Friday, 8 July 2016

PREVIEW: New-FM 1st Division Round 18

1st Grade:
Cooks Hill United (8th) v Toronto-Awaba (10th)
Last Time They Met: Toronto-Awaba 2-7 Cooks Hill United
Kickoff: 2:30pm

Old Boy's Day at Cooks Hill sees the Cookers host a resurgent Toronto-Awaba. Before last week, it'd be safe to say Toronto would probably go down to Blake Glennie's side but their win over Belswans stood out as the upset of the year and it came with several starting players missing for Tony Jovcevski's Stags.

Cooks Hill will be near-enough full-strength for this fixture and will look upon youngster Asher Beasley to once again put on a quality display in midfield. Further forward they need to find answers after missing key chances at Ulinga Oval last weekend.

Toronto-Awaba welcome upwards of four first grade players back for this away trip. Last season's trip to the AthField ended in embarrassment, their Round 2 match with Cooks Hill ended in similar fashion and in my mind, there's no chance of the same happening this week. Cooks Hill simply don't threaten enough for my liking for a big win and Toronto will be confident after last week.

There'll be some interesting battles on the park. Tommy Sparre will look to run rings around the Toronto defenders as happened in Round 2. A stand-out player in that 7-2 win Jackson Pett will look to return to form and goalkeeper Daniel March will look to be the hero for the Stags once again.

The Stags will bring an element of danger to Cooks Hill but the Cookers should be able to rise for Old Boy's Day.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 3-1 Toronto-Awaba

The Stags shock win over Belswans saw them send Cessnock crashing into last place.

Under 23's:
Cooks Hill United (2nd) v Toronto-Awaba (11th)
Last Time They Met: Toronto-Awaba 0-7 Cooks Hill United
Kickoff: 12:45pm

The goal seems simple enough for Cooks Hill in the Under 23's, avoid falling out of the top four and in my opinion, focus on finishing 2nd or 3rd and avoiding a Semi Final date with premiers-elect Lake Macquarie City. After breaking a eight-week winless run last weekend at Ulinga Oval, that certainly seems doable.

Toronto-Awaba come into this game with four-straight losses but it's more than that in my mind. They've won just once all year and also drew Cessnock early in the piece. They've lost 13 from 15 starts and after going down 4-1 to Belswans last weekend, it certainly doesn't look like it's going to change anytime soon.

One can't blame Toronto-Awaba too much at this point for lacking in the 23's as they don't really have anything to play for apart from pride. The wooden spoon has their name on it and they don't really have anything going for them at the moment.

Cooks Hill weren't thoroughly convincing last weekend but this proves a chance to put themselves on the front foot and grab two wins in a row. They shouldn't have too much of a problem doing so. 

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 3-0 Toronto-Awaba

Giles Boyd scored the winner last week and got the first of seven goals against Toronto in Round 2.

Under 19's:
Cooks Hill United (7th) v Toronto-Awaba (11th)
Last Time They Met: Toronto-Awaba 1-3 Cooks Hill United
Kickoff: 11:00am

It was curtains closed for Cooks Hill's finals hopes last weekend in the Under 19's. You can talk about mathematical chances and what not but they didn't deserve a result last week and based on the last month or so they don't deserve to be there in the final four. It's a cold, harsh reality that comes as a result of inconsistency.

Toronto-Awaba haven't had an inconsistent season; it's been consistent; it's just been consistently disappointing for them. A 9-0 loss to Belmont-Swansea last week was another low point in the season. They've conceded no less than 69 goals...more than any other side in the entire New-FM competition. It's not the form you want going into the last month of the season. They can still avoid the wooden spoon with some wins.

Cooks Hill should win this, they probably will win this and a loss or draw will just prove what has become obvious; the team lack at getting results. It was 3-1 last time they met in the favour of the black and whites and they'll be looking at this as a chance to get back into the winner's circle.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 4-1 Toronto-Awaba

These scenes have proven rare for the Toronto 19's in 2016.

Under 17's:
Cooks Hill United (4th) v Toronto-Awaba (6th)
Last Time They Met: Toronto-Awaba 3-1 Cooks Hill United
Kickoff: 9:15am

As the Stags and they'll tell you their finals hopes are still alive. A win over Cooks Hill on Saturday would bring the gap back to five points and with the Cookers hosting leaders Lakes next week it could definitely open the door for Toronto-Awaba. It needs to be clear though that this is a must-win game for them.

Cooks Hill United returned to the field after having the bye and took off where they left off with a fairly comfortable 3-1 win over a ten-man South Cardiff side. Could they have done more and scored some more goals...yes...but their goal difference is already impressive and they got the job done against Southy in convincing style, despite the scoreline showing a battle.

The problem Toronto have to deal with is the fact that the goals can come from across the park for Cooks Hill. Cameron Wamsley is the stand-out but the likes of Damon White, Elih Collins and Campbell Guest are never far away from goals. It's a tough team to come up against but they did prevail in Round 2.

It's win at all cost for the Stags so they'll bring a fight to the AthField but Cooks Hill have looked very slick in this grade for a while now.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 3-1 Toronto-Awaba

Cameron Wamsley is the frontrunner for Cooks Hill's Golden Boot this season.

1st Grade:
West Wallsend SFC (6th) v Belmont-Swansea Utd (2nd)
Last Time They Met: Belmont-Swansea 3-1 West Wallsend
Kickoff: 4:00pm

West Wallsend had another frustrating result last week as they fell 2-1 to Singleton in a game where neither team really stood out. It was a typical late-season lower-table match-up. Worse for Westy is that Jarrod Olivieri was sent-off for a silly second-yellow card. He joins Tye Jones on the sidelines. Michael Baillie will however return in a boost for the squad.

Belmont-Swansea's stunning loss to Toronto-Awaba hindered their premiership hopes and has forced a re-think ahead of this game. All in all, it wasn't exactly a devastating loss as their target was to make the Semi Finals and they'll do just that. A chance to get back in form against West Wallsend will have them fired up.

When they met in Round 2, West Wallsend were beaten in a 3-1 loss and it's surely to be expected that they'll put in a quality effort in front of their home fans. The twilight aspect of the late kick-off also plays into Westy's favour as they've gotten used to playing through dusk and into low-light and cold conditions.

Belswans will be focused on turning things around after that loss last week and come into this as favourites.

My Tip: West Wallsend 1-3 Belmont-Swansea

Westy will be looking to put inconsistency behind them with a win.

Under 23's:
West Wallsend SFC (10th) v Belmont-Swansea Utd (3rd)
Last Time They Met: Belmont-Swansea 5-0 West Wallsend
Kickoff: 2:15pm

West Wallsend made a long-awaited return to the winners' circle in the Under 23's at Singleton last weekend. It wasn't convincing, it wasn't exactly pretty but it was a quality performance and they got over the line against a Singleton side that needed to win. They'll need some confidence ahead of a meeting on Saturday with Belmont-Swansea.

Belswans' 23's won their first game in a while against Toronto-Awaba last weekend and considering how tight the 23's table is, they'll be aiming for another crucial victory in this one. As mentioned in the Cooks Hill preview, it's seemingly key for teams to avoid 4th spot and a meeting with Lakes in the Semi Finals. Belswans simply need to continue the winning form.

When they met in Round 2, West Wallsend were soundly beaten 5-0 but they'll avoid that if they put in a similar effort to last week. Belmont-Swansea should come out winners but you never quiet know in this grade.

My Tip: West Wallsend 0-2 Belmont-Swansea

Will McMaster and the Belswans 23's will be looking for a second-straight victory.

Under 19's Match of the Round:
West Wallsend SFC (3rd) v Belmont-Swansea Utd (1st)
Last Time They Met: Belmont-Swansea 3-1 West Wallsend
Kickoff: 12:30pm

It's the Match of the Round in the Under 19's as West Wallsend host Belmont-Swansea in a highly-crucial game at Johnston Park. When they met in Round 2, Belswans were 3-1 winners at Blacksmiths. Now they sit on top of the table and in hopes of lifting the premiership trophy at the end of the regular season.

West Wallsend went to Singleton last weekend and were cruising at 1-0 early on. They should have been up by more and they couldn't get the job done, allowing Singleton a way back into the match and losing 2-1. The result leaves them closer to dropping out of the top four then the top of the table.

Westy are out of form in this grade and are struggling to get results at the moment. The likes of Sam Jones and Matt Turner aren't finding the net as regularly and whether they can match it with the likes of Lakes and Belswans is still yet to be answered.

Belmont-Swansea come into this game on the back of a 9-0 flogging of lowly Toronto-Awaba last weekend. Striker Joel Nicholson got five goals to move to 28 for the season, more than anyone in the entire competition. Westy have the home ground advantage but Belswans are a tough proposition.

My Tip: West Wallsend 1-3 Belmont-Swansea

Connor Bryson had it easy in the 9-0 win last week but will need to be on point against Westy.

Under 17's:
West Wallsend SFC (2nd) v Belmont-Swansea Utd (7th)
Last Time They Met: Belmont-Swansea 1-2 West Wallsend
Kickoff: 10:45am

West Wallsend's U17's put on a first-half masterclass against Singleton last weekend to lead 4-0 at the break. Josh Knight grabbed a hat-trick and moved to 22 goals for the season whilst Jaryd Hayter and Nick Bull joined him on the scoresheet in a comfortable 5-0 victory. They never looked threatened and led early on.

Belmont-Swansea's loss to Toronto-Awaba continued a frustrating season where inconsistency has cost them any chance of making the playoffs. They've been a challenge for some of the higher-placed sides but ultimately will be remembered as also-rans in 2016. That's not to say there's nothing to play for. The chance to impress ahead of next season is there and there's also potentially for some of the players to be called into the Semi Final-bound 19's side for the playoffs.

Back in Round 2, West Wallsend were 2-1 victors but a lot has changed since then. They've become a serious force to be reckoned with and one that could still very well lift the premiership at the end of 22 rounds. This is a key game in the title race and Westy will be primed to win it in front of their home support.

My Tip: West Wallsend 4-1 Belmont-Swansea

Westy 17's were too classy for Singleton last week and want that elusive minor premiership.

1st Grade:
Kahibah F.C (3rd) v Cessnock City (11th)
Last Time They Met: Cessnock City 2-7 Kahibah F.C
Kickoff: 2:30pm

Kahibah F.C will claim their minor premiership hopes are still alive and they're well within their rights to do so. They have an extra game in hand on Lakes and sit six points behind. They'll need to win this game if they want any chance of bridging the gap.

Kahibah welcome back their International Football School contingent from their trip to the nation's capital for the Kanga Cup. Player/coach Andre Gumprecht is the headline name that returns but attacking threat Jarrod Penfold also missed last week's game and another potential goalscorer Sean Clerke returns from suspension.

Cessnock City will be missing Zac Thomson via suspension but apart from that their run-in to this game is solid. They had the bye last week and before that picked up a win against Wallsend F.C. Confidence was high after that result and they'll be adamant on getting a result here and potentially moving off the bottom of the table.

When they met in Round 2, Kahibah F.C were big winners against a ten-man Hornets outfit. Jarrod Penfold and Jayden Demir combined for five goals and the Green and Blacks won 7-2. At Kahibah Oval, only their heavy win over a lacklustre Cooks Hill side stands out; Kahibah home games have been typically grind-out affairs with hard-work and sometimes luck being key.

This will likely be a fairly physical affair with both teams known for it from time to time. Kahibah F.C will go in as favourites but after Cessnock's win over Wallsend, the Hornets definitely pose as a challenge. 

My Tip: Kahibah F.C 2-1 Cessnock City

Andre Gumprecht returns on Sunday after missing Kahibah's last outing.

Under 23's Match of the Round:
Kahibah F.C (7th) v Cessnock City (8th)
Last Time They Met: Cessnock City 2-1 Kahibah F.C
Kickoff: 12:45pm

You could name up to three Under 23's matches as the Match of the Round in Round 18. This one stands out to me as it's potentially a do-or-die game in the race for finals football in the tightest competition of them all. Kahibah and Cessnock both sit on 20 points; five points outside the top four.

The Green and Blacks are looking to go a record eleventh-straight game without loss on Sunday. Lakes' 17's hold the 2016 New-FM record with ten games unbeaten and Kahibah joined them last week, ironically enough by pulling off a gutsy 3-3 draw with league-leaders Lake Macquarie City at Kahibah Oval.

Cessnock City have won three-straight matches. Yes one of those was against lowly Toronto-Awaba but victories against Cooks Hill and Wallsend proves this team have something for them and have their eyes on making the Semi Finals once again.

The Hornets downed Kahibah back in Round 2 but this is a different Kahibah line-up with a lot more confidence and a lot more potential going forward. Jez Turner and Alex Evans are the key men and with a home crowd on their side, I believe Kahibah could very well come away with the points.

My Tip: Kahibah F.C 2-1 Cessnock City

Jez Turner and Kahibah will be looking for an 11th straight game without loss.

Under 19's:
Kahibah F.C (4th) v Cessnock City (10th)
Last Time They Met: Cessnock City 1-3 Kahibah F.C
Kickoff: 11:00am

Kahibah's 19's sit teetering in fourth position with the likes of South Cardiff and Singleton bearing down on them. The good news for Mat Moncrieff's side is the fact they've got a game in hand on the teams below and they've got a superior goal difference. That means nothing though when form is lacking and they've got to start winning games to cement that finals spot.

Kahibah's lost three of their last four in this grade with their lone win in that time coming in a midweek game against Cooks Hill United that saw Jarrod Penfold bag a hat-trick. Unfortunately for them, Penfold will likely play 1st Grade and after losing Matty Hughes to a season-ending knee injury, they've since lost Bailey Cooper as well leaving their attacking stocks looking very thin. Stuart Hansen is suspended to add to their woes. 

A 17's player or two may fill the void and perhaps someone will be moved up front, Bailey Chaplain and Harry Wills coming to mind as potential goalscorers or maybe even Jarrod Watkins. The answers simply have to come from somewhere and with Chaplain and Wills returning from the mid-week Kanga Cup, fatigue may very well be an issue.

Cessnock City have had the ideal preparation. A weekend off with the bye, not losing three or so players to a tournament in the nation's capital and not losing a friendly match against an interdistrict side. Jokes aside, the Hornets can provide a challenge on their day. Form has let them down. After a big win over Cooks Hill, they fell to a 4-1 loss to Wallsend F.C

Cessnock will bring their physical style to the table and with both teams hoping for three points, Kahibah to move further ahead in the race for finals and Cessnock to move further away from the wooden spoon, it's sure to be an interesting match-up.

My Tip: Kahibah F.C 2-1 Cessnock City

James Collins will be looking to bag another goal after getting his first of the year recently.

Under 17's:
Kahibah F.C (5th) v Cessnock City (10th)
Last Time They Met: Cessnock City 1-7 Kahibah F.C
Kickoff: 9:15am

Kahibah F.C face arguably their most important game of the season as they host lowly Cessnock City at Kahibah Oval. I say lowly but Cessnock can really bring a challenge on their day and they could derail the finals campaign for Kahibah. With five games remaining, the Green and Black's sit four points outside the four. By kick-off time they may be seven outside the top four. It would be all but over if Cooks Hill win on Saturday and Kahibah lose this.

Cessnock City had the weekend off in Round 17 but before that was a fairly gallant effort in a 5-3 home loss to top-four side Wallsend F.C. Defensively they aren't the best side going but Kahibah's attacking threat isn't to the standard of Lakes, Westy or Cooks Hill. It's going to be an interesting match-up nonetheless.

Kahibah's best performance of the season arguably came against Cessnock back in Round 2 as they put seven past the Hornets with six different scorers on the scoresheet. I doubt we'll see a repeat but Kahibah simply have to win this to stay alive in the race for finals.

My Tip: Kahibah F.C 2-0 Cessnock City

Brendon Gear could play a part on Cessnock gaining revenge for a heavy loss in Round 2.

1st Grade Match of the Round:
Wallsend F.C (4th) v Lake Macquarie City (1st)
Last Time They Met: Lake Macquarie City 2-1 Wallsend F.C
Kickoff: 2:30pm

Lake Macquarie City travel to Wallsend for the first time since their 3-1 victory in the Semi Final 1st Leg last season. The infamous second-leg at Macquarie Field was the game that took the Red Devils to the Grand Final and the history book tells the story from there. Lakes got some revenge earlier this year but they could put one hand on the minor premiership with a win here.

Wallsend's win over Thornton was another typical grind-out style victory for the Red Devils as a Trent Milton double saw off the challenging Redbacks. That result all but secured a finals spot for Wallsend F.C and they'll be looking to get a big win here in what is shaping up as a Semi Final preview with 1st to play 4th in the finals series next month.

Lakes win over a depleted Kahibah side last week wasn't without scare but they got the job done and it's what they do best. A side that is tough to beat and can win in any situation; very similar to that of Wallsend so this game is shaping up to be a cracker at The Gardens.

Sam Walker and Blake Green are the two danger men for the visitors but the experience of player/coach Dave Hodgson, along with attacking threats like Trent Milton and arguably the competition's best goalkeeper in Luke Jennings will have Wallsend firmly in the fight. It's going to be a thrilling game either way the result goes.

*Update: Wallsend will be without Chris Gazzard, Jason McGuire, Trent Richards and Jake Kepreatos, making the job even more difficult.

My Tip: Wallsend F.C 1-3 Lake Macquarie City

Luke Jennings will need to be on point against Sam Walker, Blake Green and Lakes.

Under 23's:
Wallsend F.C (5th) v Lake Macquarie City (1st)
Last Time They Met: Lake Macquarie City 1-0 Wallsend F.C
Kickoff: 12:45pm

Wallsend's timely win against Thornton Redbacks last week wasn't their best display of the season but it meant so much after some recent inconsistency cost them a spot in the top four. They're still well alive in the race for finals although unfortunately for them, so are several other sides. They've got to take it week by week and hope for the best.

Lake Macquarie City on the other hand have secured a finals spot and apart from a catastrophic fall from grace, secured the minor premiership with a month to go in the regular season. With all the other 23's sides struggling to find winning form, the Roosters' got the job done effectively and are by far the team to beat in Under 23's.

Lakes were frustrated in a 3-3 draw with Kahibah F.C last week and for Wallsend that spells bad news. Not many teams have taken points off of this Lakes side and it'd be a rare sight to see them drop points in consecutive games. Trent Richards is arguably the key man for Wallsend and is still chasing the Golden Boot in this grade, however unfortunately for Wallsend, he is out this week. Lakes the team to beat but Wallsend with their eyes on the top four will be a tough opposition.

My Tip: Wallsend F.C 1-2 Lake Macquarie City

Trent Richards is on the hunt for the Golden Boot in the Under 23's competition.

Under 19's:
Wallsend F.C (8th) v Lake Macquarie City (2nd)
Last Time They Met: Lake Macquarie City 6-3 Wallsend F.C
Kickoff: 11:00am

Frustration has begun to sink in for both Wallsend and Lakes in the Under 19's. The Red Devils haven't hit form much during the year and their finals hopes never really got started but some quality results have proven their worth. Last week they found themselves losers in a goalfest with the Thornton Redbacks.

The same Thornton side beat Lakes recently as well and that result derailed the Roosters' grip on top spot with finals fast approaching. Current leaders Belswans don't look like slowing down so Lakes need to pick up maximum points in nearly every game to keep their tilt at the minor premiership alive.

Back in Round 2, these sides produced a thrilling nine-goal match at Macquarie Field. Too many goalscorers to mention across the two sides as defence took a seat behind quality attacking play. It may very well be a case of multiple goals again on Sunday looking at recent form.

Lakes enter the game as the favourites and with the minor premiership lingering over them. The pressure is firmly on the visitors in this one, leaving Wallsend perhaps a chance of causing an upset.

My Tip: Wallsend F.C 0-2 Lake Macquarie City

James Ward and Lakes' 19's need to keep winning to avoid falling too far behind Belswans at the top.

Under 17's Match of the Round:
Wallsend F.C (3rd) v Lake Macquarie City (1st)
Last Time They Met: Lake Macquarie City 5-1 Wallsend F.C
Kickoff: 9:15am

In what is shaping up as one of the games of the season in the Under 17's, the young Red Devils will be out for revenge after their biggest loss of the season, a 5-1 defeat to Lake Macquarie City all the way back in Round 2. Sixteen weeks later, Wallsend's 17's sit firmly in finals contention and with a lot of wins under their belts.

Lake Macquarie City need no introduction in this grade as they are the pace-setters. Their running battle with West Wallsend for the minor premiership is taking twists and turns week-by-week and they'll be out to avoid a loss and potentially handing top spot back to Westy. Make no wrong, Wallsend could do their arch rivals a favour.

As previously mentioned, it was 5-1 when these sides met back in Round 2. Competition top scorer Kurtis McRitchie bagged a double and Harrison Taylor also grabbed two with Wallsend's lone goal coming through Jacob Rae. The likes of Juma Saidi, the aforementioned Rae and Baraka Birindwa will need to be firing.

Where this one is won or lost is the battle of attack vs defence. Kurtis McRitchie is one of the prime attackers in the competition but there's arguably been no better central defensive pairing than Darcy Hall and Jackson Manning for Wallsend. It's sure to be an interesting battle where Lakes enter as favourites but Wallsend look for a big win.

My Tip: Wallsend F.C 1-3 Lake Macquarie City

Brady McRitchie will be busy against the likes of Juma Saidi & Jacob Rae.

1st Grade:
Thornton Redbacks (5th) v South Cardiff (7th)
Last Time They Met: South Cardiff 1-0 Thornton Redbacks
Kickoff: 2:30pm

Thornton's finals hopes have all but dissolved in recent times as they dropped valuable points in critical games against West Wallsend, Belmont-Swansea and Wallsend F.C. The loss to Wallsend last week saw them miss a chance to close the gap to three points as they chase the Red Devils for that elusive fourth Semi Final spot. Now they sit nine-points behind and only a spectacular collapse will see Wallsend drop out. It's not impossible but highly unlikely.

South Cardiff's win over Cooks Hill United last week was a quality display and took them to 16 points alongside the Cookers, Westy and Singleton. Importantly for Andrew Packer's side, it not only installs some confidence, it moves them away from the bottom of the table. They will join Thornton on 19 points with a win on Sunday.

The Redbacks would have enjoyed not having the play mid-week after a busy period as of late with the FFA Cup, the cold Wednesday night game v Belswans and an equally cold twilight fixture at West Wallsend. That sort of run causes fatigue and they'll be fresh coming into this one.

South Cardiff will welcome back Emmanuel Okumu but his spot was filled superbly by David Hecimovic last week and it's expected that Packer will reward Hecimovic with another start. They looked quality last weekend and with Thornton inconsistent, they may very well come away winners here. It'll be close either way.

My Tip: Thornton Redbacks 1-2 South Cardiff

Chris Burg comes up against the likes of Winstone Oku when the Redbacks host the Gunners.

Under 23's:
Thornton Redbacks (6th) v South Cardiff (4th)
Last Time They Met: South Cardiff 3-4 Thornton Redbacks
Kickoff: 12:45pm

The landscape of the Under 23's competition changes every week with so many teams racing for three available spots in the top four. Thornton Redbacks loss to Wallsend landed a blow on their finals chances but they need to put that behind them and pick up the points here against 4th-placed South Cardiff.

The Gunners went down in frustrating fashion against Cooks Hill United and shot themselves in the foot a few times. Brent Alcock's unfortunate own-goal put them behind and then the #10 was sent off for slapping a ball off the goalline in the second half. Matthew McAtear was shown a harsh red late on for a push leaving two players suspended for this crucial match-up.

It was quiet a game in Round 2 when Thornton came away 4-3 winners at Ulinga Oval and if the sides produce similar it could be the match of the day at Thornton Park. With both sides coming off losses last week, it's sure to say that they'll both be going for victory in this one. Thornton have the home advantage and will use it in my opinion.

My Tip: Thornton Redbacks 3-2 South Cardiff

Matthew McAtear will be watching from the stands after his late send-off last weekend.

Under 19's:
Thornton Redbacks (9th) v South Cardiff (5th)
Last Time They Met: South Cardiff 0-0 Thornton Redbacks
Kickoff: 11:00am

This is a crucial game that could make or break South Cardiff's season. Their big win over Cooks Hill United propelled them towards the top four and it's quiet likely they could sneak into the Semi Final spots over the last month of the season. Every week is crucial and a game against an unpredictable Thornton side is key for the shape of their season.

Thornton have a knack for grinding out upset results in this grade. I don't need to remind anyone about their two wins against Lakes and their hard-fought draw with West Wallsend. There's something in this side and they did in fact win their last game, a 4-3 thriller against Wallsend last weekend.

The last thing South Cardiff will want is to get into a back and forth shootout with the likes of Jack Halverson involved. James Wootton's inclusion will be key for Southy if he returns this week but they've got players capable of winning big matches and this one certainly is for their season.

My Tip: Thornton Redbacks 2-3 South Cardiff

Southy's 19's need a win to put real pressure on the top four.

Under 17's:
Thornton Redbacks (11th) v South Cardiff (8th)
Last Time They Met: South Cardiff 4-1 Thornton Redbacks
Kickoff: 9:15am

Thornton Redbacks goal in the Under 17's would be to avoid a second-consecutive wooden spoon and they definitely need to win this to boost their hopes of doing so. They've endured some frustrating results this season; none more than their 1-0 loss to Wallsend last weekend. They were well in the game but luck wasn't on their side as the case has been for the majority of the season.

South Cardiff's performance with ten men against Cooks Hill was admirable and if they can get eleven on the park and have one or two on the bench they'll be trouble for any side in the competition. Last week saw a gallant performance against a higher-ranked side and they'll be confident of a second win of the year over the Redbacks.

Thornton will fight as they always do but Southy's form over the second-half of the season has been impressive at times. They've climbed away from the bottom of the table and are mounting a climb towards a mid-table finish. It's a hard one to predict but Southy might just get over the line here.

My Tip: Thornton Redbacks 1-2 South Cardiff

Blake McDonnell and Thornton are hoping to avoid the dreaded wooden spoon.

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