Thursday, 4 August 2016

PREVIEW: New-FM 1st Division Round 22


1st Grade Match of the Round:
Belmont-Swansea Utd. (2nd) v Wallsend F.C (4th)
Last Time They Met: Wallsend F.C 0-3 Belmont-Swansea (FORFEIT)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

Wallsend F.C won the original meeting between these sides in what was one of the better matches of the season for pure entertainment value. That result would be reversed after it was revealed a suspended player took to the field for the Red Devils. Belswans as a result were handed a 3-0 victory and three points.

This week they meet again albeit under different circumstances. Both teams will be resting players with finals next week and Wallsend having three or four players sitting on the verge of a suspension with card accumulation. Who takes the field is anyone's bet and it makes it a difficult game to predict.

Belswans will be near-enough full strength. Club captain Joel Shearer returned last weekend and will feature yet again. Josh Sutton is reportedly out as Brad Paul looks to continue a recent rotation system. 

Wallsend on the other hand will have more players out than in. Goalkeeper Luke Jennings, Luke Cook, Heath Kepreotos and Paul Wheeler are all out and players will be forced to either back-up from 23's or play out of position. Tega Marcus and young debutant Jack Lyddiard were quality last week and look to be the key outlets in this one but in front of a vocal Belswans crowd and with several out, it's a tough ask for the Red Devils

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 3-1 Wallsend F.C

Jack Lyddiard (#50) scored twice on his 1st Grade debut last weekend.
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Under 23's:
Belmont-Swansea Utd. (2nd) v Wallsend F.C (8th)
Last Time They Met: Wallsend F.C 4-1 Belmont-Swansea
Kickoff: 12:45pm

Remember Round 11 when Wallsend F.C downed Belswans 4-1 in the Under 23's? It was the best performance of the season for the Wallsend 23's and in my mind one of the very best team performances by any side in the competition this season. It was a brilliant display but it's all fallen by the wayside and finals is no longer a possibility.

Belmont-Swansea a week and a half ago destroyed West Wallsend 8-2 in ruthless fashion but that mid-week game and tired legs may have been a factor in their 2-0 loss to South Cardiff last weekend. There's still an outside chance that they may miss finals although. A loss here and some other results against them could send them packing although a +15 goal difference compared to Kahibah's +10 could prove the difference if that scenario plays out.

Expect Belswans to be out for revenge against a Wallsend side that will likely have a few youngsters in it. The home side can't afford to be complacent as they still aren't mathematically in the finals. They can seal 2nd spot with a win and with that a home Semi Final in the 2nd week of the playoffs (potentially at Blacksmiths if 1st Grade win against Wallsend).

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 2-1 Wallsend F.C

Belswans' 23's captain Rob Cordwell is known for his physical style and will look to trouble Wallsend.
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Under 19's:
Belmont-Swansea Utd. (2nd) v Wallsend F.C (8th)
Last Time They Met: Wallsend F.C 0-2 Belmont-Swansea
Kickoff: 11:00am

Just like the earlier 17's game at Blacksmiths, this one has a lot riding on the result. Belmont-Swansea are looking to lift the premiership in the final week of the season. Lakes play their match on Sunday meaning a win here would allow Belswans to travel west and watch their fate be decided at Macquarie Field. It's not what they would have wanted but it's better than not winning the trophy.

Wallsend F.C were cruelly beaten in the final minute by Kahibah last weekend and it was a quality effort by a makeshift squad. 17's fullbacks Travis Lockwood and Angus Hall were playing forward and there was a distinct 17's feel about the entire squad as several players missed the game.

Whether or not Wallsend get those players back is irrelevant. Belswans should be winning this game looking at their form. They'll have finishing in top spot as a real target and they can go a long way towards sealing that target with a win. They won it last time and with Wallsend probably not having their full squad, they may very well do it again.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 3-1 Wallsend F.C

Belswans' could potentially win the premiership if they down Wallsend and Lakes lose.
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Under 17's:
Belmont-Swansea Utd. (7th) v Wallsend F.C (3rd)
Last Time They Met: Wallsend F.C 3-1 Belmont-Swansea
Kickoff: 9:15am

It's a crazy weekend in the 17's. With three teams fighting for 3rd and 4th, it's still anyone's ball game. Wallsend are the least likely in my mind to lose the race for the finals. They've been too good this year to let it all count for nothing in the end. Yes they lost last weekend but it wasn't without effort and it was against a side desperate for finals football. Belswans don't have the same thing to play for that Kahibah did.

Belmont-Swansea's win over South Cardiff last weekend was quality and saw a double to Jacob Winzar as well as a goal to Ross Valarie. This week they play their final match and look to potentially send Wallsend crashing out of the finals in the most dramatic fashion. Belswans could likely be cheered on by Kahibah players as a Belswans victory would make life a tad easier for those in Green and Blacks.

When they met in Round 11, Wallsend were 3-1 winners on that day after coming from 1-0 down to win it. They've got everything to play for and it's just so, so hard to imagine them not grabbing the points and securing finals football.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 1-3 Wallsend F.C

Fullback Travis Lockwood and Wallsend F.C may need to win to secure finals football.
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1st Grade:
Singleton Strikers (6th) v Cooks Hill United (9th)
Last Time They Met: Cooks Hill United 0-3 Singleton Strikers
Kickoff: 2:30pm

No team started the year in more disappointing fashion than the Singleton Strikers. Big things were expected and a slow start proved costly. Their FFA Cup run was memorable and there's been quality performances throughout the season that show the future is definitely strong at Howe Park. They'll look to cap it off by sealing a spot inside the top six.

Cooks Hill United never got out of 1st gear this season and it's disappointing and then some to see a side predicted to threaten for a top four spot currently occupying ninth position. It's mathematically impossible for the Cookers to finish with more points than last year and they've shipped plenty more goals in 2016. It's been a failure long story short. Off-field distractions and excuses aside, the team needed to produce more than what they have.

Singleton's trip to the AthField in Round 11 ended with a comfortable 3-0 victory and with Cooks Hill losing on their home turf by the same scoreline last weekend to Thornton (albeit with a better performance), it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Strikers get the points in their final game of the season.

Sam Ford is out for Singleton but Rob Field will slot in after scoring two last weekend and the only real concern for David Willoughby is a fitness-cloud hanging over star winger Kieron Burrell. Burrell left Toronto-Awaba clutching at straws last week and scored a first half hat-trick before becoming a physical target in the 2nd half. He was subbed off for his protection above all else.

Cooks Hill need to be applauded for giving the younger players a go as do Singleton and it's something both clubs have prided themselves on. Singleton's by far in a better position at the moment and if the Cookers aren't careful, it could get ugly. Singo at home should be too good here.

My Tip: Singleton Strikers 4-1 Cooks Hill United

Kieron Burrell is in doubt but an appearance by the import winger will cause headaches for Cooks Hill.
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Under 23's:
Singleton Strikers (6th) v Cooks Hill United (3rd)
Last Time They Met: Cooks Hill United 1-1 Singleton Strikers
Kickoff: 12:45pm

Singleton 23's are still mathematically a chance of playing finals football...that's all though...mathematically. Only a madman would predict Southy to lose their ten goal advantage in goal differential and Singleton to pick up a five or six goal win to somehow sneak in. It'd take quiet an amazing turn of events for it to happen. They can really cause headaches for Cooks Hill though.

The Cookers aren't safely in the finals just yet but again it'd take some unfortunate luck to go against them. A loss here and a win for Southy over Lakes could allow Kahibah to win and send the Cookers packing. Again, not the most likely thing in the world but Max Sovechles' squad needs confidence ahead of the Semi Finals.

1-1 was the final score when these sides last met and on that day, Ryan Guihot had a stand-out match in goals for the Strikers. It's been a quality year for Guihot who celebrated his 200th club game in some style not that long ago. Players like Rob Field and Jackson Hough have stood out and are rightly being rewarded with 1st grade appearances.

So who wins this one? Cooks Hill are the tip as they sit inside the top four and as mentioned need a boost ahead of finals. They weren't too far off the mark against Thornton last week and needed luck to go their way. If the chances find the target they'll have a good chance of victory.

My Tip: Singleton Strikers 1-2 Cooks Hill United

Elijah Harrison (left) has found some scoring form as of late. Fellow teammate Ben Frohlich has been quality as well.
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Under 19's:
Singleton Strikers (6th) v Cooks Hill United (7th)
Last Time They Met: Cooks Hill United 1-0 Singleton Strikers
Kickoff: 11:00am

What could have been for both these sides. Singleton have looked quality at times during the year but absolute shambles at other times. It's the sort of form that killed their chances off and see them finish in a rather disappointing mid-table spot. The side have players capable of playing finals football and no doubt improvement next season will already be on their minds.

Cooks Hill United sat comfortably inside the top four but a horror run has seen them crash and burn all the way to 7th and still possibly 8th. No side in the comp have endured such a dramatic slump from inside the playoff positions. They've struggled for numbers and quite frankly, everything that could have gone wrong...has gone wrong.

The Strikers will look to avenge a loss to the Cookers last time they met and even with Nathan Hall likely not to play due to his 1st Grade role, they've got players like Oliver Moody and Nathan Smart, who both scored in the win over Toronto last week who can do the job well. Singo for the win here to complete a 3 months from hell for the Cookers' 19's.

My Tip: Singleton Strikers 3-1 Cooks Hill United

Mitch Bradley and Singleton will be looking to end the year in winning fashion.
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Under 17's:
Singleton Strikers (9th) v Cooks Hill United (5th)
Last Time They Met: Cooks Hill United 3-1 Singleton Strikers
Kickoff: 9:15am

What a world of madness Cooks Hill find themselves in after some inconsistent form in the Under 17's. What they would do to go back two weeks and hang on in those final ten minutes against West Wallsend. Kahibah have stolen fourth spot from the Cookers and the only way to get it back is to simply win this and then hope and pray it all falls their way on Sunday. It's a tough spot to be in but they've simply got to get on with the job and they could still even send Wallsend crashing out of finals!

Singleton's season in the 17's has fallen away and even though they can trouble sides, there hasn't been to smile about as of late. Last week they fell to a late Toronto-Awaba goal and it continued a season of inconsistency and frustration. 

There's been a lot of improvement in some individual Singleton players though. Trae Proudlock has been the centerpiece of that improvement. Goalkeeper Brad Fairclough has learned a lot for better or worse this season and the defensive line have really stood up to the test; not every week but enough to warrant a mention. They'll be looking to end the year on a high.

I don't normally rule a team's chances out completely but in all fairness, Singleton will likely go down to defeat here. Cooks Hill can't lose, can't draw and must win. They've got so much to play for and it's hard to imagine them not getting the job done against a Singo side that don't have finals on their mind. It's win or go home for Cooks Hill United.

My Tip: Singleton Strikers 1-4 Cooks Hill United

It's the biggest game of the year for Cooks Hill United's Under 17's.
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1st Grade:
Kahibah F.C (3rd) v Toronto-Awaba (10th)
Last Time They Met: Toronto-Awaba 0-6 Kahibah F.C
Kickoff: 2:30pm

After a season to forget, it's finally coming to an end for Toronto-Awaba as they look to move on and forget all about Season 2016. Off the field and behind the scenes, the club have come ahead leaps and bound and will finish the season with the future looking incredibly bright. On the park it's been nothing short of a shambles at times. 

Inexperienced youngsters mixed with some players who quite frankly don't cut it in this grade have been blasted off the park in recent times and so often throughout the year. Their five wins were few and far between and really the term 'year of transition' can be used. Goalkeeper Daniel March has probably saved more goals than they've conceded. By far their best player this season.

Kahibah F.C are hosting their Old Boy's Day and Pink Ribbon Day on Sunday and a huge crowd is expected to be on hand depending of course on weather. They shouldn't lose and if they field a full squad, they'll more than likely win by 5 or 6. They'll be resting players though with finals in mind. Sean Clerke and Ash Illfield will likely sit out which is a shame as both would have provided entertainment for the neutral.

Kahibah can't afford to show the casualness that saw them lose 4-1 to Wallsend last weekend. This game needs to be used as a tune up for a likely home Semi Final next weekend. They're up against a team that's conceded 12 goals in two weeks and it's surely going to be a fairly simple three points for the Green and Blacks.

My Tip: Kahibah F.C 6-1 Toronto-Awaba

Daniel March will be vital for Toronto-Awaba's chances of an upset win.
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Under 23's:
Kahibah F.C (5th) v Toronto-Awaba (11th)
Last Time They Met: Toronto-Awaba 1-2 Kahibah F.C
Kickoff: 12:45pm

It's the biggest game of the season for Kahibah F.C in the Under 23's. They sit on the verge of making finals and all they can do is win this and stay glued to their phones for a positive update from Macquarie Field. A South Cardiff loss would open the door and Kahibah would sneak into the playoffs with a win. They'll be disappointed their result against Singleton two weeks ago cost them a chance to sit even with Southy and not worrying about this result as much.

Toronto-Awaba are the wooden spooners in this grade but proved last week against Singleton that they aren't exactly a walkover sort of target. Some days they are but last week they weren't as they put in a quality effort against a better side.

It's surely going to be a bridge too far though as Kahibah play in front of their biggest home crowd of the year on Old Boy's Day and look to possible complete a four-piece of Kahibah New-FM sides making the finals. The Green and Blacks cannot afford to do anything but win here.

My Tip: Kahibah F.C 2-0 Toronto-Awaba

Alex Evans scored the only goal of the game in a tight win over Wallsend last week.
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Under 19's:
Kahibah F.C (3rd) v Toronto-Awaba (11th)
Last Time They Met: Toronto-Awaba 0-6 Kahibah F.C
Kickoff: 11:00am

This is an interesting one. Toronto-Awaba's Under 19's can still potentially avoid the wooden spoon if they pull off a win whilst Kahibah are bound to finish 3rd win, lose or draw. It gives Toronto-Awaba a leg-up in my mind as they look to finish the season strong with a win and hope that Thornton down Cessnock.

Kahibah picked up the latest of late dramatic wins last week with an impressive goal from Cooper Goodacre that sealed their spot in the finals. Now with 3rd place sealed, they could take a page from the club's 1st Grade side and not be too adamantly focused on getting a result here.

In my mind, Kahibah need to go for victory and continuing building some confidence ahead of a meeting with either Lakes or Belswans next weekend in the Semi Final. Being in 3rd means they'll either play at Kahibah or Blacksmiths next week so familiar territory for the side. This Sunday though is a chance to pick up a win and head into the finals with the best form possible.

My Tip: Kahibah F.C 2-1 Toronto-Awaba

Paul Turner and the Stags will be out to avoid the wooden spoon on Sunday.
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Under 17's Match of the Round:
Kahibah F.C (4th) v Toronto-Awaba (6th)
Last Time They Met: Toronto-Awaba 0-1 Kahibah F.C
Kickoff: 9:15am

If the premiership decider at Lake Macquarie City doesn't provide enough entertainment in the 17's, this surely will as Kahibah F.C look to seal what was not that long ago the unlikeliest of finals appearances. They've come from nowhere to send Cooks Hill packing and all they need is a win.

A re-written preview might be required on Saturday night depending on the Cooks Hill result and no doubt Kahibah will have eyes on that game as anything but a Cooks Hill win will see Kahibah in the finals regardless of Sunday's result. It's the sort of dramatic finish to the season this grade deserves. It's been brilliant!

Toronto-Awaba provide stiff opposition to the Kahibah 17's. A side that will be disappointed their form fell away and finals became a bridge too far. They are capable of getting a result and are capable of being potential party spoilers on Sunday. With a quality keeper in Jackson Bartlett and some threatening attackers (Gibbons & Trimboli, etc) the Stags will be a tricky test. Their defensive line isn't one that backs down from a battle either.

As written earlier, I fully expect Cooks Hill to grab the points at Singleton and force Kahibah's hand. Kahibah's hand could be just the lone finger (no guessing which one!), as they look to prove any doubters wrong and set up a Semi Final clash at The Gardens next weekend (a ground they won at in incredible fashion just last week). Could someone provide a late 'Aguero moment' for the Kahibah 17's.

My Tip: Kahibah F.C 3-1 Toronto-Awaba

Ryan Stuchbury scored a delightful goal to win the game last weekend.
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1st Grade:
Lake Macquarie City (1st) v South Cardiff (8th)
Last Time They Met: South Cardiff 2-3 Lake Macquarie City
Kickoff: 2:30pm

Lake Macquarie City have not had a player suspended this season in First Grade (and perhaps every grade from what I've heard) and it's that quality discipline that allows them not to have to do a Wallsend or Kahibah and field a weakened squad with worries about card accumulation. It spells real trouble for South Cardiff.

The Gunners downed Belswans in their final home game at Ulinga last weekend and will have some confidence following that. Two quality players in Nick Pepper and last week's scorer, entertaining youngster Josh Casey are in doubt whilst standout Daniel Wells has left for the US College football system.

Lake Macquarie City will travel to The Gardens next Sunday for the 1st Leg of the Semi Final and will look at this game in front of their biggest crowd of the year on Old Boy's Day as a chance to flex their muscles and send a direct warning message to their rivals ahead of the playoffs. Roosters to down Southy in a game between the two clubs most likely to head to NPL1 next season.

My Tip: Lake Macquarie City 3-1 South Cardiff

Josh Casey was a stand-out and the lone goalscorer in Southy's 1-0 win over Belswans last week.
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Under 23's Match of the Round:
Lake Macquarie City (1st) v South Cardiff (4th)
Last Time They Met: South Cardiff 1-1 Lake Macquarie City
Kickoff: 12:45pm

This game sees 1st v 4th in the Under 23's and if Southy win (as well as Belswans and Cooks Hill) then they'll be playing Lake Macquarie City at The Gardens next weekend in the 1st Leg of the Semi Final. That's not what the Gunners need to be thinking about as there's much, much more to this game than that.

Lake Macquarie City are home and hosed as the premiers in this grade by far but their last result saw them draw with Cessnock City. They could play as many as four different teams next week in the Semi Final 1st Leg but the key for this side is to grab some renewed focus, energy and indeed confidence heading into the finals.

The key talking point of this match is South Cardiff's tedious position in fourth place. Kahibah F.C play wooden spooners Toronto-Awaba at the same time so you'd imagine that the Green and Blacks will get the points meaning Southy need at least a draw to secure finals football. They grabbed it last time the sides met but that was then and this is now. Lakes won't lay down and on Old Boy's Day with a big home crowd, they'll be gunning for victory. It's an intriguing final day in the 23's. (Kudos to anyone willing to share some live updates from this one).

My Tip: Lake Macquarie City 2-1 South Cardiff

Dominic Fox and co. will be looking for a big win to seal a spot in the finals.
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Under 19's:
Lake Macquarie City (1st) v South Cardiff (5th)
Last Time They Met: South Cardiff 0-3 Lake Macquarie City
Kickoff: 11:00am

Two or three weeks ago this was looming as a possible all or nothing fixture for South Cardiff to somehow sneak into the top four on the final day and play Semi Final football. Westy's draw with Belswans made that difficult and then the Gunners themselves fell on their own sword with defeat to the same opposition last week. They left it too late and it was a bridge too far.

Make no mistake, Southy in this grade are a quality side and they could very well cost Lake Macquarie City the premiership on Sunday. Anything less than a Lakes win would open the door for Belswans to take the top spot on the final day of the season.

Lakes were too strong in Round 11 with goals from Josh Richardson, Brock Torrance and James Ward giving the Roosters an impressive 3-0 victory. Southy have a couple of handy players like club Golden Boot winner James Wootton who'll be looking to spoil the party at Macquarie Field. Lakes know the trophy's up for grabs though.

My Tip: Lake Macquarie City 3-1 South Cardiff

Josh Richardson scored one of three goals v South Cardiff in Round 11.
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Under 17's:
Lake Macquarie City (1st) v South Cardiff (8th)
Last Time They Met: South Cardiff 1-1 Lake Macquarie City
Kickoff: 9:15am

It's a Semi Final tune-up for the Lake Macquarie City Under 17's side. They've simply got to win this if they want to be first past the post and lift the premiership. They'll no doubt be one or two traditionalists in the squad who are eyeing off top spot over the finals at the moment. It is a fair indication of who the best team have been over the course of the year.

The Roosters need to win this after West Wallsend downed Cessnock 2-0 last week to jump Lakes into top spot. It'd be no surprise to see most if not all of the West Wallsend 17's team they cheering South Cardiff on for victory. It's sure to be an entertaining affair nonetheless and Lakes are deservedly the favourites with so much on the line.

South Cardiff though aren't your run of the mill opponent. They ended Lakes' lengthy winning streak with a 1-1 draw in Round 11. Boniface Horihoze gave Southy a draw and it was one of their best results of the season. The likes of Horihoze, Lucas Emmett-Mourlet and Josh Iannazzo cannot be undersold. The defensive line is fairly strong too. Lakes will have to work for the result but in all fairness, with the premiership looming, they should overcome the challenge. 

My Tip: Lake Macquarie City 3-1 South Cardiff

Are Lakes' 17's the premiers in waiting? A win over Southy would seal the title.
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1st Grade:
Thornton Redbacks (5th) v Cessnock City (11th)
Last Time They Met: Cessnock City 1-2 Thornton Redbacks
Kickoff: 2:30pm

Thornton's recent form has seen them pick up quality wins over Toronto-Awaba and Cooks Hill United and it was without defender Ben Henry who returns this weekend. Youngster Jack Halverson has enjoyed a break-out period in his two 1st Grade outings and it's all ticking over well late in the season for the Redbacks.

Cessnock City are in an opposite boat. They've struggled as of late and have collected the wooden spoon as a result. The list of outs for this weekend is that long it's easier not to mention it and as a result, it's hard to see Stephen Thomson's side having the numbers to threaten Thornton.

It's Old Boy's Day at Thornton Park and the club are looking to finish the season in style and provide a glimpse towards the future with the likes of Halverson involved. Thornton looking the team to beat on paper in the final game of the season.

My Tip: Thornton Redbacks 5-1 Cessnock City

Youngster Jack Halverson and Nathan McAllister were in goalscoring form last weekend.
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Under 23's:
Thornton Redbacks (7th) v Cessnock City (9th)
Last Time They Met: Cessnock City 3-3 Thornton Redbacks
Kickoff: 12:45pm

It was around this time last year that these two sides battled each other in a highly entertaining and hard-fought two-legged Semi Final. Thornton outlasted the Hornets challenge and the rest was history as they downed Lakes 4-0 on Grand Final day and lifted the trophy. Both sides have fallen by the wayside in 2016 and find themselves playing what is essentially a 'dead-rubber' on the final day of the season.

Thornton Redbacks downed Cooks Hill United last week...a result that showed the side still have a lot of quality about it but the quality hasn't shone through this season. Jacob Robinson was all class, scoring the first goal and setting up Jesse Radford for a tap-in that'd seal the victory.

Cessnock City battled hard with West Wallsend last week and were held to a 2-2 draw. They fielded some younger players and one of those, Luke Ford bagged a goal and was joined on the scoresheet by Brodie Egan. They'll head into this with confidence and really a draw wouldn't be a surprise between these two sides.

Young Thornton keeper Blake McDonnell may play three back-to-back fixtures if they arrive with the same squads from last week. Chris Burg re-aggravated an existing groin injury and it may force the teenage goalkeeper into action for the 23's once again. 

My Tip: Thornton Redbacks 2-2 Cessnock City

Cessnock 23's will look to end the season on a high.
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Under 19's:
Thornton Redbacks (9th) v Cessnock City (10th)
Last Time They Met: Cessnock City 3-2 Thornton Redbacks
Kickoff: 11:00am

Five goals were scored when these sides met in Round 11 and it wouldn't be a surprise to see more on Sunday. The two teams seem to produce high-scoring matches every now and then and something like a 3-3 draw to end the season would be fair to both sides. They're both in a similar position although Thornton in my mind are the better line-up and their efforts show that.

Thornton were too good in a solid first half against Cooks Hill last weekend but they wouldn't have been too pleased with a second-half fade-out that almost saw them lose the lead late-on. When they travelled to Cessnock, Jack Halverson and Josh Davies bagged goals but they were cancelled out by Will Forbes, Tai Roles and Rhys Paprocki. It was a frustrating day.

So who wins this one on the final weekend of the season? Cessnock City went down in a frustrating match with West Wallsend last week and really proved that they've got some potential for next season; it was a proud effort against the top four side. Thornton however outclassed Cooks Hill and with the home advantage, it'd be understandable to call them the favourites. There'll be no Jack Halverson though as he'll more than likely line up for 1st Grade.

My Tip: Thornton Redbacks 2-1 Cessnock City

Thornton 17's keeper Blake McDonnell may find himself playing three games on Sunday, including the 19's.
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Under 17's:
Thornton Redbacks (11th) v Cessnock City (10th)
Last Time They Met: Cessnock City 2-1 Thornton Redbacks
Kickoff: 9:15am

It's been fair to say that it's been a year of experience over results for both of these sides. They're both young sides that will still for the majority be available to play in the 17's again next year if that age group stays in the competition format. They'll both be better for the lessons they've learnt in 2016.

Though it would have been an interesting thing hanging over the result, Thornton Redbacks can't avoid the wooden spoon as they're four points behind Cessnock. They put in a quality effort against Cooks Hill but once they went behind it didn't look like they'd come back in that 3-0 loss.

Cessnock's season has been slightly better although as of late they've struggled to get any results. They haven't won a game in the last two months, they're last win was in fact against Thornton back in Round 11. Aaron Comerford and Will Forbes scored to give the Hornets a win. 

Will Forbes himself will be looking to break a goal drought after he set the comp on fire with his mid-season goalscoring form. It'd be a slight disappointment if Forbes can't find another goal and make it an even 20 across all grades on the weekend.

Thornton themselves have a player who'll be keen to find the back of the net. Josh Davies is on 13 goals, one behind Jack Halverson and Nathan McAllister in the race for the club's Golden Boot. A goal or two might be an aim for the young attacker. Goalkeeper Blake McDonnell will be aiming for the team's first clean sheet of the season. It's all to play for in the final week of the season.

My Tip: Thornton Redbacks 3-2 Cessnock City

Will Forbes and Zac Kronholm have been two stand-outs for Cessnock's 17's.
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