Wednesday, 2 March 2016

PREVIEW: 2016 New-FM 1st Division Round 1

Welcome back to for the 2016 New-FM 1st Division season. As you've seen during pre-season; Newysports will be adding photos, interviews and more into it's extensive and proud coverage of the New-FM 1st Division. The weekly previews will normally go up on Thursday or Friday but it's a bit early this week as I was too excited to wait. Good luck for the season and will see you all at some stage this year. The 5 month long off-season is nearly over! #NeverBackDown

Newysports 1st Grade Match of the Round
1st Grade: Cooks Hill United v Kahibah FC
Kickoff: 2:30pm

Last season began at the Newcastle Athletics Field and the 2016 campaign kicks off at the same location but with a much more exciting fixture than Round 1 last year. This game sees a completely revamped Cooks Hill outfit take the field against last season's Semi Finalists Kahibah F.C, lead by the evergreen Andre Gumprecht. This promises to be a cracker of an opener for the new season.

Cooks Hill's new-look side is a serious one lead by new coach Blake Gleenie and throughout pre-season they've picked up some decent results. Draws against NPL sides Edgeworth and Weston, a 4-1 win up at Port Macquarie and a win over the Newcastle Suns stand-out as some real decent results. It was going well until the FFA Cup exit. A penalty shootout loss to Dudley-Redhead followed a game where the Cookers just didn't show up. It was poor.

Kahibah FC also faced a rather poor exit from the FFA Cup. They were on auto-drive in a 6-1 win over Newcastle Suns but they simply didn't show up when they faced Beresfield United in Round 2. Out at the second hurdle of the national knockout competition. Kahibah have looked great during pre-season and have the potential to win the title this season.

So with both sides coming off poor FFA Cup results, you'd imagine that both will come out firing at the AthField on Saturday, especially Kahibah. I've got no doubt that Cooks Hill could very well win this but I'm tipping a quality Kahibah side to get the job done on opening day.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 1-3 Kahibah FC

Cooks Hill Keeper Kaia Roth v Edgeworth
Andre Gumprecht v South Cardiff


Newysports Under 23's Match of the Round
Under 23's: Cooks Hill United v Kahibah FC
Kickoff: 12:45pm

Cooks Hill United's Under 23's side wasn't the greatest last year. There was a mixture of youth and experience but in simple terms, it just didn't work. I've caught one of their pre-season games this year and the side looked slightly younger and slightly more skillful. There's still some experience but there's a lot of talent coming through the ranks.

Kahibah FC's 23's side will be short in defensive depth but apart from that, they promise to be a decent side. I haven't got a finalised squad list for them but I know a couple who are definitely in and this time will be pushing to go one better than last year and make the finals. I'm tipping them to go down in Round 1 though.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 3-1 Kahibah FC

Kahibah 23's v Belmont-Swansea


Under 19's: Cooks Hill United v Kahibah FC
Kickoff: 11:00am

This is definitely one of the matches of the round across the league as Cooks Hill host Kahibah FC in the Under 19's. The Cookers finished in the Semi Finals last year and keep the squad mostly together under the guidance of Giles Boyd. Goalkeeper Emerson Gosling is a newcomer and will have the crucial role of stopping a dangerous looking Kahibah outfit.

The Green and Blacks are the majority of last year's Semi Final losing 17's squad, plus a couple of handy additions. This side from Kahibah may be even better this year. I could run through the team line-up but there's no point; it's quality across the park. Hughes, Goodacre, Zek, Cooper, Turner, Cromarty, do I need go on. Plus some additions like Chaplain and Wills. I've got no hesitation in tipping them to win in the first game of the season and this is coming from a one-eyed Cookers man.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 1-3 Kahibah FC

Bailey Chaplain celebrating a goal v Belmont-Swansea


Newysports Under 17's Match of the Round
Under 17's: Cooks Hill United v Kahibah FC
Kickoff: 9:15am

Two new look sides in the Under 17's will clash in the opening match of the 2016 New-FM 1st Division season. Cooks Hill United were Grand Finalists in 2015 but only three players from that squad remain this year; although three quality players in Campbell Guest, Michael Dalton and Elih Collins. It's safe to say this is a new look squad under the guidance of Michael Best.

For Kahibah, an unknown squad as I personally have not seen a team list. What I do know is that the team is mostly, if not all new from the side last year. There's an influence of players from the Central Coast, no doubt the International Football School providing one or two players again. It's a great system Kahibah have and it worked last year so why not again?

Of the 17's teams I've watched in pre-season; Cooks Hill have impressed me the most. The passing and skill they showed against Toronto on that day was superb and considering that was now close to a month ago; it's safe to say the squad have probably gelled since then. Kahibah beat Wallsend 3-1 last weekend but I'm tipping them to lose in the season opener.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 4-1 Kahibah FC

Campbell Guest v Toronto-Awaba

1st Grade: West Wallsend SFC v South Cardiff FC
Kickoff: 5:00pm

It's the 125th season for the West Wallsend Bluebells and up first is a tough test in former NPL side and 1st Division newcomers South Cardiff Gunners. The Bluebells have played a fair few pre-season trials and most of them have been at Johnston Park. Getting used to their new squad at familiar surroundings will help Gary Rowe's side going into the season. For the majority, this is a similar side to the one that finished dead last in 2015. I feel like that won't the case in 2016.

South Cardiff's side is an entirely different one to the one that was relegated at the end of the 2015 NPL Season. Andrew Packer is the coach heading into the club's maiden New-FM 1st Division campaign and is looking to build the season around a fairly young squad, lead by captain and goalkeeper Mikel Brekenridge.

I've seen both these sides play a couple of times in pre-season. Westy looked quality against a poor Cessnock side on the day. Then they were outplayed by Singleton and indeed the Stockton Sharks in the FFA Cup; although the Bluesbells escaped a cup exit. Last weekend's 5-1 win over Raymond Terrace was a much better result.

As for South Cardiff, they stumbled their way through a penalty shootout victory over Cessnock City before being eliminated by NPL side Adamstown in Round 2. Life in New-FM is not going to be easy for the Gunners and they'll need to bring their best, week in week out. As for Round 1, I'm tipping West Wallsend to get a win on their home turf.

My Tip: West Wallsend 2-1 South Cardiff

West Wallsend in FFA Cup v Stockton Sharks

South Cardiff captain Mikel Breckenridge


Under 23's: West Wallsend SFC v South Cardiff FC
Kickoff: 3:15pm

West Wallsend will be aiming for a lot of improvement in the Under 23's. I saw them play twice in pre-season and both times they were defeated. They were also dispatched by Lakes in a pre-season loss. It's safe to say that pre-season form doesn't exactly look inspiring. But it's what happens in Round 1 that counts the most.

As for their visitors, I don't have a squad list for South Cardiff but I can vaguely remember the Gunners' 22's getting smashed 8-1 at Magic Park; the only game of theirs that I watched last year. This squad will no doubt be a different one to that of last year and it's due to that difference that I'm going to do the cautious thing and tip a 1-1 draw.

My Tip: West Wallsend 1-1 South Cardiff

West Wallsend Under 23's Side


Under 19's: West Wallsend SFC v South Cardiff FC
Kickoff: 1:30pm

It's a mix of old and new names in the West Wallsend Under 19's squad and they come into the season with some decent pre-season form. A 2-2 draw against Lake Macquarie City a couple of weeks back really struck me as a quality result for the Bluesbells but they've got a decent task in Round 1.

South Cardiff FC are again a mystery bunch in this grade. Their Under 19's finished lowly on the NPL table last year and the 17's finished last. I'm not sure how many of them remain but travelling to Johnston Park in Round 1 will be one of the more tougher orientations to New-FM football.

Westy's 19's I think are a decent squad and I'm tipping them to start the season with a tight win over Southy.

My Tip: West Wallsend 2-1 South Cardiff

Grant Scott scoring a goal v Cessnock City


Under 17's: West Wallsend SFC v South Cardiff FC
Kickoff: 11:45am

I like this idea of 11:45am kickoffs in the 17's. 9:15am is fairly early but nonetheless it's what we're working with in the league again this year. West Wallsend are a side I've watched twice in pre-season and both times they impressed me. It's a slightly different looking squad this year but a fair few players remain from what was a decent team in 2015.

The Bluebells have had a solid pre-season and there's definitely some quality in the line-up. Khye Drayton was one of their best in one of the games I watched, Mitch Kramer is solid, Brock Taylor is versatile at fullback or midfield and there's several others who'll do well throughout the season. The top four is definitely a real possibility for Westy in the 17's.

Now you can accuse me of not doing my homework on South Cardiff. I have no idea who's in the squad, I have no idea about pre-season form and no idea how they're going to go this year. That's what happens in Round 1. Either way, this side will have to be a quality one to beat Westy on their own field.

My Tip: West Wallsend 3-1 South Cardiff

Khye Drayton v Cessnock City

1st Grade: Toronto-Awaba v Wallsend FC
Kickoff: 2:30pm

There has not been a side with poorer pre-season form in the New-FM 1st Division than Toronto-Awaba. I only saw this because in Round 1, they've got arguably the toughest test you could ask for in the form of defending champions Wallsend FC. The Stags are going to be up against it on Sunday afternoon.

Wallsend FC are the sort of side that can brilliant on one day and shocking the next. Their 0-0 draw against star-studded NPL side Maitland FC was a big result but they weren't quiet themselves in a 3-2 loss to Charlestown in the FFA Cup last Saturday. I've seen the Red Devils play three weeks in a row now and it's safe to say I think they'll get the first up win against Toronto.

Wallsend have the chance to send a message to the likes of Lakes and Kahibah that they are serious about finishing 2016 in a higher position than last year. With the side they've got, they could tear Toronto to shreds if the Stags produce a similar effort to some of their pre-season games.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 0-4 Wallsend FC

Toronto-Awaba v Beresfield United

Wallsend FC v Maryland-Fletcher


Under 23's: Toronto-Awaba v Wallsend FC
Kickoff: 12:45pm

The Wallsend 23's weren't the best team in 2015 but one that was a fair bit worse was that of Toronto-Awaba. The Stags finished second last and only picked up four wins all season; one of those wins being away to Wallsend FC. The Red Devils actually ended their season at Lyall Peacock Field where it finished 1-1. That makes this one slightly hard to predict.

Toronto-Awaba haven't impressed me much during the pre-season with all due respect. I watched their game against the Jaffas 19's and they were outplayed. Wallsend on the other hand have boosted their depth with some fringe first graders that have moved down as a result of some smart off-season recruiting. It's with that in mind that I tip Wallsend to win this one.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 0-3 Wallsend FC

Wallsend FC v Maitland FC


Under 19's: Toronto-Awaba v Wallsend FC
Kickoff: 11:00am

This is from what I remember the only game all weekend that was actually played out in the pre-season. On that day, Toronto-Awaba were outplayed by Wallsend FC who picked up a 4 or 5 goal win if memory serves correctly. In simple terms, this is going to be a tough test for a side that went winless in 2015.

Wallsend FC can be one of the better teams in this age group if they can keep the squad together. Unfortunately injury has struck the side a little during the weeks leading up to the season. One or two players will most likely miss this game but the squad is still strong enough to make something of the early stages of the new season.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 1-4 Wallsend FC

Brayden Smith v Toronto-Awaba

Wallsend FC 19's v Toronto-Awaba in pre-season


Under 17's: Toronto-Awaba v Wallsend FC
Kickoff: 9:15am

I've caught one game from both these sides in pre-season and based purely on what I saw in those games, I'd be leaning firmly towards Toronto-Awaba here. The Stags line-up has a lot of experience from last season; players like Rory Jamieson, Nick Woodman, Callum Ansell, Ryan Kirby and the ever-passionate Luke Gibbons all featured in the 17's squad last season. There's probably a couple of others that I missed as well.

Wallsend have a fairly new look squad. There's only a couple that remain from last year that I saw in the squad at Maitland. Cameron Jefferson-Bilbe is back in goals and Darcy Hall features in a defensive/midfield position. If memory serves correctly they're the only two remaining from the Semi Finalists last year.

Wallsend looked like a work in progress (to be kind) when I saw them go down at Maitland and they were on the back end of a harsh defeat to Charlestown last week. They played on the weekend and went down 3-1 to Kahibah which in my eyes shows some improvement. Toronto-Awaba's experience will be key and they should be winning this.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 3-0 Wallsend FC

Joma Saidi v Maitland FC

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Feature Match:

1st Grade: Cessnock City v Singleton Strikers
Kickoff: 2:30pm

Newysports' Match of the Day on Sunday sees Cessnock City host Singleton in the 'Hunter Valley derby'. It's sure to be a fiercely-contested match-up between the two rivals. Cessnock City's pre-season form hasn't been impressive and they're up against a Singleton side that have looked high quality at times during the last few weeks.

The Hornets have lost two decent players that I know of in Jason Zechel and Gocha Abshilava but they still have some individual talent in the squad. It's whether they can combine that individual talent into a talented team that is the question. Round 1 against Singleton is a tough way to start the season.

Singleton on the other hand have recruited very well. The addition of imports Dylan Schauder and Alex Clarke have added to an already strong squad. Goalkeeper Stuart Plant has excellent communication skills as well as goalie talent, captain Jackson Cox has been one of the form players in pre-season and scored a club-record seven goals in last week's 9-1 FFA Cup win over Merewether Advance.

I'm confident that Singleton will win this game. I'm going with 3-0 but depending on how well they play and how well Cessnock play, it could very well be more. This Strikers team is one to watch in 2016.

My Tip: Cessnock City 0-3 Singleton Strikers

Cessnock City v West Wallsned

Stuart Plant v West Wallsend


Under 23's: Cessnock City v Singleton Strikers
Kickoff: 12:45pm

The Hornets' 23's (or Stingers as they prefer to be known) were the only Cessnock City squad to make the 2015 New-FM Finals Series. They look a similar squad to last year although they've lost one or two players to opposition clubs. They've got a tricky test in Round 1 as well in the form of Singleton.

The Strikers have an interesting situation. They've got some decent 23's players but they've also got some 19's players who'll be rotating through the squad. It's the sort of coaching headache you'd like to have. The Strikers will be an improved squad in the 23's this year; I've got no doubt.

As for this game to start the season, I'm tipping Cessnock City to get the points.

My Tip: Cessnock City 2-1 Singleton Strikers

Cessnock 23's v West Wallsend


Under 19's: Cessnock City v Singleton Strikers
Kickoff: 11:00am

Cessnock City's Under 19's team are a new-look squad this year but one that could potentially shock a few throughout the year. There's definitely talent but whether it comes to fruition is a different story. Brandon Zechel is one of the better young goalkeepers in the league and there's some talented players across the park. They may lose one or two to the 23's at times though.

Singleton's 19's are another side that could shock a few this season. They've definitely got some talent in the squad. Nathan Hall, Tully Winsor, Oliver Moody. There's definitely potential for this squad to do some damage in the Under 19's competition in 2016. I'm going to tip them to go to Cessnock and grab a first-up win on Sunday.

My Tip: Cessnock City 0-2 Singleton Strikers

Singleton 19's v West Wallsend SFC


Under 17's: Cessnock City v Singleton Strikers
Kickoff: 9:15am

As mentioned, I'll be at Turner Park on Sunday. I can't make promises though about getting to this early kickoff. It's sure to be an interesting game between the two rivals though. I believe there's only four players left from the Hornets 17's squad last year (Connor Garrington, Liam Hunter, Lachlan Lewis and Jeremy Noone). This is based on their team sheet at a trial so I may be wrong. They didn't look too bad to be honest.

Singleton I got to see a week after Cessnock; playing the same opposition in West Wallsend and they were defeated 2-1. It's a side with a lot of experience from last season. The likes of Brad Fairclough in goals, Hamish Mayled, Campbell Nunn, Trae Proudlock. This is a good team on paper and I'm backing them to get the job done against Cessnock City this Sunday.

My Tip: Cessnock City 1-3 Singleton Strikers

Lucas Zechel v West Wallsend


1st Grade: Lake Macquarie City v Belmont-Swansea
Kickoff: 2:30pm

NPL hopefuls Lake Macquarie City enter the 2016 season with a very similar squad to last season plus one or two additions. Importantly, they've still got Sam Walker up front and the routine goalscorer has been key during pre-season. If he stays fit then Lakes will be again a side to watch. In fact their whole squad is strong but Walker especially is key for the side's chances. Their defence last year left a lot to be desired but as long as they simply score more goals than their opposition then they'll be fine.

Belmont-Swansea have had a pretty disrupted pre-season to say the very least. Players were in and out, their coach left and secretary Brad Paul has taken over the reigns with some extra help. It's worked well as they overcame arch rivals Swansea in the FFA Cup to earn a second round draw. They're definitely a dark horse going into the new season.

Travelling to Macquarie Field is tough any week of the year but Round 1 is especially difficult. The Roosters will be aiming for a big win to send a message that they're a side looking to build on a strong 2015 season. 

My Tip: Lake Macquarie City 3-1 Belmont-Swansea


Under 23's: Lake Macquarie City FC v Belmont-Swansea
Kickoff: 12:45pm

Lakes are a strong club in every grade so there's no doubt that the Grand Final-qualifying side from last year will come out firing in 2016. They've got a bit of a mystery test awaiting them in Round 1 in the form of Belmont-Swansea. Lakes though at home should go into this one as favourites.

Belswans I saw once during the pre-season and they weren't entirely impressive. Although they did have several out and were required to call on some Under 19's players to fill in. The Belswans are still an unknown entity in most grades and although I'm hoping they do well in the 23's, I can't see them starting the season with the three points.

My Tip: Lake Macquarie City 3-0 Belmont-Swansea

James Youngberry v Kahibah FC


Newysports Under 19's Match of the Round
Under 19's: Lake Macquarie City FC v Belmont-Swansea
Kickoff: 11:00am

The Under 19's Match of the Round sees last season's Grand Final winners Lake Macquarie City host the team they beat to get to the GF, Belmont-Swansea United. This however is a completely new Lakes outfit formed by the majority of their 17's team from last season as well as the coach.

Belmont-Swansea were one of the most entertaining sides in the 19's competition last year and if they can keep the majority of that side together; there's no reason why the Belswans can't push for a top four spot once again. Whether or not they can start the season with the three points at Lakes is a different story. 

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

Matt Ellis v Kahibah FC


Under 17's: Lake Macquarie City FC v Belmont-Swansea
Kickoff: 9:15am

The 2015 Under 17's champions Lake Macquarie City have lost the near whole of their side and coach to the Under 19's competition. What's left is still a talented group of players (a few of which travelled together to Borneo last season) but a squad that is untested at New-FM level.

Belmont-Swansea are a mystery bunch. I do have a list of players for their squad but it's combined 17's and 19's so I'm not sure who's in either. There's no doubt going to be some players left from the squad last year but from what I saw in a trial match at Gateshead, I'm not sure this team are going to be up for the challenge of beating Lakes at Macquarie Field. Due to the lack of real knowledge on either side, I'll toe the line and go the draw.

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

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