Thursday, 9 June 2016

PREVIEW: New-FM 1st Division Round 15


1st Grade:
Singleton Strikers (8th) v Belmont-Swansea United (2nd)
Last Time They Met: Belmont-Swansea 3-0 Singleton
Kickoff: 2:30pm

Singleton's already-slim finals hopes came to a more than likely halt at the hands of Thornton Redbacks last time out. David Willoughby's side had three-straight wins going into the match but it wasn't to be as they slipped to another disappointing loss. 

Following the wash-out, some attention will likely be on the FFA Cup. They do battle with Thornton and if their opponents on Saturday pull off a stunning upset of NPL powerhouse Lambton Jaffas in the Quarter Finals, these sides may meet again next Sunday with a spot on national television potentially on the line. All hyperboles at this stage but wouldn't it be something?

When they met in Round 4, Belmont-Swansea were 3-0 winners. Away from home at Howe Park is a tough ask though and the 2nd-place Belswans will need their best to get the win. They keep surprising with their form and I see another win on Saturday to boost their premiership hopes.

My Tip: Singleton Strikers 1-3 Belmont-Swansea


Belswans celebrating a goal in their 3-1 win over Cooks Hill United last time out.
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Under 23's
Singleton Strikers (8th) v Belmont-Swansea United (4th)
Last Time They Met: Belmont-Swansea 3-2 Singleton
Kickoff: 12:45pm

This is a crucial match for both of these sides. Singleton's season really hangs on the balance of this match up. They could find themselves up to ten points outside the top four if they lose and with finals fast approaching, it may very well be curtains for their playoff hopes.

Belmont-Swansea's inconsistency has cost them top spot and sees them hanging onto a top four spot with Wallsend and Thornton not far behind. A trip to Singleton isn't going to be easy after a fair few weeks of not so good results for the team from Blacksmiths.

When these sides met earlier in the season, Belmont-Swansea came away with a gutsy 3-2 victory. Expect another tight match but expect the side in the top four to come away with some vital points.

My Tip: Singleton Strikers 1-2 Belmont-Swansea


Singleton 23's ahead of their game against rivals Cessnock City.
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Under 19's Match of the Round:
Singleton Strikers (6th) v Belmont-Swansea United (4th)
Last Time They Met: Belmont-Swansea 4-3 Singleton
Kickoff: 11:00am

Two high-quality 19's teams will meet at Howe Park on Saturday...both with different situations. Singleton will be hoping to keep within touching distance of the top four whilst Belmont-Swansea will be aiming to get their premiership hopes back on track and indeed keep steady the gap between themselves and the chasing pack (including Singleton).

There's some very talented young defenders coming through the ranks with both of these sides but it's at the attacking end of the ground that the match will be won or lost. Three of the very best U/19's players in the competition will meet. Singleton's Nathan Hall comes up against the brilliant duo of Joel Nicholson and William Dundas. Hall and Nicholson have 34 goals between them.

Last time they met it was a seven-goal thriller in Round 4. It was a topsy-turvy affair between the sides. Cameron Lodge opened the scoring, Nicholson grabbed one to have the Swans up 2-0 at the break. Three goals in four minutes to Nathan Hall (x2) & Tom Golding put Singo ahead but William Dundas scored and then 17's standout Lachlan McMaster grabbed the winner. Let's hope for a similar game on Saturday.

Singleton have a knack for punishing poor sides but this is a whole new level of threat to their form. Belmont-Swansea looked all class last time out against Cooks Hill United and they go into this as deserved favourites.

My Tip: Singleton Strikers 1-4 Belmont-Swansea



Belswans' 19's celebrating a goal v Cooks Hill United.
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Under 17s
Singleton Strikers (8th) v Belmont-Swansea United (7th)
Last Time They Met: Belmont-Swansea 4-0 Singleton
Kickoff: 9:15am

Singleton's 17's side have found their form as of late. Ten goals in two games shows that they've got potential going forward. Yes those wins were against lower-table opposition (Cessnock & Thornton) but it gives attackers like Trae Proudlock and Jacob Geddes a lot of confidence. Proudlock especially has been a break-out star of the squad in the last couple of months and he'll be key again in this match against Belmont-Swansea.

Belswans were comfortable 4-0 winners back in Round 4 and if they play in similar style to their last outing, a 2-2 draw with Cooks Hill, they'll definitely be a chance of picking up all three points against Singleton. It's surely going to be a cracker of an opening match at Howe Park and it's hard to tip a winner. So a 2-2 draw it is.

My Tip: Singleton Strikers 2-2 Belmont-Swansea


Singleton celebrating Luke Fishpool's goal v Cessnock City.
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Newysports Feature Match:


1st Grade:
Kahibah F.C (3rd) v South Cardiff (9th)
Last Time They Met: South Cardiff 0-3 Kahibah F.C
Kickoff: 2:30pm

It sounds good on paper but it certainly wouldn't be a surprise to see a hard-fought, defensively-orientated and maybe even at times scrappy match between these sides at Kahibah Oval. South Cardiff have established a very defensively-strong style and typically their games are low-scoring and tight. 

Last fortnight's 4-4 draw with Cessnock was certainly tight but nowhere near low-scoring. Andrew Packer will be looking for a bit more from his defence and they'll no doubt need it against Kahibah. Key defender Cameron Treweek and attacker Drew Chapman will both be missing with makes it slightly harder for the visiting side.

Kahibah F.C's last result was their worst of the season as they put in a lacklustre performance and were beaten comfortably 3-0 by West Wallsend. It was definitely an 'un-Kahibah-like' performance and with a week off, they would have worked on improving on that. Regular-starter Jason Evans is out and young gun Jayden Demir is still sidelined with injury. 

They've got the individuals to cover that and if the team can perform to standard they'll get the win here. A loss for Kahibah could see their gap over 5th-place West Wallsend fall to just four points and with upcoming games against Belmont-Swansea and Lake Macquarie City, the Green and Blacks really need the three points in this one.

My Tip: Kahibah FC 3-1 South Cardiff

The likes of Matt Lee will be tough to stop as Kahibah look to bounce back from the 3-0 loss to Westy.
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Under 23's Match of the Round:
Kahibah F.C (7th) v South Cardiff (3rd)
Last Time They Met: South Cardiff 2-0 Kahibah F.C
Kickoff: 12:45pm

Another crucial match-up in the Under 23's competition this week sees Kahibah FC host South Cardiff. The Gunners are sitting in 3rd position and are arguably the form side of the competition. They'll be looking to further cement their spot in the top four by taking three points of the Green and Blacks for the second-time this season.

Kahibah FC have improved greatly in the Under 23's since their Round 4 loss to the Gunners at Ulinga Oval and they'll see this game as one that will make or break their finals chances. A loss will leave them a fair way out of sight from the playoff spots so this game is highly crucial for their season. Hence I'm tipping the home side to bring it but in the end, a draw seems likely.

My Tip: Kahibah FC 2-2 South Cardiff

Alex Evans and the Kahibah 23's will be aiming to dent South Cardiff's minor premiership hopes.
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Under 19's
Kahibah F.C (2nd) v South Cardiff (7th)
Last Time They Met: South Cardiff 2-1 Kahibah F.C
Kickoff: 11:00am

Premiership-hopefuls Kahibah FC won their catch-up game against Cooks Hill United in fairly-convincing fashion and will be looking to keep pressure on Lakes at the top on Sunday with a win over South Cardiff. They lost Matty Hughes to a season-ending injury which will play a part in their attacking plans but they've got some goalscorers who'll be keen to step up and make a mark.

South Cardiff have a talented side in the 19's but inconsistency have proven costly and even though they've picked up some quality wins, including a 2-1 upset of Kahibah in Round 4, they've been unable to put themselves in a position to challenge for a finals spot. They've definitely got potential to cause an upset on their day. An away trip to face a Kahibah side looking to take top spot on the table is a tough ask.

My Tip: Kahibah FC 3-1 South Cardiff

South Cardiff's captain Isaac Roman against Cooks Hill United in Round 5.
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Under 17's
Kahibah F.C (5th) v South Cardiff (9th)
Last Time They Met: South Cardiff 0-5 Kahibah F.C
Kickoff: 9:15am

With Cooks Hill in front of them in fourth position, Kahibah FC face an important match this weekend as they face South Cardiff at Kahibah Oval. The Green and Blacks were big 5-0 winners when these sides met back in Round 4 and they'll no doubt be searching for similar on Sunday morning.

A look at recent form shows that both sides have had similar results as of late. Some losses to top four sides but some decent results. Southy's 1-1 draw with Lakes being a stand-out of those. Both sides have dangerous players going forward and this will be an interesting match-up. Kahibah will likely use their home support to will them over the line.

My Tip: Kahibah FC 2-1 South Cardiff

South Cardiff's danger man Lucas Emmett-Morley scored two weeks ago.
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1st Grade Match of the Round:
Wallsend F.C (4th) v West Wallsend SFC (5th)
Last Time They Met: West Wallsend 2-3 Wallsend F.C
Kickoff: 2:30pm

Here we go again! Derby Day is back and the Wallsend Derby is a much better looking match on paper this time round than it was eleven weeks or so ago. The Bluebells have thrown a spanner into the works of the top four and they're coming off some impressive performances; none more so than their 3-0 win over then ladder-leaders Kahibah two weeks ago. It's all going swimmingly well for Gary Rowe's side.

Wallsend F.C were of course washed out last week and face their first game of life without head coach Josh Rufo. Defender Dan Rufo's departure as well means some more responsibility will be thrown onto the ever-reliable shoulders of Jason Maguire. It's the loss of Josh Rufo that is the more interesting storyline going into this match. Can Dave Hodgson and the senior players steer the ship?

Wallsend have faltered at times in 2016. They're not a side that put teams to the sword and their matches are typically that of a more grind-out style of win. On paper this is one of the matches of the season and the fact that it's the fiercest derby in the competition makes it even better.

So who wins it? Wallsend haven't played a game since May 22nd. Near enough three weeks would have past in between outings when they take the field for the Derby. That and the coaching shake-up leaves doubts. Even without that in mind, West Wallsend are in form, they're confident, they've got stand-out players and quite frankly I think they'll pick up one of their greatest wins in recent times with a Derby win to fire them into finals contention.

My Tip: Wallsend FC 1-2 West Wallsend


Wallsend celebrating a Chris Gazzard goal v Belmont-Swansea

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Under 23's:
Wallsend F.C (5th) v West Wallsend SFC (10th)
Last Time They Met: West Wallsend 1-2 Wallsend F.C
Kickoff: 12:45pm

Wallsend FC's Under 23's have watched their luck go out the window and their form fall to pieces. A 4-1 win a few weeks back against Belswans was a classy performance but it was a blip in what has been a nasty-looking radar over the last month or two for the Red Devils.

West Wallsend are sitting second-last but seven points clear of Toronto-Awaba at the foot of the table. They'll love nothing more than to avenge a close loss in Round 4 and put a real dent into their arch rivals' finals hopes on Sunday. Whether they can or not is the million-dollar question. At The Gardens, I'm going to tip Wallsend to put some poor form aside and return to the winners' circle.

My Tip: Wallsend FC 2-1 West Wallsend


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Under 19's
Wallsend F.C (8th) v West Wallsend SFC (3rd)
Last Time They Met: West Wallsend 7-3 Wallsend F.C
Kickoff: 11:00am

When these sides met in Round 4, the then injury-plagued Red Devils were smashed 7-3 in their local derby. A result that no doubt would have stung at the time and they'll be wanting to reverse that on Sunday. West Wallsend is a force in the 19's and they'll be looking to potential go top of the league with a second bery win of the season.

There's some added interest to this game as former Wallsend goalkeeper Matt Pennington plays his first game for West Wallsend against his old club. Pennington was co-goalkeeper with Dylan Meyrick and the decision to move to the Bluebells could play in his favour as the club was without a 19's keeper and there's no solid week-by-week keeper in the 23's either.

At the pointy end of the attack, the Bluebells have the likes of Sam Jones, Matt Turner, Greg Mason and James Barnes. All four of them have seven or more goals and Sam Jones has an incredible 17 goals for the season. Wallsend's top scorer (Taylor Hepburn) has three goals. The Red Devils simply lack an out and out striker. They'll be up against it on Sunday.

My Tip: Wallsend FC 1-5 West Wallsend


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Under 17's Match of the Round:
Wallsend F.C (3rd) v West Wallsend SFC (1st)
Last Time They Met: West Wallsend 2-0 Wallsend F.C
Kickoff: 9:15am

It's the Match of the Round in the Under 17's and perhaps even the Match of the Year as West Wallsend travel to The Gardens to take on the in-form Wallsend in the Wallsend Derby. The Bluebells are flying high and are looking to keep top spot on the table with a win.

Since the 2-0 loss on Good Friday to Westy, the young Red Devils have won seven straight games. They've done it with class on somedays, luck on others and have an entertaining brand and at times physical brand if need be. An all-round side that as mentioned have won seven-straight matches.

How many have West Wallsend won in a row you ask? Seven. That's right, both of these sides have won seven-straight games. Something's got to give right? There's so much talent in these two sides. It's surely going to be a brilliant match to start Derby Day at the Gardens. So who wins it? I'm not going to do the norm and tip a draw. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that West Wallsend will fire themselves into premiership favouritism with a win.

My Tip: Wallsend FC 2-3 West Wallsend

Wallsend 17's celebrating a goal v Belmont-Swansea

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1st Grade:
Thornton Redbacks (6th) v Lake Macquarie City (1st)
Last Time They Met: Lake Macquarie City 8-3 Thornton Redbacks
Kickoff: 2:30pm

This is the biggest match of the season for the Thornton Redbacks, discounting their upcoming FFA Cup tie with Singleton if that competition fulfills your football taste. In terms of the New-FM competition, this is potentially make or break for their finals hopes. A win here would propel them closer to the top four and prove that Darrel McAllister's are dark horses for the playoffs.

Lake Macquarie City come to Thornton Park on the back of a solid 6-0 flogging of local rivals Toronto-Awaba. That result took them back to the top of the league and they'll want to lock that spot down with another win here. Back in Round 4, Thornton were dismantled 8-3 by the Roosters. They'll offer so much more than that on Sunday but it's still a tough ask. Lakes have goals in them and Thornton will need to build from the back in this one. It's an interesting match-up that's for sure but Lakes seem the likely the winners.

My Tip: Thornton Redbacks 1-4 Lake Macquarie City


Lake Macquarie City brushed aside local rivals Toronto-Awaba last time out.
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Under 23's
Thornton Redbacks (6th) v Lake Macquarie City (1st)
Last Time They Met: Lake Macquarie City 5-1 Thornton Redbacks
Kickoff: 12:45pm

A rematch of the 2015 Grand Final sees Thornton Redbacks host Lake Macquarie City. The Redbacks were soundly beaten in their Round 4 trip to Macquarie Field; downed 5-1 by a Lakes side with five different goalscorers. The Roosters also scored five in their last appearance, a big 5-0 win over local rivals Toronto-Awaba. The Roosters are top of the league and look very hard to beat.

Thornton Redbacks have had a year full of chopping and changing to their line-up due to injury at times and general player movement between grades. In simple terms, a fair few younger players have featured in this grade for the Redbacks this season. They've picked up some decent results but this is a very tough one on paper.

My Tip: Thornton Redbacks 1-4 Lake Macquarie City


Lakes 23's were 5-0 winners against Toronto-Awaba two weeks ago.
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Under 19's
Thornton Redbacks (10th) v Lake Macquarie City (1st)
Last Time They Met: Lake Macquarie City 2-3 Thornton Redbacks
Kickoff: 11:00am

On paper this looks a mismatch. The struggling Redbacks against top of the table Lake Macquarie City. The home side only need to look back to Round 4 for inspiration when they pulled off a gutsy 3-2 win on enemy turf at Macquarie Field. Josh Davies grabbed two goals and was joined on the scoresheet by Jacob Bartlett. It was the result of the year for the Redbacks and they'll be looking to replicate that on Sunday.

A look at Thornton's record shows that their 3-2 win over Lakes was a one-off result against a higher-ranked side. They've been beaten heavily multiple times and consistency hasn't been by their side. Lakes will realise that a loss here will most likely see them lose top spot. They won't want a repeat of the Round 4 upset and I believe it'll be a firm turn-around on Sunday.

My Tip: Thornton Redbacks 0-5 Lake Macquarie City

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Under 17's
Thornton Redbacks (11th) v Lake Macquarie City (2nd)
Last Time They Met: Lake Macquarie City 7-1 Thornton Redbacks
Kickoff: 9:15am

This looks like a tough match on paper like the 19's but unlike the 19's, the Redbacks' 17's can't look back at their Round 4 result as inspiration. They'll be looking for improvement if anything. On that day they were downed 7-1 by an unstoppable Roosters' side. Even in their last outing, they were soundly beaten by Singleton. It's not going well at the moment in this grade for Thornton.

One thing that plays into Thornton's chances this weekend is the inconsistency that Lakes have shown in recent times. Three games without a win and two straight losses has seen the premiership favourites lose top spot and suddenly they've found themselves needing the three points to get their hopes back on track. They've got the talent to do so and with some style as well.

My Tip: Thornton Redbacks 1-6 Lake Macquarie City

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1st Grade:
Cessnock City (11th) v Cooks Hill United (7th)
Last Time They Met: Cooks Hill United 7-4 Cessnock City
Kickoff: 2:30pm

Cooks Hill were 7-4 winners when they hosted Cessnock City in Round 4 but it was arguably their worst performance of the season if you're a clinical thinker. They were sloppy and conceded 4 goals against a very poor Cessnock City side on the day. Coach Blake Glennie had his patience tested on that day.

Cessnock City will be looking to send Toronto-Awaba crashing to the bottom of the league with a win here. Even if they lose, the Hornets have a big trip to Toronto next Wednesday night for what could be a wooden-spoon decider in some fashion. First up is this match and it's on they'll look at as a potential chance to give their home supporters a rare win. They haven't won at Turner Park in 2016.

Lots has been said about Cooks Hill's new-look squad and it's on that'll likely remain similar to the one that proved a decent opposition for Belmont-Swansea last time out. Youngsters Asher Beasley and Milan Lettau shined on that day and if the Cookers can get their scoring boots on, they will go into this as favourites. You never quite know but I see the visitors as a better side on paper.

My Tip: Cessnock City 1-3 Cooks Hill United


Cooks Hill United fielded a new-look side during their away trip to Blacksmiths Oval.
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Under 23's
Cessnock City (9th) v Cooks Hill United (2nd)
Last Time They Met: Cooks Hill United 1-0 Cessnock City
Kickoff: 12:45pm

Inconsistency has plagued Cooks Hill United in the Under 23's as of late and has left their premiership hopes in doubt after Lakes have solidified their inconsistent form. Belmont-Swansea and South Cardiff complete the top four in what has been a crazy 23's competition in 2016.

Cessnock City are struggling this season in most grades and the Under 23's is no difference. Sitting ten points outside the top four; it's now or never if the Hornets are to stage a miraculous push for finals football and make the playoffs for the second-straight season. After losing 3-2 to a quality South Cardiff side, I expect a fair challenge from the Hornets against 2nd-placed Cooks Hill. The Cookers should be too good though. It's high time they win again.

My Tip: Cessnock City 1-3 Cooks Hill United


Cessnock 23's v Singleton Strikers at Howe Park.
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Under 19's
Cessnock City (11th) v Cooks Hill United (5th)
Last Time They Met: Cooks Hill United 3-1 Cessnock City
Kickoff: 11:00am

It's not make or break for Cooks Hill United's finals hopes in the Under 19's but it's sure as hell close. They're up against cellar-dwellers Cessnock City and the situation is rather simple for Giles Boyd's side; win or fall further outside the top four. Win or perhaps be overtaken by Singleton. There's many potential scenarios that don't play in their favour unless they get the three points and on paper they should do just that.

Cessnock City remain last place with just the lone win all season. They had a three-week spell against top four sides where they lost 20-0 over the space of three games. Since then though they've been unbeaten in three. Their lone win of the year over Thornton, a last-grasp draw with Singleton and a draw with South Cardiff. This is another test for the Hornets. They went down to the Cookers last time out and it wouldn't be a surprise to see the same happen here.

My Tip: Cessnock City 0-3 Cooks Hill United

Cooks Hill 19's before their game against Belmont-Swansea.

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Under 17's
Cessnock City (10th) v Cooks Hill United (4th)
Last Time They Met: Cooks Hill United 11-2 Cessnock City
Kickoff: 9:15am

Cessnock City would have been glad to see the back of Cooks Hill United after Round 4. The young Hornets endured a nightmarish day at the AthField as they were smashed 11-2 by a ruthless Cookers outfit. It was convincing, it was one-sided and it was over before it even begun. It was by far the worst performance of the season for the Hornets' 17's.

Cooks Hill United dropped points in their last game out against Belmont-Swansea. They teeter on the edge of the top four and three points will do them a world of good ahead of a big midweek catch-up game with Wallsend FC next Thursday night. They're a potential championship side and it's games like these that they should show their class. Cessnock won't cop 11 goals but a win is a difficult ask at this stage.

My Tip: Cessnock City 1-5 Cooks Hill United


Cessnock's keeper Brayden Bean.
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