Thursday, 18 February 2016

PREVIEW: Northern NSW FFA Cup Day 1

Is there a better way to start this year's Northern NSW FFA Cup Qualifiers than a fierce local derby between Garden Suburb and Kotara South. Both teams are coming off wins last weekend. The Kingfishers defeated Charlestown ZL1 and will be hoping that is a good build-up to a match against another ZL1 team. The Tigers however are also coming off a confidence-boosting win over Hamilton Olympic's ZL2 side.

Garden Suburb's season in the ZPL last year didn't really go to script but a memorable win over Mayfield United and draws against some top teams prove this side can be one to watch on their day. Kotara failed to match the top ZL1 teams last year and ultimately found themselves in fourth as a result. Garden Suburb I feel will win this game but the war will be one to watch with keen interest and cup football is always unpredictable.

My Prediction: Garden Suburb 2-1 Kotara South


If the first local derby wasn't enough, there's another derby of sorts as Maryland-Fletcher take on defending New-FM champions Wallsend FC. The team formally known as Plattsburg will be keen to provide a true test for their highly-fancied opposition.

Wallsend drew 0-0 with NPL-side Maitland FC and considering that side featured the likes of former A-League star Matt Thompson and long-time quality NPL player Carl Thornton, I just cannot see Wallsend going out of the FFA Cup this weekend. If they've got their scoring boots on they could rack up a few against the ZL2 side.

My Prediction: Maryland-Fletcher 0-6 Wallsend FC


Dudley-Redhead Juniors need no reminding about their FFA Cup result last season. They copped a 17-1 hiding by Mayfield United and were part of a 'Around the Grounds' review on Fox Sports' Shootout show as a result. For their sake I hope this game goes a lot better.

Muswellbrook FC is indeed an easier opposition than Mayfield United but for the Thistles, it's still a massive test against a side that is in a higher grade. Muswellbrook should have the quality to win this one but I feel like it won't be a simple walk-over. At this point of the competition last year, Muswellbrook were smashed for 12 by local rivals Singleton so anything is an improvement.

My Prediction: Dudley-Redhead 1-4 Muswellbrook


Welcome to Zone League football Bolwarra-Lorn. The Bushrangers are newcomers to ZL3 this season and their first assignment in the FFA Cup is against ZPL side Mayfield United. I feel like Bolwarra's time in this competition will be limited this season to say the least. Mayfield put 17 past ZL3 opposition last year and for Bolwarra's sake I hope that doesn't happen again. Tigers by a few.

My Prediction: Mayfield United 8-1 Bolwarra-Lorn


*Correct Kickoff is 9:30am

Hamilton Azzurri are back in the big-time and I have a decent read on this side, considering I played against a fair few of them in AA/H grade last year. Barnsley's 2015 season was the season from hell and I'm sure the Bulldogs will be hoping 2016 is better as they take on the new challenge of ZL1 football.

I'm confident that Azzurri will be one of the stronger, if not the strongest sides in ZL3 this season and I can see no reason why they can't send Barnsley packing in this game. Since the draw came out last month I've had Azzurri as my tip for this one. And it would set up a fierce David v Goliath clash with Broadmeadow Magic in Round 2.

My Prediction: Hamilton Azzurri 3-1 Barnsley


*Correct Kickoff is 11:30am

The RAAF team was one of few Zone League sides that I actually got to watch last season and they weren't too bad. But I feel like Hunter Simba will be just too strong in this cup tie. The Simba are a culturally-proud club that last year went on a bit of a cup run until they were outclassed by Valentine in Round 3 I believe.

I'll be mainly watching the Maryland-Fletcher v Wallsend game but will definitely have half an eye on this match-up. Simba to win for my money.

My Prediction: RAAF Williamtown 1-3 Hunter Simba


*Correct Kickoff is 1:30pm

Beresfield FC were handed the tough task of West Wallsend SFC in Round 1 last year and went down 2-0 in a respectable performance for the ZL1 side. Nelson Bay weren't even in the competition last year so they'll no doubt be full of excitement going into the all-ZL1 match-up.

Beresfield FC won the last meeting of these sides and I feel like they are the slight favourites going into this one. The winner plays Weston in Round 2 so I'd suggest to celebrate winning this one as the challenge will go to the next level very quickly.

My Prediction: Nelson Bay 0-2 Beresfield FC


*Correct Kickoff is 6:30pm

This match-up struck me as a lop-sided one when the draw came out. New-FM Thornton against ZL3 Edgeworth Juniors. It really should be going the one way but the scoreline is a whole other story. I could see this getting really ugly for the ZL3 side if Thornton find their scoring form. The Redbacks weren't the best team going forward last year so I don't feel like we'll see a double-digit scoreline but it honestly wouldn't surprise me.

My Prediction: Thornton 8-0 Edgeworth


Both these sides will be delighted with avoiding the ever-so-controversial artificial surface of the LMRFF. Macquarie Field hosts six games over the weekend and this is the first; almost a home game for the Westlakes Wildcats from Rathmines.

I haven't seen much pre-season form at all for either of these sides but based on last year's results, I'd consider Raymond Terrace the very strong favourites going into this match. They dominated sides in ZL2 and what better way to send a message to the ZL1 teams than by beating the Wildcats (if they didn't get relegated themselves, not sure on that.) Terrace to win nonetheless

My Prediction: Raymond Terrace 4-1 Westlakes Wildcats


An all New-FM encounter on the home of Lake Macquarie City. I've seen both these sides in the pre-season and neither impressed me. Cessnock were struggling to get any momentum going forward in a 3-1 loss to West Wallsend and South Cardiff were dominated by Kahibah 8-0.

I feel like that 8-0 loss completely undersold the Gunners and fitness was just not up to match it with Kahibah. Southy know the importance of cup football. They went all the way in the inaugural FFA Cup and faced cup fairytale side South Springvale in front of the Fox Sports cameras in Melbourne. They should be too strong for the Hornets.

My Prediction: South Cardiff 2-0 Cessnock City


The favourites to win the league in the New-FM 1st Division this season will take on one of last season's stronger ZPL sides in Cardiff City. If Lakes are serious about the FFA Cup, then they shouldn't be having too much trouble in this one. They've got the home ground advantage, they've got Sam Walker up front and I feel like they'll win this to set-up an interesting clash with Valentine in Round 2.

My Prediction: Lake Macquarie City 5-0 Cardiff City


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