Thursday, 7 April 2016

PREVIEW: New-FM 1st Division Round 6


1st Grade:
Cooks Hill United (5th) v South Cardiff F.C (8th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

Cooks Hill United sit fifth after an irregular start to the season. If you'd have had asked the Cookers if they would have taken six points from four games, including matches against Wallsend and Kahibah, most would have said that's not too bad. They're still a work in progress and last week's bye would have allowed time to re-assess the situation and get some players closer to peak match fitness.

South Cardiff on the other hand are falling away from form. They were always going to find it tough beating competition heavyweights Kahibah F.C in Round 3 but last week's loss to Toronto-Awaba would have displeased a few in the squad. The cold truth is they have played four from five at home to start the year and have just the lone win and a draw to show for it. It's a young squad but in my mind they're better than that.

Cooks Hill should be winning this. Going forward they're one of the most dangerous sides in the competition but defensive woes have caused headaches for Blake Glennie in the last couple of games. South Cardiff will be boosted by the return of Winstone Oku from suspension but I don't like their chances in this one. Cooks Hill will be looking at moving into the top four.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 3-1 South Cardiff


Luke Alexander and Jack O'Toole in action for Cooks Hill United.
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Newysports Under 23's Match of the Round:
Cooks Hill United (4th) v South Cardiff F.C (3rd)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

The Under 23's Match of the Round sees Cooks Hill United take on the in-form South Cardiff in an all-top four playoff at the Newcastle Athletics Field. The Gunners 23's have won four from five and the one they lost was a hard-fought 3-2 loss to Thornton in Round 2. It's safe to say that they're one of the form teams in this grade. Emmanuel Okumu and Steven Sheridan scored goals last week to give them a 2-0 win over Toronto-Awaba.

Cooks Hill United are coming off the bye but before that their form was impressive. They've won three of four in the opening month, including a massive 7-0 win over Toronto-Awaba in Round 2. Their last win showed their will to compete until the final whistle as they stole all three points from Cessnock City via a Jackson Graham goal. It was a last-ditch win for the Cookers and they'll be looking to build on it with a win on Saturday.

Make no doubt, this is South Cardiff's toughest test to date in the Under 23's and their first away game in over a month. As a result I'm tipping Cooks Hill to win it as they'll be keen to get back to where they left off after last weekend's bye.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 2-1 South Cardiff


Sam Hawke in action v Cessnock City (Round 4)
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Under 19's:
Cooks Hill United (2nd) v South Cardiff F.C (7th)
Kickoff: 11:00am

I left this preview until last this week and had all the others done earlier on Thursday afternoon. I was watching to hear confirmation of some suspension news on the South Cardiff front. Michael Middleby will be missing the Cooks Hill game but whether he is out for up to three weeks as rumoured is yet to be found out. Regardless of missing their key defender, the Gunners will come to Cooks Hill with some confidence on their side after a big win over Toronto-Awaba last weekend.

The Cookers had the bye in Round 5 but before that they were the club's form team. Wins at Toronto and Wallsend were followed with a home win over Cessnock City. Giles Boyd's side could very well go equal top with a fourth-straight win on Saturday. Even if they don't go equal top, they'll definitely build some solid foundations for a top four spot with the three points.

The Cookers' 19's have talent across the park and if they can keep their form going they'll be a good chance of victory once again. Ty Cousins will be back in the squad after a hand injury and I'm sure fitness will be on their side after having the bye last weekend. Jackson Graham is in some scoring form and from front to back, the squad is certainly confidant this season.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 3-1 South Cardiff


Cooks Hill's Under 19's in action v Wallsend F.C (Round 3)
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Under 17's:
Cooks Hill United (7th) v South Cardiff F.C (9th)
Kickoff: 9:15am

Is there anything worse than finding your best form, scoring eleven goals and then having the bye. Cooks Hill's 17's admittingly could have done with a week off with the injuries they have and they will be boosted in a big way when Michael Dalton makes his first appearance of the season on Saturday morning. One of the side's best players will surely boost the squad's spirit.

South Cardiff have to start picking up wins sooner rather than later. They've got some talent in the squad and from what I've heard, leading goalscorer Lucas Emmett-Mourlet is one of their more influential players, and this was coming from someone at a rival club who watched their game last weekend. They'll need him and the rest of the squad firing if they want to upset the Cookers though.

And yes I say upset even though the Cookers are only two spots above Southy. Michael Best's side bounced back to form in their last game and you have to remember, they scored eleven goals against Cessnock...eleven! Mark my words it won't be half that on Saturday but Cooks Hill's 17's are a team to watch and they will want to make the AthField a fortress.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 4-1 South Cardiff


Cooks Hill's 17's v Cessnock City (Round 4)
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1st Grade:
Belmont-Swansea United (1st) v Toronto-Awaba (6th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

If you had of told me Toronto-Awaba would win two straight games, let alone two straight away games, including one against South Cardiff, I would have called you mad after the first couple weeks of the season. The truth is, Tony Jovcevski's side are starting to gel and confidence is beginning to kick in. They'll need all that and more if they're to knock off the ladder-leaders though.

Belmont-Swansea have not lost a competitive game of football this season, including two FFA Cup outings. Last week they were unlucky not to record a come-from-behind win against Kahibah F.C. This team just have a will not to lose and it's an entertaining brand of football that's driving them on. Josh Sutton, Josh Hall, Jamie Hadlow, talented footballers all round.

If Toronto do grab a result out of this, even a draw, then by all means my thoughts of their potential this season will increase. Belswans should have beat Kahibah last week and that's saying something. No one can stop this team and they should be too good for the Stags on Saturday afternoon.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 4-1 Toronto-Awaba


Toronto-Awaba v Cooks Hill United (Round 2)
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Under 23's:
Belmont-Swansea United (1st) v Toronto-Awaba (9th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

Toronto-Awaba had a horror day out in Round 2 when Cooks Hill smashed them 7-0 and to their credit they bounced back with a decent 3-3 draw with last season's Semi Finalists Cessnock City. Their last outing was a 2-0 loss to South Cardiff and based on that, I can't see them doing much against top of the table Belmont-Swansea on Saturday. It's a tough one for the Stags.

Belswans got the job done against Kahibah last week and the in-form William McMaster added to his season total, along with goals to Rob Cordwell and Luke Lethbridge. It was a gutsy 3-2 win and one that saw them remain top of the league. If they can beat Kahibah they can beat Toronto. Blacksmiths is fast becoming one of the toughest venues to travel to in my mind there's only one result here.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 3-0 Toronto-Awaba


Belswans' William McMaster v Kahibah F.C (Round 5)
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Under 19's:
Belmont-Swansea United (3rd) v Toronto-Awaba (8th)
Kickoff: 11:00am

Belmont-Swansea pushed Kahibah to the limit last week but they went down on their own turf (albeit in an away game) to the Green and Blacks. Routine goalscorers Joel Nicholson and William Dundas didn't find the net which in itself was a bit of a rarity for the Belswans' 19's. This week they have an easier opposition in Toronto-Awaba, with respect to the Stags.

Toronto had a poor showing at South Cardiff last weekend. They conceded five and could only put one in the net via William Stevenson. The Stags definitely need a lot more than that to beat a quality team in Belmont-Swansea and whether or not Lindsay Jamieson's side can do that is the question.

Belswans are priding themselves on quality in every grade and I believe this 19's team will be in the finals. And I'll say that after a quarter of the season. They should have too much quality for Toronto on Saturday morning.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 4-1 Toronto-Awaba


Belmont-Swansea's Under 19's team (v Kahibah F.C-Round 5)
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Under 17's:
Belmont-Swansea United (5th) v Toronto-Awaba (3rd)
Kickoff: 9:15am

Belmont-Swansea grinded out a quality draw with Kahibah F.C last weekend. Rory Maddison scored the equaliser last week and gave the Belswans a point in a game where I felt they really could have won if they had their shooting boots on and didn't find the post or side-netting. They'll like their chances of pushing for a top four spot this season. It's a real possibility in my mind.

Toronto-Awaba are making waves in the Under 17's. Three wins from four games with their one loss being an unlucky one against Wallsend in Round 1 shows that the Stags are a team to watch. Caleb Trimboli is their form player and will be looking to find the net for the fifth time this season on Saturday.

There's no reason why Toronto-Awaba can't win this one. Sure Belswans are strong and at home they're tough to beat but the Stags 17's know how to win and last week they grinded out a tough 1-0 win over South Cardiff. I'm tipping them to make it four from five on Saturday and perhaps jump Kahibah into second place.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 1-2 Toronto-Awaba

The in-form Caleb Trimboli will be looking to score again for the Stags' 17's.

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1st Grade:
West Wallsend SFC (7th) v Singleton Strikers (10th)
Kickoff: 4:00pm

West Wallsend will play their third game in six days when they take on the Singleton Strikers at Johnston Park. It's not an ideal situation for Gary Rowe's side but it's one they have to deal with after the constant wash-outs of the FFA Cup fixture. The actual result of the FFA Cup clash with Thornton wasn't the best either as the Bluebells crashed out of the cup 2-0 on Wednesday night.

Westy's opponents this Saturday, Singleton, are in a very tricky spot at the moment. After an impressive pre-season, their form has plummeted and despite losing a key player or two, the excuses cannot cover the disappointment of losing 6-0 on their home turf to Lake Macquarie City last weekend. The Strikers need to turn it around sooner rather than later.

West Wallsend will be without Grant Morrow after he joined their ever-growing list of players sent off this year during last weekend's game and then goalscoring threat Tye Jones was shown red mid-week in the FFA Cup. Add to that injuries to Jaryd Oliveiri and Jarryd Jones and it looks to be a tough ask for West Wallsend on Saturday. Singleton are due for a win and will be debuting import-midfielder Sam Ford in the match with Westy.

My Tip: West Wallsend 0-3 Singleton Strikers


Tyler Felsch in action v West Wallsend during a pre-season trial match.
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Under 23's:
West Wallsend SFC (11th) v Singleton Strikers (8th)
Kickoff: 2:15pm

West Wallsend's Under 23's are in need of a win, desperate need if you will. The same can be said for Singleton so this game will be a hard-fought one between two sides looking for their first win of the season. The situation isn't ideal for either team. They've combined for just seven goals in nine games. Those expecting a goalfest can probably look elsewhere on that form.

Singleton know how to fight for a result as do Westy. Luck hasn't been on either side's back this year and whether or not that continues on Saturday afternoon is the question. I'm not sure what else to say about this one. It's desperation football and let's hope it doesn't end in a draw and leave both teams further away from the pack. That's my gut feeling though.

My Tip: West Wallsend 1-1 Singleton Strikers


Pre-Season trial between West Wallsend & Singleton at Johnston Park
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Under 19's
West Wallsend SFC (1st) v Singleton Strikers (5th)
Kickoff: 12:30pm

West Wallsend have started the season in superb form in the Under 19's. Only Belmont-Swansea have beaten them. They've beaten the likes of Lake Macquarie City and South Cardiff and they've scored a lot of goals in the process. Players like Matt Turner, Sam Jones, Greg Mason, James Barnes and Josh Knight are dangerous goalscorers and their defence, particularly Cooper Smith have shown a lot as well. It's a side that can't be faltered at the moment.

Singleton I believe can push for a top four spot. They've got a highly talented squad and they've endured a tough start to the season. With a few away trips behind them, including the dreaded Belswans trip, they'll start to enjoy more games at Howe Park which is a big advantage to have. They picked up a hard-fought draw with Lakes last week thanks to an Oliver Moody goal.

Westy are in backable form though. Fourteen goals in their last two games and some real confidence amongst the team. At home they will probably be too strong and too classy for Singleton. The Strikers will hit form this year, just not this weekend.

My Tip: West Wallsend 4-1 Singleton Strikers


Westy and Singleton do battle in a pre-season trial match.


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Under 17's
West Wallsend SFC (4th) v Singleton Strikers (8th)
Kickoff: 10:45am

A couple of months ago I sat at Johnston Park and watched these two teams go head to head in a pre-season trial. I was impressed with both but Singleton's results, whilst not being too poor, have not been great. They were beaten 4-0 at Blacksmiths two weeks ago and were held to nil again last week at home to Lakes, the visitors winning 2-0. No goals in 160 minutes is a worry for Mick Dean and his side.

West Wallsend's Under 17's would have been favourites going into last week's clash with Thornton but they were beaten by the Redbacks. Only Lakes have beaten West Wallsend on their home turf this season in the Under 17's. Singleton are a decent side but in my mind Westy should be winning this. They'll be keen to get back in form and with the talent they have, they'll be favourites going into most games this year.

My Tip: West Wallsend 3-1 Singleton Strikers


Singleton Strikers 17's  v Cessnock City (Round 1)

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Newysports.com Feature Match:


1st Grade:
Thornton Redbacks (9th) v Wallsend F.C (2nd)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

After a memorable derby win two weeks ago, it was declared that Wallsend was red and white. Now Wallsend could be red and black after Thornton knocked off West Wallsend in consecutive games on Sunday and Wednesday and they'll be looking to complete a sweep of the Wallsend area teams on Sunday when they take on Wallsend F.C. Confused yet? I am.

The Red Devils, or Purple Devils as they will be on Sunday come into this game on the back of three straight wins. I've been there for each of those wins and none of them have really impressed me. None of them have shown off the potential that Josh Rufo's side have and the coach will be the first to admit it. There's improvement to be made and that in my mind is a scary thing for a side coming second at the moment.

Thornton Redbacks started the season slowly but they've picked up two straight home wins over Westy to give themselves a boost away from the foot of the table in the New-FM 1st Division and keep their FFA Cup dreams alive. There's definitely some talent among the Redbacks ranks and they'll be a chance in most games they play.

Wallsend should be winning this one though. They're in good form, despite the fact they haven't hit top gear. You can only expect them to get better as the weeks pass by. A hard-fought game but a Wallsend win for my money.

My Tip: Thornton Redbacks 2-3 Wallsend F.C


Thornton Redbacks v Edgeworth JSC (FFA Cup Round 1)
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Under 23's:
Thornton Redbacks (7th) v Wallsend F.C (5th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

It's certainly going to be a decent game between two sides that will be keen to get three points on the weekend. Thornton bounced back from poor form with a big win over West Wallsend last weekend whilst Wallsend would have been disappointed with a late collapse in a loss to Cessnock City.

The two top scorers in the Under 23's will face off with Thornton's Jacob Robinson sitting on five goals after scoring two last weekend (as well as two goals in the midweek FFA Cup win over West Wallsend) and Wallsend's Trent Richards on four goals after finding the net against Cessnock. There's plenty of talent across the park for both teams and it'll surely be a hard-fought game. 

Wallsend will be without Jason Zechel after he was sent-off last weekend. Thornton will bring the fight but there's something about this Wallsend team this year and I think they'll move back into the top four with a victory in this game.

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


Jordan Tselembis scored a superb goal for Wallsend last weekend.

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Under 19's:
Thornton Redbacks (9th) v Wallsend F.C (10th)
Kickoff: 11:00am

Is there a team harder to predict at the moment than Thornton's Under 19's? They were flogged by Belswans two weeks ago, then they beat Lakes at Macquarie Field, then they were flogged by West Wallsend. I'm not sure if there's injuries or suspensions or whatever but it's inconsistent form and it's very hard to predict where it will go from here.

They're up against a Wallsend side that picked up a gutsy win and a longly-awaited win over Cessnock City last weekend. Danny Herivel was back from injury and played a big part in the defensive effort they put on. Further forward, goals were scored by Jereme Wann and Joel Blundell. It was a win to savour after a tough start to the year. Now they'll be looking to make it two on the bounce.

I think defence will be key and Wallsend's defensive effort last week was quality. As I said I'm not fully aware of the situation at Thornton but I've watched this Wallsend side three games in a row now and they're improving week in week out. I like their chances of picking up another win in this one.

My Tip: Thornton Redbacks 0-2 Wallsend F.C


Wallsend's Tyrone Shema v Cessnock City (Round 5)
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Under 17's:
Thornton Redbacks (10th) v Wallsend F.C (6th)
Kickoff: 9:15am

Thornton's 17's had me thinking twice about their potential this year when they got seven put past them by Lakes two weeks ago but they beat a talented squad in West Wallsend last weekend and you cannot put that aside. It was a brilliant result for the young Redbacks and their first chance to sing the team song. Now they move on and look to make it two straight wins.

Wallsend F.C also picked up a hard-fought and long-awaited win last weekend, over Cessnock City. The young Red Devils have been improving week in week out and they have some talented players. They really should have scored more than one last week and if they can produce a similar effort, they'll be a chance of winning this one.

This is ultimately a tough one to predict. Expect Jacob Rae and Josh Davies to be two of the impact players but I'm tipping a draw between two sides that are still finding their feet in 2016.

My Tip: Thornton Redbacks 1-1 Wallsend F.C


Baraka Birindwa being congratulated by captain Darcy Hall for his match-winning goal last weekend.

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Newysports 1st Grade Match of the Round:
Lake Macquarie City F.C (4th) v Kahibah F.C (3rd)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

Lake Macquarie City took a few weeks to kickstart their season but their past two results are reminiscent of their 2015 campaign. Lots of goals. Fourteen in their past two to be exact. Against Thornton they let in three goals and it was one of their issues last year, they'd let in a lot of goals. A 6-0 clean sheet against Singleton away from home was a big result for the club and it's one that shouldn't be swept under the rug. That's a serious win in the biggest roadtrip of the season.

Kahibah F.C were the form team along with Belmont-Swansea going into last week's top of the table clash at Blacksmiths. Belswans came from 2-0 down to draw with the Green and Blacks and admittingly it should have been a loss for Kahibah. They're not indestructible and this week is as tough a test as they'll get this season. 

I was in attendance for this game last year and it was one of the most dramatic matches you'll see. Kahibah picked up a 2-2 draw to secure their spot in the finals on the last day of the regular season. The only time I've ever heard a team sing their song after a draw. Whether it will be a game with Semi Final-like tensions is yet to be answered. Last week's Kahibah v Belswans game certainly raised the bar for 2016.

I've yet to watch Lakes play this year but it's obvious by their results that the team is improving week by week. The fact that they've taken off Sam Walker at half-time the past two weeks and gone on with the job should send a direct message around the league. Blake Green has six goals in two games. It's crazy form at Lakes and whilst I can't see them getting six this week, I can see them winning it.

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


Daniel Bartlett was one of Kahibah's best v Belmont-Swansea last weekend.
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Under 23's:
Lake Macquarie City F.C (2nd) v Kahibah F.C (10th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

Kahibah FC's Under 23's just cannot buy a win this season. They brought the fight to Belmont-Swansea last weekend and almost got something out of it with goals to Matthew Hughes and Alex Evans. The team can produce good play at times but they're just struggling to finish it off and grab the three points. They're 13 points off the top and nine points outside the top four. That gap will just keep getting bigger as the week's pass by.

Let's face it, if they couldn't beat Belmont-Swansea, form says they won't stand too much of a better chance against Lake Macquarie City, particularly on Lakes' ground at Macquarie Field. Kahibah's real chance at breaking the duck will come next week at home to West Wallsend but they'll have an idea of how they want to go about things on Sunday and you never quiet know.

Lakes don't have a stand-out goalscorer. They've got nine different scorers of their twelve goals this season and that in my mind makes them a very dangerous side. They should have the quality to win this one.

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


Matthew Hughes & Alex Evans celebrating Hughes' goal last weekend.

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Newysports Under 19's Match of the Round:
Lake Macquarie City F.C (6th) v Kahibah F.C (4th)
Kickoff: 11:00am

Arguably the most dramatic game of football in any grade last season was the 5-2 Kahibah victory in the Under 17's final round against Lake Macquarie City. The majority of these two Under 19's teams played on that day and it was the day that Kahibah F.C won the Premiership. Ultimately Lakes would win the title but they didn't face Kahibah in the finals, Kahibah were never beaten, they went out on away goals. This is a brilliant clash on paper and should play out in similar fashion on the pitch.

Lake Macquarie City's Under 19's lost two straight games and then last week drew 1-1 on the road at Singleton. One point out of a possible nine. Not what you'd expect from a team featuring the names it does. They're too good a side to linger mid-table for too long and they'll be aiming to bounce back in style with a win over the old nemesis on Sunday.

I'm not sure there's a potential clash in the 19's with this much talented in the two teams. Lakes have several classy players as do Kahibah and it could be the game of the round in any grade. As for the winners, I believe Kahibah will pick up another big win on the road. They'll need a more complete effort than last week though.

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


Kahibah 19's midfielder Harry Wills v Belmont-Swansea (Round 5)

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Newysports Under 17's Match of the Round:
Lake Macquarie City F.C (1st) v Kahibah F.C (2nd)
Kickoff: 9:15am

This'll be a heluva game in the Under 17's at Macquarie Field. There's more to it than being a top of the table clash. Kahibah have several former Lakes players in their squad and some talented ones in that. Kahibah captain Joseph Hadden, Noah George, Ryan Stuchbury, Kye Condon and Casey Jackson all played for the Roosters' last season. They'll be aiming for a win over their old side.

Lake Macquarie City are in perfect form. They could not have started the season any better than they have done. Five wins from five starts, 21 goals, 6 against and nine (count them nine!) different goalscorers. Kurtis McRitchie is arguably the player of the year so far in the 17's and he has talented teammates across the park. It's a dangerous side and one that will surely be there on the final day of the season at this rate.

So the question is, can Kahibah do what no other team has done and stop Lake Macquarie City. My answer is no. Kahibah drew Belswans last week and the form Lakes are in, a much better performance all round will be needed on Sunday than the one I saw last Saturday at Blacksmiths. It's sure to be a hard-fought game but Lakes are just in too good of form to tip against.

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


Kahibah's Henry Gibson v Belmont-Swansea (Round 5)

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