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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