Thursday, 14 July 2016

PREVIEW: New-FM 1st Division Round 19


1st Grade:
Cooks Hill United (9th) v Lake Macquarie City (1st)
Last Time They Met: Lake Macquarie City 2-1 Cooks Hill United
Kickoff: 2:30pm

After an unexpected loss on Old Boy's Day to Toronto-Awaba, Cooks Hill have endured yet another eventful week with head coach Blake Glennie leaving the club, effective immediately. As broken on Newysports on Thursday night, Glennie is out and captain Mal Hinchcliffe is in to coach alongside current assistant Jarrod Gorsuch. It's an interesting call whichever side you're on and it comes at a very bad time with Lakes looming.

The Roosters will all but secure the minor premiership with a win here and after seeing off Wallsend in a dogfight last weekend, Anthony Richards and his side will come to the AthField with the goal of no complacency being the main point in the pre-match talk. They're a solid squad and will no doubt bring a challenge and a half to a chopped and changed and quite frankly, out of sorts Cookers side.

When these sides met in Round 8 it was controversial, it was hard-fought and it was a gutsy 2-1 victory for Lakes at Macquarie Field. This week could be and probably will be more of an uneven contest as Lakes look to continue their late-season form. Cooks Hill have won just two of their last eleven and it doesn't look like a win will eventuate on Saturday, regardless of who is on the sideline running the show. It's a big ask against Lakes.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 1-4 Lake Macquarie City

Ty Cousins (left) impressed in his starting debut for Cooks Hill.
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Under 23's:
Cooks Hill United (2nd) v Lake Macquarie City (1st)
Last Time They Met: Lake Macquarie City 0-1 Cooks Hill United
Kickoff: 12:45pm

In Round 8, Cooks Hill United's 23's produced their best effort of the season to pull off a determined and gutsy 1-0 clean sheet over Lake Macquarie City. It was the Roosters' first loss of the season and remains their only defeat in a season where they've practically ran away with the minor premiership unchallenged. The Cookers are 2nd but their results have been mostly poor since the big win at Macquarie Field.

Lake Macquarie City will mathematically secure the title with a win on Saturday and after their 2-1 win over Wallsend F.C, they'll be hoping and planning on doing just that. They've been by far the best squad in a grade full of so many up and down teams and they'll put Cooks Hill to the sword if the Cookers produce a similar effort to their fading 2nd half that almost saw them blow a two-goal lead against cellar-dwellers Toronto-Awaba.

A Cooks Hill win would prove their worth as finals contenders but at this stage Lakes will be looking to consolidate their form and avenge their only loss of the season.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 0-3 Lake Macquarie City

Lakes' 23's can secure the minor premiership with a win on Saturday.
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Under 19's:
Cooks Hill United (7th) v Lake Macquarie City (1st)
Last Time They Met: Lake Macquarie City 3-2 Cooks Hill United
Kickoff: 11:00am

When Cooks Hill put in a quality effort and took Lakes to the limit in Round 8's 3-2 loss, they looked a side that would challenge for the minor premiership. It's only gone South since then and their finals hopes are all but over as a result. Last week's scoreless draw with lowly Toronto-Awaba was a frustrating result and a merry-go-round rotation system of players up front didn't help. The answers just aren't there at the moment.

Lake Macquarie City returned to top spot due to Belswans' wash-out fixture and they can continue sitting top of the table here with a win. They'll of course need Belswans to drop points if they want that piece of silverware but the best they can do is just keep winning. Something they did against Wallsend last week with goals to Josh Richardson and Jimmy Ward.

Cooks Hill in my mind were fortunate not to go down to Toronto last weekend and a side like Lakes with finishing prowess like Richardson, Ward, Russo & Nikic could potentially rocket to victory. The ball is certainly in Lakes court going into this one. They shouldn't lose and if they do it's potentially curtains for the minor premiership. A key fixture in their season

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 1-4 Lake Macquarie City

Cooks Hill could deal a highly damaging blow to Lakes' minor premiership hopes with a rare win.
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Under 17's Match of the Round:
Cooks Hill United (3rd) v Lake Macquarie City (1st)
Last Time They Met: Lake Macquarie City 2-1 Cooks Hill United
Kickoff: 9:15am

*INSERT PREVIEW HERE*

My Tip: T.B.C

Lakes' 17's are the front-runners for the premiership and will look for a big win this week.
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Newysports Featured Match:


1st Grade:
Kahibah F.C (2nd) v Thornton Redbacks (5th)
Last Time They Met: Thornton Redbacks 3-1 Kahibah F.C
Kickoff: 2:30pm

Kahibah F.C will have eyes on the Lakes game on Saturday as it could open the door for a potential late-season minor premiership push from the Green and Blacks. Their nervy 2-1 win over Cessnock City last week propelled them into second place but it was another unconvincing home performance from a side that has won ugly more often than not this season. They need to get some confidence ahead of the finals and more importantly get some scoring form together.

The Thornton Redbacks produced arguably their best display of the year to down Kahibah 3-1 back in Round 8. If that wasn't their best effort, then the 3-0 clean sheet over South Cardiff last week definitely was. They'll be near-enough full-strength and will provide a stiff opposition to Kahibah.

Finals doesn't look like a real possibility for Thornton but if Wallsend lose to Singleton on Sunday, the door could again swing open. Thornton have a fairly easy run into the finals as well with games against Toronto, Cooks Hill and Cessnock. Somehow, someway it's still not curtains yet for Darrel McAllister's side.

Kahibah lose Brenden Trummell but Skii Webster and Sean Clerke return so that omission is in my mind put to the side by the return of two quality players in Webster and Clerke. Kahibah are a club that has a good memory and they'll know all too well of the 3-1 loss to Thornton. They'll be looking to get revenge and all but end the Redbacks' chase for finals once and for all.

My Tip: Kahibah F.C 2-1 Thornton Redbacks

Brendon Trummel celebrates his goal against Cessnock City last weekend.
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Under 23's Match of the Round:
Kahibah F.C (6th) v Thornton Redbacks (7th)
Last Time They Met: Thornton Redbacks 0-3 Kahibah F.C
Kickoff: 12:45pm

It's a similar story for Kahibah's 23's this weekend as they find themselves defending an unbeaten streak that hasn't been matched by any this season and find themselves needing a win to stay in the race for the top four. With the weeks ticking by, it's simply a must-win game for both of these sides which makes it an intriguing match-up at Kahibah Oval.

When they met earlier in the year, Kahibah came away with a quality 3-0 win on a very wet Thornton Park. These sides met at Kahibah Oval at a similar stage last season and the Redbacks were 2-0 winners, one of many wins on their road to winning the Grand Final. Could they build a similar run with a crucial victory on Sunday?

Thornton's performance against South Cardiff last week left a lot to be desired and Kahibah just keep finding a way to win. They're unbeaten on Kahibah Oval this season and I believe that record will not just continue, I think they'll get all three points and send Thornton crashing out of finals contention.

My Tip: Kahibah F.C 2-0 Thornton Redbacks

Jez Turner is equal-top goalscorer in the Under 23's comp with 13 goals, including his winner last weekend.
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Under 19's Match of the Round:
Kahibah F.C (3rd) v Thornton Redbacks (9th)
Last Time They Met: Thornton Redbacks 2-6 Kahibah F.C
Kickoff: 11:00am

Kahibah F.C can keep their run towards finals football on track with a win here and after a quality showing last week, they'll be confident of that. A loss though could open the door for some of the teams below; especially Singleton who Kahibah travel to next weekend.

Thornton Redbacks have a knack for knocking off big teams and they did it twice to Lakes who are leading the comp so they'll believe they can do the same to Kahibah. Last week's effort against South Cardiff just wasn't enough as they went down to defeat despite Jack Halverson's 11th goal of the season...more than anyone else at the Redbacks.

Kahibah won a mid-week catch-up game 6-2 earlier in the season and on that night the side featured the likes of Matty Hughes, Bailey Cooper and four-goal hero on the night Jayden Demir. None of those players will play on Sunday and again the question has to be asked, where will the goals come from? Cal Brzozowski scored a hat-trick last week so he'll be looking to build on his sudden scoring form. It's a tricky test for Kahibah though.

My Tip: Kahibah F.C 2-1 Thornton Redbacks

Jack Halverson is leading the way for goals at Thornton this season. 
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Under 17's Match of the Round:
Kahibah F.C (5th) v Thornton Redbacks (11th)
Last Time They Met: Thornton Redbacks 0-2 Kahibah F.C
Kickoff: 9:15am

Kahibah F.C can make a big move towards finals football with a win on Sunday morning. Depending on the result between Wallsend and Singleton, they could find themselves inside the top four at the end of this game. It's not the be-all, end-all with a trip to face Wallsend at The Gardens looming in two weeks but it's a crucial game nonetheless and one they feel they should win against bottom-placed Thornton.

Thornton Redbacks sit dead last and four points behind the 2nd-last side. They're not a side that play like they're potential wooden spooners. They took South Cardiff to the limit last week and were unlucky not to come away with a result. They've been a tricky opponent for top sides at times this season; Wallsend can admit to that.

The proof of quality in some of the Thornton players has been proven as most of them have played higher grades this season. Josh Davies is a stand-out, Aden Hesketh is quality, Blake McDonnell is a classy keeper. There's talent in the squad but it just hasn't worked for some reason or another.

Kahibah should win this. They'll know they need to win this to look like a side that belong in the finals. It's a big game for them at home and after a slightly underperforming 4-3 win against Cessnock last week, they'll be looking for a more solid effort all round.

My Tip: Kahibah F.C 3-1 Thornton Redbacks

Josh Davies has been a stand-out for the Thornton 17's this season.
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1st Grade:
Toronto-Awaba F.C (10th) v West Wallsend SFC (6th)
Last Time They Met: West Wallsend 4-0 Toronto-Awaba
Kickoff: 2:30pm

This shapes as an interesting match-up. Looking at the table, Westy should be comfortable favourites but it couldn't be further from the truth. Toronto-Awaba's 3-1 victory over Cooks Hill last week was quality and it was the second-straight win for the former cellar-dwellers. Johnny Nicholson grabbed one of the goals of the season to equalise and they never looked back. Arguably the Stags biggest win of the season.

West Wallsend didn't take the field last weekend which means Jarrod Olivieri is still suspended alongside Tye Jones. Add to this Bryson Cox (on holidays) and Ryan Cole (injured) and the fact is, a bare-bones Westy side will take the field. Olivieri was a key figure in the 4-0 romp of Toronto back in Round 8. He scored twice as did Ryan Cole and neither will take the field on Sunday.

Toronto-Awaba will be near-enough full-strength and they'll be looking for a third-straight victory on Sunday. A win could see them jump a bank of teams on 16 points and potentially even take Westy's spot in sixth position. It's nothing to lose and all to gain for the Stags and it spells a worrying sign for a depleted Bluebells side.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 3-0 West Wallsend

The Big Dog is suspended for Westy but Big Johnny will be looking to be Toronto's hero once again.
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Under 23's:
Toronto-Awaba F.C (11th) v West Wallsend SFC (10th)
Last Time They Met: West Wallsend 1-0 Toronto-Awaba
Kickoff: 12:45pm

There's a lot of games with finals destinies on the line but this one is not one of those as the two lowest-ranked sides face off at Lyall Peacock Field. Toronto-Awaba can still mathematically avoid the wooden spoon but they'll need to win every game and hope Westy lose all their matches. That's probably not going to happen but there's a sense of pride on the line, especially after a hard-fought and at times physical match back in Round 8 with Westy.

The Stags' performance against Cooks Hill was a decent one and they certainly tried to turn their fortunes around. Ian Roberts led from the back and youngster Luke Gibbons was given a start in the higher grade and scored to put them into the match. They'll see this as a possible three points and a chance just to put a bad season behind them and sing the song loud and proud.

West Wallsend had the weekend off last week with the wash-out but before that was a quality hard-fought win over the Singleton Strikers that denied the Strikers the chance of making the finals. They won the first match between these sides but at Toronto, the Stags will see this as their best chance of a win since their upset over Wallsend and their first home win of the year.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 2-1 West Walllsend

Things got a little heated when these sides met in Round 8.
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Under 19's:
Toronto-Awaba F.C (11th) v West Wallsend SFC (4th)
Last Time They Met: West Wallsend 4-4 Toronto-Awaba
Kickoff: 11:00am

Toronto-Awaba's 19's can still avoid the wooden spoon but they need to start winning more games than not. Last week's performance against Cooks Hill was a decent one. Yes it was a scoreless draw but that was a big turn-around from a heavy 9-0 loss to Belswans the week before. They created the better of the chances at Cooks Hill and could have won it with some more luck.

West Wallsend's wash-out would have been frustrating. It was a chance to put some poor form behind them and now the likes of South Cardiff who were a few points behind them are level and only behind on goal differential. They could all but seal a finals spot with a win here as Southy's fixture list is a tough one to say the least.

When these sides met back in Round 8 it was an entertaining affair for the neutral. Toronto took a two goal lead and Josh Davis scored a quality goal from range if memory serves correctly. It was a topsy-turvy game and Westy would eventually spare their blushes with a 4-4 draw the result. Toronto should have won and they'll remember that day well.

Westy of course come into this game with finals football firmly on their minds and it proves a chance to rid the memories of poor results lately. A key game for both sides.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 0-3 West Wallsend

The Stags need a win to boost their chances of avoiding the wooden spoon.
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Under 17's:
Toronto-Awaba F.C (6th) v West Wallsend SFC (2nd)
Last Time They Met: West Wallsend 2-1 Toronto-Awaba
Kickoff: 9:15am

Toronto-Awaba's Under 17's are destined for a mid-table finish after a decent season where bad luck and inconsistency has let them down. Their performance against Cooks Hill last week was decent and a 10-15 minute portion of the second half where Luke Gibbons made it 2-1 and put pressure on the Cookers was quality. They could have come away with a result on another day.

On the other side of the battle stands a confident and dangerous West Wallsend side. The young Bluebells' put five past Singleton in their last outing and have a catch-up game in hand on the league-leading Lake Macquarie City. If Lakes lose on Saturday then the minor premiership race will open up once again. Westy could still lift that trophy after the next three or four weeks.

This looks a quality match-up and potentially the best of the day at Lyall Peacock Field on paper. Westy are chasing the minor premiership and Toronto will want revenge for the Round 8 loss; not to mention both teams have goalscorers. The likes of Luke Gibbons and Caleb Trimboli are threatening for Toronto and Westy's Josh Knight is still chasing the Golden Boot with midfielder Jaryd Hayter not far behind.

Westy will enter as favourites but Toronto have proven they can beat the top sides on their home turf. They've beaten two of the top three at Lyall Peacock and could make it three from three on Sunday.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 1-3 West Wallsend

Teammates celebrate Jaryd Hayter's goal in a big win over Thornton not too long ago.
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1st Grade Match of the Round:
Wallsend F.C (4th) v Singleton Strikers (8th)
Last Time They Met: Singleton Strikers 1-3 Wallsend F.C
Kickoff: 2:30pm

Wallsend F.C went down 1-0 to Lake Macquarie City in a hard-fought slugfest last week and once again it opened the door for the 5th-placed Thornton Redbacks. The Red Devils will be looking to consolidate fourth spot and take one more step towards defending their New-FM 1st Division crown in finals football.

Singleton Strikers come off the bye but they're in winning form after a gutsy 2-1 win over West Wallsend in a physical encounter at Howe Park. Now they travel to The Gardens looking to jump a bunch of teams even on 16 points and avoid any potential of them picking up the wooden spoon.

Trent Milton will be a big out for the Red Devils alongside Jake Kepreates but they're boosted by the returns of Kyle Macorig, Isaac Reeves and most importantly, club captain Chris Gazzard. Those inclusions and the possibility of an appearance for the recently-returned Luke Alexander will add to the cause for David Hodgson's side.

Singleton are a tricky opponent that should be higher on the table then they are. Stuey Plant has stood-out in goals, Jackson Skinner is the competition's best young defender and further forward, Kieron Burrell shows a lot of class. It's a side that could come to The Gardens and throw Wallsend's finals plans right out the window.

The Red Devils will be looking to return to the winners' circle after last week's tight loss and boost their hopes of making the top four.

My Tip: Wallsend F.C 3-1 Singleton Strikers

Two quality goalkeepers collide when Singleton's Stuey Plant meets Luke Jennings of Wallsend F.C.
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Under 23's:
Wallsend F.C (5th) v Singleton Strikers (9th)
Last Time They Met: Singleton Strikers 4-1 Wallsend F.C
Kickoff: 12:45pm

Wallsend F.C's loss to Lake Macquarie City saw them miss a chance to move back into the top four and with four games to go this is shaping as a key game in their season. It won't rule them out of finals but a loss could be a big factor in the way their finals hopes play out.

Singleton's finals hopes are all but over and their loss to West Wallsend two weeks ago wasn't exactly flattering to their finals hopes. One of their biggest wins of the season came in a catch-up game win over Wallsend when they saw off the Red Devils 4-1 at Howe Park. Both teams have had their ups and downs in a topsy-turvy competition.

Wallsend weren't blown off the park by Lakes last week and put in a decent effort so they'll see this as a key chance to put pressure on the team's above and solidify their chase for finals football. My prediction is a hard-fought win for the Red Devils at The Gardens.

My Tip: Wallsend F.C 2-1 Singleton Strikers

Jereme Wann has featured a few times for the 23's this season.
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Under 19's:
Wallsend F.C (8th) v Singleton Strikers (6th)
Last Time They Met: Singleton Strikers 1-1 Wallsend F.C
Kickoff: 11:00am

Singleton's finals hopes are still slightly alive, albeit very slim in the Under 19's. They'll need to win every game and hope for some luck with other results. They'll be fresh coming off the bye and full of confidence after a comeback win over top-four side West Wallsend before that.

Wallsend F.C were beaten by Lakes last week in an unsurprising result considering how the Red Devils have fared this season. It's been a topsy-turvy year with some results here and there but they'll fall short of making the finals. Despite that, it's a success to be where they are after starting the season with a horror injury tally and a few losses to boot.

It was a 1-1 draw when these sides met in a mid-week catch-up game but you'd feel like Singleton will bring a bit more to the clash with finals still up for grabs. Nathan Hall is looking to chase down Joel Nicholson for the Golden Boot and will prove as a tricky opponent to mark but Wallsend have some quality as well. The likes of Jereme Wann and even 17's attacker Baraka Birindwa if he appears for the 19's can be tough to handle.

My Tip: Wallsend F.C 0-2 Singleton Strikers

Singleton will be hoping Nathan Hall can fire them back towards an unlikely finals appearance.
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Under 17's:
Wallsend F.C (4th) v Singleton Strikers (9th)
Last Time They Met: Singleton Strikers 0-2 Wallsend F.C
Kickoff: 9:15am

With Kahibah facing lowly Thornton, the Wallsend 17's could very realistically fall out of the top four with a loss on Sunday morning. They'll be looking at finishing either 2nd or 3rd and booking a Semi Final date with the second-highest ranked side and not the minor premiers. But there is that trapdoor lingering and they can't afford to lose this one with Kahibah right behind them.

The young Red Devils were downed by Lake Macquarie City last week and their consistent form hasn't been exactly prevalent as of late. Their form against fellow top-four sides isn't convincing and questions have to be asked of their potential to make the Grand Final. A win here would re-seal them as a contender in my opinion and could throw them above Cooks Hill.

Singleton had the bye last week but before that was an unconvincing 5-0 loss to West Wallsend. They've been a side plagued by inconsistency and despite having some stand-out players (Trae Proudlock coming to mind), they haven't really stood out and linger in 9th position. 

Wallsend will be looking to win this one and avoid dropping out of the top. They were 2-0 winners in a mid-week catch-up game and they could do the same here if they play to their potential.

My Tip: Wallsend F.C 3-1 Singleton Strikers

Fullback Angus Hall's game has improved as the year has gone by.
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1st Grade:
Cessnock City (11th) v Belmont-Swansea Utd. (3rd)
Last Time They Met: Belmont-Swansea 2-3 Cessnock City
Kickoff: 2:30pm

Before Toronto-Awaba's shock win over Belmont-Swansea, the two biggest upsets of the year belonged to Cessnock City. Their last home game; a win over Wallsend was one of the results of the season and before that was a 3-2 away win against...you guessed it...Belmont-Swansea.

Belswans are coming off a week off due to the wash-out and a solid week and a half of training heading into this match. Their slim minor premiership hopes will be all but over if they fail to win this game. With a 2nd or 3rd place finish looming, Brad Paul's side will be looking to simply build some confidence and form going into the playoffs.

Cessnock City produced a decent effort against Kahibah last week and threatened to take a point from Kahibah Oval late on. They led 1-0 early on and only the post could deny them a 2-0 lead, all inside the first ten minutes. Cessnock City look a more confident side at the moment and they'll bring a fight to Belswans, regardless of table position. A chance to avoid the wooden spoon is still there for the Hornets.

Belswans will be looking to put that loss to Toronto-Awaba behind them and return to the winners' circle ahead of their mid-week trip to West Wallsend. I think they'll just edge over the line in a hard-fought contest at Turner Park.

My Tip: Cessnock City 1-2 Belmont-Swansea

Cessnock will be looking for two wins from two games against Belmont-Swansea this season.
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Under 23's:
Cessnock City (8th) v Belmont-Swansea Utd. (4th)
Last Time They Met: Belmont-Swansea 1-1 Cessnock City
Kickoff: 12:45pm

Cessnock City's frustrating loss to Kahibah last week left the curtains closing on their hopes of making the Semi Finals once again in this grade. Mathematically they're a chance but it's a slim chance and they'd need to win this game no doubt. A win here could throw the door to the top four wide open so a lot of eyes will be on the result.

Belmont-Swansea's got the wash-out at West Wallsend up their sleeve and they'll use that to their advantage next Wednesday night. The fact is they too have had inconsistency plague their season, especially as of late. They downed Toronto-Awaba two weeks ago and will go to Cessnock with some confidence out of that.

Cessnock will tell you their finals hopes are still alive and by all means it's somewhat true. This is a must-win game for them if there's any hope of a miracle finals appearance. When they met in Round 8, Cessnock left Blacksmiths with a gutsy 1-1 draw. They'll put pressure on the visitors but Belswans need this win to keep the foot on the pedal towards the top four.

My Tip: Cessnock City 1-2 Belmont-Swansea

Cessnock 23's need a win to keep their slim finals hopes alive.
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Under 19's:
Cessnock City (10th) v Belmont-Swansea Utd. (2nd)
Last Time They Met: Belmont-Swansea 8-0 Cessnock City
Kickoff: 11:00am

Cessnock City will be hoping to avoid another heavy defeat to Belmont-Swansea. Even taking in two losses (one of them double-digits) last season, the Hornets' 19's just haven't had the answer for Belmont-Swansea and to be quiet frank, not many sides have. Their performance against Kahibah was below par and they were beaten 3-0 as a result.

Belmont-Swansea lost top spot to Lakes as a result of the wash-out against West Wallsend and they'll have one eye on that game next Thursday night. They can't afford to undersell Cessnock City as they could spring a result if the visitors don't show up. Belswans most likely will show up in full-force and the likes of Nicholson and Dundas will likely find the net again. They smashed Toronto twice, they've smashed Cessnock once and it could very well happen again. There's too much class in the side.

My Tip: Cessnock City 1-7 Belmont-Swansea

Belmont-Swansea's premiership chase could take an unexpected twist this weekend.
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Under 17's:
Cessnock City (10th) v Belmont-Swansea Utd. (8th)
Last Time They Met: Belmont-Swansea 2-4 Cessnock City
Kickoff: 9:15am

Neither of these teams are any chance of making the finals but there's still a lot to play for. Belswans can still finish as high as sixth and some of their players can earn a bench spot for the 19's Semi Final series coming up and of course Cessnock will want to avoid any possibility of the wooden spoon and leading goalscorer Will Forbes will want to pass 20 goals for the year on Sunday.

Cessnock's performance last week in a 4-3 loss to Kahibah was decent against a side still chasing finals and the fact that one of their three wins all year was against Belswans will give them confidence heading into this match. They'll also welcome back Lucas Zechel from a three-week ban adding to the depth of the squad.

Belmont-Swansea had the weekend off with the wash-out last week and will be looking for revenge for that loss back in Round 8. Jacob Winzar will be looking to take his season goal tally to 10 with 8 so far in the year. There's still potential for Belswans' 17's to finish as high as 6th so there's still something to play for.

My Tip: Cessnock City 2-1 Belmont-Swansea

Jacob Winzar and Lachlan McMaster have been consistent performers for Belswans.
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