Thursday, 17 March 2016

PREVIEW: New-FM 1st Division Round 3

1st Grade: 
Belmont-Swansea United (2nd) v Thornton Redbacks (10th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

Can anyone stop early-form team Belmont-Swansea? They followed up a big win over premiership favourites Lake Macquarie City in Round 1 and then they outplayed West Wallsend last weekend. Now they're back at Blacksmiths against an unpredictable Thornton side, coming off the back of a Round 2 loss to South Cardiff. They've got players in form; leading goalscorer Josh Hall, Jamie Hadlow and last week's Man of the Match Josh Sutton.

Thornton Redbacks would have been disappointed with their mid-week cup game being postponed. I'm sure Darrel McAllister would have wanted to get that game out of the way but now it'll take place in a week or two's time. For now they have to focus on the one of the competition's form teams. They couldn't find the net last week at Ulinga Oval and with the line-up they've got, I can't see the Redbacks being held scoreless too many times.

With league-leaders Kahibah FC having the weekend off, Belmont-Swansea can go top of the table and a whopping nine points ahead of Thornton. The Redbacks won't be easybeats but Belmont-Swansea are looking a very tough side to beat.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 3-1 Thornton Redbacks

Thornton Redbacks v Edgeworth JSC (FFA Cup Round 1)


Under 23's: 
Belmont-Swansea United (2nd) v Thornton Redbacks (6th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

Belmont-Swansea come into third week of the season with a draw and a win under their belts and a place below league leaders Cooks Hill United. After a first-up 0-0 draw with Lake Macquarie City, Belswans picked up a fairly convincing 5-0 victory over West Wallsend last Saturday.

Thornton's season began with a bye before last Sunday's scoreless draw with South Cardiff at Ulinga Oval. The Redbacks have lost a couple of important names from their Grand Final-winning 23's side from last year but some talented players from the 19's are there to fill the void and this team certainly won't be happy with a draw.

Travelling to Blacksmiths Oval is a lot harder than it looks. Belswans know the ground, they have their followers and it's a real home advantage compared to some ground. Home or away I'd tip Belswans to record a second-straight win in Saturday's game.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 2-1 Thornton

Tanner White was one of Thornton's best in 23's last year.


Under 19's: 
Belmont-Swansea United (7th) v Thornton Redbacks (8th)
Kickoff: 11:00am

Belmont-Swansea beat a decent West Wallsend side last weekend and now face another home game; this time against a Thornton side that couldn't find the back of the net last week against South Cardiff. The Belswans lost one or two to higher grades in the off-season but they've got William Dundas in the squad and the newcomer was Man of the Match last weekend. Definitely a handy addition to an already quality line-up.

Thornton Redbacks could consider themselves unlucky not to come away from South Cardiff with a win last Sunday. They've got another tough away trip this week and they'll need to produce their best and more importantly find the back of the net if they stand a chance against this Belswans side. I'm tipping the home side as based on last week, they should be a bit too good.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 3-1 Thornton

William Dundas v West Wallsend (Round 2)


Under 17's: 
Belmont-Swansea United (9th) v Thornton Redbacks (10th)
Kickoff: 9:15am

Belmont-Swansea's Under 17's are yet to win from two games, although two tough games against Lake Macquarie City in Round 1 and West Wallsend in Round 2. This week they face a very unpredictable Thornton side at Blacksmiths Oval. The Belswans may very well be debuting their new club kit of yellow-green-yellow as well which explains the colour difference in the Newysports graphics this week.

Thornton went down to South Cardiff last week but word from inside the Redbacks camp is that they looked an improved side from the team that went without a win last year. There's a fair bit of experience left from last year's side which in the 17's is a very helpful thing. Whether they can make the trek down to Blacksmiths and get the three points is another story. I think Belswans will get their first win of the campaign.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 2-0 Thornton

Lachlan McMaster in action v West Wallsend


1st Grade: 
West Wallsend SFC (7th) v Lake Macquarie City FC (5th)
Kickoff: 5:00pm

This is a massive test at home for the West Wallsend Bluebells. A decent pre-season was followed by a win over competition newcomers South Cardiff in Round 1 and their FFA Cup form has been admirable. Last weekend though they were gunned down by the in-form Belswans. It was only 3-1 but it should have been double that and if you fancy half-chances it could have been triple.

Lake Macquarie City need no invitation to score goals. They've got Sam Walker up front and that alone will have Westy's defenders expecting a tough day at the office. The Roosters bounced back from a disappointing Round 1 loss to Belswans with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Wallsend FC last weekend.

Westy will be without Jarrod Olivieri after the midfielder was sent off last weekend. One player doesn't make that much of a difference and there's no excuses. Westy need to show up with a helluva performance on Saturday evening and if they don't they will be beaten and if they play in a similar fashion to last week, it could get ugly. This fixture is where it all went wrong for Westy last season and they never recovered. It's time for them to step up.

My Tip: West Wallsend 1-5 Lake Macquarie City

Westy will be without Jarrod Olivieri this weekend.


Under 23's: 
West Wallsend SFC (10th) v Lake Macquarie City FC (4th)
Kickoff: 3:15pm

West Wallsend's Under 23's team struggled throughout 2015 and their start to 2016 has been fairly poor to say the least. A first round 2-1 loss to South Cardiff certainly wasn't a confidence killer but last Saturday's 5-0 smashing at the hands of Belswans will have the Bluebells rethinking their strategy going into a tough test this week against a dangerous Lake Macquarie City outfit.

Lakes could consider themselves unlucky not to have won against Belmont-Swansea in Round 1 and they bounced back to form with a gutsy and very late 1-0 win over Wallsend in Round 2. Considering Lakes drew Belswans in Round 1 and Belswans put five past Westy last week, I'd consider the Roosters the favourite in Saturday's match-up.

My Tip: West Wallsend 0-3 Lake Macquarie City

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

------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Under 19's Match of the Round
West Wallsend SFC (4th) v Lake Macquarie City FC (2nd)
Kickoff: 1:30pm

West Wallsend were beaten in the Under 19's by Belmont-Swansea last week and this week they face premiership contenders Lake Macquarie City in a crunch game at Johnston Park. These teams played a month ago in pre-season and it finished in an entertaining 3-3 draw. That was then and this is now.

Lakes come into the game in top form; two wins from two starts although they've conceded six goals in those two games. They can't afford to let in that many goals and expect to win games week in week out. There's goalscorers across the park in the Lakes 19's and I feel as though they're a very good chance of going to Westy and picking up the three points.

My Tip: West Wallsend 1-3 Lake Macquarie City

Westy 19's v Belmont-Swansea (Round 2)

------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Under 17's Match of the Round
West Wallsend SFC (3rd) v Lake Macquarie City FC (2nd)
Kickoff: 11:45am

The Under 17's Match of the Round sees West Wallsend host Lake Macquarie City in a late kickoff at Johnston Park. The Bluebells are two from two and looking an improved side on last year. A few of last year's Barnsley U16 team have joined and they're adding to what was already a decent line-up. Players like Brock Taylor and Mitchell Kramer are joined by exciting newcomers like Khye Drayton and Lachlan Coombes. Across the park it's just generally an exciting side to watch.

They're up against one of the best teams in the competition in Lake Macquarie City. The Roosters aren't the majority of last year's U15 Lakes side like I was saying but the squad is coming together quicker than most and they're in second for a reason. Defence wasn't their strong point in Round 1 when they conceded three against Belswans but it was a better result for their defenders last weekend in a 5-1 win over Wallsend F.C.

Who wins this game though? Both sides are in good form to start the season but I feel as though Lakes won't lose. With that in mind I'm going to tip a draw.

My Tip: West Wallsend 2-2 Lake Macquarie City

Lachlan Coombes v Belmont-Swansea (Round 2)


1st Grade: 
Cessnock City (9th) v Toronto-Awaba (11th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

It's a make or break game for both these sides. Both of them were smashed 7-2 last weekend on their own home turf and both will be determined to put that behind them. Cessnock City met the wrath of league leaders Kahibah FC whilst Toronto-Awaba were passengers in a second half blitz by Cooks Hill.

Toronto-Awaba will be boosted by the return of Nick Roberts from suspension but they'll be without defender Tyler Ossington this week after he was sent off in Round 2. Discipline needs to be better, defending needs to be better and the attackers need to be more clinical. But let's be honest; no-one was expecting Toronto to be the strongest club in the competition. They won't want to cop seven goal hidings week in week out though.

Cessnock City are in a similar boat. They were unlucky not to get a result against Singleton in Round 1 and they held their own for a fair bit of time against Kahibah but the league-leaders were just too strong in the second half, with ten men on the field. Both teams will want to bounce back and I'm not sure which way to go here. A draw sounds like a possibility but at home I might go with Cessnock City.

My Tip: Cessnock City 1-0 Toronto-Awaba

Mathew Zechel v Singleton (Round 1)


Under 23's: 
Cessnock City (3rd) v Toronto-Awaba (11th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

There's not too many teams that would be more desperate for a Round 3 win than Toronto-Awaba's Under 23's side. They were fairly beaten in Round 1 by Wallsend, losing 4-1 to the Red Devils and if that wasn't enough, they lost 7-0 to ladder-leaders Cooks Hill last weekend. It's not the sort of form you'd want in the first month of the new season.

Cessnock City were unlucky not to get all three points against Singleton in Round 1 and they got the job done against Kahibah FC last Sunday; moving the 2015 Semi Finalists into the top four. They'll love their chances of a second-straight win against a fairly lacklustre Toronto outfit.

The Hornets have a similar line-up to last season and they'll improve more and more as the year goes on. This could get ugly for Toronto if they produce a similar effort to last weekend.

My Tip: Cessnock City 5-1 Toronto-Awaba

Dylan Cheetham v Cooks Hill United (Round 2)


Under 19's: 
Cessnock City (11th) v Toronto-Awaba (6th)
Kickoff: 11:00am

Cessnock City sit dead last in the 19's but there's certainly some optimism amongst the squad. After a horror show in Round 1 against Singleton, they put in a much improved effort against ladder-leaders Kahibah last weekend. A Kyle Gillis goal had the Hornets up at half-time and despite going down 3-1, it was a confidence-building result.

Toronto-Awaba picked up a big win over Wallsend in Round 1 but were beaten by Cooks Hill on their home turf last weekend. Now they face six weeks away from Lyall Peacock Field; potentially a season-defining period for the Toronto 19's. They certainly can't afford to go to Cessnock expecting an easy clash and if the Hornets produce similar to last week, there's no reason they can't win it on Sunday.

My Tip: Cessnock City 2-1 Toronto-Awaba

Luke Ford v Singleton (Round 1)


Under 17's: 
Cessnock City (8th) v Toronto-Awaba (5th)
Kickoff: 9:15am

Cessnock City produced a decent effort against Singleton in a scoreless draw for the season opener but they were smashed 7-1 by a rampant Kahibah on their own turf last week. Not a result that would have pleased anyone wearing yellow and black. They'll be more than keen to produce a better effort this week and attempt to pick up their first win of the new season.

Toronto-Awaba on the other hand bounced back from a disappointing Round 1 loss to Wallsend with a 3-1 victory over Cooks Hill United at Lyall Peacock Field last Sunday. The Stags have a similar line-up to last year which as I always say helps the side improve this season. If they play like they did last week at Toronto, there's no reason they can't make the trip west and not get the three points.

My Tip: Cessnock City 1-3 Toronto-Awaba

Callum Ansell v Cooks Hill United (Round 2)

============================================ 1st Grade Match of the Round
Wallsend FC (3rd) v Cooks Hill United (4th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

This is the Match of the Round for a very good reason. Wallsend will be keen to bounce back from last week's loss to Lake Macquarie City and they're playing their first home game of the season whilst Cooks Hill are coming off a 7-2 smashing of Toronto-Awaba and they want to prove they can beat the big guns of the competition.

Let's get one thing out of the way first. This will not end 7-2. Wallsend are a tight defensive unit and they won't be letting in that many goals and on the other side, Cooks Hill wouldn't do the same. They let in seven in Round 1 and that was a one-off. This will be a hard-fought affair at The Gardens.

If Wallsend hit their straps they'll like their chances of victory but Cooks Hill are not easybeats. That being said, Cooks Hill were impressive last week but Wallsend are a much tougher opponent than Toronto and I'm not completely sold yet on Cooks Hill's ability against the top teams. Wallsend to win here.

My Tip: Wallsend FC 3-1 Cooks Hill United

Marcus Tega v Charlestown City (FFA Cup Round 2)

------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Under 23's Match of the Round
Wallsend FC (5th) v Cooks Hill United (1st)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

The worst game I saw last season anywhere was at Newcastle Athletics Field between Cooks Hill and Wallsend in the 23's. It was shambles and finished 0-0. Fast-forward six or seven months and these two teams are the Match of the Round. It's been a delightful turn-around for Cooks Hill in the 23's and Wallsend's depth has allowed them to improve the reserves squad.

Wallsend were unlucky not to escape Macquarie Field with a well-earned draw last week. Lakes took the win with a very late goal. Cooks Hill on the other hand were absolutely ruthless at Toronto, smashing seven past the Stags and showing no remorse in the process. They won't do the same at The Gardens but they'll like their chances of taking the three points away from this game. Max Sovechles' side looks quality and I think it'll be three from three on Sunday.

My Tip: Wallsend FC 1-3 Cooks Hill United

Ben Frohlich played 23's last weekend in a more forward position.


Under 19's: 
Wallsend FC (10th) v Cooks Hill United (5th)
Kickoff: 11:00am

I wouldn't have banked on seeing Wallsend FC without a point in their first two games of Under 19's in 2016. They were downed at Toronto and they fell to a quality Lakes side last weekend. This week they face another tricky side in Cooks Hill United.

The Cookers bounced back from a first-up loss to Kahibah with a 3-1 win over Toronto-Awaba last week. It's ironic that the Stags beat Wallsend in Round 1. Based on that you'd consider the visitors a big chance of going back to back here and whilst it's certainly a possibility, it won't be easy on Wallsend's home turf. I like the chances of a draw in this game.

My Tip: Wallsend FC 2-2 Cooks Hill United

Seb Lewis v Toronto-Awaba (Round 2)


Under 17's: 
Wallsend FC (6th) v Cooks Hill United (11th)
Kickoff: 9:15am

Wallsend picked up a confidence-boosting win in Round 1 over Toronto but they were outplayed last week at Speers Point, going down 5-1 to Lake Macquarie City. The Red Devils were in the game until a second half blitz by Lakes saw them score four goals and take the three points. Wallsend have the potential to be a good team though but they're in for a good test on Sunday.

Cooks Hill United have started the season with two losses and sit bottom of the league. It's not where they should be and it's not where they'll be in a few week's I'd imagine. There's definitely some solidity about this team but they just need to find the net a bit more. I think they can get their first win of the campaign at The Gardens.

My Tip: Wallsend FC 0-2 Cooks Hill United

Campbell Guest v Toronto-Awaba (Round 2)


1st Grade: 
South Cardiff (6th) v Singleton Strikers (8th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

South Cardiff picked up their maiden win of their NewFM campaign last week, defeating Thornton Redbacks 1-0 at Ulinga Oval. David Hecimovic was the lone goalscorer for the Gunners and they could very well move into the top four with a second-straight home win this Sunday. The problem for them is they're up against a very tough to beat Singleton side.

The Strikers had the bye last weekend but were in FFA Cup action against Dudley-Redhead. Some heroics from goalkeeper Stuart Plant put the Singo boys through to the next round and now they return to league action knowing a win is needed to kickstart their 2016 campaign. One goal in their last two outings is a bit of a worry though.

So who is the favourite going into this game? On their home turf I'd consider South Cardiff a good chance of victory but Singleton cannot be written off in any game. They've got a talented line-up that on their day can be up there with nearly any team in the league. Both these sides combined for just two goals last weekend so expect a tight contest.

My Tip: South Cardiff 1-2 Singleton

Jackson Robb v Adamstown Rosebud (FFA Cup Round 2)

Under 23's: 
South Cardiff (7th) v Singleton Strikers (8th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

South Cardiff's Under 23's team have had a fairly solid start to life in the NewFM 1st Division. They won 2-1 over West Wallsend in Round 1 and they weren't too far off getting a result in a 4-3 loss to Grand Final-winning Thornton last Sunday. This week they face a tricky test at home against an unpredictable Singleton side.

Singleton would have been disappointed with a scoreless draw in Cessnock for the season opener. They had the bye last week which was a chance to reassess ahead of this week's trip to Ulinga Oval. Singleton's squad is a decent one in the 23's and they'll be keen to kickstart their season with three points on Sunday. I'm going with the draw though personally.

My Tip: South Cardiff 1-1 Singleton

Singleton 23's v Cessnock City (Round 1)


Under 19's: 
South Cardiff (9th) v Singleton Strikers (3rd)
Kickoff: 11:00am

It's been a tough welcoming to the NewFM 1st Division for South Cardiff's Under 19's side. A first-up 5-1 loss to West Wallsend was followed by a scoreless draw with Thornton. Now they face their toughest test in a Singleton side that won their first game of the season 7-0 before a bye in Round 2.

The Strikers were superb in a seven goal smashing of arch rivals Cessnock City. Three players (Nathan Hall, Will Holz and Nathan Smart) scored doubles and captain Tom Golding rounded out the result. There's talent across the park for the Strikers 19's and they've got some decent bench players from the 17's as well. They'll want to stay in the top four with a win on Sunday.

It's time for Southy to step up in this grade and get their first three points of the season...I just can't see it coming against Singleton.

My Tip: South Cardiff 1-3 Singleton

Luke Geipel & James Croucher v Cessnock City (Round 1)


Under 17's: 
South Cardiff (4th) v Singleton Strikers (7th)
Kickoff: 9:15am

The Gunners 17's were 4-1 winners over Thornton last week and they'll be looking to make it two in a row against a tricky Singleton side. Lucas Emmett-Morlay has two goals in two games for the Southy side. Singleton though are a handy side in this grade and won't be an easy opposition.

Singleton scored a 0-0 draw with Cessnock in Round 1 and they're definitely a chance to get into the winner's circle on Sunday. Goalkeeper Brad Fairclough was a notable omission at Cessnock but the squad is strong enough to win without him if he isn't back already. If they can find the target, they can definitely score three points on the road at Southy.

My Tip: South Cardiff 1-2 Singleton

Singleton 17's v Cessnock City (Round 1)


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