game on the front foot. Neither team reached full potential in what was at times a scrappy game. 

Chances came and went and the sides couldn't be split but the home advantage will be key for Lakes. These sides played on Macquarie Field all the way back in Round 1 and on that day it finished scoreless. Belswans can't afford the same but they'd love it to remain a tight contest. Lakes would be seen as the favourites should the match see a few goals. They've got some proven goalscorers.

Belswans can't afford to go into this one with too much urgency early on. Easing their way into the match would be a decent way to go about things. Lakes only hold a lead on away goals so there's no need to go all out and try and peg one back early on like some of the other matches on the weekend.

Goalkeeper Michael Peachey was Belswans' best on the day last weekend and the shot-stopper as well as his defenders will be under the microscope at Macquarie Field. This Semi Final tie is really on a knife-edge and Belswans whilst the underdogs, are a real chance of sending the runaway minor premiers out of the finals. Lakes will obviously be playing to avoid that fate.

Prediction: Expect a tight match-up in the Under 23's on Sunday. The sides played a very even match last weekend and I can't see either going overboard and throwing players forward unless the need is there. A penalty shootout is a very real outcome but Lakes at home will be looking to get over the line and avoid having to face Michael Peachey in a shootout.

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

Gabriel Cerda led from the front for Lakes in the 1st Leg and scored their goal.

Belswans' keeper Michael Peachey was busy at times last weekend.

1st Grade:
Lake Macquarie City (1st) v Wallsend F.C
Kickoff: 3:00pm
2016 Meetings: LMC 2-1 WAL & WAL 0-1 LMC
Last Week: Wallsend FC 1-1 Lake Macquarie City

1st Leg Review: Wallsend F.C were out to fire themselves into a lead at The Gardens and it didn't take long for a spectacular opening goal from David Hodgson did just that. 'Hodgo' scoring the best goal seen in a New-FM fixture this season gave them the perfect start. A glancing header from Sam Walker would put Lakes level and that's how it stayed through a game where neither team got on the front foot.

Preview: This is what these two sides have been waiting for. A 2nd Leg of a Semi Final with a trip to the biggest day of the season on the line. Lake Macquarie City know all too well what Wallsend are capable of. Last season's devastating 6-1 sent the Roosters crashing out of finals in the most dramatic fashion.

Plenty will say that both sides are changed from the two that took the field this time last year but there's no doubting that Lakes will be fired up to avoid the same fate. The club are aiming for their first Grand Final since their 3-2 loss to Charlestown in 2010. After missing out last year; there'd be a sense of avoiding a possible 'chokers' tag and send Wallsend packing.

For Wallsend, they'll be again heavily reliant on their 'big game' and experienced players. Gazzard, Wheeler and Hodgson combined for their goal last weekend and the quality they bring on the field is only beaten by the mental confidence they install off of it. Hodgson especially will have his side full of confidence heading to the toughest away ground in the competition.

Lake Macquarie City will more than likely produce their best game of the season so Wallsend will indeed need to match that. The Red Devils are a side that still have some improvement in them and defending their title will be a goal. Expect one of the games of the season at Macquarie Field on a much better surface than The Gardens. Tactically it could be a war where the first side to blink misses out on the Grand Final. It's all on the line.

Prediction: Let's put one thing out there. The 6-1 embarrassment won't be repeated. Wallsend are every chance of winning but it'll most likely be a tight affair. Across the park, Lakes have had the best team this season and the severe disappointment of last year will be driving them on. Roosters to win this one.

My Tip: Lake Macquarie City 3-1 Wallsend F.C

Sam Walker's goal gave Lakes a vital away goal advantage.
David Hodgson was on fire against Lakes last weekend.