Thursday, 6 April 2017

PREVIEW: New-FM Northern League One Round 5


1st Grade:
West Wallsend SFC (5th) v Thornton Redbacks (8th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

Wash-outs have affected every side but Johnston Park is a place that has been washed out more times than any other fields. It's not helped by the fact that other teams have tried to move home games to 'Wembley'. Frustration will be growing among the playing group but at the time of writing, the weather and the forecast looks fairly positive. Gary Rowe will be delighted to get his team back on the park, as will Darrel McAllister.

In terms of the football, Westy have turned things around slightly since their opening loss to New Lambton. A win over Toronto and a respectable display against competition leaders Cooks Hill has re-installed some belief in the Bluebells and they'll be looking to get a win over a quality Redbacks side.

Ryan Cole is touted as one to watch at Westy but it's in midfield where they need to keep a consistent level of quality. Turnovers proved costly in their game against New Lambton. As for this weekend though, their biggest test is in the backline. They couldn't stop Cooks Hill's quality and the likes of Subat, McAllister and co. will be difficult to deal with.

Thornton haven't played since their Round 1 smashing of Cessnock City, although Darrel McAllister did get them a trial with Hamilton Olympic where they put in a solid display during their bye week. Thornton are touted as a dark-horse as they are every year but this year they want nothing more than a solid start to the season. Foundation is the key to success and the foundation is there.

Darrel McAllister was an interested onlooker for Westy's Round 1 game and is a coach who likes to note the opposition's weakness and try and get his side to pounce on it. He'll have a solid gameplan and Thornton will enter this game with confidence following their first-up win.

Prediction: Thornton are the favourites despite being the away side. There's still questions surrounding both sides this early on but if the Redbacks can show the same attacking threat that saw them ease past Cessnock, then they'll like their chances of making it 2 from 2.

My Tip: West Wallsend 1-3 Thornton Redbacks

Westy will need some firepower from their attacking threats to overcome Thornton.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Under 23's:
West Wallsend SFC (7th) v Thornton Redbacks (6th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

Westy 23's are travelling alright after two games. They lead the unstoppable Cooks Hill United 3-1 at half-time in a recent catch-up game but somehow found themselves beaten 5-3 at the AthField. They played some good football at times against a much better side than most in the competition. Positives will be taken out of the loss and confidence is there.

Thornton have only played the one game in the Under 23's this season and it's hard to judge them based on one fixture but it was an impressive 3-0 victory over rivals Cessnock City back in Round 1. Returning to the field this weekend, they will look to shake off any rust with another smooth performance, this time against a tougher opposition.

Prediction: West Wallsend have a bit more steel about them in the 23's than last year after their first two games but Thornton are definitely a side to contend with. The result may swing either way but it's surely going to be a closely-contested match-up.

My Tip: West Wallsend 1-1 Thornton Redbacks

Westy 23's have produced some decent football over the last couple of games.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Under 19's:
West Wallsend SFC (7th) v Thornton Redbacks (6th)
Kickoff: 11:00am

In two mixed results, Westy 19's went down 5-0 in a shocking Round 1 display against New Lambton but they cruised home against the Stags thanks largely to a four-goal haul from Josh Knight. A turn-around like that isn't a surprise as the Bluebells have arguably one of the best lineups on paper. They'll look to rise up the table with a win on Saturday.

Thornton have waited patiently to play another game. Their first-up 4-3 win over Cessnock was a topsy-turvy game and one where Josh Davies scored four goals. Since then they haven't played a game and will be itching to get back on the field. 

Prediction: Defence and goalkeeping will be key. With the two Josh's (Knight and Davies) scoring eight goals between them in their last appearance, both teams will have to be cautious of the opponent's ability to score a goal or two. As such, this could wind up to be a fairly high-scoring affair. Westy on paper have the better side.

My Tip: West Wallsend 4-2 Thornton Redbacks

Sam Hurney was very reliable at fullback during the pre-season.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Under 17's
West Wallsend SFC (7th) v Thornton Redbacks (9th)
Kickoff: 9:15am

Westy 17's have been disappointed by constant wash-outs, no less than six of them so far and will just want to get out on the park. They won their only match so far, a 3-2 victory over Toronto showed that this side have belief to win a tight game. They also possess talent to win games comfortably. Their attack is where they shine the most.

Thornton picked up a draw in the only game they've played and have had a little bit of squad movement over the last month since that game. Some fresh faces means perhaps some more confidence after a topsy-turvy pre-season. What is certain is that after a long month, the Redbacks will be enjoying their chance to finally put the boots back on.

Prediction: These sides met three months ago on the opening day of pre-season and Westy got the win that day and there's no question they enter as the favourites to do so again. Thornton's defence is the biggest question mark and Westy will be a stern as test as any for the Redbacks.

My Tip: West Wallsend 4-1 Thornton Redbacks

Thornton 17's have had a few players leaving and joining the squad so far in 2017.

------------------------------------------------------------------------


=========================================


1st Grade Match of the Round:
Cooks Hill United (1st) v Kahibah FC (9th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

It's early days but enough time has passed to call Cooks Hill a serious contender for the title and this is a game where they can go from contender to title favourites. Graham Law's side have been brilliant in the opening weeks and have a few players that are simply hard to stop. Lee Ashton in particular has been a stand-out.

Cooks Hill have never beaten Kahibah in New-FM competition. It's a blemish that they could throw out with a win on Saturday. The fact that this is a new-look Cooks Hill side proves that history doesn't linger in their minds. Graham Law watched Kahibah's game with New Lambton and he'll know exactly what is needed to beat the Green and Blacks.

Kahibah have only played the one game, a 2-2 draw with New Lambton and have a few games to play mid-week over the coming month (including next Tuesday's FFA Cup clash with ZL3 'minnows' Edgeworth juniors). Andre Gumprecht has probably been ripping his hair out with the amount of training sessions and more importantly games affected by the recent rain but this is a chance to get back to the football.

David Hodgson is in line to make his long-awaited Kahibah debut and with the likes of Jamie Hadlow and Jarrod Penfold (if he's overcome a facial injury) will look to cause headaches for a Cookers' defence that face their toughest test to date. It's sure to be the game of the year so far at the AthField.

Prediction: Make no mistake; anyone who's followed the Cooks Hill New-FM story will know all too well that false hope is a killer. This team is a different beast, this team is potentially the real deal and on Saturday they play the biggest game in the club's New-FM history. A win here solidifies Cooks Hill as the title favourites. Whatever the result, this is a helluva match on paper.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 3-2 Kahibah FC

Graham Law has Cooks Hill looking very dangerous during the early stages of the year.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Under 23's
Cooks Hill United (1st) v Kahibah FC (9th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

Cooks Hill 23's are flying higher than any team in any grade in the league. 21 goals scored in three games and a last-start come from behind 5-3 win over Westy that saw them down 3-1 at half-time shows their quality. Cookers' coach Asher Beasley leads the competition for goals scored. Nine in three games.

Kahibah based on their two games this year will be the proverbial deer in the headlights against the Cookers. Their last-start 3-3 draw with Toronto-Awaba was as disappointing as a loss and considering they lead 3-1, it leaves some doubt about their ability to ride out a result. This is a game against the best team in the competition so things need to improve and quickly.

Prediction: This prediction is almost academic based on form. Cooks Hill are scoring goals for fun, Kahibah's looking for something to turn-around what has been a poor start to the year. This very well could be a blow-out if Beasley, Augey and co. can get the best of Kahibah's defenders.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 6-1 Kahibah FC

Young fullback Ben Frohlich has been a consistent performer since joining Cooks Hill last year.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Under 19's:
Cooks Hill United (4th) v Kahibah FC (5th)
Kickoff: 11:00am

This shapes as one of the best matches all weekend as Cooks Hill look to prove their worth in the 19's against Kahibah F.C. The Cookers were involved in an entertaining 2-2 draw with Belswans in their last start and with the side they've got on paper, they'll be a tough side to beat for anyone in the competition.

Kahibah 19's come to the AthField with former Cooks Hill 1st Grade assistant coach Jarrod Gorsuch in charge and no doubt he's well aware of some of the talent Cooks Hill possesses. Kahibah have a good squad on paper but a performance like their first half against Toronto would see them down 4-0 or so against Cooks Hill. They won that game 3-0 and need their very best to win again at the AthField.

Prediction: Cooks Hill's attacking threat is one that Kahibah need to be cautious of. The Cookers have the slightly-better squad on paper and this game is one they'll no doubt be very keen to win. Expect a closely-fought game whichever way it may go but the Cookers are the tip.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 3-2 Kahibah FC

Lucas Emmett-Mourlet was one of Kahibah's best in the 3-0 win over Toronto last week.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Under 17's
Cooks Hill United (5th) v Kahibah FC (3rd)
Kickoff: 9:15am

So the old rivalry will be back on. Cooks Hill 17's v Kahibah 17's. This game has always been one to watch despite the squads obviously changing over the last three seasons. Cooks Hill picked up a solid win over Belswans in their last game to put a loss to Toronto in Round 1 firmly behind them. It was a true team effort as they passed the ball around well and scored four goals.

Kahibah produced a spectacular three goals in three minutes to down New Lambton in their first game but had to fight for a point against Toronto a week and a half ago. Daniel Keelan's quality strike gave them a 1-1 draw and he'll be one to watch this week. There's a lot of players in this team that have individual talent and if they can all play to their strengths then they'll enter any game as the favourites or at least equal odds.

Prediction: This is the most unpredictable match of the day. The 17's has thrown up a draw or two in the opening weeks as well as one or two unexpected results. Kahibah on paper probably just edge it but Cooks Hill at home will be a tricky opposition.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 1-2 Kahibah FC

Kahibah 17's will look to return to winning form at the AthField after a 1-1 draw with Toronto.

------------------------------------------------------------------------


=========================================


1st Grade:
New Lambton FC (4th) v Singleton Strikers (7th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

After months of planning and waiting, New Lambton finally make their long-awaited return to Alder Park this Sunday against the Singleton Strikers. A nomadic start to life in New-FM football saw them take a home game to Westy in Round 1 but Packer's Eagles are back home and will look to return to winning ways.

The Eagles were picked apart by South Cardiff last week in a result that brought them crashing down from their high-flying start to the year. Defensively they lacked the quality they showed against Kahibah as they conceded off of two set pieces. Nothing will anger Andrew Packer more than conceding goals from set plays so expect a more committed effort in that area this week.

Singleton's start to the season was a less than ideal one as they fell to Belswans and Wallsend in consecutive weeks but they rallied to come from behind and beat Cessnock in their last fixture, despite having to change one or two players around in the lineup.

 Kaylen Preddie was an impressive standout in that win over Cessnock but is one of a couple Strikers still trying to get rid of a niggling injury. They'll be down at least one player after young defender Corey Cleaver was placed on the long-term injury list after a horror facial injury suffered in the win. But confidence was higher in the defensive line with Preddie there and it'll be interesting to see where he is deployed if he does play on Sunday.

Prediction: Singleton are a very unpredictable side at the moment as their first few games have proven. New Lambton coming back to Alder Park will want nothing more than to return to the winners' circle after that 4-0 loss to Southy last week. This is a big day for the Eagles and it's them who'll enter as favourites on their home turf.

My Tip: New Lambton 3-1 Singleton Strikers

Sam Ford and Singleton will look to gate-crash New Lambton's homecoming.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Under 23's Match of the Round:
New Lambton FC (5th) v Singleton Strikers (3rd)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

Probably the one 23's match this weekend that stands out. New Lambton's start to the season was superb as they blew Kahibah off the park in a 5-1 win but they were brought back to Earth last weekend at Ulinga Oval. After leading 2-0 at half-time, the Eagles collapsed to a 3-2 loss. Very frustrating to say the least but an early wake-up call that the comp is indeed a tough one.

Singleton 23's themselves provided a come-from-behind win in their last start as they stunned Cessnock 5-2. With ten men and 2-0 down at the break, the Strikers fired in five unanswered goals and have a few players full of confidence like Callan Stubbs who has 6 goals (5 of them coming in the 23's).

Prediction: Singleton's comeback against Cessnock was a good one but they're up against a stern test in the form of New Lambton this weekend. The Eagles won't want to lose their first game on home turf. With a bit of luck, New Lambton might just scrape home.

My Tip: New Lambton 3-2 Singleton Strikers

Singleton 23's produced a memorable comeback to down Cessnock 5-2 in their last game.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Under 19's Match of the Round:
New Lambton FC (1st) v Singleton Strikers (2nd)
Kickoff: 11:00am

Two surprise packets in the early stages of the 19's will meet on Sunday in the Match of the Round. New Lambton's introduction to NewFM football has seen them win three games from three starts and the players they possess are as good as any side in the competition. A team effort last week saw them down Southy 5-2.

Singleton are a much different force with Sam Ford in charge. The likeable Englishman is quality in 1st Grade but it's the coaching ranks where he's shining the most in 2017. The team are playing some good football and showing some excellent teamwork. This win would be their biggest yet if they can pull it off. They'll put their best foot forward and go for the three points, you can bank on that.

Prediction: The Strikers are producing the goods at the moment in the 19's but this will be their toughest test to date. New Lambton are flying high, 3 from 3 and for their first game back at Alder Park, no doubt the Eagles will look to continue their reign on top of the table.

My Tip: New Lambton 3-2 Singleton Strikers

Eagles keeper Ryan Fuller has as reliable a defence as any in the Under 19's competition

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Under 17's:
New Lambton FC (8th) v Singleton Strikers (11th)
Kickoff: 9:15am

New Lambton 17's bounced back last week from a shock 4-1 loss to Kahibah in their first game where they conceded three late goals with a 2-1 win over South Cardiff. Connor Tindall and Toby Mellon were the goalscorers in the hard-fought win. This week they're at Alder Park for the first time and no doubt the players will be excited about playing at the club's home ground.

Singleton's start to the year has been rather poor. A goal difference of -11 and three straight losses has the Strikers looking for answers and they came very close to getting a point in their last game against Cessnock if not for a missed penalty right on full-time. They need to kick-start things soon.

Prediction: Singleton are struggling to find their feet after changing the squad a fair bit due to players 'ageing up' to the 19's. New Lambton at home will see this as a chance to get back to back wins and on form alone they should be able to do just that.

My Tip: New Lambton 3-1 Singleton Strikers

New Lambton 17's will look to win their first game against a struggling Singleton side.

------------------------------------------------------------------------


=========================================


1st Grade:
Toronto-Awaba (11th) v South Cardiff (3rd)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

Toronto-Awaba are lingering at the foot of the table after two games but they'll be looking to pick up some much-needed points on Sunday. Going forward the Stags certainly can cause a headache or two and were boosted in their last fixture by the returning Blake Glennie. It's at the back where the questions will be asked.

Goalkeeper Blake Redman is a much-needed addition to the squad after serving a two-game ban and Adam Routledge will be thankful to have his first-pick stopper back in the squad after some headaches with youngster Sam Cresswell getting injured and being forced to quickly recruit Jed Partridge as the new 2nd-choice shot-stopper.

South Cardiff last week put in one of the displays of the season to spoil New Lambton's dream start. Denis Fajkovic's Gunners rocketed to a 4-0 win in front of a vocal Ulinga Oval crowd and the gaffer himself was able to get his name on the scoresheet with a neat left-footed strike.

The troubling thing for anyone playing South Cardiff is that they don't have one or two stand-outs. They have a side that can really threaten across the park and with two wins from two games, their confidence will be sky high. Denis Fajkovic has been a keen onlooker at a few New-FM fixtures and is a coach who seems to be striving for improvement each and every week.

Prediction: Toronto will be improved defensively with Blake Redman back between the sticks but South Cardiff enter this game as the favourites. The Gunners can really hammer home their fast-start with a win here and based on how the teams have looked so far, Southy should be winning this.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 1-4 South Cardiff

Southy are flying high after two wins in their first two games.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Under 23's:
Toronto-Awaba (10th) v South Cardiff (4th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

Toronto were lingering towards another defeat in their last game. 3-1 down to Kahibah in torrential rain but then they rallied to produce a comeback and really should have won it in the end. The Stags 23's have brought in reinforcements and suddenly look an improved side. There's still a way to go though.

South Cardiff know all about coming from behind. They did it against Wallsend for a 1-1 draw and against New Lambton last week, they produced a thrilling second half to come from 2-0 down and win 3-2. Zac Tapp was the star of the show as he bagged a hat-trick to seal the win.  

Prediction: Toronto re-installed some belief with their 3-3 draw against Kahibah but this week they face a team that is the real deal. Southy played some quality football in the second half last week and more of the same should guide them to victory in this one.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 0-3 South Cardiff

Toronto 23's produced a comeback to draw with Kahibah in terrible conditions.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Under 19's
Toronto-Awaba (10th) v South Cardiff (9th)
Kickoff: 11:00am

Toronto 19's are a side that looked dangerous in pre-season but have failed to convert that into the competition. A tight loss to Cooks Hill wasn't the worst thing in the world but they lacked the edge needed when they went down 3-0 to Kahibah in a recent mid-week fixture. They've got players who can strike but their strategy was questionable as they failed to really take it to Kahibah in that game.

South Cardiff need to pick up some momentum after losing last weekend to New Lambton. The Gunners will feel as though they can really take it to the competition in 2017 and this game is one they'll have marked down as a chance to kick-start their campaign.

Prediction: Either side can definitely win this if they put their front foot forward but as mentioned, there is still some doubt about Toronto. Southy are no easybeats but they also aren't a side that'll score goals for fun (ala Westy in their game against the Stags). A loss for Toronto here would really leave them in an early-season hole.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 2-1 South Cardiff

Liam Parkinson and Southy will look to bounce back from last week's loss to New Lambton.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Under 17's
Toronto-Awaba (4th) v South Cardiff (10th)
Kickoff: 9:15am

Toronto 17's have really stood firm to the test in their first few games. A win over Cooks Hill, a closely-fought loss to a quality Westy side and a 1-1 draw with a quality Kahibah side. The likes of Arbi Watt in defence really stood out in that midweek draw with Kahibah and with a solid midfield, the Stags will trouble any side.

South Cardiff have a game in hand and would possibly jump Toronto with a win which shows just how early it is for some of these teams. A tight loss to New Lambton last weekend will leave the Gunners wanting more and this game proves a chance to get just that. Their attack will have to be at its best to get the best of Toronto.

Prediction: This is an interesting match-up on paper with both sides offering a lot over the games they've played. It's a chance for Toronto to consolidate a top four spot and for Southy to get their first win of the season. At home a Stags win is certainly a possibility but Southy seem like they might just get it.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 1-2 South Cardiff

Youngster Brock Redman was a busy keeper against Kahibah, playing all of 17's and then the 19's straight after.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

=========================================


1st Grade:
Cessnock City (10th) v Wallsend FC (6th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

This is one of the most intriguing matches of the weekend. Cessnock City should have defeated a poor Belswans side last weekend and were hampered by a raft of misses chances, a few of those to Max Wallington. Jason Zechel was superb and scored a goal to match his performance but he too was struck by the missed chances bug.

Lino Gatti himself joked after last week's game that the side would be off to shooting practise and if they can find the target then their a side that will definitely score a goal or two in most matches. Defence is where they'll win or lose this Goalkeeper Mat Zechel is reliable but his defenders can drop off at times, as they did in their loss to Singleton two weeks ago.

Wallsend F.C played their long-awaited Grand Final rematch with Belmont-Swansea last night and were fairly well-beaten. Even before Matt Williams was shown a second yellow for stepping on a Belswans player, the Red Devils lacked that clinical attacking threat. It was a drop from the display they put in against Singleton.

Obviously having a full compliment will help Chris Gallagher's side but losing Matt Williams to suspension will prove costly. They do have players to replace Williams but he has been a key cog going forward in their first few games. Last night would have hurt them but they can ill-afford to rest on it. Chris Gallagher will be priming his side for a return to winning ways.

Prediction: Cessnock were shock winners last time the Red Devils visited Turner Park in New-FM competition (not counting the Heritage Cup). Gatti's side looked good at times against Belswans and if they can find the back of the net then why not give them a chance of a first victory of the year.

My Tip: Cessnock City 2-1 Wallsend FC

Cessnock were winners last time Wallsend came to town. Jason Zechel was part of a losing Red Devils side that day.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Under 23's
Cessnock City (11th) v Wallsend FC (8th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

Cessnock City bounced back from a horror second half collapse against a ten-man Singleton with a more respectable display against Belswans last Saturday. Still, a lack of clinical finishing proved costly and they'd go 1-0 in fairly disappointing fashion. Still, some signs that the side are capable of pulling a result if they can find the target.

Talking about finding the target. Wallsend were unable to do that on Wednesday night against Belswans and recorded a scoreless draw despite looking the better side on the night. There's some attackers in this side that with some luck can score some goals, no doubt about that.

Prediction: Both sides need goals after missing chances in their last couple of games so expect to see a goal or two in this fixture. Cessnock at home will feel as though this is a match they can win but Wallsend is a side that just look ready to click and they may do so on Sunday. A few players on both sides met in the Heritage Cup and Wallsend won that one. Expect the same.

My Tip: Cessnock City 1-3 Wallsend FC

Josh Bailey has been one of many youngsters that's received praise from Hornets coach Lino Gatti.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Under 19's
Cessnock City (11th) v Wallsend FC (8th)
Kickoff: 11:00am

A totally ruthless Belswans put Cessnock's poor defence to the sword last week in the Under 19's. An 8-0 win could have been a lot more if not for goalkeeper Brandon Zechel who put his body on the line to try and make up for what some of his teammates were creating, space and tonnes of it and therefore easy chances.

Wallsend's lineup will be interesting. If they deploy Juma Saidi and Boniface Horihoze on opposite flanks then it could be a high-scoring affair. They can ill-afford to take this game lightly as they've started the season with less than what they would have been planning. The Red Devils were poor against Singleton last time out.

Prediction: This is a must-win for Wallsend. Whilst it's early days and one shouldn't be writing teams off, Cessnock lacked last week and left enough space to drive a bus through at times. An improved defensive effort will be expected but it'd be a huge turn-around to get a result here.

My Tip: Cessnock City 0-4 Wallsend FC

Angelos Karvelis and Wallsend will look to record their first win of the season in the U19's over a struggling Hornets side.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Under 17's Match of the Round:
Cessnock City (1st) v Wallsend FC (2nd)
Kickoff: 9:15am

It's early days yes but Cessnock 17's are on all by themselves at the top of the league and flying high. They're facing their toughest test to date when Wallsend come to Turner Park though. Lucas Zechel was the unlikely hero last weekend scoring a rare goal and a quality one at that to give the Hornets a win over Belswans and confidence will be fairly high in the squad after that.

Wallsend can return to the top with a win and have a game in hand on Cessnock. The Red Devils put the sword to Singleton in their last game, a team that Cessnock only just beat and the likes of Ben Smith and Jack Benson looked quality in that last-start victory. An early-season top of the table clash will have them excited for Sunday.

Prediction: Cessnock go in as underdogs despite being on top of the table. This is indeed their toughest game yet and there's still doubt this side can continue this good run. A win would do wonders for their belief this season but Wallsend are a high-quality outfit on their day.

My Tip: Cessnock City 1-3 Wallsend FC

Wallsend will look to break Cessnock's early-season unbeaten streak.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

============================================


=========================================

Under 15's Fixtures:





No comments:

Post a Comment