Wednesday, 22 March 2017

PREVIEW: New-FM Northern League One Round 3

1st Grade Match of the Round:
Cooks Hill United (1st) v Belmont-Swansea United (4th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

The Match of the Round is one where Graham Law's new-look Cooks Hill United side can announce themselves as a serious side to contend with in 2017. The Cookers were well-beaten when the eventual Grand Finalists came to the AthField last year and they simply weren't any match for the top four last season.

In fact, Cooks Hill lost eight from eight and conceded 29 goals against top four opposition in 2016. This new-look side can right the wrong and keep Cooks Hill United on top of the table for a second-consecutive week for the first time in their New-FM history.

Whilst they scored for fun in a second half rampage against a very depleted Toronto side, Belmont-Swansea will not roll over. Josh Rufo's side were without a host of their top tier players and if two or three of these names return then surely Belswans will be even better. Peak match fitness would be their only worry.

Tega Marcus will be the danger man for Belswans after starring in their win over Singleton whilst Cooks Hill have options across the park. Lee Ashton and Jonas Ramspott were the key goalscorers last week but it's a very high quality side Graham Law has assembled this season.

Prediction: It's only the second game of the season but this is a vital one for Cooks Hill. They've got a chance to make a statement this Saturday. Whoever wins this, this will be one of the best matches all weekend in any grade. Cooks Hill to win it.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 2-1 Belmont-Swansea

Cooks Hill lead the competition for the first time after a 5-0 win over Toronto in Round 1.


Under 23's Match of the Round:
Cooks Hill United (1st) v Belmont-Swansea United (3rd)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

There was no better display in Round 1 than Cooks Hill's 10-2 smashing of Toronto-Awaba in the Under 23's. Ben Nichols' side kick-started their 2017 campaign with some style as Asher Beasley picked up four goals in the first half hour to dispatch of a depleted Stags side. This week they face a much sterner test when they return home to the AthField.

Belmont-Swansea's 1-0 win over Singleton two weeks ago was not without worry as they battled hard and at times rode their luck to overcome the challenge of a misfiring Strikers outfit. Emmanuel Okumu was the lone goalscorer and Belswans would be pleased to see young players like Will Dunn, Lachlan McMaster, Casey Turner, Brian Groth and Bien Simba all start this game.

Prediction: Cooks Hill were fast starters against Toronto last week and Belswans will need to be mindful of their attack. There's little chance that the Cookers will have it as easy as last week and this will likely be a tight-game at the AthField. If lineups are similar, the Cookers might just have the quality needed to get over the line.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 2-1 Belmont-Swansea

Payton Tagaroulias played a support role in his side's huge 10-2 victory over Toronto last time out.


Under 19's Match of the Round:
Cooks Hill United (=3rd) v Belmont-Swansea United (=6th)
Kickoff: 11:00am

The Match of the Round in the Under 19's sees a talented Cooks Hill side take on an equally talented side from Belswans. Neither side were at their best in Round 1. Cooks Hill overcame Toronto-Awaba thanks to a lone goal by Jayden Wiggins and the side will surely look to build on that and produce a more solid result.

Belmont-Swansea may be boosted by the addition of not just Matt Ellis but their star goalscorer from last season Joel Nicholson. The end product was missing in Round 1. William Dundas was good but it's not the same unless he's combining with Nicholson up front. Defensively they've had some changes as well and are getting used to the new lineup.

Prediction: The defending champions come to the AthField seeking a big win but this, like 1st Grade is a chance for Cooks Hill to announce themselves as a serious side against one of the best lineups in the competition. It's hard to split these two if the best players play.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 2-2 Belmont-Swansea

Will Reeves was quality in goals for Belswans in Round 1, recording a clean sheet against Singleton.


Under 17's
Cooks Hill United (10th) v Belmont-Swansea United (1st)
Kickoff: 9:15am

After starting the season with a disappointing loss to Toronto-Awaba, Cooks Hill will look to bounce back in the 17's on Saturday morning. Tom Negline grabbed a goal for the Cookers at Lyall Peacock Field but it wasn't to be. A tough battle with Westy was postponed last week and now they face the early pacesetters.

Belmont-Swansea's 5-0 win over Singleton was as unexpected as any result in Round 1 and kicked off the New-FM season with a bang. Jacob Winzar's hat-trick was the headline moment but further back, the likes of Soloman Amos stood firm in defence the whole game. It was a true team performance under new coach Will McMaster.

Prediction: Belmont-Swansea looked the real deal in Round 1 but they face a tough test against a Cooks Hill side keen to bounce back. Cooks Hill's defence will be put under the microscope and after going down in Round 1, it's uncertain yet how they'll go against Belswans.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 1-2 Belmont-Swansea

Jacob Winzar's hat-trick helped Belswans to a convincing 5-0 win in Round 1.



1st Grade:
West Wallsend SFC (9th) v Toronto-Awaba (11th)
Kickoff: 4:00pm

It may only be Round 3 but both these teams have points to prove after disappointing starts to the season. Westy didn't have the same issue as Toronto did in terms of players missing and Gary Rowe would know too well that his side need better. Chances were spurned going forward but there were major issues in defence at times with lapses leaving New Lambton to run riot in the first half.

Toronto-Awaba looked destined for a similar fate to their 23's when they went down 1-0 inside three minutes but they fought hard in a scrappy game and at times came close to tying against Cooks Hill. As soon as the visitors scored again, the wheels fell off as a depleted Stags side conceded five goals.

This fixture last year was played later in the season and played a major part in the demise of the Stags season and brought major doubts over coach Tony Jovcevski. This year it isn't as crucial a fixture but it's a chance for both sides to turn things around.

Toronto will importantly be without keeper Blake Redman who is still reportedly suspended. Youngster Sam Cresswell is expected to be the starting keeper and whilst he has some talents, 1st Grade is a tough place for a goalkeeper who's still learning what New-FM football is all about.

It's unclear yet if Toronto's missing defenders will be back in the squad but new recruit Blake Glennie may very well play his first competitive game back in the Stags colours. Defence will be the key to victory for Toronto and against a Westy side that are promising a more defined attacking effort, it will be a stern test.

Prediction: Johnston Park is typically a fortress for West Wallsend. That belief was thrown out the window two weeks ago as New Lambton crashed Westy's house for the lack of a better term. There's more pressure on Westy at home in this one than the Stags so it's Westy who get the Newysports tip.

My Tip: West Wallsend 3-1 Toronto-Awaba

Gary Rowe's Westy side will be aiming for a more polished effort against Toronto.


Under 23's
West Wallsend SFC (=6th) v Toronto-Awaba (11th)
Kickoff: 2:15pm

After seeing their Round 1 fixture against New Lambton postponed three times, West Wallsend 23's will be praying that the rain stays away from an already water-affected Johnston Park pitch. With last week's game against Cooks Hill and the Round 1 game still to play, another wash out would be a major headache for Westy.

Toronto-Awaba on the other hand would have probably have traded their Round 1 result for a wash-out. Suspensions left the Stags depleted in the senior grades and in the 23's in particular, their makeshift defensive line was torn to shreds but an unforgiving Cooks Hill side.

Prediction: Writing this preview on Wednesday, the hope would be simply that it gets played. Westy will be jumping at the bit to get onto the park for their first game and whilst Toronto will likely put in a much better shift, it's hard to see them turning it around so swiftly.

My Tip: West Wallsend 3-1 Toronto-Awaba

Toronto 23's endured a nightmare Round 1 loss and will surely be hoping for mass improvements.


Under 19's:
West Wallsend SFC (11th) v Toronto-Awaba (10th)
Kickoff: 12:30pm

These sides will not stay at 11th and 10th if either have something to say about. Westy were stunned by competition newcomers New Lambton in their opening game. The Bluebells had no answers as they found themselves disposed of 5-0 on their home turf.

Toronto-Awaba's Round 1 loss was a much tighter affair as they fell 1-0 to Cooks Hill. Luck was against the Stags and the side will know that they've got the potential to turn their fortunes around and quickly. There's no love lost between some players from last year in the 17's between these sides and it'll be interesting to see if discipline becomes a worry in what will be a hard-fought match-up.

Prediction: There's pressure on West Wallsend to bounce back on their home field. To go 0-2 and face a midweek trip to Cooks Hill wouldn't really be ideal. Toronto as well will want to bounce back from Round 1 so it's anyone's guess what will happen here. Westy have the side on paper but that was said in Round 1.

My Tip: West Wallsend 1-1 Toronto-Awaba

*Late Mail says Toronto have two or three out

New Tip: West Wallsend 3-1 Toronto-Awaba

Stags keeper Sam Cresswell was left stranded by makeshift defenders in Round 1, conceding a few goals across multiple grades.


Under 17's
West Wallsend SFC (=7th) v Toronto-Awaba (2nd)
Kickoff: 10:45am

After encountering wash-outs just like the 23's, West Wallsend 17's will be disappointed they couldn't get straight to work on building on top of what was a successful pre-season. This side are one of the favourites to win the competition and expectations are high that the 17's, along with the 19's and 15's may bring Westy some much needed silverware this season.

Toronto-Awaba's win over Cooks Hill in Round 1 was hard-fought and saw them stop a potential Cookers clean sweep over the Stags. Arbi Watt and Thomas Appleby were the goalscorers in the win and if they can knock off Westy on Saturday then belief will be high among the Stags' players.

Prediction: Toronto's Round 1 win was a great start to the year and to pick off Westy would be a big scalp. The Bluebells are a tough side to beat on their home turf in the lower grades and this side will be keen to get their campaign off with a winning start.

My Tip: West Wallsend 2-1 Toronto-Awaba

Can Westy's 17's produce similar performances to their pre-season wins.



1st Grade:
Wallsend F.C (7th) v Singleton Strikers (8th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

Make no doubt, Wallsend were extremely disappointed to fall on their sword at home to South Cardiff in Round 1. Chris Gallagher admitted that they dropped off at a key point of the match and it was obvious to all there that Wallsend were unable to keep up with Southy's intensity and focus in the final ten minutes.

Singleton too were beaten in Round 1 but in different circumstances. A depleted Strikers side were beaten by an equally depleted Belswans outfit which left David Willoughby fairly disappointed with his side's effort. Both the coach and goalkeeper Stuey Plant were audibly expressing frustration at a poor defensive display at times.

Wallsend need more clarity going forward and last week didn't produce their best chances when it mattered the most. It's nowhere near panic stations for the defending champions but they'll want to pick up the points in their second game at home. They've still got two more home games to follow so a chance to produce a quality start is certainly still there.

Singleton may very well be boosted by the return of some key players and if they can find their best going forward then it's sure to be a very entertaining match-up at The Gardens. The pitch will play a part (if the game isn't washed out!) as it is currently fairly bumpy in some patches. Both teams will have to deal with the same problems though.

Prediction: There was barely a time where Newysports tipped against Wallsend and had it right throughout 2015 and 2016. The Red Devils like no other side love to prove the doubters wrong. Singleton are a hit and miss side capable of quality but not always showing it. Wallsend at home will like their chances.

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

Stuey Plant was left disappointed with Singleton's defensive display two weeks ago.


Under 23's
Wallsend F.C (=4th) v Singleton Strikers (9th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

Two sides who'll be looking for more in their second match of the season will meet at The Gardens. Wallsend were denied a win against South Cardiff and the general feeling amongst the players is that they let two points go by the wayside. It's a young squad that the Red Devils have but on paper it's one to watch this season.

Singleton's missed chances proved extremely costly in a 1-0 loss to Belswans in Round 1 and with one or two names slotting back into 1st Grade, the 23's will likely be boosted and not have to rely on Under 19's players as much as they did in Round 1.

Prediction: This could turn out to be an entertaining contest between two evenly matched sides. Singleton need to find the target more and if they do that they'll cause problems. Wallsend's young squad will likely improve as the weeks pass by and they could pick up the points here. They've got some decent players in the squad.

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

Singleton's Nick Hough & Luke Geipel in action against Belswans in Round 1.


Under 19's
Wallsend F.C (=4th) v Singleton Strikers (=6th)
Kickoff: 11:00am

If there was a more unlucky side in Round 1 than Wallsend's 19's than please point them out. The Red Devils were held to a 2-2 draw as the result of not one but two South Cardiff penalties. No complaints about Dan Strazzari's foul in the 79th minute but Jye Hancock's penalty earlier proved costly. Craig Tselembis' side feel hard done by and will be looking for redemption.

Singleton were forced to do things a little differently last week with the 23's needing fill-ins and one or two regulars missing. They were the better side in a scoreless draw with a talented Belswans side so there's no doubt the Strikers possess a real danger to Wallsend at The Gardens this Sunday. 

Prediction: Singleton will follow the same script as the other grades, try to put all their misfiring moments behind them and score some goals. Wallsend's defence is strong and goalkeeper Matt Pennington was vital in the 2-2 draw with Southy. At home, the Red Devils could prove too good.

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

Wallsend captain Jye Hancock was lamenting his side's bad luck in Round 1.


Under 17's
Wallsend F.C (=3rd) v Singleton Strikers (11th)
Kickoff: 9:15am

Wallsend battled hard to draw with South Cardiff in Round 1 and did so with the help of the players pictured below. Jack Benson's penalty put the Red Devils ahead early on and then they rallied once Southy took a 2-1 lead. Travis Lockwood scored a rare goal to draw level at 2-2 in a controversial and physical fixture.

Singleton were very disappointing in a 5-0 loss to Belswans in the opening game of the season. Todd Geddes' side are a very different lineup to Singo's 17's of last season and it seems it'll take longer than hoped for things to gel together. Despite showing some decent signs, too many lapses made it all to easy for Belswans to pick apart the Strikers.

Prediction: Singleton have some decent players and won't be a side that get beat 5-0 every week. But the Strikers' 17's last year lacked consistency and it's something Singleton need across the board. Wallsend will want to go one further than last week and win on their home turf.

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

Wallsend defender Travis Lockwood grabbed a rare goal in the 2-2 draw with South Cardiff in Round 1.



1st Grade:
South Cardiff (5th) Cessnock City (10th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

South Cardiff along with New Lambton were the surprising victors in Round 1. The Gunners have had some doubts thrown around about them based on pre-season but they've been quieter than any other club and kept their plans fairly well under wraps. Those plans worked perfectly in Round 1 as they upset Wallsend.

The Gunners, down 2-1 after leading early scored twice in the final ten minutes to leave The Gardens with all three points. The jubilation amongst the players made it obvious that the result meant a lot to Denis Fajkovic, Corey Nicholas and the rest of the Southy side. Brett Cowling will be one to watch after scoring a brace in Round 1.

Cessnock City were outplayed by a more experienced Thornton side in Round 1. To nobody's surprise, Lino Gatti's side haven't managed to change things overnight. They've recruited one or two players since Round 1 (including Jason Zechel) and will look to try and boost their chances.

The Hornets loss showed that they've got a way to come but it's all part of the bigger picture and Lino Gatti himself stayed positive in his post-game remarks. He's willing to keep giving the youngsters a go and to try and slowly build the team into something special. 

Prediction: It's tough to say Cessnock are there for the taking but Southy will be looking at this as a winnable fixture at Ulinga Oval. Cessnock's got a few players who'll believe the side can stun the Gunners but on paper and on form, Southy have a real chance to hammer home an impressive start. The Gunners also don't face the prospect of midweek football as they had the bye in Round 2.

My Tip: South Cardiff 3-0 Cessnock City

Jordan Willard is one of the few Cessnock players left from last season. His experience will be vital.


Under 23's:
South Cardiff (=4th) v Cessnock City (10th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

Cessnock City's chances in the 23's depends on how quickly Lino Gatti adds to his stock. The Hornets went into Round 1 short of a couple of players and the recent recruitment of two or three extras will be invaluable to Gatti as he looks to field two reasonably competitive teams. It won't happen overnight but the 23's is where the youngsters should be nurtured the most, guided by the likes of Skip O'Hearn.

South Cardiff's draw with Wallsend was a solid enough start away from home but this side will look for more against Cessnock at Ulinga on Sunday. Goalkeeper Thim Jeppesen and his defenders were vital for Southy and if they can find their feet going forward then they'll like their chances of a victory.

Prediction: Cessnock City are unpredictable as it's yet to be known how many players Lino Gatti has recruited. There are at least two new names in the 1st Grade squad and with that brings a chance to be less reliant on 19's backing up in the 23's. South Cardiff at home will likely be a challenge too strong for the Hornets.

My Tip: South Cardiff 2-0 Cessnock City

Jayden Arriguetti is one of many youngsters involved in Lino Gatti's senior sides.


Under 19's
South Cardiff (=4th) v Cessnock City (9th)
Kickoff: 11:00am

South Cardiff across the board showed a strong sense of self-belief in Round 1. Every single grade stood their ground against Wallsend and in the case of the 19's, they just kept fighting until the final whistle. Dylan Simone and Ethan Spiers led from the front and the rest of the team followed suit.

Cessnock's debut under new coach Kel Lund didn't go to plan. The Hornets however showed positive signs as they stormed from 3-1 down at half-time to go level with Thornton but the Redbacks were just too good on the day. If Cessnock can tighten things up at the back then they'll likely head into any game with belief of a victory.

Prediction: Southy 19's were a mystery coming into the season after losing some handy players. But they've got a decent side and played some good football at The Gardens. Goalkeeper Zac Hamilton and his defenders will look for a more refined performance and at home they deserve to be the favourites.

My Tip: South Cardiff 2-1 Cessnock City

Zac Hamilton and Southy will be looking to keep a clean sheet against Cessnock.


Under 17's
South Cardiff (=3rd) v Cessnock City (=3rd)
Kickoff: 9:15am

South Cardiff's Under 17's were one of the surprise packets in Round 1, offering a massive fight to a good Wallsend side in a 2-2 draw. The Gunners look a side unified for the cause and showed some great teamwork at times throughout the match. Jack Harrison defined their match in Round 1, playing on off the bench after being injured earlier in the match. This is a side with some potential.

Cessnock's draw with Thornton was an indifferent start to the season. They would have wanted a win on their home turf but considering it was the first game, they'll likely be happy to produce at least a point and go from there. They know a win here would really kick-start their season.

Prediction: Unlike the majority of the competition, Southy were always going to miss playing last week due to the bye. They've no doubt looked at Round 1 and will look to build on what they did at The Gardens. The side are one to watch in this grade and a similar performance to their season opener could see the three points go their way.

My Tip: South Cardiff 2-1 Cessnock City

Southy 17's just like most Southy grades will want to go one further and get the three points in their second match.




1st Grade:
Kahibah F.C (6th) v New Lambton F.C (2nd)
Kickoff: 7:15pm (Field 1)

You could almost put this above Cooks Hill v Belswans as a Match of the Round. Unfortunately the atmosphere will be lacking due to the venue change and the fact that the LMRFF isn't a good place for supporters or for club football. Nonetheless, it is what it is and if rain tumbles over Thursday and Friday, this could be the only game in town!

Kahibah left it late to start pre-season and now look smart for doing so. Round 3 and they've still not even played a match! Dave Hodgson is suspended for this game which is a significant out but the Green and Blacks have an abundance of talent going forward and the likes of Hadlow, Penfold and Gocha Abshilava all loom as suitable replacements for Hodgo's quality.

Talking about quality, that's the key word for New Lambton at West Wallsend two weeks ago. The Eagles return to the 2nd tier was like a dream as Andrew Packer's men turned on the style in an entertaining 6-2 victory over a rugged Westy outfit.

Nic Pepper stared with his entertaining goals but across the park you cannot point out a poor performer for the Eagles. McClure, Maloney, Casey, Jovcevski, there's a lot of talent and a lot of it young talent at the Eagles. They've got nothing to lose and everything to gain. A victory here would bring all sorts of confidence.

Prediction: It's hard to judge a Kahibah side who haven't played a competitive game but they are there for the taking. The Green and Blacks enter as favourites but New Lambton will be a tricky opposition to handle, especially on the synthetic turf. Don't rule out the Eagles but Kahibah are the favourites here.

My Tip: Kahibah F.C 2-1 New Lambton

Can Kahibah prevent Nick Pepper from scoring another high-quality goal?


Under 23's
Kahibah F.C (=6th) v New Lambton F.C (=6th)
Kickoff: 5:30pm (Field 1)

Kahibah's bye in Round 1 and wash-out last week has left them without a game but New Lambton will be delighted to see this moved to the LMRFF where rain is no concern. The Green and Blacks enter the season with a squad that has looked good at stages during pre-season and not good at other times. Consistency will be the key for pushing into finals.

New Lambton's fixture against Westy has been postponed three times, their match with Thornton was called off and no doubt they'll will be wondering if they'll ever get to start their season. Considering they'll have four games to play within a fortnight or so, the Eagles' will be hoping to kick it all off with a victory.

Prediction: The Eagles beat Kahibah in a pre-season encounter which gives them some confidence but on paper these sides look fairly even and with no actual games played yet, it's tough to pick a winner. The 2-2 draw popped up a few times in Round 1.

My Tip: Kahibah 2-2 New Lambton

Jackson Gosling is one of a few attacking options for Kahibah 23's.


Under 19's
Kahibah F.C (8th) v New Lambton F.C (1st)
Kickoff: 7:15pm (Field 2)

The heavily talked-about Kahibah 19's will play their first competitive game under new coach Jarrod Gorsuch and no doubt excitement will be high. There's been doubts about goalscoring but they put four past Dudley in a recent trial game and showed some good combinations whilst doing so. The side have dropped off at stages during pre-season and can't seldom afford to do the same on Sunday night.

New Lambton's arrival to the competition was scarcely believable as they stunned the pre-season premiership favourites at West Wallsend. Luke Homer's opener had a hint of offside but before questions could be asked, Homer had two and then a penalty for Maurice Bechelli before Lachlan Jones hammered home a brace in the second half. A solid effort, even after goalkeeper Ryan Fuller went off injured.

Prediction: Kahibah's quality will be firmly tested here. They beat New Lambton in pre-season but the Eagles are soaring after their first-up win and against a team that hasn't played a competitive fixture yet, they may just like the chances of causing another stir.

My Tip: Kahibah F.C 1-2 New Lambton

New Lambton 19's stunned title favourites Westy in a 5-0 Round 1 boil-over.


Under 17's
Kahibah F.C (=7th) v New Lambton F.C (=7th)
Kickoff: 5:30pm

The two pre-season contenders here on Newysports were West Wallsend and Kahibah in the 17's. Neither side have played yet and other sides have sent out statements of intent. The side have been boosted by some inclusions over the off-season. Kean Thomas and Liam Whitehead in particular loom as vital additions.

New Lambton's wash-out tally is now standing at four and the 17's will be chomping at the bit to get a game, more so than the 23's. These young Eagles have sat and watched the 19's and 1st Grade produce stunning results and will be keen to make their New-FM debuts on Sunday night. 

Prediction: The synthetic field will likely cause this to be a faster-paced game than normal and considering Kahibah like to move the ball, it plays a lot into their favour. It was a physical encounter at times when they met in pre-season and Kahibah won 3-0. The Green and Blacks have the quality on paper but you never know this early on.

My Tip: Kahibah F.C 3-1 New Lambton

Predicted title contenders Kahibah 17's will be playing their first match of the year on Sunday,




Under 15's Fixtures:

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