Cooks Hill United (5th) v Singleton Strikers (10th)
Cooks Hill United survived some patchy moments late on to come away with a 2-1 victory against a previously in-form Thornton Redbacks last weekend. Blake Glennie's side arguably played better in a loss to Lakes a few weeks back then they did on Sunday; it wasn't their best and that should worry some of the sides in the top four. If the Cookers can hit form during the second half of the season, they may very well squeeze into the top four although at this stage it's unlikely.
Singleton Strikers recorded their first win of the season last week against struggling Toronto-Awaba and they'll no doubt need to step up to another level to win on the road at Cooks Hill, especially with injury concerns. Ryan Hartwell is out and captain Jackson Cox is in doubt.
Cooks Hill have fixed leaky defensive issues as of late and come into this one knowing that it's important to win it ahead of away games against Kahibah and Belmont-Swansea and a home match with Wallsend. The next month makes or breaks Cooks Hill's finals hopes. In my mind they need to win at least three of the next four. It's possible but hard to see happening. This week they need to prove themselves against a decent Singleton side on their day.
At the AthField with Singleton having one or two injury worries and coming off of three games in eight days, I feel as though Cooks Hill will get over the line in this one.
My Tip: Cooks Hill United 3-1 Singleton Strikers
|Singleton's Jackson Skinner v Kahibah FC|
Cooks Hill United (3rd) v Singleton Strikers (9th)
Cooks Hill United have hit a roadblock in recent weeks in the Under 23's. They went down in lacklustre fashion against Thornton last weekend in a game where they could have moved to the top of the league with a win. Giles Boyd gave the Cookers a late consolation goal but they'd fall to a loss.
Singleton on the other hand have found a slight purple patch of form. Wins against Thornton, Wallsend and last weekend Toronto has them moving up the table and looking to knock off Cooks Hill away from home and moving further towards the top four. It's a key game in the Strikers' season and indeed that of Cooks Hill so who wins it?
All three of Singleton's wins have come at home so I feel like they'll need to up the ante to win on the road. Cooks Hill on the other hand know that their form is sloppy and they need to find a win. Last week's effort wasn't enough and I feel like they'll raise the bar this weekend.
My Tip: Cooks Hill United 3-1 Singleton Strikers
|Cookers' 23's captain Giles Boyd in action v Thornton last week.|
Under 19's Match of the Round:
Cooks Hill United (5th) v Singleton Strikers (6th)
Cooks Hill United come into this game on the verge of moving back into the top four with a win. It's a key game and thus Match of the Round as Singleton find themselves in the exact same spot as the Cookers, one point outside the top four. It's being said a lot lately due to it being the half-way point of the year but this really is a key game for both of these sides.
Singleton have gotten the job done over poorer sides but their form against the top sides hasn't been convincing and this will prove to be a very tough away trip to a ground where Cooks Hill win more games than lose. Jared Neale put on a Man of the Match display last weekend to help fire Cooks Hill to a gutsy and at times worrying 3-2 win over Thornton. Giles Boyd's side came very close to dropping two valuable points last weekend.
So who wins this one? Cooks Hill need to close down the danger men of Singleton, in particular Nathan Hall who has been in form as of late and won the game for the Strikers last weekend with another two goals. Nathan Smart also got on the scoresheet. The Cookers have more goalscorers across the park and with their structure, I believe they'll overcome the challenge of Singleton in this one.
My Tip: Cooks Hill United 4-2 Singleton Strikers
|Cooks Hill's Jared Neale put on a Man of the Match performance last weekend.|
Cooks Hill United (6th) v Singleton Strikers (11th)
How Singleton have found themselves in last place with some of the players they have is beyond me. Form has let them down, luck has gone against them and despite competing in a fair few of their games, they've won just one from nine to start the season. Last weekend they recorded a frustrating 2-2 with Toronto-Awaba. Promising midfielder Trae Proudlock has a chance to win the game from the penalty spot but it was saved.
Cooks Hill United on the other hand bounced back from a loss to West Wallsend with a convincing 6-0 win over Thornton last weekend. Six different goalscorers proves how much quality this side have. They're definitely a chance of finishing in the top four but it's danger games like this that they need to win, especially on home turf.
My Tip: Cooks Hill United 2-0 Singleton Strikers
|Singleton 17's before their loss to Kahibah FC|
Toronto-Awaba (9th) v Kahibah FC (3rd)
The mismatch of the round sees a severely out-of-form Toronto-Awaba side take on a Kahibah outfit that overcame Wallsend FC last week and sit comfortably inside the top four. We've seen results this year that prove the competition is unpredictable but this should only be going the way of the visitors.
The Stags goals conceded column reads ugly at the moment. Six goals against Lakes, four against Westy, six against Thornton and then four last week at Singleton. 20 goals conceded in four matches and it's hard to see it getting better against the likes of Sean Clerke, Jarrod Penfold, Jayden Demir, Matt Lee and the other Kahibah players that are capable of putting lacklustre defensive units to the sword.
Kahibah FC proved last week against Wallsend that they're a side to watch and anything but a win here would be poor for a side that will be looking to challenge for the minor premiership. Unfortunately for those in blue and yellow, the Stags look shot at the moment. Kahibah by plenty.
My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 0-6 Kahibah F.C
|Toronto-Awaba 1st Grade before their game v West Wallsend.|
Toronto-Awaba (11th) v Kahibah FC (7th)
Toronto-Awaba has struggled all season in the Under 23's and team in-fighting became fairly evident last weekend at Singleton. A coaching staff blow-up summed up what has been an ugly first half of the season so far for the Stags. They've got Johnny Nicholson joining the squad from the Jaffas NPL 22's and the Toronto junior if featured this weekend will add a lot up front.
Kahibah FC won three straight games to move away from the bottom of the table and are in a similar boat to Singleton in this grade. Sitting on 10 points with four other teams meaning a win on Sunday will move them into a position to challenge for a top four spot within the next few games. They'll want to win this game and do just that.
In my mind I believe Kahibah will win this one. Toronto-Awaba are nine points clear at the foot of the table so it doesn't give me much hope in their chances. It's an important fixture for Kahibah FC.
My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 1-4 Kahibah F.C
|Smon Frary v Singleton.|
Toronto-Awaba (10th) v Kahibah FC (2nd)
Toronto-Awaba almost left Singleton with a win but were beaten by the Strikers. It was a quality effort by the Stags but it was still a loss. The addition of Danny Wills from Wallsend will add to the squad and bring some extra quality going forward. It stays in line with Toronto-Awaba's aim for more local juniors playing for the club as well.
Kahibah FC on the other hand are up the other end of the table and sit just one point of the top of the table. West Wallsend have the bye this weekend so the Green and Blacks will move into top spot with a win. They've got plenty of Toronto-Awaba/West Lake Macquarie-bred players and indeed coaches in the line-up. The likes of Matty Hughes and Brock Turner as well as coach Mat Moncrieff will be looking to one-up the Stags here.
I believe Kahibah will come away with the win and move into top spot on the table. Somewhere I wouldn't be surprised to see them finish the season in.
My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 1-5 Kahibah F.C
|Blake Gates v Singleton two weeks ago.|
Under 17's Match of the Round:
Toronto-Awaba (5th) v Kahibah FC (4th)
Toronto-Awaba sit two points behind fourth-placed Kahibah going into the half-way point of the season so this game is fairly important for both sides. The Stags' threatened for a win at Singleton last weekend but yet again they fell to a disappointing result. Not that long ago they were threatening Lakes for top spot on the league table.
Kahibah FC also recorded a disappointing result last week as they fell to the in-form Wallsend FC at Kahibah Oval, despite taking the lead through Tristan Newbold. There's no real stand-out player in this Kahibah side, they're fairly decent quality across the park. This is a key game for their season so I feel like they'll bring it at Lyall Peacock Field. I'm tipping a draw.
My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 2-2 Kahibah FC
|Toronto-Awaba v West Wallsend in the 17's a few weeks back.|
Newysports Feature Match
1st Grade Match of the Round:
Wallsend FC (4th) v Belmont-Swansea Utd (2nd)
Last weekend's feature match on Newysports was West Wallsend v Cessnock City. This week is an all top-four clash between Wallsend FC and Belmont-Swansea, on paper a much more entertaining match. We'll see how it turns out though. Wallsend are coming off a fairly poor performance against Kahibah last weekend and need to get back into form.
Belmont-Swansea on the other hand pulled off a gutsy 10-man victory over South Cardiff to move back towards the top of the league. The style they've played with this season has been the most entertaining in the league in my opinion and they certainly have the quality to come away with a win on Sunday...but will they.
Wallsend FC typically don't concede many goals so last week's 3-1 loss to Kahibah would have been a strange feeling for Josh Rufo's defenders but they need to put that behind them quickly. A better performance is needed to overcome Brad Paul's side this weekend.
On the injury front, Wallsend will be without inspirational skipper Chris Gazzard and Belswans will be missing Ben Cox via suspension. Defender Luke Cook will likely return for the visitors. It's surely going to be one of the better games of the season so far and I believe Belmont-Swansea will leave The Gardens with the three points.
My Tip: Wallsend F.C 2-3 Belmont-Swansea
|Belswans v Cooks Hill in Round 5|
Wallsend FC (5th) v Belmont-Swansea Utd (1st)
This is an interesting fixture as Wallsend FC takes on Belmont-Swansea in the Under 23's. The Red Devils have slumped to some inconsistent and compared to their opening start to the season some poor form as of late. Assistant coach Ben Nichols was in charge last week in the absence of Chris Wallis and this week he will be sitting opposite the club he was at earlier in pre-season. The real action is on the field though.
The ladder-leading Belswans got the job done last week against a decent South Cardiff side and they'll go into this one as the favourites. A win will keep them on top whilst a loss could drop them to third. It's tight at the top of the Under 23's so I believe Belswans will overcome a very inconsistent Wallsend side on Sunday afternoon.
My Tip: Wallsend FC 0-2 Belmont-Swansea
|Trent Richards is leading the goalscoring tally for U23's.|
Wallsend FC (8th) v Belmont-Swansea Utd (4th)
Wallsend FC fell to Kahibah last weekend but on any given day, they can be a threat to most sides in the competition. Belmont-Swansea will know that this game is crucial as a loss could see them lose their spot in the top four to Cooks Hill United. A win could potentially take them as high as second so it's definitely a game they'll be aiming to win.
Wallsend struggled with injuries during the early stages of the season but they're a side to watch and one that can bridge the gap a bit between themselves and the top four with a win on Sunday. Belmont-Swansea only just got over the line against South Cardiff last weekend so a top effort will be needed but I think they'll leave The Gardens with the three points.
My Tip: Wallsend FC 1-3 Belmont-Swansea
|Belswans U19's v Cooks Hill United|
Wallsend FC (3rd) v Belmont-Swansea Utd (7th)
Wallsend FC are only behind Lake Macquarie City in terms of form in the Under 17's. They've put together a delightful run and sit in third position going into the half-way point of the season. They overcame a decent Kahibah side last weekend and the squad from front to back will no doubt be feeling confidant about their hopes against an inconsistent Belmont-Swansea side.
Belmont-Swansea United fell to South Cardiff last weekend and they sit in seventh position, nine points outside the top four. Quality players no doubt fill the Belswans' 17's side but they've lacked the consistency needed to compete against the higher-placed sides. Wallsend at home and in form should be too good based on how the last few games have gone.
My Tip: Wallsend FC 3-1 Belmont-Swansea
|Wallsend FC's 17's v Thornton Redbacks.|
Cessnock City (11th) v Thornton Redbacks (7th)
I got to watch both these sides play last weekend and it's fair to say that only one showed up. Cessnock City's performance against West Wallsend started well enough but they fell apart and were down 4-0 at the break. You can't recover from a half-time score like that and the Hornets were rightly defeated 6-1 as a result. Singleton's maiden win of the season condemned Cessnock to last place and it's not somewhere they'll want to stay for too long.
Thornton came incredibly close to pulling off a comeback last weekend and earning a point against Cooks Hill, even after captain and key attacker Nathan McAllister was sent off. McAllister is a big out this weekend but the Redbacks have the players capable of beating out-of-form Cessnock. The Hornets need to step up this weekend and put last week behind them or face a likely defeat.
My Tip: Cessnock City 0-2 Thornton Redbacks
|Cessnock City before last weekend's game v West Wallsend.|
Cessnock City (8th) v Thornton Redbacks (6th)
The Semi Final rematch from last season will see Cessnock take on Thornton in a match that is key for the seasons' of both sides. They're both in mid-table and a win for Thornton could very well take them into the top four. Cessnock could fall further from the top four if they go down on their home field.
Cessnock City were lacklustre against West Wallsend last weekend and were on the receiving end of a 4-1 scoreline whilst Thornton, who were too not at their best overcame Cooks Hill in a scrappy affair that came to life late on. Thornton go into this one with the confidence stemming from last week's win and they'll see how close the top four is.
Cessnock City need to step up their game compared to last weekend's match and I'm not quiet sure they can win this. A draw seems like a believable result so I'll go with that.
My Tip: Cessnock City 2-2 Thornton Redbacks
|Liam Stephenson was a stand-out in Cessnock's loss to West Wallsend.|
Cessnock City (11th) v Thornton Redbacks (9th)
Cessnock City's season just keeps getting worse in the Under 19's. They were soundly beaten 7-0 by West Wallsend last weekend and lost a key player in Justin Bradley to a horrific leg injury. Defensively they were poor and going forward they offered very little. Their finals hopes are over and coach Rick Ford is hoping his players will continue to put in and develop their game over the back-end of the year. Avoiding the wooden spoon is probably their first goal at the moment.
Thornton Redbacks were looking destined for a heavy loss to Cooks Hill when they were down 3-0 at half-time in last weekend's game but a late comeback was almost completed as they scored two in the final ten minutes to give the visiting Cookers a massive fright. It wasn't to be though but if they play in a similar style, I believe they will leave Turner Park with the three points in hand.
My Tip: Cessnock City 1-3 Thornton Redbacks
|Thornton 19's before last weekend's game v Cooks Hill United|
Cessnock City (9th) v Thornton Redbacks (8th)
I watched both these sides last weekend and they were both very poor on the day so I'm not sure what to expect of this game. Cessnock fell to a 4-0 loss to a quality West Wallsend side whilst Thornton were heavily beaten by Cooks Hill, 6-0 on their home ground so both sides will be keen to get back into the winners' circle.
Both teams have some handy players. The likes of Aaron Comerford and Sascha Keats play well but there needs to be an on-par performance across the park and there wasn't last week. I feel like Cessnock will rise this weekend and pick up a home win but you never quiet know in games where both teams are coming off a heavy loss.
My Tip: Cessnock City 2-1 Thornton Redbacks
|Sascha Keats was a stand-out last week despite the 6-0 loss.|
South Cardiff FC (8th) v Lake Macquarie City (1st)
South Cardiff will no doubt be slightly disappointed with their first nine games in the New-FM 1st Division. Andrew Packer's side began the year aiming for a possible top four position but find themselves closer to the bottom than than top. It's partly their own doing of course but luck has been against them for a fair bit of the year. A look at the table shows a pretty low goals scored and goals conceded column, which means you should expect close matches when Southy play.
This week is a whole other story as the free-scoring league leaders Lake Macquarie City come to Ulinga Oval. Funnily enough, Lakes visit to Ulinga comes almost two years to the day they last visited, a 2-3 loss to the Gunners in the NPL. The Roosters last game in the top flight was a 1-1 draw against the same opposition and that was the last time they met each other.
How the tables have turned. The Gunners boast a youngish squad and one that isn't destined to challenge for silverware this season whilst Lakes are looking certainties for finals football and will surely move into the NPL next season. This weekend is a tricky test for Lakes but they've got the quality needed to overcome most, if not every team in the competition.
My Tip: South Cardiff 1-4 Lake Macquarie City
|Cameron Herring v Cooks Hill United|
Under 23's Match of the Round:
South Cardiff FC (4th) v Lake Macquarie City (2nd)
South Cardiff put in a decent shift against Belswans last week but fell late on to a 1-0 lead against the ladder-leaders. It's certainly not that worrying of a result but they'll need a quality effort this week at home against a dangerous Lake Macquarie City side coming off of last weekend's bye.
The Roosters are locked in a three-way battle for top spot with Belmont-Swansea and Cooks Hill United at the moment so they'll be keen to get a win here and maybe just maybe end the round on top of the table. They're a side that can score goals on their day but they're capable of grinding out a tough one-goal win.
Defensively Lakes are a solid unit and equal best in the league so I expect them to go to Ulinga Oval and come away with a hard-fought win.
My Tip: South Cardiff 1-2 Lake Macquarie City
|South Cardiff captain Sheldon Candian.|
South Cardiff FC (7th) v Lake Macquarie City (3rd)
QUICK PREVIEW: Forgot to add this one when I uploaded the article. South Cardiff were downed in a tight contest against Belmont-Swansea last weekend and this week face a very tough test at home against Lake Macquarie City. The Roosters are coming off the bye and will no doubt want to keep pressure on ladder-leaders West Wallsend and Kahibah F.C. Southy have some decent players but it's Lakes who win this one in my opinion.
My Tip: South Cardiff 1-3 Lake Macquarie City
|Josh Richardson v Cooks Hill United.|
South Cardiff FC (10th) v Lake Macquarie City (1st)
South Cardiff's season in the Under 17's has seen them struggle and sit last for the majority of the season. Last weekend though they picked up their second win of the year and moved past Singleton into 10th place. There's a split from the top six to the bottom five and Southy could move all the way to seventh with a win against Lake Macquarie City on Sunday.
The likelihood of a win against the unbeaten and so far perfect ladder-leaders isn't high. The Roosters are coming off the bye but before that they won nine straight games with 36 goals placed in the net. It's surely going to go a similar way against a Southy side that haven't hit form yet in 2016.
My Tip: South Cardiff 1-5 Lake Macquarie City
|Lakes 17's are looking for a tenth win from ten games.|