Friday, 6 May 2016

PREVIEW: New-FM 1st Division Round 10

Newysports Feature Match:

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

West Wallsend head into this week's clash with Cessnock City with some confidence after some good results as of late. The 4-0 win over Toronto-Awaba was a classy performance and a hard-fought 1-1 draw with Cooks Hill United has the Bluebells spurred to pick up points against an unpredictable Cessnock City side on Saturday.

The Bluebells have arguably the best goalkeeper in the competition at the moment in Tyler Warren. He was superb again against Cooks Hill last weekend and players across the park are finding form. Dom Langowski returned from injury, Jarrod Olivieri is finding the net regularly, players like Tye Jones and the Cox brothers are dangerous in any given game.

Cessnock City produced the upset of the season at Blacksmiths two weeks ago but they were beaten by the league-leading Lake Macquarie City last weekend. In my mind, a loss here will see Cessnock drop to last spot as I believe Singleton will pick up their first win of the season on Sunday. It's a vital game for Steve Thomson's side.

At Johnston Park, I can't go against the Bluebells. They've been decent in most of the games I've seen them play and they could have definitely left Cooks Hill with all three points last week on a different day.

My Tip: West Wallsend 4-2 Cessnock City

Westy celebrating Jarrod Olivieri's equaliser last weekend v Cooks Hill.

Under 23's:
West Wallsend SFC (10th) v Cessnock City (6th)
Kickoff: 2:15pm

West Wallsend's form in the 23's hasn't been pretty but last week's 3-3 draw with Cooks Hill United was a decent result for a side lingering in the lower portion of the table. Jackson Couper scored a delightful hat-trick to seal a quality result away from home against a premiership contender.

Cessnock City also held a premiership contender to a frustrating draw last weekend. The fact is that the Hornets could have won it after blowing a two-goal lead. This followed a 1-1 draw with Belmont-Swansea who are also fairly high on the table so the potential is there for Cessnock's 23's to get a quality result on their day.

This game could very well get physical; as these two clubs are known to like the hard-fought games. As for the winner, I think Cessnock City will fight hard and get an important three points.

My Tip: West Wallsend 1-2 Cessnock City

Westy's 23's celebrating one of Jackson Couper's goals last weekend.

Under 19's:
West Wallsend SFC (1st) v Cessnock City (11th)
Kickoff: 12:30pm

It's top v bottom in the Under 19's this weekend. West Wallsend are coming off a delightful win over Cooks Hill United that saw them retain the league lead and they're facing a Cessnock City side that have conceded 13 goals in the last two weeks. Cessnock on their day are a good side but the form has not been there at all in 2016.

Cessnock City's Kyle Gillis is their top goalscorer on four, Westy have five players that have four or more goals including Sam Jones, who is leading the 19's competition top scorer list on 13 goals. It's first v last and it normally only ends in the one way. Cessnock only need to look at their first grade's result against Belswans two weeks ago for inspiration. Westy at home should have too much quality for the Hornets.

My Tip: West Wallsend 7-1 Cessnock City

Knight v Collins  (if one or both aren't suspended) could boil over.


Under 17's:
West Wallsend SFC (2nd) v Cessnock City (9th)
Kickoff: 10:45am

West Wallsend are flying high in the Under 17's. A Man of the Match performance and lone goal of the game from Liam Simpson was enough to see the young Bluebells overcome a decent Cooks Hill United side away from home last Saturday. Westy have won seven from nine and only that separates them from runaway league leaders Lake Macquarie City. Whilst the minor premiership is less likely at this stage, this team will be eyeing off some GF silverware come the end of the season. They're good enough for it.

Cessnock City started to turn their season around with spirited comeback wins but last week they were outgunned by leaders Lakes at Turner Park. The Roosters would score two late goals and one of their goals was an own-goal so Cessnock won't feel like they were too far behind in that match. They'll need a big efffort to win at Johnston Park this Saturday.

West Wallsend are just in too good of form to tip against. From goalkeeper Josh Sneddon through a quality midfield to the ever-threatening Josh Knight and Khye Drayton up front, this team have the talent to win most games this season, including this one.

My Tip: West Wallsend 3-1 Cessnock City

Cessnock's Lucas Zechel and Westy's Khye Drayton in a pre-season trial.

1st Grade:
Belmont-Swansea United (3rd) v South Cardiff FC (8th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

Belmont-Swansea United suffered a shock first loss of the season to Cessnock City in their last outing and now they have to bounce back from that against a tricky South Cardiff side. Belswans' had the bye last week and no doubt, everyone involved will be serious about returning to winning form at the first chance. They're that sort of club.

South Cardiff's hard-fought draw with Wallsend FC saw them play well but they'll need to start picking up more wins than draws or losses or they won't be challenging for a finals spot. This is a chance for the Gunners to pick up their biggest win of 2016 and move into mid-table.

Fletcher Price returns to Belswans' line-up this weekend and that will no doubt be vital to their chances. South Cardiff aren't a side you can beat without 100% effort and a 90-minute performance. In my mind the home side win this one and remind everyone that they are a serious force in this year's competition. It's not that they finally lost a game, it's how they bounce back from it.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 2-0 South Cardiff

Corey Nicholas and Cameron Treweek v Cooks Hill United

Under 23's Match of the Round:
Belmont-Swansea United (3rd) v South Cardiff FC (4th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

The Under 23's Match of the Round sees an all-top four clash between Belmont-Swansea United and South Cardiff at Blacksmiths Oval. The Belswans are coming off of a bye but before that was two results that they would have been disappointed with. A loss to Cooks Hill and a draw with mid-table Cessnock City. Belswans need a win here to keep touch with Lake Macquarie City at the top of the table.

South Cardiff FC have had mixed form as well with losses to Cooks Hill and Wallsend but wins over Toronto and Cessnock City. They go into this game knowing that Wallsend could send them crashing out of the top four if they fail to pick up maximum points at Blacksmiths Oval.

Belswans is a tricky team to beat and even more so when it's on their home turf. South Cardiff's got a talented side in this grade but whether they have the team to win this is the question. Belswans for my money.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 3-1 South Cardiff

Belswans 23's v Cooks Hill United

Under 19's Match of the Round:
Belmont-Swansea United (4th) v South Cardiff FC (6th)
Kickoff: 11:00am

Belmont-Swansea had the bye last weekend and have lost their spot in the top three. A win this weekend will propel them straight back into minor premiership contention, somewhere I feel they deserve to be with the talent they have on show and some of the performances they've put on this season.

Opposite them this weekend is a tricky South Cardiff side that certainly can cause damage on their day. Again consistency isn't Southy's strongest point in this grade and it's proved costly. A loss on Sunday will see them fall eight points outside the top four. They will want to avoid that at all costs.

Belswans at home is a tricky test in any grade but in the 19's it's always a tough day at this office. They slaughtered Toronto and Cessnock with a combined 19 goals against both. It shouldn't be that free-scoring but with the talent they have, only one result seems likely here.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 3-0 South Cardiff

South Cardiff U19's v Cooks Hill United

Under 17's:
Belmont-Swansea United (7th) v South Cardiff FC (11th)
Kickoff: 9:15am

Belmont-Swansea's season in the Under 17's hasn't quite kicked off like the higher grades. They've produced some quality but with just two wins from eight, it's very hard to make any sort of a push towards the top four. This game could kickstart some form after last weekend's bye.

South Cardiff on the other hand are dead last. Six-straight losses and only one win from eight starts this season. To add to their woes, they'll be without goalkeeper Justin Becker after he was sent off early in last week's 5-0 loss to Wallsend F.C. Safe to say that the goalie being shown red played a massive part in that scoreline but it's still not a good spot to be in. They've got some players who are impressive on their day but that day is a rarity at the moment.

Belmont-Swansea's got to capitalise on Southy's woes. I'm not sure they have  another goalkeeper eligible for this grade so they may be depleted in that role and it's very hard to bounce back instantly from a 5-0 loss, especially after six-straight losses.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 4-1 South Cardiff

Belswans' 17's keeper Danilo Appolonia v Cooks Hill United

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

I would have called you crazy if you told me Singleton would be last after the half-way point of the season. That's the harsh reality that awaits David Willoughby's side this week if they fail to beat Toronto-Awaba. They fought very hard last week against Kahibah and only a momentary lapse at the end would cost them. Then they pushed Wallsend to the limit in a mid-week game. This is their best chance yet of victory.

Toronto-Awaba are falling apart as of late. They've conceded 16 goals in three games and despite leading twice against Thornton last weekend, they would go down 6-2 on their home turf. It's not the sort of form that gives any confidence about how they'll go this week. A 45-minute performance isn't enough.

Singleton will keep the same squad and it's an impressive one on its day. And not to mention they've got some talent on the bench. Import left-back Kieron Burrell was quality before being forced off with injury last weekend. It hurt the side at the back and they'd go down 3-2. Not to mention Kahibah's opener was a fluke cross-turned-goal.

It might still technically be only the half-way stage of the season but if Singleton lose this then their season is over and the wooden spoon is more than likely the end result. This is an important match and against an out-of-form Toronto-Awaba side, there is no better time for the Strikers to win a game.

My Tip: Singleton Strikers 4-1 Toronto-Awaba

Singleton pre-match huddle v Kahibah FC last weekend.

Under 23's:
Singleton Strikers (9th) v Toronto-Awaba (11th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

This is a game between two sides desparate for a win, for anything really after a horror season so far. Singleton were beaten fair and square, 5-0 by Kahibah last weekend whilst Toronto-Awaba's last two games have seen them at least compete. Singleton have two back-to-back home mid-week wins against Thornton and Wallsend and both of them ended 4-1 so I'm leaning towards them winning this one. Not much else I can say really.

My Tip: Singleton Strikers 3-1 Toronto-Awaba

Toronto-Awaba 23's v West Wallsend.

Under 19's:
Singleton Strikers (7th) v Toronto-Awaba (9th)
Kickoff: 11:00am

Two sides that will be keen to forget about last weekend. Singleton played well at Kahibah but went down 5-1 after luck went against them and Kahibah's quality in front of goals beat them fair and square. Toronto-Awaba too were beaten soundly, 6-2 by Thornton. It's a key game for the finals hopes of the home side; put it simply; Singleton need to win this game.

Toronto-Awaba's form hasn't been pretty. On their day they're a decent squad but consistency has cost them all season. They're going to find it very hard to pick up a result on the road at Singleton. As I said, the Strikers have to win this game to keep in touch with the top four. Singo at home should be too good for the struggling Stags.

*UPDATE* Since this was written, Singleton have picked up another result. A 1-1 draw with Wallsend FC. Nathan Hall continued his scoring form but the visitors stole a point with two minutes to go. Frustrating to say the least.

My Tip: Singleton Strikers 3-0 Toronto-Awaba

Singleton Strikers U19's v Kahibah FC last weekend.

Under 17's:
Singleton Strikers (10th) v Toronto-Awaba (5th)
Kickoff: 9:15am

It wasn't all that long ago that Toronto-Awaba had a chance to tie things up with Lake Macquarie City at the top of the table. Two straight losses to Lake Macquarie City and West Wallsend was followed with a frustrating 2-2 draw with  mid-table Thornton Redbacks. The Stags now find themselves outside the top four with this game being a crucial one to turn their form around.

Singleton's Under 17's were downed 2-0 by Kahibah last weekend. A questionable penalty against Trae Proudlock was converted early on and the Strikers found it hard to create too many chances in the wet conditions at Kahibah Oval. A strong performance defensively and a quality game from goalkeeper Brad Fairclough kept them in the game.

Toronto-Awaba make the trip up to Singleton knowing anything less than a win could see them fall further outside the top four. They've got the attacking talent to overcome an inconsistent Singleton side.

*UPDATE: Singleton lost 2-0 to Wallsend FC on Thursday night in a catch-up game. Not good form going into this one and thus the game is more important for Toronto-Awaba.

My Tip: Singleton Strikers 1-3 Toronto-Awaba

Toronto-Awaba's U17's defending a free-kick v West Wallsend.

1st Grade Match of the Round:
Kahibah FC (4th) v Wallsend FC (2nd)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

The Match of the Round sees Kahibah FC host Wallsend FC at Kahibah Oval. The all top-four battle is going to be a cracker with both teams gunning for a vital win. Wallsend can join Lake Macquarie City on the top of the league with a win whilst a loss for Kahibah will mean they will have the winner of Thornton v Cooks Hill breathing down their necks in 5th position.

Wallsend FC played midweek and got the job done against Singleton. Kahibah will have the fresher legs but at this level that doesn't mean too much. Wallsend will come to Kahibah Oval wanting a win and it's the Red Devils who enter as favourites in my mind. Kahibah's form has been shaky and despite the craziness and pure delirium of Andre Gumprecht's vital winning goal last week, it has to be said that they came incredibly close to dropping two vital points.

Both of these teams respect the other and see each other as arguably their toughest test of the season. So who wins it? Neither. I'm going to be completely boring and tip a 2-2 draw between two of the best teams in the competition.

My Tip: Kahibah FC 2-2 Wallsend FC 

Kahibah celebrating Trent Vegter's goal last weekend v Singleton.

Under 23's:
Kahibah FC (8th) v Wallsend FC (5th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

This is a crunch game between two sides won last weekend. Wallsend FC had been in a little bit of a form slump before overcoming South Cardiff in a hard-fought fashion at The Gardens. Kahibah FC on the other hand have won their last three games and looked superb in last week's 5-0 win over Singleton. The in-form Peter Migliore didn't even score last week; proving that goals can come from around the park for this side.

You only need to glance at the league table to see how important this game is. Wallsend sit on the verge of moving into the top four whilst Kahibah have come from nowhere to sit mid-table and in line for the top four if they can pick up the three points this weekend.

So who wins this game? Wallsend are a quality side but in my mind, tipping against Kahibah with the form they're in isn't an option at the moment not to mention, the Red Devils went down to Singleton during mid-week action.

My Tip: Kahibah FC 3-1 Wallsend FC

Wallsend celebrating a goal v Thornton Redbacks a few weeks ago.

Under 19's:
Kahibah FC (3rd) v Wallsend FC (8th)
Kickoff: 11:00am

These are two sides that are quality on their day and it's a key game for both teams. A loss for Wallsend will see them fall further away from the top four whilst Kahibah can move into the league lead potentially with a win. The Green and Blacks have one of the more talented sides in the competition and they're more than likely to win most games they play.

Wallsend FC have overcome a slow start to put some recent form together but they need to keep that going if they're a chance of making finals. Making the trip to Kahibah Oval is a tough one in every grade but the 19's team looked on point last weekend and they will like their chances of victory in this week's game.

*UPDATE: Jordan Tselembis rescued a point for Wallsend FC against Singleton on Thursday night in a 1-1 draw. I stick to my original tip for this game.

My Tip: Kahibah FC 2-1 Wallsend FC

Kahibah supercoaches Mat Moncrieff (right) and Tony Birleson (left).

Under 17's Match of the Round:
Kahibah FC (3rd) v Wallsend FC (4th)
Kickoff: 9:15am

Both of these teams utilized midweek games to stretch the gap between them and Toronto-Awaba in 5th position. Now the two in form sides face off an Kahibah Oval in a match that looks highly entertaining on paper. Wallsend FC have come from nowhere to find themselves in the top four and Kahibah have kept consistent enough to sit in third spot.

Goals to Kyle Williams and Seb Crecca were enough for Kahibah to overcome Thornton mid-week and they'd also win 2-0 over Singleton just a couple of days beforehand. Wallsend FC also won 2-0 during the week with two Jacob Rae goals giving them a vital away win at Singleton.

I find it hard to tip against either side with the form they're in but there's something about Kahibah at home that makes me lean towards them. They are a classy outfit and Wallsend's results against higher-placed teams is still inconsistent. Anything could happen though.

My Tip: Kahibah FC 3-1 Wallsend FC

Juma Saidi scored a hat-trick last weekend.

1st Grade:
Thornton Redbacks (5th) v Cooks Hill United (6th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

These two sides are the two most likely to push for a finals spot. I think Thornton Redbacks are more likely than Cooks Hill United at this point but a win for the visitors here will re-install some much-needed confidence in the side heading into the second half of the season. A lot of people not involved with Cooks Hill still have Blake Glennie's side as a dark horse for the top four and there must be a reason for that.

Thornton Redbacks put on a classy second-half effort against a sloppy Toronto-Awaba last week but they'd understand that they won't have it as easy against a well-drilled Cooks Hill side. A win for either side could see them put pressure on Kahibah in fourth position and with Cooks Hill visiting the Green and Blacks in two weeks time, they'll see this as a great chance to kickstart the season.

Thornton Park is a tough place to go to at the best of times and when the Redbacks are in some form it's even tougher. Nathan McAllister is in-form, Tallan Martin if available this week is one of the better players at the club. They beat Cooks Hill up there last year and there's no reason they can't do the same now. 

My Tip: Thornton Redbacks 3-2 Cooks Hill United

Cooks Hill's Zac Douglas, Ben Frohlich and Jackson Pett, all sharing similar hair-dos.

Under 23's:
Thornton Redbacks (7th) v Cooks Hill United (2nd)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

This game last season was one of the best 23's games I saw in 2015. Thornton were cruising but Cooks Hill produced a three or four goal turnaround to take all three points from Thornton Park on a cold Wednesday night in the middle of winter.

Thornton's 23's went down disappointingly to struggling Singleton last Wednesday night but bounced back with a 2-1 win over bottom-side Toronto-Awaba on Sunday. They'll need a lot more than that to overcome a Cooks Hill side that were frustrated in a 3-3 draw with West Wallsend last weekend. The Cookers sit a point from the top so this is a key game.

Even though Thornton have the home advantage, I feel like the Cookers have to win this and will. They've got too much to lose if they don't pick up maximum points on Sunday.

My Tip: Thornton Redbacks 1-4 Cooks Hill United 

Max Sovechles' Under 23's will be looking to bounce back from a frustrating 3-3 draw.

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

Thornton Redbacks' 19's picked up a solid victory over Toronto-Awaba last weekend to stretch the gap between themselves and bottom-placed Cessnock City. Josh Halverson picked up a hat-trick in that game and then a double against Kahibah mid-week and there's some other players in the squad that have found some form as of late.

Cooks Hill United on the other hand come into this game with some irregular form. A loss to Lakes and a loss to West Wallsend leaves them now sitting outside the top four. Reality is that Thornton are coming off a disappointing 6-2 mid-week loss to Kahibah that brought them crashing back to the ground after winning by the same scoreline at Toronto.

Cooks Hill need to win this to remind the teams above that they're still a title threat. They've got the talent and the class to overcome a lower-table side.

My Tip: Thornton Redbacks 0-3 Cooks Hill United

Thornton's Zac Wolfe has shown potential for the 17's and indeed 19's teams this season.

Under 17's:
Thornton Redbacks (8th) v Cooks Hill United (6th)
Kickoff: 9:15am

Thornton's Under 17's were denied a win by a late Toronto goal on the weekend and they went down 2-0 to Kahibah in a mid-week game so a win for the young Redbacks would go down well for all wearing red and black. A win against Cooks Hill on Sunday will see them join the Cookers on 10 points. A loss will see them fall further behind the leading top six sides. 

Cooks Hill United pushed West Wallsend last week but would go down for just their second home loss of the campaign. They've fallen out of the top four and this is a key game for their season as the halfway point approaches. They've changed the line-up slightly with one or two new players, including fullback Dominic Nunan and the sidelined Angus Davies could potentially return from an arm injury in the next couple of games.

Thornton have a side that are willing to give it all for a result but I feel as though Cooks Hill will come away with a much-needed victory on Sunday.

My Tip: Thornton Redbacks 1-3 Cooks Hill United

Thornton 17's celebrating a goal v Singleton.


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