Thursday, 28 April 2016

PREVIEW: New-FM 1st Division Round 9


1st Grade Match of the Round:
Cooks Hill United (5th) v West Wallsend SFC (7th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

The Match of the Round sees a determined Cooks Hill United side face a West Wallsend side coming off a 4-0 clean sheet against lowly Toronto-Awaba last weekend. Ryan Cole returned to scoring form with two goals whilst Jarrod Olivieri also scored a brace as Gary Rowe decided to let the big dog off the leash and go forward in the latter stages of the match.

Cooks Hill United's Round 8 game against Lake Macquarie City was one of their best performances of the season and on another day they could and probably would have left Macquarie Field with at least a point. It was without doubt one of their best defensive efforts of the year after some struggles at the back against Belmont-Swansea.

West Wallsend come into this game with the Cox brothers returning from injury and a few players in some good form. No red cards against Toronto-Awaba would have relieved Gary Rowe, whose side have faced a fair share of cards (both yellow and red) over the first two months of the season.

So who wins this game? At the AthField you'd have to think Cooks Hill. Their form at home hasn't been solid and if they lose here, they'll fall further behind the top four and most likely be overtaken by at least one maybe more teams below them. This is a key game in the 2016 season for Cooks Hill United.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 3-1 West Wallsend

West Wallsend celebrating a goal v Toronto-Awaba last weekend.
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Under 23's:
Cooks Hill United (2nd) v West Wallsend SFC (9th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

This could be a long day for West Wallsend if they don't show up. They defeated Toronto-Awaba last weekend but beating the bottom of the table side is lot different than beating a side flying high after knocking off the ladder-leaders last weekend. They've won four straight; they've won six of seven this season and they're looking a dangerous side going forward and a solid one at the back.

West Wallsend's away form hasn't been pretty in this grade. 14 goals conceded in three away games and despite showing some improvement in last week's performance; they'll need a lot more than that when they make the trip to the AthField. Players like Sam Hawke, James Roman and even fullback Ben Frohlich are in form and there should be just the one result here.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 5-1 West Wallsend

Cooks Hill's 23's won a big match at Macquarie Field last weekend.
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Under 19's Match of the Round:
Cooks Hill United (4th) v West Wallsend SFC (1st)
Kickoff: 11:00am

A heavyweight clash awaits Cooks Hill United for the second-straight week. They fell to a late goal against Lake Macquarie City last weekend and now they have to defend their spot in the top four against ladder-leaders West Wallsend. Asher Beasley scored another goal last week and is one of a few in-form players in this side.

West Wallsend come into this game on the back of a Round 8 4-4 draw with Toronto-Awaba. It was an absolute thriller at Johnston Park and only a Greg Mason goal late-on saved the Bluebells from a rare loss in 2016. They've had a brilliant season and players like Sam Jones and Greg Mason have stood up in front of goals.

So who is going to win this top four clash at the AthField. With only one point separating top from fourth; this is definitely going to be a crunch game in both side's seasons. I think at home, the Cookers can move into a commanding position and jump Westy on the table.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 3-1 West Wallsend

Cooks Hill United before the game v Lake Macquarie City
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Under 17's Match of the Round:
Cooks Hill United (4th) v West Wallsend SFC (2nd)
Kickoff: 9:15am

This looks a quality match on paper. I myself will be missing most of the matchday due to an away game for my team at Marks Point but I might try and at least make this match as it is the Match of the Round in this grade. Cooks Hill United are looking to bounce back to winning form after a loss to Lakes last week. It was in fact arguably their best performance of the season at Macquarie Field; despite the loss.

West Wallsend played a top four battle against Toronto-Awaba last weekend and they overcame the Stags with some quality. Josh Knight would find the winner and his form is dangerous coming into this match. Cooks Hill defensively are a strong unit and they look the goods coming into this game.

Westy are eight points clear of Cooks Hill so I feel as though it's a bigger game for the home team. A loss could and probably will see them loss their top four spot. I can't see that happening if they play in a similar style to their last few games.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 2-1 West Wallsend

West Wallsend U17's before their match against Toronto-Awaba
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Newysports.com Feature Match


1st Grade:
Kahibah FC (4th) v Singleton Strikers (11th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

Newysports will be on hand at Kahibah Oval for the first time this season as the Green and Blacks host the struggling Singleton Strikers. Andre Gumprecht's side were outplayed and outclassed by Thornton Redbacks last weekend and it would have no doubt led to some questions being asked and some drills being focused on at training. Kahibah aren't a club that enjoy losing at the best of times.

Singleton on the other hand are coming off a 4-1 loss in their last game, also against Thornton, where they didn't show very much at all in wet conditions at Howe Park. David Willoughby has had two weeks to work on what is needed and it's time for Singleton to produce. They're bottom of the league and it's fast becoming a bigger gap between them and Kahibah in fourth-place.

New import signing Kieron Burrell will make his 1st grade debut for the club, coming into the squad for youngster Tyler Felsch. Burrell, from the UK, scored on his club debut in an Under 23's match with Thornton on Wednesday night. He should be a handy addition to a side that need to find form. Goalkeeper Stuart Plant will return from suspension.

So who wins this one? Kahibah Oval is a difficult place to travel to. The fans there are up there as the loudest in the league, it's a very windy field on it's day and not to mention, Singleton's away form has been shaky as well as their home form. I can't see Kahibah losing two weeks in a row.

My Tip: Kahibah F.C 3-0 Singleton Strikers

Young Singleton defender Jackson Skinner has been a solid starter this season.
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Under 23's:
Kahibah FC (8th) v Singleton Strikers (10th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

This is a vital game for the visiting Singleton Strikers. They sit 11 points outside the top four making finals a rather hard thing to believe they can make. It's Round 9 and there's still over half the season but a loss this weekend will surely spell an end to those already slim finals hopes. There's just too many good teams in this grade.

Kahibah F.C are a side that less than two weeks ago found themselves in a similar hole to the visitors. They were without a win for 2016 and seemingly destined to miss finals. It's still a long way back but nine goals in two games says otherwise and new addition Peter Migliore is one of the reasons for the massive turn-around. The attacker has five goals in two games.

Singleton have a game in hand after breaking their winless streak in a mid-week clash with Thornton. They'll need some luck on the road at Kahibah Oval against the in-form Green and Blacks.

My Tip: Kahibah F.C 3-1 Singleton Strikers

Ryan Guihot in goals against Cessnock City in Round 1.
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Under 19's:
Kahibah FC (5th) v Singleton Strikers (6th)
Kickoff: 11:00am

If not for an all-top four clash at Cooks Hill, this would have been the game of the round in the Under 19's as 5th-placed Kahibah F.C clash with 6th-placed Singleton Strikers at Kahibah Oval. Neither side played last week so match fitness is definitely not a concern for either. Kahibah have had a few ins and outs over recent weeks but their results are quality. A last start win over ladder-leaders West Wallsend prove that Mat Moncrieff's side is one to watch.

Singleton's last start was a 4-1 victory over the Thornton Redbacks in the pouring rain at Singleton's Howe Park. Oliver Moody scored the opener before the in-form Nathan Hall buried three goals against a lacklustre Thornton side. This week is a much harder test for the Strikers when they made the long trip down to Kahibah Oval.

Kahibah are going to be difficult to beat this season; especially on their own patch of grass. I'm predicting joy for the Green and Blacks as they win a crucial mid-table match and potentially climb into the top four.

My Tip: Kahibah F.C 4-1 Singleton Strikers

Kahibah 19's in action against Belmont-Swansea in Round 5.
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Under 17's:
Kahibah FC (5th) v Singleton Strikers (10th)
Kickoff: 9:15am

This is a key game for Kahibah FC as they sit equal fourth with both Cooks Hill and Wallsend. Their form has been inconsistent although they do have a game in hand against Thornton. They'll be delighted to be at home this weekend and not having to make the trip to Singleton. The Green and Blacks will be looking to return to winning form.

For Singleton, they're also coming off a wash-out weekend where their game against Wallsend FC was postponed. Before that was a game I attended where they lost in a tight match against the Thornton Redbacks. Road form has been a problem for them and Kahibah Oval is a difficult place to travel to. The Green and Blacks look the goods for a win here.

My Tip: Kahibah F.C 3-1 Singleton Strikers

Trae Proudlock celebrating a goal with Campbell Nunn v Thornton Redbacks (Round 7)

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1st Grade:
Toronto-Awaba FC (9th) v Thornton Redbacks (6th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

This is a match between two sides in completely different situations and importantly, completely different form. Thornton Redbacks surprised a few with their classy 4-1 win over Singleton Strikers and whilst many would have expected premiership contenders Kahibah F.C to beat them last weekend, the Redbacks stepped up to another level and downed Kahibah 3-1. All without three key players in Jamie Subat, Tallan Martin and goalkeeper Mick Hugo. 

It's amazing form from Darrel McAllister's side but it needs to continue. They've got an important three or four games coming up that will shape their season. It starts this Sunday with a trip to Lyall Peacock Field to face a Toronto-Awaba side searching for some form after back-to-back losses.

The Stags lost 6-0 to Lake Macquarie City two weeks ago. No surprise there as Lakes are the frontrunners and can punish teams on their day. What the Stags produced at Johnston Park last week in a crunch game against West Wallsend was just poor. There's questions about the future of coach Tony Jovcevski, the side's form is poor, they've conceded ten in two games. All indications that the visitors will leave with three valuable points.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 1-4 Thornton Redbacks

Thornton have won their last two matches against Singleton and Kahibah.
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Under 23's:
Toronto-Awaba FC (11th) v Thornton Redbacks (7th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

Thornton's mid-week loss to Singleton leaves Toronto-Awaba as the only winless side in the Under 23's grade. A true goalscorer I believe was the only thing separating them and West Wallsend last weekend. The Stags have struggled defensively but in a 1-0 loss, goalscoring can be crucial and luck wasn't on their side last week.

Toronto-Awaba just need a win. They can't go half a season without a win. Thornton will be disappointed after the loss to Singleton mid-week that stalled some of the momentum they had going, if there was any left after losing to a resurgent Kahibah. This is a game against two out-of-form sides. Will there be a winner or will it finish a draw. Thornton I think if they play like they did when I watched them against Wallsend may come away with the points.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 1-2 Thornton Redbacks

Toronto-Awaba 23's bringing the fight to West Wallsend last weekend.
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Under 19's:
Toronto-Awaba FC (9th) v Thornton Redbacks (10th)
Kickoff: 11:00am

Toronto-Awaba's Under 19's side produced one of the best efforts I've seen from any side in last week's thrilling 4-4 draw with top of the table West Wallsend at Johnston Park. Two delightful goals from Josh Davis gave the Stags a come-from-behind lead and only a last minute heartbreaking goal stopped them from recording a big victory away from home.

This week they face a side below them on the league table in the form of the Thornton Redbacks. The Redbacks were washed out last weekend and their form isn't convincing at all. Toronto-Awaba at home against lower-table opposition; if they perform to the standard they did last week there'll only be the one outcome.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 2-0 Thornton Redbacks

Toronto-Awaba celebrating a goal v West Wallsend in Round 8
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Under 17's:
Toronto-Awaba FC (3rd) v Thornton Redbacks (9th)
Kickoff: 9:15am

Toronto-Awaba's superb form has come to a standstill after two straight losses to Lake Macquarie City and West Wallsend. Against Westy they certainly weren't outplayed and created a lot of chances. They're a very good side and their spot in the top four is an indication of their potential. They'll see a home game against Thornton as a real chance to return to the winners' circle.

Thornton Redbacks were washed out last week after a hard-fought win against Singleton the week before. They've got some talented players but again form is a worry. Admittedly, they're only four points outside the top four with a game to spare so a win this weekend will certainly boost their confidence at the crucial middle stage of the season.

Toronto-Awaba need this win. They could very well be dumped out of the top four if they loss and I believe they'll bounce back to form this weekend.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 4-2 Thornton Redbacks

Will Miles-Schofield in action v Wallsend F.C (Round 6)
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1st Grade:
Wallsend FC (3rd) v South Cardiff FC (8th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

After both sides had the weekend off with a wash-out for Wallsend and the bye for South Cardiff, these two clubs will come together for the 1st leg of the 'Gallagher Shield' at The Gardens. The shield is to honour the memory of Pete Gallagher who played for both clubs before sadly passing away from brain cancer. Both clubs will be raising money on the day for the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation and Wallsend will be wearing their special purple kit.

The game itself is going to be very interesting. Wallsend F.C can keep pressure on Lakes at the top of the table. South Cardiff on the other hand sit closer to the bottom than the top four. It's not where Andrew Packer would have wanted his side after eight rounds but the Gunners are certainly not incapable of turning it around. This is a big test though as they travel to The Gardens.

Wallsend are on an impressive winning streak and if they pick up the points here as well as their upcoming mid-week game v Singleton, they'll look the goods at the halfway point of the season. Former Red Devil Winstone Oku will return to The Gardens and will be hoping he can break the hearts of his former squad with a goal or two.

It's going to be a game played on a special day and in good spirit. For the actual result, I'm going with Wallsend to continue their winning streak.

My Tip: Wallsend F.C 3-1 South Cardiff



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Under 23's Match of the Round:
Wallsend FC (5th) v South Cardiff (4th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

This is a crunch game for Wallsend in the Under 23's. They've got a wash-out game up their sleeve but with a five point gap between them and fourth-placed South Cardiff; the last thing Chris Wallis' side can afford to do this Sunday is lose to the visiting Gunners.

South Cardiff had the bye last weekend and before that was a disappointing result against Cooks Hill United. they will be looking to assure themselves of a top four spot for a few more weeks with a win at The Gardens. This is a crucial match for both sides so who is going to win it?

Southy have some talented players but Wallsend have a side that will be aiming to bounce back to form after some late collapses and disappointing results

My Tip: South Cardiff 1-3 Wallsend F.C

Chris Wallis' side face a crucial 5th v 4th game this Sunday afternoon.
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Under 19's:
Wallsend FC (8th) v South Cardiff FC (7th)
Kickoff: 11:00am

This is a key game for two mid-table sides. Wallsend have a game in hand away to Singleton but they sit in 8th, four points behind Southy and nine points outside the top four. With the season fast approaching the half-way point, their form needs to continue if they stand a chance of making the playoffs.

South Cardiff 19's are one of those sides that have talented players but are lacking consistency during the first half of the season. The next month will make or break their season. Following this match with Wallsend, they have tricky games against top four sides Belswans, Lakes and West Wallsend.

As for this game, neither side played last week so it will feel like a long time between games. Wallsend have the home ground advantage and I feel like this side has been improving as the season goes on and as more players return from injury. Southy's consistency is a worry which is why I'm tipping a win for the Red Devils.

My Tip: Wallsend F.C 2-0 South Cardiff

South Cardiff 19's before their match v Cooks Hill United.
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Under 17's:
Wallsend FC (6th) v South Cardiff FC (11th)
Kickoff: 9:15am

South Cardiff FC sit last in the Under 17's which considering some of the talent they have; it's a bit of a shock. Form has let them down and they'll need to start winning some games sooner rather than later. A trip to Wallsend to face a confident Red Devils outfit is going to be a difficult test.

Wallsend F.C were washed out last weekend in their trip to Singleton. Confidence will be high after some good form as of late. They've grown into a better side as the year has passed by and they'll be looking for yet another win this Sunday that could potentially push them into the top four. It's been a while between games for Wallsend. A bye followed by a wash-out will have them primed for some match fitness.

My Tip: Wallsend F.C 2-1 South Cardiff

Wallsend F.C celebrating a goal in their last game, three weeks ago against Thornton.


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1st Grade:
Cessnock City (10th) v Lake Macquarie City (1st)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

Before last weekend, this would have been an easy game to predict. Cessnock's stunning win over previous ladder-leaders Belmont-Swansea will have the Hornets' confidence at a high and word is that the club are primed for a big clash with the premiership favourites on Sunday. Turner Park can be a hostile ground to go to and after knocking off Belswans, the Hornets' following will be amped for this game.

Lake Macquarie City just did enough to overcome Cooks Hill last weekend in a 2-1 victory. It was a hard-fought, grinding win and luck was riding them home. A win is a win and the three points took Lake Macquarie City to the top of the league. Goalkeeper Owen Kemp was a stand-out last weekend and the depth that the Roosters have is second to none. It's a strong line-up and one that is expected to remain the same this weekend.

Cessnock City will be without goalkeeper Mat Zechel who has cracked the five-yellow card limit and will sit on the sidelines for a week. Fortunately for the Hornets, another shot-stopper in the form of Steve Anderson will return to the fold this weekend. There will be a shift or two from last week's side but generally, Steve Thomson has a near full-strength side to work with.

Can Cessnock pull off another massive upset? Well, why not? Lake Macquarie City are classy though and in my mind, on their day, the toughest test in the league. There's sure to be some eyes on the scoreline here, even from those not involved with the two clubs. A key game in Cessnock's very, very slim finals hopes.

My Tip: Cessnock City 2-5 Lake Macquarie City

Cessnock coach Steve Thomson (second from left) will be hoping for a similar display to last weekend.
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Under 23's:
Cessnock City (6th) v Lake Macquarie City (1st)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

This is an interesting match-up. Cessnock City held top four side Belmont-Swansea to a draw last week and considering Lakes are coming off a loss to Cooks Hill United, the Hornets will like their chances of causing an upset at home against the Roosters. They need to find more wins than draws; that seems to be their main issue this season.

Lake Macquarie City were missing some clinical ability in front of goals last week. They pressured Cooks Hill but very rarely did the shots find the target. Turner Park can be a difficult venue to find the target; especially if it's windy and/or raining which may happen looking at the forecast.

Cessnock have more and more First Graders coming back each week leaving the 23's to utilise a near full-strength squad. They'll need a good performance to beat a Lakes side coming off a disappointing result last week.

My Tip: Cessnock City 1-3 Lake Macquarie City

Lake Macquarie City U23's before the game v Cooks Hill United

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Under 19's:
Cessnock City (11th) v Lake Macquarie City (2nd)
Kickoff: 11:00am

Cessnock City were soundly beaten at Belmont-Swansea last weekend. They had upwards of five players out but it was a disappointing result nonetheless. They sit fourteen points outside the top four. Surely the finals are out of the question but it's a side that I feel will get some form towards the second half of the season.

Lake Macquarie City pulled off a dramatic late win against Cooks Hill last weekend in a heavyweight top four clash. Jack Russo gave the Roosters a win in the very last minute of the game and with the quality they have, I'd be expecting them to have the result in the bag before the final minute this weekend.

My Tip: Cessnock City 1-5 Lake Macquarie City

Cessnock City's Luke Ford in a match v Wallsend F.C
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Under 17's:
Cessnock City (8th) v Lake Macquarie City (1st)
Kickoff: 9:15am

On paper this looks a mismatch but Cessnock City's confidence is high after stunning comeback wins against South Cardiff and Belmont-Swansea. The Hornets have refused to throw in the towel in either of their last two games and they'll take the fight to the unbeaten ladder-leaders. Lakes' winning streak was under severe threat by Cooks Hill last week but the Roosters' came away with the three points.

Lake Macquarie City cannot be faulted. Their performances this year have been quality and they are eight from eight to start the season. Striker Kurtis McRitchie is arguably the form player of the entire New-FM competition but it's the players around him who are also providing the goods. From front to back, side to side, this line-up is one that cannot be beaten at the moment.

So can the Hornets knock off the ladder-leaders. They believe they can and their confidence will drive them on but Lakes are classy. 

My Tip: Cessnock City 1-3 Lake Macquarie City

Kurtis McRitchie celebrating yet another goal for the LMCFC U17's team.

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Thursday, 21 April 2016

PREVIEW: New-FM 1st Division Round 8


1st Grade:
Belmont-Swansea United (1st) v Cessnock City (11th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

It's top v bottom in the New-FM 1st Division this weekend and it could be a tough day at the office for Cessnock City based on how things have travelled for Belmont-Swansea this season. The league-leaders produced a classy effort at Cooks Hill last weekend, pouncing on some poor defending and blasting five goals past a side that is a decent one on their day.

Head coach Brad Paul missed last weekend's game on holiday and I'm not sure if he's back this week or not. Despite that, assistant coach Mick Stafford took charge at Cooks Hill last week and one noticeable thing about Belswans this year is that whoever is yelling orders from the sideline; it is constant, despite the situation. Even at 5-0 last week, Stafford was up on his feet and driving the side on. Belswans aren't happy with a 60 minute effort. It's a quality needed for a good side; ruthlessness.

Belswans are top in 1st Grade and they're in-form in the Under 23's as well. Top to bottom, this club is having a delightful season. The complete opposite can be said for Cessnock City. The 23's are mid-table but apart from that, it's a struggle at the moment at Turner Park. 

Steve Thomson's side will be near-enough full-strength this weekend but even that might not be enough. Blacksmiths is a tough place to go. The Hornets leaving with a point or dare I say three points would be one of the results of the season. Belswans are just too good a side to back against. Base it on the logic, they put five past Cooks Hill who in turn put seven past Cessnock. Easy decision right?

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 5-1 Cessnock City

Belmont-Swansea will be looking to stay on top of the league with another win on Saturday.
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Under 23's:
Belmont-Swansea United (2nd) v Cessnock City (6th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

Belmont-Swansea's 23's team perfect start to the season ended last weekend at Newcastle Athletics Field when Cooks Hill United came away with a 1-0 win. They're still in second-place and by all means it could have been a bump on the road to a possible finals appearance later in the year.

Cessnock City's 23's will be in most games they play this year. They're not an easybeat squad and the majority were involved in last year's Semi Final-run. Last week they were beaten 2-0 at home by South Cardiff so the chance to bounce back from that is theirs this weekend.

Belswans' top goalscorer Luke Lethbridge (4) has double the amount of goals Jai Thomson has for Cessnock (2). Pointless stat but it's pointing out that Cessnock's goals come from across the park. Belswans should be able to bounce back from defeat last week against the inconsistent Hornets.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 3-0 Cessnock City

Cessnock 23's celebrating a goal v Wallsend F.C
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Under 19's:
Belmont-Swansea United (4th) v Cessnock City (11th)
Kickoff: 11:00am

Cessnock City's 19's trip to Blacksmiths Oval last season was an 11-2 horror show. The side have come a long way since then and on their day, they're a very hard opponent and they've earnt the respect of some of the higher teams. Earning respect and earning points is two different things. Rick Ford's side are dead last and with the players they have, it's not a position they should be in.

Belmont-Swansea United should be winning this game. Make no mistake. They've got a talented bunch of players. They were grounded in a 3-0 loss to Cooks Hill last weekend but in their last home game, they scored 11 goals against Toronto-Awaba. It's surely not going to be that ugly but the Belswans at home are a very tough opposition.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 5-2 Cessnock City

Joel Nicholson has been in-form throughout the first two months of the season.
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Under 17's:
Belmont-Swansea United (7th) v Cessnock City (10th)
Kickoff: 9:15am

An interesting clash awaits in the opening game of the day at Blacksmiths Oval. Belmont-Swansea were unlucky to go down 1-0 at Cooks Hill last week and they have some talent in the squad. I'm not sure 7th place is reflective of their potential. They will be looking to bounce back at home where they have been decent this season. After seven games, their two top scorers are on three each (Jacob Winzar and Lachlan McMaster). They need to find the net a bit more.

Cessnock City were lingering at the foot of the table and have had some heavy losses but last week was their best performance to date and a season-defining one at that. They were two-nil down after own goals to Jesse Irving and Jack Turner. 2-0, two own-goals, 3-0 down at half-time and then a huge second-half comeback to win 5-4 in a thrilling game. What a turn-around and what a win for the Hornets' 17's.

Whether Cessnock can make the long trip to Blacksmiths and produce the goods is yet to be determined. I believe Belmont-Swansea at home will get the job done but you never quiet know after some of the crazy results this competition has produced in the early stages of the season.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 3-1 Cessnock City

Cessnock's Will Forbes scored a double in their 5-4 victory last week (pictured above with Casey Cox v Wallsend)
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1st Grade:
West Wallsend SFC (9th) v Toronto-Awaba (7th)
Kickoff: 4:00pm

This is a key game for both of these sides. West Wallsend were downed 4-0 by Kahibah last weekend and they will be without the Cox brothers (Bailey and Bryson) after they were both sent-off last weekend. Discipline is not West Wallsend's strongest point and if they can keep eleven on the park, they'll be a decent chance in most games.

Toronto-Awaba were flying high after two wins and a draw against ladder-leaders Belmont-Swansea. Arch rivals Lake Macquarie City sent them crashing down last week with a 6-0 demolishment at Macquarie Field. This is the sort of game though that Tony Jovcevski's side should be highlighting on the calender. A serious chance to get three points.

I'm sure we'll see a fairly competitive game in somewhat wet conditions looking at the forecast. So who wins it? I'm not sure. That's why I'm going with a draw; a result neither side will want.

My Tip: West Wallsend 1-1 Toronto-Awaba

Toronto-Awaba keeper Daniel March was a stand-out in their draw with Belmont-Swansea two weeks ago.
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Under 23's:
West Wallsend SFC (9th) v Toronto-Awaba (11th)
Kickoff: 2:15pm

It's a make or break lower table clash at Johnston Park in the 23's this Saturday. West Wallsend have recruited one or two players in recent weeks and they picked up a big win over Singleton but it was back to square one last weekend as they were smashed 6-2 by bottom of the league Kahibah.

Toronto-Awaba's situation is arguably worse than West Wallsend. They can't buy any luck in this grade. They were holding on in a scoreless battle with rivals Lake Macquarie City last weekend before a penalty in the 72nd minute opened up the floodgates and Lakes scored three late goals to win 3-0. Toronto are bottom of the league with just one point from six games, 4 goals scored and 24 goals conceded.

West Wallsend can take a big step away from the foot of the table with a win and if they play to their potential they'll do just that.

My Tip: West Wallsend 2-1 Toronto-Awaba

Toronto 23's v Cooks Hill United (Round 2)
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Under 19's:
West Wallsend SFC (1st) v Toronto-Awaba (10th)
Kickoff: 12:30pm

Two sides who are having very different seasons. A 4-2 loss for Westy was a reality check last week against Kahibah but they remain on top of the league table whilst Toronto were blasted 6-0 by Lake Macquarie City. The Stags are lingering at the foot of the table and have conceded more goals than any other New-FM squad.

West Wallsend's attacking line-up is arguably the best in the competition on their day. Despite the loss last week; top goalscorer Sam Jones found the net for his 13th goal of the season. These top four sides versus lower-table teams generally only go one way. A routine win at Johnston Park.

My Tip: West Wallsend 6-1 Toronto-Awaba

The league-leading West Wallsend 19's
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Under 17's Match of the Round:
West Wallsend SFC (2nd) v Toronto-Awaba (3rd)
Kickoff: 10:45am

A Match of the Round between West Wallsend and Toronto-Awaba is the stand-out fixture of the day at Johnston Park. Two quality 17's teams that are battling it out for second-place. I'm in belief that Lake Macquarie City are running away with the minor premiership so this game is definitely a crucial one for both these teams. West Wallsend especially, after a big 4-0 win over Kahibah last week.

Westy have some talented goalscorers. Josh Knight is in form at the moment. He scored three last weekend and set up Lachlan Coombes' goal to sum up a 4-0 victory. With some experienced players from last season and some new exciting talent this season, the Westy 17's are an improved squad and look like challenging for finals.

Toronto-Awaba are flying high in the 17's but they were grounded slightly by a 4-0 loss to the ladder-leading Lake Macquarie City last weekend. They'll want to bounce back sooner rather than later and what better chance than by knocking off Westy in this crucial clash. At Johnston Park, I'm tipping the home side to come away with their biggest win of the season.

My Tip: West Wallsend 3-2 Toronto-Awaba

Josh Knight (#11) fired in three goals and picked up an assist in the 4-0 win last weekend.
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1st Grade:
Singleton Strikers (10th) v Wallsend F.C (3rd)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

Wallsend F.C lost top spot last weekend due to having the bye but they will be looking to record a fifth-straight win on Sunday at Howe Park. It's crazy to think that they're going for five-straight. I've been at their last four (perhaps I'm the lucky charm...find out on Sunday...) and they're yet to reach their potential. 

The football at times has lacked and they haven't produced a full eighty minute performance. Perhaps I'm being too critical but this is a side that dominated during the back end of last season. That's when they'll be at their peak during the second half of the year.

Singleton on the other hand are still searching for their first win of the 2016 New-FM season. David Willoughby's side produced arguably their worst performance of the season in a 4-1 loss at home to a depleted Thornton Redbacks side last weekend.

Singo did have players out last weekend (including goalkeeper Stuart Plant and defender Corey Cleaver) but that's no excuse for what was a lacklustre performance. Wallsend put five past the same Thornton side that beat Singleton last week. The Red Devils are short odds to do the same to an out-of-form Singleton Strikers side.

My Tip: Singleton Strikers 1-5 Wallsend F.C

Singleton Strikers have conceded ten goals in their last two home games.

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Under 23's:
Singleton Strikers (10th) v Wallsend F.C (5th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

Singleton Strikers 23's are without a win from five games but to be fair, they didn't get the chance to break that horror run last weekend after the heaven's opened above Howe Park and lightning in the area saw their home match against Thornton get abandoned. This weekend is arguably a tougher test than Thornton as Wallsend F.C come to town.

Wallsend F.C also didn't play last week as they had the bye. Before that was a late slump against Thornton and as a result a last-minute 4-4 draw. A real coach-killer for Chris Wallis' side and the Red Devils would have had some harsh home truths hit home after that game. They need to play the full 80 minutes.

The forecast for the weekend shows some rain but surely it won't be as bad as last week. Singleton will be looking to kickstart their season but after dropping points late on in their last two games, Wallsend really should be taking the three points here. They're a quality side and already they are five points outside the top four.

My Tip: Singleton Strikers 1-3 Wallsend F.C

Jason Maguire has been quality for the Wallsend 23's this season.
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Under 19's:
Singleton Strikers (6th) v Wallsend F.C (8th)
Kickoff: 11:00am

These two sides have a lot in common. They've got talented players but they're yet to find consistency in 2016 and more recently, they're both coming off of 4-1 victories over Thornton in each of their last outings. Wallsend will be fresh after a bye in Round 7 whilst Singleton were too good for Thornton last weekend, with Nathan Hall continuing his good form and scoring a hat-trick.

The Red Devils have had injury issues to start the year but form is coming together. Back-to-back wins over Cessnock and Thornton in their last two games have the side moving up the ladder and a win here could boost their hopes of making finals this season. The same can be said for Singleton; a win for them could take them into the top four. It's a crunch game for both sides.

Both sides have the talent to cause trouble for most teams and it's sure to be an entertaining game; perhaps the most even match of the day at Howe Park. It is a tough venue to get a result at. Singo have a draw with Lakes and a 4-1 win over Thornton in two home games this season. Why not add a win over Wallsend to that list.

My Tip: Singleton Strikers 3-2 Wallsend F.C

Singleton 19's Captain Tom Golding on the ball in last week's win over Thornton
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Under 17's:
Singleton Strikers (9th) v Wallsend F.C (7th)
Kickoff: 9:15am

The Singleton 17's need an 80 minute performance. A strong second half last weekend against Thornton was decent but not enough to get the win. Hamish Mayled and Trae Proudlock both stood out last weekend and only a lapse or two in defence cost the Strikers a point or maybe three. They just need that one complete eighty minute performance and a win will come.

Wallsend F.C however have fired themselves into some form. After starting the season in indifferent form, the young Red Devils are looking a confident side and a quality side. They beat Cessnock and then beat Thornton on the road. Considering Thornton beat Singleton last weekend at Howe Park, the visitors will most likely like their chances of victory.

I do like Singleton's side here in this grade. As mentioned, they've got the talent to win but the performance needs to be an all-round one. This is a very tough one to predict so I'll go with the draw because that's always fun isn't it.

My Tip: Singleton Strikers 1-1 Wallsend F.C

Singleton 17's keeper Brad Fairclough v Thornton Redbacks (Round 7)

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Newysports Feature Match:


1st Grade Match of the Round
Lake Macquarie City F.C (2nd) v Cooks Hill United (5th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

This is the biggest game to date for Cooks Hill United. I know I said the same about Belmont-Swansea last weekend but this is a big one. They copped a five goal to one result against Belswans at home last weekend. The Cookers have conceded 16 goals at home. It's a horror stat isn't it. On the road, they need to think back to their performance in their last trip to the Lake Macquarie area, a 7-2 win over Toronto-Awaba.

Defence is lacking for Cooks Hill. They've conceded more goals than Lakes and Belmont-Swansea combined. It's not the sort of stats you want to take into a match against a side that won 6-0 last weekend and especially a side that features Sam Walker up front. This could get ugly and I say that in pure confidence. If Cooks Hill produce similar to last week, they'll come away with a similar result.

Lake Macquarie City are coming into form; the sort of form that saw them dominate the majority of 2015. I don't want to sound like a bad-luck charm but in the last three Lakes home games featured by Newysports, the Roosters are winless. A 4-0 loss to Valentine that cost them the premiership and NPL promotion, a 2-2 draw with Kahibah and the infamous 6-1 thumping in the Semi Final 2nd Leg.

It's a fairly lopsided round of football this weekend. The top four sides all face lower opposition (in this case, Cooks Hill aren't a lower-table side). The point I'm making is that the Cookers could find themselves seven points outside the top four without a win or draw here. Lakes are a dangerous side and on their turf they like to score goals.

My Tip: Lake Macquarie City 6-1 Cooks Hill United

Blake Glennie's side will be looking to cause a boilover at Macquarie Field.
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Under 23's Match of the Round:
Lake Macquarie City F.C (1st) v Cooks Hill United (3rd)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

The Match of the Round in the Under 23's sees ladder-leaders Lake Macquarie City take on 3rd-placed Cooks Hill United at Macquarie Field. Lakes are coming off a late 3-0 win over Toronto-Awaba last weekend where three late goals to Kane Rodgers, Gabriel Cerda and Jordan Harper. The Roosters are on top of the table, three points clear of Belswans in second.

This is a chance for Cooks Hill United to prove themselves as a serious threat to the premiership in 2016. The improvement from last year to this season for the Cookers 23's is through the roof. The side is a younger one and an exciting one to watch. Last week's 1-0 win over Belmont-Swansea was a solid defensive performance.

Lakes have a lot of goalscorers amongst the team whereas Cooks Hill, who also have goalscorers in the squad, have a stand-out in James Roman. His goal last week was the only goal of the game and arguably the best goal of the entire weekend. The likes of Sam Hawke and Jackson Graham also feature in the top 20 Under 23's goalscorers.

So who wins this game? Lakes at home are very difficult to back against. They clean-swept Kahibah, they clean-swept Toronto but in the 23's, this is their toughest test to date. Cooks Hill will push them and if they play to their best they may very well win it. Lakes at home though; I like their chances of winning.

My Tip: Lake Macquarie City 2-1 Cooks Hill United

Cooks Hill's Ben Frohlich has been a feature at full-back for the Under 23's
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Under 19's Match of the Round:
Lake Macquarie City F.C (3rd) v Cooks Hill United (2nd)
Kickoff: 11:00am

Arguably the biggest match of the season in the Under 19's. Lake Macquarie City have fired themselves back into form and last week they blasted Toronto-Awaba 6-0 in the local derby. Lakes' 19's side is made up mostly of players that won the 17's Grand Final last season and their aim will no doubt be to reach another GF later this year.

Opposing them this weekend is the danger side of the competition Cooks Hill United. The Cookers have quietly gone about things but last weekend's 3-0 win over a quality Belmont-Swansea side shows that this team have what it takes to play finals football. In my mind, a win here would confirm the Cookers as a top-four quality side and maybe even throw them into favouritism for the title.

Lakes 19's have suffered losses this season. Westy beat them, Thornton beat them, Singleton almost beat them. They'll need their best to overcome a Cooks Hill side that are flying high at the moment. The Cookers have two potentially season-defining games this week against Lakes and next week against West Wallsend.

This is the match of the day at Macquarie Field this Sunday. It has a lot hinging on the result. Cooks Hill can potentially go top of the league, Lakes could jump Cooks Hill and also go top depending on the result at West Wallsend. My belief is that Giles Boyd's side will produce their best performance of the season and pick up a big three points on the road.

My Tip: Lake Macquarie City 1-3 Cooks Hill United

Cooks Hill United could go outright top of the league with a win on Sunday.
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Under 17's:
Lake Macquarie City F.C (1st) v Cooks Hill United (4th)
Kickoff: 9:15am

I'm not sure any team can stop the winning streak of Lake Macquarie City in the Under 17's. They beat Toronto-Awaba, Kahibah, West Wallsend, Belswans, you name them. The only team that sit inside the top four that they have yet to face is Cooks Hill United so Sunday's game is a tough test of Lakes' will to win. Cooks Hill are not a side that are easy to break down.

Michael Best's side battled out a hard-fought 1-0 win over Belmont-Swansea last week and they will need that defensive effort and the ability of goalkeeper Eamon Doyle if hey want to stand a chance against the free-scoring ladder-leaders. They have talent but they don't have that one stand-out goalscorer in similar mold to Lakes' Kurtis McRitchie.

McRitchie is the form player of the competition and counting his goal for the 19's on debut for the higher grade last week; he has found the back of the net 11 times this season. It's crazy form and a lot of people from other clubs have taken notice. Crazy enough, there's other talented goalscorers in the squad as well (Alex Matthews and Caleb Morley-Davies have four goals each). It's the best squad in the competition and easily they are the premiership favourites.

So the question is; can Cooks Hill pull off the upset of the season. If they produce their best than anything is possible but I can't see it happening. Lakes are flying high and I believe they will continue to do so.

My Tip: Lake Macquarie City 3-1 Cooks Hill United

Cookers' 17's Goalkeeper Eamon Doyle was a stand-out in last week's 1-0 win over Belmont-Swansea.
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1st Grade:
Thornton Redbacks (8th) v Kahibah F.C (4th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

Thornton Redbacks host Kahibah in a very tricky home game for Darrel McAllister's side. They defeated a poor Singleton side last weekend in even poorer conditions so the side will be primed for another result here. They'll still be missing Tallan Martin, Jamie Subat and goalkeeper Mick Hugo.

Kahibah on the other hand will also be missing some players. Key man Daniel Bartlett is out on suspension after accumulating too many yellow cards. Jarrod Penfold will also be missing. That's their two top goalscorers. Young gun Jayden Demir will be playing and along with captain Matt Lee, they'll be the main attacking outlets you'd imagine along with Sean Clerke.

Thornton will need their best performance of the season to get anything out of this one. Kahibah F.C are a side that like to punish teams that aren't up to the challenge on the day. There's a few top side v lower side clashes this weekend but this one I feel is the highest chance of a boilover result. I still don't think it'll happen.

My Tip: Thornton Redbacks 1-4 Kahibah F.C

Thornton picked up a 4-1 victory at Howe Park, Singleton last weekend
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Under 23's:
Thornton Redbacks (7th) v Kahibah F.C (8th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

Thornton Redbacks' 23's game against Singleton Strikers was abandoned last weekend due to rain/lightning and they'll be looking to build on the foundation laid in their dramatic come-from-behind last-grasp draw with Wallsend F.C in Round 6. A 4-4 draw with no more than six regular players in the squad. The rest of the side were fill-ins from the 19's and 17's squads.

Kahibah F.C started the season in horror form in the Under 23's. They were without a point until a potential season-defining 6-2 victory over West Wallsend. Debutant Peter Migliore scored four goals and seems to be a handy addition to the squad. Word is Migliore has come over to the region from Adelaide and played lower grades at Adelaide City. If he fires again this weekend then we may be looking at Kahibah's savior in the Under 23's.

If Thornton can get some more players back into the fold then I like their chances at home but Kahibah will be looking to fire themselves into some form. It's going to be an interesting game at Thornton Park nonetheless.

My Tip: Thornton Redbacks 2-4 Kahibah F.C

Kahibah 23's Alex Evans impressed on First Grade debut last weekend.
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Under 19's:
Thornton Redbacks (9th) v Kahibah F.C (5th)
Kickoff: 11:00am

Thornton Redbacks Under 19's inconsistency has cost them this season. A big victory over Lake Macquarie City seems like an eternity ago. Back-to-back 4-1 losses to Wallsend and then Singleton last weekend has them lingering towards the bottom end of the table. This week they will look to return to the winners' circle on their home turf against Kahibah F.C

The problem for the Redbacks is that Kahibah is arguably one of their toughest tests to date. The Green and Blacks come to Thornton Park this weekend on the back of a solid 4-2 victory over ladder-leaders West Wallsend. After a tough 4-1 loss to Lake Macquarie City, Mat Moncrieff's side returned to form in some style.

The visitors will be without goalkeeper Brock Turner after he suffered a knee injury last weekend. Striker Bailey Cooper filled in last weekend but logic says 17's goalkeeper Zac Ireland will be between the sticks on Sunday. Defensively this team is strong enough to not have to worry too much about a different person in goals.

Kahibah could do some real damage to Thornton if they play to their potential this Sunday. The Redbacks have lost 4-1 to Wallsend and Singleton; sides that aren't as good as this Kahibah outfit.

My Tip: Thornton Redbacks 1-4 Kahibah F.C

Thornton's Tristan Wells scored their only goal in the loss v Singleton last weekend.
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Under 17's:
Thornton Redbacks (8th) v Kahibah F.C (5th)
Kickoff: 9:15am

After overcoming Singleton in a very hard-fought match at Howe Park last Sunday, the Redbacks' 17's will host Kahibah at Thornton Park. Two goals to Jacob Bartlett and one to James Cooper gave the Redbacks a big 3-2 victory on the road at Singleton and it boosted them to eighth on the league table, four points outside the top four.

Kahibah F.C started the season in form but they've had some indifferent results as of late. A 4-1 loss to Lake Macquarie City was followed with a 4-0 loss to West Wallsend on their home turf last week. It's definitely a form slump for the Green and Blacks and whether or not they can bounce back at Thornton Park is the question and the test for them this weekend.

Thornton don't have a stand-out goalscorer but they have some decent quality players across the park. Goalkeeper Blake Mcdonnell is a real stand-out and over the last two weeks, I've been impressed with Zac Wolfe as well as Jacob Bartlett. Fullback Mitchell Roy is a tricky one as well.

Thornton need to build some form but Kahibah will be desperate to put the last two weeks behind them. Visitors to win it here.

My Tip: Thornton Redbacks 1-3 Kahibah F.C

Kahibah's 17's keeper Zac Ireland may need to play twice after an injury to 19's incumbent Brock Turner.

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