Friday, 15 April 2016

PREVIEW: New-FM 1st Division Round 7

Newysports.com Feature Match:


1st Grade Match of the Round:
Cooks Hill United (5th) v Belmont-Swansea United (2nd)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

The biggest match of the season so far at the AthField sees Cooks Hill United host high-flying Belmont-Swansea United in a 'Clash of the Beaches' for a lack of a better term. Blake Glennie's side last week produced their best effort to date and held on for a gutsy 1-0 confidence-boosting win over South Cardiff. The team is on the verge of pushing into the top four; defence is looking stronger and the pieces are starting to fall into place.

Belmont-Swansea though will come into this as the favourites. Their form for the first quarter of the season has been incredible although they would have no doubt been disappointed with a scoreless draw with Toronto-Awaba last weekend. The return of centre-back Luke Cook will add to the Belswans defence but it's their attack that everyone will be watching on Saturday. Can they return to the winners circle?

This is a fairly crunch game in the Match of the Round and this reporter wouldn't be surprised if new goalkeeping recruit Jack Symons is thrown into the First Grade squad for Cooks Hill. What is a definite is the inclusion of Nick Popel between the sticks for Belswans. His form as of late has been impressive and he'll be looking to keep another clean sheet.

Cooks Hill aren't easybeats but Belmont-Swansea are a quality outfit and in my mind, they're a good chance of leaving the AthField with all three points.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 1-3 Belmont-Swansea


Blake Glennie's side can put pressure on the top sides with a win on Saturday.
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Under 23's Match of the Round:
Cooks Hill United (3rd) v Belmont-Swansea United (1st)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

The Cooks Hill United 23's are a hugely improved side this year compared to last and have won four from their opening five. A gutsy 1-0 win over Cessnock City before the Round 5 bye showed their character and a 4-0 win over a decent South Cardiff side last weekend showed their class. Now they face their biggest test yet as the league-leading Belswans come to town.

Belmont-Swansea are flying high at the moment if most grades. The 23's are the club's highest place side and apart from a Round 1 draw with Lake Macquarie City, they've started the season in perfect form; five wins from six games. They can put four in, they can come from behind, they can hold on for a gutsy win, they can do it all and this side is one to watch.

Cooks Hill can prove their credentials with a win here but I have a feeling Belmont-Swansea will be just a tad too good on the day.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 1-2 Belmont-Swansea


Jack Symons made his debut for Cooks Hill last weekend in the Under 23's
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Under 19's Match of the Round:
Cooks Hill United (3rd) v Belmont-Swansea United (2nd)
Kickoff: 11:00am

This is a cracking match-up in the 19's. Cooks Hill have raced their way into the top four and face a Belswans side that put eleven past Toronto-Awaba last weekend. It's surely going to result in a quality match-up between the two top four sides. Entertaining football has been a staple of these sides so far in 2016.

Cooks Hill have won four straight games since losing in Round 1 to Kahibah F.C. Belswans bounced back from a loss to the same opposition with that smashing of Toronto last weekend; something has to give. It's no secret that both sides are capable of finding the back of the net.

Belswans have enjoyed an extended stay on their home turf. They haven't left Blacksmiths Oval since Round 1. Beating Cooks Hill is a tough ask but I simply cannot tip against a side that scored double-digits in their last outing.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 2-3 Belmont-Swansea


Belswans' Matt Ellis scored a superb goal two weeks ago against Kahibah F.C
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Under 17's:
Cooks Hill United (6th) v Belmont-Swansea United (7th)
Kickoff: 9:15am

This is a quality match-up on paper. Cooks Hill could jump into the top four with a win whilst a loss would see them fall below Belmont-Swansea on the table. It's a mid-table match that will provide entertainment in the opening match of the day at the Newcastle Athletics Field.

The Cookers were 4-1 winners over South Cardiff last weekend; a second half masterclass sealing the win. They were boosted by the timely return of captain Michael Dalton and now the team in black and white are hurdling their way towards the top four week by week.

Belmont-Swansea are a difficult opponent though. They've hit form in some games but consistency has let the young Belswans down. Cooks Hill at home I feel will go into this as the slight favourites.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 3-1 Belmont-Swansea


Belswans' goalkeeper Danilo Apollonia v Kahibah F.C (Round 5)

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1st Grade:
Kahibah F.C (4th) v West Wallsend SFC (7th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

Kahibah F.C lost their first match of the season at Macquarie Field last weekend and now they face a tricky West Wallsend side in their first match at Kahibah Oval this season. The home advantage will be a big one for Kahibah and they definitely need to produce quality on Saturday or face the risk of being dumped out of the top four by Cooks Hill. Andre Gumprecht's side will not want to drop points for a third-consecutive week. It's not in their club's DNA.

West Wallsend are a tough side to beat on their day. They wouldn't give up last weekend against Singleton. Despite having an extra man advantage and two penalty attempts, the Bluebells just could not find the net. That was until Jarrod Olivieri or 'The Big Dog' as he's known at Johnston Park got on the end of a penalty box scramble to fire home an equaliser.

The Bluebells will be without a handful of senior players for various reasons. Tye Jones will be missing via suspension and along with one or two others, Jarrod Olivieri may miss the game with injury. It's not good news for Gary Rowe and his side will be walking into a very tough ground to win at. Kahibah at home is one of the toughest trips in the league and the Green and Blacks will be looking to return to form.

My Tip: Kahibah F.C 3-0 West Wallsend


Jarrod Olivieri scored a crucial goal last week but is in doubt for Saturday's match-up.

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Under 23's:
Kahibah F.C (11th) v West Wallsend SFC (8th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

Both of these teams have struggled throughout the opening weeks but credit to West Wallsend; they picked up a gutsy win over Singleton last weekend and have seemed to have boosted their squad with some early season inclusions like Ryan Van Kemenade and last week's goalscoring hero on debut Nick Evans.

Kahibah just cannot buy a win in this grade at a time when they really need it. They're the only side without a point in the entire competition and after leading Lakes 1-0 at half-time in Round 6; again they let the lead slip and would eventually go down 3-1 to the Roosters. There won't be a better time than the first home game for Kahibah to win a game so why not tip them? It's now or never for their slim finals hopes.

My Tip: Kahibah F.C 2-1 West Wallsend


Kahibah's Nathan McCarter v Belmont-Swansea (Round 5)

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Under 19's:
Kahibah F.C (5th) v West Wallsend SFC (1st)
Kickoff: 11:00am

West Wallsend...ladder leaders. Who would have thought that at the start of the season. The Bluebells leading the competition in any grade will please everyone wearing blue and white and this 19's team are deserved competition leaders. They've been the best side in the first quarter of the season and they have a bucket load of goals to their name.

Kahibah F.C on the other hand were beaten fairly convincingly by Lakes last weekend. A 4-1 result was their heaviest loss so far and it wouldn't surprise me to see them not get beaten that badly again all year. They're too good a side to loss too many games and I feel like last week is an abnormality. It should be mentioned that their lone goal to Harry Wills was a superb individual strike. Let's not sugar-coat it though; they've got a tough test ahead of them on Saturday.

To put this game into perspective; Kahibah have 10 goals from 5 games, Westy have 31 goals from 6 games. Kahibah's top goalscorer Bailey Chaplain has four goals to his name. Westy have Matt Turner and Josh Knight on four, James Barnes on five and the form player of the competition Sam Jones on a whopping twelve goals. Jones has more goals than the entire Kahibah side.

Kahibah pride themselves defensively so the Bluebells will have to be on top form. Westy themselves though are also a quality defensive unit. It's a tough one to predict...you could almost flip a coin. Kahibah at home will like their chances of ending West Wallsend's winning run.

My Tip: Kahibah F.C 2-1 West Wallsend


Kahibah 19's form a wall v Belmont-Swansea (Round 5)

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Under 17's:
Kahibah F.C (4th) v West Wallsend SFC (3rd)
Kickoff: 9:15am

Kahibah F.C tasted defeat in the 17's for the first time last weekend at Lake Macquarie and they'll be looking to put that behind them this weekend. The Green and Blacks got one goal last weekend in the 4-1 loss, a goal to Kyle Williams that took his tally to five for the season. Across the park there is talent in this Kahibah squad.

West Wallsend sit third and pulled off a gutsy 1-0 win over Singleton last weekend thanks to a goal from Josh Knight. They will fall below Kahibah with a loss so no doubt the motive for West Wallsend will be to leave Kahibah Oval with all three points in hand. Can they do it though?

What will ensure on Saturday morning is a quality match-up between two good sides. I feel like a 2-2 draw wouldn't be a surprise here.

My Tip: Kahibah F.C 2-2 West Wallsend


Westy's Josh Knight scored the winning goal for the Under 17's last weekend.

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Newysports.com Feature Match:


1st Grade:
Singleton Strikers (10th) v Thornton Redbacks (9th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

This is a key match-up for both these sides. They both sit a long way from the top four and as each week passes by, it's becoming more and more likely that both sides are going to struggle. Both have had injury problems and Thornton especially are going to struggle on Sunday with the amount of players they have out.

Singleton have one or two returning from suspension/work commitments but they'll be without goalkeeper Stuart Plant after he was sent-off last weekend. That's a big out but Ryan Guihot is a decent back-up and will be looking to help Singleton to a big win against the Redbacks.

Singleton have drawn three games so far. Obviously nothing will please David Willoughby more than his team getting the three points. At home against a depleted Thornton side is the best time to do it. The Redbacks have young talent that will challenge Singleton but the home side will be looking to break their duck.

My Tip: Singleton Strikers 3-1 Thornton Redbacks


Singleton captain Jackson Cox v Cessnock City (Round 1)

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Under 23's:
Singleton Strikers (9th) v Thornton Redbacks (7th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

Singleton have endured some tough results this season. They've had teams come from behind and get results and that's never a confidence builder. They really need to just hang on for a win to try and kickstart their campaign. The problem this week is they're facing a side who produced a miracle comeback last week to draw 4-4 with Wallsend.

Thornton's impressive comeback was made even that much more impressive by the fact that they did it with only six regular players in the 15-man squad. Under 17/19's players made up the majority of the team and what a result they picked up against a quality Wallsend side. Thornton's 1st Grade will have more players out this week which means the youngsters may be required again.

Singleton need this win but if it does come it will be hard-fought. Thornton look a decent side, even with the younger players in there.

My Tip: Singleton Strikers 2-3 Thornton Redbacks


Young gun Lachlan Donnelly put the Thornton 23's ahead in the opening minute last weekend.

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Under 19's
Singleton Strikers (6th) v Thornton Redbacks (9th)
Kickoff: 11:00am

Singleton's 19's started the season in brilliant form with a crushing 7-0 win at Cessnock. Since then they have slipped away a little bit and last week's 8-1 loss to leaders West Wallsend was nothing short of horrendous for a side that sat top at the beginning of the year. They're a lot better than that and they'll be looking to put that result behind them.

Thornton battled hard against Wallsend last week but their cause was hindered by Hamish Spinaze getting sent-off for a handball on the goalline. It saved a goal but the resulting penalty was converted and they were forced to play with ten men for the remainder of the game. Thornton have a shortage of senior players at the moment via injuries and what not, the 19's will be forced to provide some players for the higher grades.

It's a key game for both sides but Singleton at home will like their chances. They picked up a quality draw with Lakes last time they played on their home turf and if their quality players can produce a decent effort, they've got a good chance on Sunday.

My Tip: Singleton Strikers 3-1 Thornton Redbacks


Thornton's Jacob Bartlett & Josh Davies last weekend v Wallsend F.C
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Under 17's
Singleton Strikers (8th) v Thornton Redbacks (10th)
Kickoff: 9:15am

Both these teams need a win to kickstart their form so it should be a reasonably entertaining match-up in the first kickoff at Howe Park this Sunday. Singleton were unlucky not to get a result at West Wallsend last week; they'd go down 1-0 to the Bluebells despite a strong effort. This side certainly have the potential to cause some trouble this season to the top sides but it's got to come sooner rather than later.

Thornton Redbacks were outgunned by Wallsend last week but it only showed in the fact that several of their Under 17's players played in the 19's and 23's that this side have quality amongst its rank. Nearly every single Thornton player has played up a grade or two this year which in my mind helps player development.

Singleton is a tough road trip and this Singo 17's team is one that will be looking at this match-up as a real chance to return to form. It will be close but I can see Singleton getting the three points.

My Tip: Singleton Strikers 2-1 Thornton Redbacks


Singleton 17's v West Wallsend (pre-season trial)

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1st Grade:
Lake Macquarie City F.C (3rd) v Toronto-Awaba (6th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

Lake Macquarie City are back in the form that saw them push for NPL promotion last season. They punished Singleton 6-0 at Howe Park before getting over the line against fellow competition heavyweights Kahibah F.C last weekend. Young gun James Ward was the unlikely hero on the day for Anthony Richards' side.

Toronto-Awaba's form going into their biggest away match of the year is admirable. They picked up straight wins over Cessnock and South Cardiff before picking up a draw with top of the table Belswans last weekend. This is their toughest test to date and if they can somehow pick up the points then by all means they should be included in top four discussions.

This is one of the more intriguing 'Five Islands Derby' match-ups we've seen in recent times. Lakes are normally shoe-ins for victory but could the Stags pull off their biggest win of the season? I still have my doubts about Toronto-Awaba and Macquarie Field is about as tough as a venue can be for getting results at.

My Tip: Lake Macquarie City 5-2 Toronto-Awaba


Toronto-Awaba v Beresfield United (FFA Cup Round 1)
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Under 23's:
Lake Macquarie City F.C (2nd) v Toronto-Awaba (10th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

Lake Macquarie City are in blitzing form across most grades and their Under 23's squad is no different. They played out a scoreless draw in Round 1 with fellow league-leaders Belmont-Swansea and like Belswans, they've won every game since then. Nathan Ham scored two last week in the win over Kahibah but like the other three Lakes sides, there's goalscoring potential across the park.

Toronto-Awaba 23's began the season in similar fashion to the First Grade Stags but unlike the 1st Graders, this team have been unable to turn that form around. They were calmly put aside 4-0 by Belswans last week and considering Lakes are up there at the top of the league, you'd be safe thinking similar will happen this week...as much as the Stags will want to avoid it.

My Tip: Lake Macquarie City 4-0 Toronto-Awaba


Toronto 23's v Cooks Hill United (Round 2)
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Under 19's:
Lake Macquarie City F.C (4th) v Toronto-Awaba (10th)
Kickoff: 11:00am

Lake Macquarie City are back into winning form in the Under 19's. After a tough couple of weeks, they produced a quality effort to down a very good Kahibah side 4-1 last weekend. Toronto-Awaba on the other hand were humiliated at Blacksmiths Oval 11-0 by a rampant Belmont-Swansea side. 11-0 is a one-off but this is one of the easier predictions I've ever had to make. Lakes are quality in this grade and coming back into form makes them even more dangerous.

My Tip: Lake Macquarie City 6-1 Toronto-Awaba


Toronto 19's v Cooks Hill United (Round 2)
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Under 17's Match of the Round:
Lake Macquarie City F.C (1st) v Toronto-Awaba (2nd)
Kickoff: 9:15am

The Stags 17's have stunned a lot with their early-season form and they can prove their finals credentials with a win over unbeaten and so far unmatched Lake Macquarie City on Sunday. Lakes have Kurtis McRitchie who has bagged nine goals so far in 2016 and they have several other players who can find the net. They're the premiership favourites and if there doesn't seem to be any sides that can stop them.

Toronto-Awaba though have a talented and underrated squad that is leading the way for the club at the moment. Equal top goalscorers Caleb Trimboli and Luke Gibbons have led the way in recent times. Trimboli was rested last weekend and will be spurring to find the back of the net again this week. This is a dangerous side and the biggest threat to Lakes to date.

The Roosters across the park have a strong side and I believe they'll take a big step at the top of the league by knocking off Toronto in a hard-fought game.

My Tip: Lake Macquarie City 3-1 Toronto-Awaba


Todd Fenton and the Toronto 17's will be looking to upset the ladder-leaders.


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1st Grade:
Cessnock City (11th) v South Cardiff (8th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

There isn't a poorer side in the competition across all four grades than Cessnock City at the moment. Their 23's have the side's only two wins from twenty games in all grades and if you take them out of the equation it is very bleak viewing. The 1st/19's/17's have combined for 0 wins-3 draws-12 losses with a goal difference of minus-43. Granted they're not the strongest side but that is just a horror few stats to look at.

South Cardiff have yet to hit their straps and with a young squad, it's not a surprise to see them struggling to adapt to their new division. Last week they produced a decent effort against Cooks Hill United but luck was against them and a tonne of offside calls against them, particular against Winstone Oku cost them dearly. If they can find their goalscoring form they should be a good chance of victory here.

It's a crunch game for both sides. Cessnock will have new goalkeeper Steve Anderson on debut for the club but I still feel the Gunners will take all three points.

My Tip: Cessnock City 0-2 South Cardiff


Winstone Oku in action v Cooks Hill United (Round 6)

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Under 23's:
Cessnock City (6th) v South Cardiff (4th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

This looks the game of the day on paper at Turner Park. Cessnock City's 23's are coming off the bye but before that was a brilliant comeback win over Wallsend F.C. It was a big as a win for the Cessnock 23's as they'll remember as they beat a former player or two in the Wallsend squad. Now they need to kick on with that form and attempt to make ground on the top four.

South Cardiff are in the top four but last week's 4-0 loss to Cooks Hill was a bit of a reality check. They've got some talented goalscorers and they'll most likely bounce back from last weekend's loss whether it be this week or another. Cessnock 23's at Turner Park is a difficult assignment. It's a crucial game and a Hornets win would be big for the home side but I'll go with a draw.

My Tip: Cessnock City 1-1 South Cardiff


Cessnock's 23's came from behind to win at Wallsend in their last outing.
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Under 19's:
Cessnock City (11th) v South Cardiff (7th)
Kickoff: 11:00am

Cessnock City's Under 19's are a tough side to predict. Week by week they were improving since a horror opening day loss to Singleton but their performance in a 2-0 loss to a depleted Wallsend in their last outing was a poor showing and they'll need more than that to defeat a quality Southy side.

The Gunners were downed by Cooks Hill United last week but the talent they have means they'll be a threat to most sides in the competition and especially a side sitting dead last. Cessnock don't deserve to be last. They're definitely not the worst side in the comp and wins will come soon enough. This is a tough game to predict but I like Southy's chances of a victory.

My Tip: Cessnock City 1-2 South Cardiff


Southy's Adam Nicholas alongside captain Isaac Roman (v Cooks Hill-Round 6)
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Under 17's:
Cessnock City (11th) v South Cardiff (9th)
Kickoff: 9:15am

Cessnock City return from the bye looking to win their first game of the 2016 season. They produced a decent effort against Wallsend last time out but it wasn't enough and they'll need some quality to overcome a Southy side that in my mind could be higher on the table than ninth with some of the talent they have in their ranks.

South Cardiff had an off-day at Cooks Hill last week but from all reports, this team is a serious one that have the potential to achieve some quality results this season. The Hornets will fight tooth and nail to avoid another defeat but Southy I feel will come away with the win.

My Tip: Cessnock City 1-3 South Cardiff


Cessnock's Zac Kronholm making a throw-in at Cooks Hill (Round 5)
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