Thursday, 31 March 2016

PREVIEW: New-FM 1st Division Round 5



Newysports' 1st Grade Match of the Round:
Kahibah FC (2nd) v Belmont-Swansea United (1st)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

Two weeks ago I circled this game and thought, what if Belmont-Swansea can beat Singleton and set-up a top of the table clash with Kahibah. They did just that. A goal to Jamie Hadlow and two to top goalscorer Josh Hall. It was a solid 3-0 result and a fourth straight win for Brad Paul's Belswans. You couldn't have predicted that six weeks ago.

Kahibah FC have won three from three and also picked up a solid 3-0 victory last week, over South Cardiff. Goals to Daniel Bartlett, Jarrod Penfold and Matthew Hughes gave the Green and Blacks a win, despite missing a lot of talent on the day. They are the best side in the competition and in my mind, this game is deserving of being called a potential Grand Final preview.

A potential pre-season clash back in January was called off due to rumours swirling about Belmont-Swansea not having enough players to make the team. These weren't small rumours, they were coming from various sources around the league. They lost the coach and things were looking bleak. Look at them now. It's quiet a turn-around and they've barely lost any names from last year. And the ones they did lose; do they need them at the moment?

In case you didn't notice, this game has been moved to Blacksmiths Oval from Kahibah Oval due to the latter having grass work done by council. This is not a Belmont-Swansea home game though, it is a Kahibah home match and they're hosting the day at Blacksmiths.

So who wins it? Without a doubt, this is one of my toughest previews to date. Yours truly tipped 18/20 games correctly last week so I don't want to stumble in and make a wild prediction. I'm going to make one though. Despite Kahibah's seemingly unbeatable line-up and the fact that they have players returning, I'm tipping Belmont-Swansea to take all three points and send an emphatic message that they're the team to beat in 2016.

Mark my words, the winner of this game will take over as premiership favourites. Whatever happens, I implore you, get to Blacksmiths and watch the Game of the Season so far. It's going to be an absolute cracker. 

My Prediction: Kahibah FC 2-3 Belmont-Swansea


Andre Gumprecht v Cooks Hill United (Round 1)

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Under 23's
Kahibah FC (10th) v Belmont-Swansea United (1st)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

Kahibah FC's Under 23's team are out of form for a lack of a better term. They've lost their first three games of the season and whilst they're not getting flogged week in week out, they are struggling to score goals this season, just the lone goal from 240 minutes of football. It's not a confidence-builder that's for sure.

Belmont-Swansea's form is exactly the opposite of the Green and Blacks. They played out a scoreless draw with Lakes in Round 1 but have won every game since then, scoring 12 goals in the process. William McMaster is in some form and they've got quality players across the park. Definitely the early premiership contenders in this grade.

The three other matches are good match-ups on paper and are tough to predict but Kahibah's form going into this leaves me with only one choice.

My Prediction: Kahibah FC 0-2 Belmont-Swansea


Alex Evans taking a throw-in v Belmont-Swansea (Pre-Season Trial)

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Newysports' Under 19's Match of the Round:
Kahibah FC (6th) v Belmont-Swansea United (2nd)
Kickoff: 11:00am

If First Grade isn't enough, the Under 19's game will see two teams chock-full of talent take on each other at Blacksmiths Oval. Kahibah lost their last outing but they had a couple of key players out. They've got talent across the park. Most of last year's Under 17's plus some handy inclusions like Bailey Chaplain, the in-form goalscorer at the moment.

Belmont-Swansea are arguably the best team in the competition. Sure, West Wallsend sit above the Belswans on goal differential but the fact is, Belswans beat West Wallsend 3-1 in their clash a couple of weeks ago. Joel Nicholson and William Dundas have twelve goals (thirteen if you count FFA Cup) between them and are in scary form. This game is one that is very, very hard to predict and a potential Grand Final preview in some eyes.

Belmont-Swansea were tested last week. They were cruising against Singleton and then the Strikers not only came from 2-0 down, they took a 3-2 lead. Cue goals to William Dundas and Lachlan McMaster and the Belswans took a 4-3 victory away from that game. You cannot fault anything about the guts and will involved in winning that game.

This Kahibah lads aren't use to feeling defeat. The majority of them come from a team that were eliminated in the Under 17's Semi Finals last year and even then they weren't actually beaten. Last week at South Cardiff would have annoyed a fair few in the squad who are highly competitive and they'll be treating this match-up as the biggest to date for the 2016 season.

As close as I am to tipping Belmont-Swansea to win it, I'm going to annoy a fair few people and play it safe. A crazy 3-3 draw because why not?

My Prediction: Belmont-Swansea 3-3 Kahibah FC


Kahibah were victors when these sides played early in pre-season.


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Newysports' Under 17's Match of the Round:
Kahibah FC (4th) v Belmont-Swansea United (2nd)
Kickoff: 9:15am

If the mouth-watering clashes in First Grade and the Under 19's wasn't enough, the Under 17's match will see two sides full of talent go head to head. 

Kyle Williams and Henry Gibson have combined for seven goals in the green and black whilst Sebastienne Crecca and Pat Waller are also in the top twenty list for the Under 17's. The Kahibah 17's are three from three to start the season and have talent across the park. In fact, they've scored fourteen goals in three games and let in just the lone goal.

Belmont-Swansea have recorded back to back victories and have joined in on their club's success. Lachlan McMaster is in form and has played higher grades in recent weeks as a result and the squad is a very handy one indeed. A strong back-unit, handy midfielders and some dangerous attackers. This game is going to be one to watch indeed.

Who wins it though? Form is fairly even. Kahibah are coming off a 5-0 win over South Cardiff whilst Belswans were 4-0 winners over Singleton. On paper to me it's very even. Kahibah is defensively strong though, only conceding the lone goal in three matches. They played in pre-season and Kahibah were winners that day, I'm tipping the same here.

My Prediction: Kahibah FC 2-1 Belmont-Swansea


Belswans' Lachlan McMaster has been in early-season form.

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1st Grade
South Cardiff FC (7th) v Toronto-Awaba (8th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

South Cardiff have faced an inconsistent start to life in the New-FM 1st Division. A young Southy side were beaten 3-0 by a depleted Kahibah outfit last week and they definitely need better than that. The Gunners play their fourth straight home game and it comes against an opposition that they should be able to overcome in Toronto-Awaba.

The Stags picked up a win in their last outing, a 4-2 victory over the struggling Cessnock City and this game is a much tougher task. They played a friendly against Westlakes last week and strangely rested the majority of their first grade squad, despite the need to build on match fitness and in my opinion, build on confidence going forward. Toronto have some individuals who can cause damage but the times I've watched them, very rarely have they looked like a finished product.

South Cardiff need to win this game. It's on their ground, in front of their fans, and they've got match fitness on their side as well as NPL experience. They should simply be too good for the Stags here.

My Prediction: South Cardiff 4-1 Toronto-Awaba


Jack Parkinson (right) v Adamstown Rosebud (FFA Cup Round 2)

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Under 23's
South Cardiff FC (5th) v Toronto-Awaba (9th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

South Cardiff FC's 23's team are three from four to start the season and their lone loss was an unlucky 4-3 defeat to Thornton back in Round 2. With two of the top five goalscorers in this grade in Trent Lamborn and Jacob Fifield, the Gunners are looking for a third-straight victory in their fourth-straight home game. The opponent is one they'll believe they can beat, Toronto-Awaba.

The Stags to their credit had a decent result in their last league outing. After being blown away in a 7-0 defeat to Cooks Hill, they spurred and came from 3-1 down at half-time to draw 3-3 with Cessnock City, thanks to goals from Blayke Carpenter and Tim Stone. A bye weekend loss to Westlakes wouldn't have helped confidence though.

South Cardiff have been prevailing over teams that are in the lower portion of the table and considering their form and the fact that they're at home, I can see them winning this one against a Toronto side that need more a confidence-boost than a come from behind draw. 

My Prediction: South Cardiff 3-1 Toronto-Awaba


Toronto-Awaba 23's v Cooks Hill United (Round 2)

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Under 19's
South Cardiff FC (8th) v Toronto-Awaba (7th)
Kickoff: 11:00am

I know what you're thinking. 8th v 7th...yawn. It's not exactly that at all. South Cardiff knocked off the league favourites Kahibah last weekend thanks to goals to Isaac Roman and Aden Luker and they'll be keen to continue that sort of winning form against an unpredictable but decent Toronto side. The Stags aren't a side that you can write off easily.

After having the bye last week, Lindsay Jamieson's side will be looking to build on a delightful come from behind draw with Cessnock City after goals to William Stevenson and the gaffer's son Rory. The Stags don't have a stand-out goalscorer; all five of their goals have come from individuals scoring their lone goal of the season. Defensively they're not too bad; conceding just six goals but going forward they definitely could use a couple more goals.

Southy will be spurred on by their gutsy win over Kahibah last week and if they can produce a similar effort, they should be able to knock off the visiting Stags in this one.

My Prediction: South Cardiff 2-1 Toronto-Awaba


Toronto-Awaba's James Carr in action v Cooks Hill (Round 2)


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Under 17's
South Cardiff FC (9th) v Toronto-Awaba (5th)
Kickoff: 9:15am

South Cardiff were unlucky not to get a result in the 17's against Singleton two weeks ago but they were no match for the in-form Kahibah FC last weekend. They were held scoreless and conceded five goals on their own turf. It will have them primed to bounce back this week against a decent Toronto-Awaba side.

The Stags had the bye last week but before that they recorded impressive wins over Cessnock City and Cooks Hill United. It's good form after a first-up shock loss to Wallsend FC. They've got potential to challenge for a top four spot and they will like their chances against an out-of-form South Cardiff side on Saturday morning.

Toronto's key goalscorer is Caleb Trimboli and he'll be looking to close the gap to leading goalscorer and familiar name at Toronto Kurtis McRitchie with a goal or two in this match up. South Cardiff's Lucas Emmett-Morley is also in the top goalscorer chart of Under 17's. As for my prediction, I'm going to tip the away side to make it three straight and potentially move into the top four.

My Prediction: South Cardiff 1-3 Toronto-Awaba


Toronto-Awaba's Blake Arthur v Cooks Hill (Round 2)


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1st Grade
Singleton Strikers (9th) v Lake Macquarie City FC (4th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

Last time Lake Macquarie City travelled to Howe Park, they were on the losing end of what turned out to be one of the greatest games of football played on Singleton's home turf. Five goals in the first eight minutes set the bar and the Strikers came away with a 6-3 victory if memory serves correctly. That was then and this is now. Singleton are not exactly in free-scoring form and the problem for them is that their opponents are.

Lake Macquarie City put their goalscoring troubles behind them, blasting eight past Thornton last week and the scary thing is that the big win didn't see them hit their top form. Coach Anthony Richards wouldn't be happy with his side conceding three goals and defence last year wasn't their best side. It's not an issue when you score eight goals but it's something they need to work on.

Sam Walker limped off at half-time after scoring a first-half hat-trick and had a nasty-looking swollen ankle but is expected to play this weekend from what I've heard. Singleton will be boosted by the returning Klaudon Ahmataj after he couldn't break into the team at Lake Macquarie. Rumour has it that they have a new winger on board as well but that wasn't confirmed. They could do with the extra hands on deck after losing Alex Clarke and Dylan Schauder in not so pretty circumstances.

David Willoughby will know that the first home game of the season is a chance to return to form and a loss for his side could see them fall upwards of eight points outside the top four. It's time for the Strikers to step up but whether they can or not is the question. Lakes are looking to solidify a spot in the top four and I feel like they come into this with the better form.

My Prediction: Singleton 2-4 Lake Macquarie City


Jackson Cox v Cessnock City (Round 1)

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Under 23's
Singleton Strikers (8th) v Lake Macquarie City FC (2nd)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

Singleton's 23's side started the season with a decent scoreless draw against Cessnock City but they've lost their last two on the bounce. Tight losses to South Cardiff and Belmont-Swansea will have the Strikers primed to pull off a big win in their first home game of the season at Howe Park.

Lake Macquarie City have won three straight since a scoreless draw with Belswans in Round 1. Goals to Chris Walker, Gabierl Cerda, Kane Rodgers, Blake Dickinson and Jimmy Ward was enough for the Roosters to gain some Grand Final revenge and defeat Thornton Redbacks 5-1 in their Round 4 clash at Macquarie Field. A road trip to Singleton is a tough one though.

Some handy goalscoring from Derek English almost gave the Strikers a result against Belswans so there's potential for a decent result here but I'm tipping the away side to continue their good early season form with a win at Howe Park.

My Prediction: Singleton 0-2 Lake Macquarie City


Jackson Hough in action v Cessnock City (Round 1)


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Under 19's
Singleton Strikers (4th) v Lake Macquarie City FC (5th)
Kickoff: 11:00am

The Singleton 19's are arguably the club's most talented side and they've got two players who simply cannot stop scoring goals and putting together dangerous attacks, Nathan Hall and Nathan Smart. Hall especially is one to watch and he scored a brace last week to help the Strikers get back into the game against Belmont-Swansea. They'll need a similar effort this week against the out of form early season premiership favourites Lake Macquarie City.

This Lakes side are the majority of last year's Under 17's and they are not common to losing football matches. They lost to a quality West Wallsend side two weeks ago and they were stunned by a resurgent Thornton on their own turf last weekend. If they lose this they may find themselves closer on points to the bottom team than the top of the table side.

Singleton will be delighted to be back on their home field after spending the opening month of the season on the road. They are a quality side. A 7-0 win in Round 1 was followed with a gutsy 2-1 victory with ten men on the field in Round 3 and let's face it, they were in the match against Belmont-Swansea before the home side killed it off with a superb goal.

This could very well be the match of the day at Howe Park and I'm tipping the home side to get back into winning form. It won't be easy though that's for sure.

My Prediction: Singleton 3-2 Lake Macquarie City


Nathan Hall is in some early season form. 


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Under 17's
Singleton Strikers (7th) v Lake Macquarie City FC (1st)
Kickoff: 9:15am

Singleton's first home game of the season comes at a good time for their Under 17's team. They were missing a couple of players last week and were disappointingly beaten 4-0 by Belmont-Swansea. The test gets tougher this week as they face the out of control ladder leaders. Out of control meaning they're just in such good form.

Lakes have 19 goals in four games, an average of 4.75. They've got no least than seven players in the top 20 goalscoring list, including the in-form Kurtis McRitchie who has six goals from four games. He's joined by Alex Matthews (3), Caleb Morley-Davies (3), Harrison Taylor (2), Jack Smith (2) & Kallum Garbett (2) on the goalscoring charts. Crazy form to start the year.

Brae Wissink has played in goals for Singleton in the early stages of the season and had a tough week last week. I feel like it could very well be the same on Sunday morning. Lakes are in great form and should be winning this based on their last few outings.

My Prediction: Singleton 1-4 Lake Macquarie City


Lakes have a lot of players scoring goals. Talent across the park.

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1st Grade
Thornton Redbacks (11th) v West Wallsend SFC (6th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

These two sides have been waiting to play an FFA Cup match for the better part of a month and with two wash-outs as well as a lighting failure, they'll finally take the field on Sunday...just not in the cup. Thornton's first home game of the season comes at a good time. They're in a form slump to start the year and copped eight goals off of Lakes last weekend. There's potential in the side and for my money, they won't linger at the foot of the table for too long.

West Wallsend are a tricky side to predict. They can produce results on their day but regular poor-showings can prove costly. They'll welcome back Ryan Cole who was a glaring omission in the Derby last weekend. He's quality and will add something going forward.

So who wins this clash? Thornton have more to lose in my mind. This is their first home game, they're bottom of the league and they're up against an opponent that aren't exactly the best team in the comp. It's a game that Darrell McAllister's side will feel they can win. They've got quality players amongst the ranks and I feel Sunday is the day that the Redbacks pick up their first points of the 2016 New-FM season.

My Prediction: Thornton Redbacks 3-1 West Wallsend


Nathan McAllister in action v Edgeworth JSC (FFA Cup Round 1)

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Under 23's
Thornton Redbacks (7th) v West Wallsend SFC (11th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

Defending Under 23's champions Thornton Redbacks were soundly beaten 5-1 by beaten Grand Finalists Lake Macquarie City last weekend and they were beaten 4-1 by Belmont-Swansea the week before. It's not the sort of form you want going into the first home game of the season against a desperate West Wallsend side looking to move away from the foot of the table.

Westy have boosted their stocks with one or two additional players and they produced a decent effort against a quality Wallsend side in the Derby last weekend. Reality is that they're in last place, four losses from four games and just two goals in those four games, both to Jye Blanch. They need more than that.

Thornton's form last year was near perfect in the early stages of the Under 23's competition but it's not to be seen yet in 2016. I'm tipping the Redbacks' 23's to bounce back and pick up a victory in their first home game of the campaign.

My Prediction: Thornton 2-1 West Wallsend


West Wallsend 23's v Belmont-Swansea (Round 2)

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Under 19's
Thornton Redbacks (9th) v West Wallsend SFC (1st)
Kickoff: 11:00am

Thornton Redbacks' Under 19's team have been in some topsy-turvy form to say the very least. They were smashed 7-0 by Belmont-Swansea in their Round 3 match-up but last week they beat premiership contenders Lake Macquarie City on their own turf. I'm sure there's more to it than just bouncing back, whether players returned or what not is another question for another day.

West Wallsend's 19's are not a side you'd want to play at the moment. They smashed Wallsend last week in the Derby, they beat Lakes the week before and they sit comfortably on top of the table with a goal difference of +11. Sam Jones has five goals to his name this season and things couldn't have started better for a side that didn't hit great heights in 2015.

On paper, looking at the ladder, this seems like an easy call to make but considering it's at Thornton Park and the Redbacks produced a stunning win last week, it's not that simple. I still believe this West Wallsend side have just too much going forward for the Thornton defenders but I would have said the same about Lakes last week. It's a tough one to predict so I'm going with a draw. I wouldn't be surprised with a West Wallsend win though.

My Prediction: Thornton Redbacks 2-2 West Wallsend


West Wallsend's Under 19's v Wallsend (Round 4)

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Under 17's
Thornton Redbacks (11th) v West Wallsend SFC (3rd)
Kickoff: 9:15am

Thornton's 17's had a horror year last year but their early season form going into last week wasn't too bad. Then they were beaten 7-1 by Lake Macquarie City. It's not a result that would have pleased anyone wearing red and black and they've got to quickly bounce back against the in-form West Wallsend on Sunday morning.

Westy don't have a stand-out goalscorer and only have seven goals compared to Lakes (19) and Kahibah (17). Jaryd Hayter added to his tally last week and the other goal came from a long-range Brock Taylor strike. And a look at Thornton's goals conceded column doesn't give me much confidence about the home side winning this one.

Thornton won't get smashed again. They're a better side than that but I still feel like their a work in progress against a solid West Wallsend side. Bluebells to win this one by two goals.

My Prediction: Thornton 1-3 West Wallsend


Brock Taylor scored a superb goal against Wallsend last weekend.

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1st Grade
Wallsend FC (3rd) v Cessnock City (10th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

Wallsend F.C have back to back wins but neither of them saw the side hit their potential. They were sloppy against Cooks Hill and they could have done a lot more in the Derby last week. Needless to say it was six points from two games and you can't complain with that. With players like Dave Hodgson and Chris Gazzard on the team sheet, the Red Devils will be a tough test for any side in this competition, particularly an out-of-form and depleted Cessnock side.

The Hornets scored four last week against Cooks Hill, enough to normally win a game but they let in seven. That was after losing to Toronto in the bottom of the table scrap at Turner Park. They've simply got to get some wins on the board or they'll face falling away from the pack. The side is capable on the day of causing a boilover. They just need some consistency and some luck.

To be brutally honest, this isn't a game Wallsend should have too much trouble with. They've got the players to win and they've got a strong defence that won't leak too many goals. The Hornets will need their best effort of the season and whether they can do that or not is the question. I can't see the visitors getting anything out of this tough trip to The Gardens.

My Prediction: Wallsend FC 4-1 Cessnock City


Sam Garaty has been a key man going forward for Cessnock this year.

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Newysports' Under 23's Match of the Round
Wallsend FC (4th) v Cessnock City (6th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

It's not very often a 23's match stands out as the game of the day but this is an exemption. There's much more to this game that what it seems on paper. Former Hornets' Gocha Abshilava and Jason Zechel left the club to go to Wallsend and there's genuine ill-feelings between the two camps. I'm supposed to keep my previews formal but this is a time where I simply say, good luck to the referee. They've got the toughest job in town on Sunday if this lives up to expectation.

Let's talk about form. Wallsend have started the season with three wins from four games, including a big win over early season pace-setters Cooks Hill United in Round 3. Gocha Abshilava and Trent Richards are in goalscoring form with the latter enjoying his time up-front after playing in the defensive line throughout the 2015 season.

Cessnock City's form isn't as poor as some of the club's other sides but they simply can't buy any luck at the moment. They were drawn 3-3 after leading lower table Toronto in Round 3 and they were extremely unlucky not to get anything out of a late 1-0 loss to Cooks Hill last Saturday.

This game is going to be a physical one to say the least but Wallsend's form is very good and considering this is their home game, I can see them winning it.

My Prediction: Wallsend FC 3-1 Cessnock City


Wallsend's Jason Zechel will go up against his old side.


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Under 19's
Wallsend FC (11th) v Cessnock City (10th)
Kickoff: 11:00am

It's a bottom of the table clash in the Under 19's as an injury-plagued Wallsend FC side take on a Cessnock City side that is still searching for their first win of the season. The Hornets were unlucky not to get all three points against Toronto two weeks ago and they produced a quality effort against Cooks Hill last week. A far cry from the 7-0 opening round loss to Singleton.

Wallsend's squad is obviously missing a few faces and it shows on the park. There's potential for the squad to find success this season if they get most of their players on the park but it's unfortunately not looking likely at the moment. They are struggling and it's hard to see an end to it until one or two key outs return to the squad.

Cessnock City need to produce a win this week. They've got potential, they've got good players and they need a win now or they'll face falling further behind the top sides. Let's face it, they're not going to be pushing for the title but they're a solid squad and they can definitely be a better side than 10th place. Kyle Gillis has four goals in four games and will be looking to add to it on Sunday.

My Prediction: Wallsend FC 1-3 Cessnock City


Jayden Arriguetti in action v Cooks Hill last weekend.

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Under 17's
Wallsend FC (8th) v Cessnock City (10th)
Kickoff: 9:15am

This is going to be a match to watch at The Gardens as two sides desperate for a win clash in the first game of the day. Wallsend are improving week by week. They won at Toronto in Round 1 but have had three straight losses since then. Their confidence and team-work is building week by week and they'll be looking at this game as a chance to return to form.

Cessnock City's match against Cooks Hill was simply nowhere near what they should be producing. They were smashed left, right, centre and left and right again. 7-0 at half time and 11-2 at the end of a horror show. They don't have the strongest squad and they've got a young squad but they can't cop eleven goals. Let's hope it's a one-off.

Wallsend need to win this game. Cessnock are out-of-form and won't be confident after last week. The Red Devils need to use their quality attack and record a win to move up the table. It's going to be an entertaining match-up but it's a Wallsend win in my opinion.

My Prediction: Wallsend FC 4-1 Cessnock City


Wallsend Red Devils Under 17's v West Wallsend (Round 4)

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