Thursday, 10 March 2016

PREVIEW: New-FM 1st Division Round 2 Feature Match:

1st Grade: Belmont-Swansea (3rd) v West Wallsend (4th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

What a start to the season in was for the Belswans boys. They'll try and talk it down and say they expected it and to be fair, I don't think a team should take to the park without thinking they could win but beating Lake Macquarie City on their home turf was a very tough ask and the Belswans did it in some style. If not for two very late goals, it would have ended 4-1. Belswans dominated and look like a top four side after the opening week.

West Wallsend's pre-season trial form wasn't too convincing but they've now won three straight competitive games (including two in the FFA Cup). They've got a tricky test against Belswans though and they'll need to be at their best. On paper, Westy have a stronger squad this year and they really look to be working together well.

Belswans are expecting club captain Joel Shearer and former Charlestown City player Mitch Haasnoo to make their first appearances of the season this Saturday whilst West Wallsend will be without Tye Jones and Jarryd Jones. Bryson Cox will make his first appearance of the New-FM season for Gary Rowe's side.

Belswans need to make Blacksmiths Oval a fortress this year and pick up some quality home wins. I believe they can make it two from two and stay in the top four with a win against West Wallsend. It's definitely going to be a hard-fought game though. Expect a goal or two from last week's hat-trick hero Josh Hall.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 3-2 West Wallsend

WWB's Dom Langowski Scored v South Cardiff Last Week


Under 23's: Belmont-Swansea (4th) v West Wallsend (9th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

Belmont-Swansea's depth was questioned in pre-season but it stood firm last weekend at Macquarie Field. The 23's picked up a 0-0 draw that could have gone either way against 2015 Grand Finalists Lakes. There's some quality players in the team; the likes of defender James Youngberry and even on the bench with 17's attacker Lachlan McMaster. It's a side that could push for the four this season.

West Wallsend's 23's lost the first game of the season but it certainly wasn't a big loss and there's still potential for this side to do well this season. Let's face it, it can't get much worse than last year. Jye Blanch scored a goal for Westy last weekend and I think the side will improve as the year goes on. I'm tipping Belswans to get the win though on Saturday afternoon.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 3-1 West Wallsend

Westy's 23's celebrating a goal v Cessnock City


Under 19's: Belmont-Swansea (9th) v West Wallsend (3rd)
Kickoff: 11:00am

Belmont-Swansea's Under 19's were the club's best side in 2015 and they will no doubt be one to watch in 2016. Their first up assignment against Lake Macquarie City was always going to be tough and they were smashed for seven by the premiership hopefuls. Not the greatest start and improvement is needed sooner rather than later. They've lost one or two key players to higher grades so the gelling of the squad is still a work in progress.

West Wallsend are always a hard side to predict in every grade but their 19's team were classy and too good for competition newcomers South Cardiff last week. Five goals were scored by the Bluebells, including two each for routine goalscorers Josh Knight and Sam Jones, as well as an additional goal to young striker Khye Drayton. It was an all-round team performance and they'll no doubt come into this game aiming to stay unbeaten.

Belswans will show improvement on last week but beating this West Wallsend side with the form their in will be a tough ask.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 1-3 West Wallsend

Belmont-Swansea Under 19's goalkeeper Connor Bryson


Under 17's: Belmont-Swansea (8th) v West Wallsend (3rd)
Kickoff: 9:15am

It's sure to be an entertaining Under 17's match at Blacksmiths between two sides that definitely have the potential to challenge for a spot in finals. Belmont-Swansea went down 4-3 to Lake Macquarie City last Sunday but they definitely weren't that far off the pace at Macquarie Field and they'll no doubt like their chances on their home turf.

The Belswans 17's lost marginally to Lakes but they scored three goals on the day, two to Lachlan McMaster and one to Mitchell Doyce. They only had thirteen players last week so fairly sure one or two are still to return and from what I was told, this team look like they could really push the top teams throughout the year. Mick Buckley's side will go into this week as the underdogs though.

West Wallsend are improved in all four grades and the 17's have been in form all pre-season and picked up a first up win over South Cardiff last week. The side have the perfect blend of experience from last year and new faces who are playing well this year. Mitchell Kramer scored a stunning goal last week and was joined in the scoresheet by Jaryd Hayter.

Consistency is what's needed for West Wallsend to make the Top Four in the Under 17's this season and in my opinion, they're definitely a chance to make it two from two on the road at Blacksmiths Oval.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 2-3 West Wallsend

West Wallsend's Lachlan Coombes v Cessnock City (Pre-Season Trial)



I'm waiting for a reply from a Thornton committee member. I'm trying to get their squad lists for 23's/19's/17's to add to the preview. This may be updated when that happens.

1st Grade: South Cardiff (9th) v Thornton Redbacks (7th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

South Cardiff's return to New-FM football was marked with a 3-2 loss to West Wallsend. This week the Gunners return to Ulinga Oval for the first time this year and they'll be looking to return to the winners' circle with a victory against the Thornton Redbacks.

Darrel McAllister's Redbacks had the bye in Round 1 and they'll be keen to get their season underway. They have two games in four days with the FFA Cup to take place on Wednesday night against West Wallsend. Exciting signing Jamie Subat will make his New-FM debut as well as fellow newcomers Ben Henry and Kieran Kerr.

The Redbacks were held back in 2015 by a lack of goals and with Subat on the books it's certainly a better potential for goals to be scored throughout the year. South Cardiff will be a tricky test for Thornton and this is indeed a tough game to predict. I'm going to tip a draw as I really can't split them. I wouldn't be too surpised to see Thornton win it though.

My Tip: South Cardiff 1-1 Thornton Redbacks

South Cardiff v Kahibah FC (Pre-Season)


Under 23's: South Cardiff (3rd) v Thornton Redbacks (8th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

The only South Cardiff side to win their opening game of the season was the Under 23's and they did it in a real determined style, scoring two goals in the opening half hour and then hanging on for a gutsy 2-1 win at Johnston Park. It's the sort of determination that's needed in this competition.

Thornton Redbacks are the defending champions in the Under 23's. I can't forget the impressive 4-0 victory over a quality Lakes side in the Grand Final and now the Redbacks open the season looking to do the exact same and lead from the front. Whether they can or not is the question.

I haven't seen the Thornton 23's squad yet so I can't comment too much on them but at home and coming off a win in Round 1, it's hard to go past South Cardiff. Thornton have a decent 23's team though (if it's similar to last season's) so why not go for the draw.

My Tip: South Cardiff 1-1 Thornton Redbacks


Under 19's: South Cardiff (10th) v Thornton Redbacks (6th)
Kickoff: 11:00am

South Cardiff's Under 19's side recieved a very harsh welcome to life in the New-FM 1st Division, going down 5-1 to West Wallsend in the season opener. Adam Nicholas got the only goal of the game for the Gunners but they were simply outplayed on the day.

This week they face a bit of an unknown test in the Thornton Redbacks. Thornton have been quiet during pre-season; their results have been very hard to find and considering they had the bye in Round 1, they'll be keen to start their season after a long break. This is a complete stab in the dark prediction but I'm going for a South Cardiff victory.

My Tip: South Cardiff 2-1 Thornton Redbacks


Under 17's: South Cardiff (9th) v Thornton Redbacks (7th)
Kickoff: 9:15am

Competition newcomers South Cardiff faced a tricky start in the Under 17's against West Wallsend. They performed well but were beaten by the Bluebells. It was only a 2-1 loss though and a goal to Lucas Emmett-Morlay gave the young Gunners their first goal of the season. This week they face a slightly easier test in this reporter's eyes as they take on last year's wooden spoonists Thornton Redbacks.

Thornton's 17's, like most Redbacks sides are a mystery bunch. I have yet to see their squad list so I don't know how many of their players they have left from last year. They couldn't win a game in 2015 but they weren't that far off and the experience learnt will come to help them in the long-term. Toronto's 19's proved last week that a poor 2015 doesn't mean a poor start to 2016. Thornton had e bye last week and they'll be super keen to take to the field at Ulinga Oval on Sunday.

As I haven't seen either of these teams yet in 2016, it's very hard to predict the score line. I'm going to tip a 1-1 draw and a decent away result for the Thornton Redbacks. 

My Tip: South Cardiff 1-1 Thornton Redbacks


1st Grade: Cessnock City (5th) v Kahibah F.C (1st)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

Cessnock City's start to the season was a decent one by there's no doubt Steve Thomson would have wanted his side to pick up all three points against arch rivals Singleton. The Hornets had chances to win the game and wasted them on their home field. Awaiting them this week is a much tougher task in hosting the in-form side of the competition, Kahibah F.C.

Kahibah F.C were too classy for Cooks Hill United last week and put the sword through the Cookers with a convincing 7-2 victory. This was without Andrew Darr and Jarrod Penfold who return this week. Kahibah will be full strength except for Colvin Williams who suffered an ankle injury last weekend.

With Lakes losing in Round 1 and Wallsend facing the Roosters this week, Kahibah have a real chance to cement their spot on top of the table after just two weeks. There's no doubt; they've got the squad, the talent and the class to put multiple goals past Cessnock. This isn't a put-down on Cessnock, Kahibah will put a lot of goals in the net all year. This is a game they shouldn't be losing and if they play to their potential it could be a long day at Turner Park.

My Tip: Cessnock City 1-6 Kahibah F.C

Jayden Demir (left) v South Cardiff in Pre-Season


Under 23's: Cessnock City (5th) v Kahibah F.C (10th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

Cessnock City's only team in the finals last year was the Under 23's but they won't be too delighted with the way they started their 2016 campaign; a 0-0 draw against arch rivals Singleton Strikers. They'll need to step up a level to overcome a Kahibah side coming off a loss in Round 1 to Cooks Hill United.

These sides contested some pretty fierce battles last year in an attempt to make finals and it was Cessnock City who did just that. 2016 is a new season and Kahibah F.C's squad is looking pretty good once again. This game ultimately is a very tough one to predict as I feel both sides have a fair amount of improvement in them compared to their Round 1 performances.

Part of me wants to tip a draw but on their home turf at Turner Park, there's something about Cessnock that I like in this one.

My Tip: Cessnock City 2-1 Kahibah F.C

Cessnock City 23's v Singleton in Round 1


Under 19's: Cessnock City (11th) v Kahibah F.C (1st)
Kickoff: 11:00am

Despite being only the start of Round 2, this game is first vs last and it will most likely play out the same. Cessnock City couldn't stop a Singleton onslaught at Turner Park this year and after a long and poor season in 2015, the Hornets' 19's definitely didn't get 2016 off to the start they would have wanted. Let's be honest, the results may change (hopefully) as the year goes on. This weekend will be similar to last.

Kahibah F.C are just too strong, too quick and too good in the 19's and they'll put a few goals past most teams in the division. They won 2-0 at Cooks Hill and never reached the potential they have. Matthew Hughes and Bailey Chaplain were the goalscorers on the day but there's talent across the park in this side. I don't like saying this so early in the season but it's a case of how many for Kahibah at Turner Park on Sunday.

My Tip: Cessnock City 0-7 Kahibah F.C

Bailey Chaplain (centre) scored one of Kahibah's two goals last weekend


Under 17's: Cessnock City (5th) v Kahibah F.C (1st)
Kickoff: 9:15am

Cessnock City's Under 17's side had a tough year last season but their start to 2016 was definitely solid to say the least; a scoreless draw against a decent Singleton line-up last Sunday. I caught the back end of this game and Cessnock definitely could have taken the three points with some luck. This week they face another tricky test as ladder leaders Kahibah FC come to town.

Kahibah FC picked up a quality season opening win over form pre-season side Cooks Hill United. A double to Henry Gibson gave the Green and Blacks a 2-0 win at the Newcastle Athletics Field. The Kahibah 17's are a new-look side with not a single player left from last year's minor premiership winning team. Based on Round 1, it wouldn't be a surprise to see this team achieve similar feats.

Cessnock do have some experience from last season remaining in the side but I'm going to tip them to lose this week to the visiting Kahibah side.

My Tip:  Cessnock City 0-2 Kahibah FC

Cessnock 17's keeper Brayden Bean wasn't exactly creating a fashion statement last week


1st Grade: Toronto-Awaba (10th) v Cooks Hill United (11th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

It's a bottom of the table match that is important for both sides; but I feel it's a lot more important and crucial for the visitors from Cooks Hill United. Blake Gleenie's side were dumped out of the FFA Cup at the first hurdle and they were smashed for seven by Kahibah on their own turf last week...Cooks Hill's biggest home defeat in years. It simply has to start to turn around soon.

Toronto-Awaba were smashed left, right and centre throughout various stages of pre-season but they put in a decent effort against Wallsend F.C last week. Their cause was hindered by Nick Roberts send-off. He scored their only goal last week and will be suspended for this game which makes the job a bit tougher.

Cooks Hill United could very well be boosted by the club debut of major new signing Aiden Palozzi. The former Jaffa is a big addition to the squad and the coaching staff are excited to have him on board. Joining him this week in the squad will be fellow newcomer Zac Douglas and 1st grade winger Jackson Pett as well as Tim Rogers.

Cooks Hill United should be winning this game if they're serious about their finals credentials. A loss on Sunday would be detrimental to the side's beginning of the season. They simply cannot lose this game.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 1-5 Cooks Hill United

Blake Gleenie is searching for his first competitive win as Cookers coach


Under 23's: Toronto-Awaba (11th) v Cooks Hill United (2nd)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

Cooks Hill are off to a decent start in the Under 23's. After defeating Kahibah FC 2-0 last week, they travel to Toronto to face a Stags side that suffered a 4-1 loss last week to Wallsend. There's no doubting that new coach Max Sovechles and his side will be looking to make it two from two to start the new season.

Toronto scored the opening goal through Ian Roberts last week but couldn't stop an improved Wallsend side putting four past them. Based on pre-season results, they'll definitely need to be on their best game to avoid a loss to the Cookers. The 23's comp has already and will see a fair few draws so it's not vital win, lose or draw at this stage but Toronto won't want to loss. I think they will though.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 0-3 Cooks Hill United

Giles Boyd will be looking for the double on Sunday. Coaching the 19's to a win and winning with the 23's.


Under 19's: Toronto-Awaba (5th) v Cooks Hill United (8th)
Kickoff: 11:00am

Toronto-Awaba didn't win a game all year in the Under 19's last year. This year they are one from one after a big victory over last season's Under 17's Semi Finalists Wallsend FC. It's a quality start for the Stags based on how things have panned out over pre-season. They're definitely an improved squad and who knows what they could achieve in 2016.

This weekend, the Stags face a very tough test in a Cooks Hikl outfit that were defeated by premiership hopefuls Kahibah FC last week. Just like the 17's, Cooks Hill certainly weren't blown off the park and they'll be aiming to come to Toronto and get their first three points of the season. It's a quality squad on paper and it will be interesting to see how they play at Toronto on Sunday.

This game will be one to watch. Will Toronto make it two from two and potentially go top off the league or will Cooks Hill fire themselves to their first three points of the year. I'm tipping the latter.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 1-3 Cooks Hill United

The Cookers 19's will be keen to get back on track.

========================================='s Under 17's Match of the Round
Under 17's: Toronto-Awaba (10th) v Cooks Hill United (11th)
Kickoff: 9:15am

I certainly wouldn't have predicted that this Round 2 clash in the Under 17's would be a bottom of the table match. Both these sides didn't start the new season in the manner that they would have hoped but it's only Round 2 and a chance to earn the first three points of the season awaits both these teams at Lyall Peacock Field on Sunday. A loss though would see either team fall up to six points off the top of the table...not the ideal start.

The Stags outplayed Wallsend FC last week but were ultimately beaten 1-0 on their own turf. The experience Toronto have in this grade will see some solid results this season and they'll be looking for revenge against Cooks Hill after being smashed 5-0 in the pre-season.

Cooks Hill didn't look too far off the pace against Kahibah FC last week and had a couple of key players out, including midfielder Michael Dalton. The Cookers 17's will be pushing for a finals spot as well as Toronto in my opinion. The 17's might be the tightest competition of them all this year and I'm tipping a draw in this particular match-up.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 2-2 Cooks Hill United

After doing battle in pre-season, Toronto will be looking to avoid another loss against the Cookers 17's.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1st Grade Match of the Round
1st Grade: Lake Macquarie City F.C (8th) v Wallsend F.C (2nd)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

This is no doubt the Match of the Round in 1st Grade and maybe any grade as the two rivals play for the first time since that infamous Semi Final 2nd Leg at Macquarie Field when Wallsend produced the blitz that took them to the Grand Final and eventual championship glory.

The Red Devils began their season at Toronto-Awaba last weekend and were stunned by an early Stags goal. They kept their cool and put four past a ten-man Stags outfit in the second half. It was a convincing enough performance from Josh Rufo's side but the demanding coach is always aiming to go to the next level. That next level is putting a second straight defeat on the competition favourites.

Lakes were stunned by a resurgent and resilient Belmont-Swansea side last week on their own turf. Take in the FFA Cup and last year's Finals Series and the Roosters have now lost three straight competitive games on Macquarie Field. They'll be disappointed with that and they certainly won't want to lose a fourth straight game on home turf.

David Hodgson returns for the Red Devils after a game or two out whilst Lake Macquarie City are expecting a similar line-up to the one that lost to Belswans last weekend.

This could be an early Grand Final preview in some eyes and I expect a high-scoring affair on Sunday. I'm tossing up over my prediction but I have to tip Lakes to bounce back from their Week 1 loss.

My Tip: Lake Macquarie City F.C 3-2 Wallsend F.C

Gocha Abshilava & Marcus Tega v Charlestown City Blues

========================================='s Under 23's Match of the Round
Under 23's: Lake Macquarie City F.C (6th) v Wallsend F.C (1st)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

Wallsend in the Under 23's last year was poor by the club's standards. They've had a fair few outs and brought in some players and after one round they sit top of the tree on goal difference. Having the depth they do in First Grade; it allows players like Gocha Abshilava, Dan Rufo and Trent Richards to play reserves. And it works a treat. This side look improved on the one that failed to make finals last year.

Lake Macquarie City were Grand Finalists in 2015 but the beginning of this season wasn't their best result as they recorded a scoreless draw with Belmont-Swansea. On paper, the Roosters have a pretty strong 23's side with some experience mixed with youth. I feel like they'll improve over the next few weeks and start to pick up some victories.

If this game was at The Gardens, I would have tipped a Wallsend win but being at Macquarie Field, I like the chances Lakes have of winning.

My Tip: Lake Macquarie City 2-1 Wallsend F.C

The ever-fiery Dan Rufo

========================================='s Under 19's Match of the Round
Under 19's: Lake Macquarie City F.C (2nd) v Wallsend F.C (7th)
Kickoff: 11:00am

This is essentially a Semi Final rematch from the Under 17's competition last season as Lakes host Wallsend at Macquarie Field. Wallsend's side on paper is one of the strongest in the competition and they saw away Toronto-Awaba in a trial I watched in pre-season. Last week though they were beaten by a Toronto side that didn't win a single game last year. Not the start the Red Devils were looking for.

Lakes on the other hand smashed a Belswans side that made the Semi Finals last season in the under 19's. It's talent across the park for Lakes; they scored seven last week and three of those came from Darko Nikic who wasn't even their best goalscorer last year in the Grand Final-winning Under 17's side. They beat Wallsend to make the Grand Final so the Red Devils will be aim to get some sort of small revenge with a Round 2 victory on Sunday.

This is arguably the best Under 19's game you could possibly see at this stage (apart from Lakes v Kahibah) and it's an easy pick for the Match of the Round. As for the actual result, I'm tipping Lakes to get the job done again over Wallsend...just not in the same emphatic fashion that they smashed Belswans with last week.

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

Joel Blundell v Toronto-Awaba (Pre-Season)


Under 17's: Lake Macquarie City F.C (2nd) v Wallsend F.C (4th)
Kickoff: 9:15am

An inexperienced Wallsend FC Under 17's side were in pretty poor form throughout the pre-season but to their credit they are starting  to gel and they picked up a backs against the wall style win at Lyall Peacock Field last weekend. This week the test is a lot harder as they take on a Lake Macquarie Coty coming off an 4-3 opening round win over Belmont-Swansea. The fact is, if Lakes score four again, they'll win. I can't see Wallsend getting more than two goals against a solid Lakes defence.

Lake Macquarie City shared their four goals around last week. Two to Alex Matthews, one to Jack Smith and one to Kurtis McRitchie. Just like the Lakes 17's of last season, this team have goalscorers across the park and they'll be aiming to go top of the table with a win at Macquarie Field on Sunday. Whether they can or not is the question but I think they definitely can pick up the three points.

My Tip: Lake Macquarie City 3-0 Wallsend F.C

Wallsend 17's v Maitland F.C

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