Thursday, 20 April 2017

PREVIEW: New-FM Northern League One Round 7 (Newysports PRIDE Round)


1st Grade:
West Wallsend SFC (9th) v Singleton Strikers (8th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

West Wallsend didn't get a chance to play their match last week against South Cardiff due to a lighting failure so the Bluebells will be in action for the first time since a fiery 6-1 loss to Thornton two weeks ago. In that game they lost Head Coach Gary Rowe and Tye Jones to send offs and the fallout from that is still ongoing. Both will be suspended from this fixture.

Poor discipline aside, the Bluebells have shipped six goals at Johnston Park twice this season. Nowhere near what they were planning at the start of the year. Going forward they offer a bit but at times defensively, they've been completely torn apart. It's that sort of inconsistency that has cost them over the past couple of seasons.

Singleton's 4-2 win over Toronto-Awaba last week restored some belief in how the Strikers want to play in 2017 but it still left a lot to be desired. It certainly wasn't the glossy finished product David Willoughby was hoping for but it was a fairly solid performance in patches. Joe Civello's hat-trick played a large part in the win.

Mark and Michael Bruzzese are two short-term additions to the Strikers team from Victoria and they both showed their qualities last weekend added some much needed experience and belief into a young Singleton squad. 

Prediction: The home side have to show some belief. They aren't a team that do well when they're chasing the game from behind. Cool heads must prevail. Singleton on paper seem to have the more settled squad heading into this game. 

My Tip: West Wallsend 1-4 Singleton Strikers


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Under 23's:
West Wallsend SFC (6th) v Singleton Strikers (3rd)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

West Wallsend 23's have certainly solidified their defensive ranks in their past two games. After conceding six goals to Thornton, they beat New Lambton 1-0 before drawing with 2nd-placed South Cardiff 1-1. Admittedly, a couple of 1st Graders did fill in for that win over New Lambton with Ryan Cole scoring the only goal on the night. But the Bluebells do have a bit more to like about their chances so far this season.

Singleton dropped two points in a scoreless draw with Toronto last week which no doubt left them feeling disappointed. They weren't good enough on the day to win it and they wasted their key chances, something they can ill-afford to keep doing. With three wins and a draw in their past four games, the Strikers do have a little bit of momentum going into this one. Scoring goals will be the key.

Prediction: Whilst Westy's last two results have been solid, it's still uncertain just how they'll go against Singleton. The Strikers are unpredictable, if they can find their scoring form, they'll win but if they don't then it may just be an open door for Westy to take the win.

My Tip: West Wallsend 1-3 Singleton Strikers


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Under 19's
West Wallsend SFC (3rd) v Singleton Strikers (4th)
Kickoff: 11:00am

Westy 19's propelled themselves to a big 4-0 win over South Cardiff last week, exactly a week after losing Jaryd Hayter long-term to a horror injury. James Barnes grabbed a double at Southy and was joined in the scoresheet by Dan Roxby and 17's player Blake Ciappara. The Bluebells have won three-straight and will look for another solid victory.

Singleton are definitely no easy beats. They've lost their last two games but Toronto last week had to produce some quality goals to get past a spirited Singo side. The Strikers have the quality needed to cause a stir away from home but whether they can or not is the question.

Prediction: Singleton will definitely prove to be a more tricky opponent than some Westy have played so far but the Bluebells will like their chances of a victory on their home turf. This is a real chance to solidify their spot inside the top four with two catch-up games still to play.

My Tip: West Wallsend 3-1 Singleton Strikers


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Under 17's
West Wallsend SFC (=2nd) v Singleton Strikers (11th)
Kickoff: 9:15am

Westy 17's endured a slow start to the year with multiple games washed-out. Their latest result was a solid win over South Cardiff last weekend and they have a few attacking options that can be a threat on their day. Sam Whyburn and Khye Drayton keep popping up on the scoresheet whilst Blake Ciappara scored off the bench for the 19's last week. With ten points in 4 games, things are travelling nicely so far for a side many tipped to push for the title.

It's the complete opposite story for the Singleton 17's. Five losses in five games, 22 goals conceded and almost zero luck in front of goals. Ayden Borkowski is one who has seen a few chances go wayward but defensively, they need to really start turning things around. This game will be a difficult one to do just that.

Prediction: It's a big ask for Singleton to get anything out of this game. West Wallsend at home is a tricky test for any side let alone one that is sitting in 11th position. Singleton's defence just hasn't been solid enough and if they play similar to last week, this could be a bigger loss.

My Tip: West Wallsend 6-1 Singleton Strikers



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*MOVED TO THE LMRFF*

1st Grade Match of the Round:
Cooks Hill United (1st) v Thornton Redbacks (6th)
Kickoff: 2:45pm (Field 1)

Unfortunately the Newcastle Athletics Field will be receiving it's new track over the coming days so it's been deemed unusable for Saturday meaning Cooks Hill have moved their games to the LMRFF. Not an ideal situation but the Cookers did spend all summer training on the synthetic surface so they'll be used to it. Thornton have also played twice out there, against Cooks Hill and Olympic.

Last night Cooks Hill defeated Wallsend, a feat they've been unable to do over a few seasons now. The first-half was fairly solid with some quality goals but again the Cookers did drop off in the second half and it's sides like Thornton who'll look to punish that. Graham Law is adamant on his side becoming a 90-minute team. Law is a coach who wants team performance to be as crucial as the actual result.

Thornton's form going into this is perfect. Two wins from two games but Darrel McAllister and co. must be tearing their hair out after the amount of wash-outs they've faced. Last week Thornton Park was unplayable and then the electrical issues at Alder Park meant Wednesday's game v New Lambton was canned. They'll be delighted just to get back on the park.

The Redbacks have scored 11 goals in two fixtures this season, albeit against lower-table sides Cessnock and West Wallsend. This is as good a test as they'll get all season. 2017 looks to be a year where Thornton go that next level and knocking off the ladder-leaders will set them up perfectly for the weeks ahead. Keep an eye out for Nathan McAllister and Jamie Subat who are scoring a few goals between them this season.

Prediction: Losing home advantage isn't ideal for Cooks Hill but the LMRFF has been their home all pre-season so it's familiar territory. If they produce their best, few teams can match them but they have dropped off in the second half of their last two fixtures. Three games in a week is a test too. Thornton could send a real statement with a win here.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 1-3 Thornton Redbacks


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Under 23's:
Cooks Hill United (1st) v Thornton Redbacks (7th)
Kickoff: 1:00pm (Field 1)

After five-straight wins to open the season, Cooks Hill's 23's tasted defeat for the first time this season to a fired-up Wallsend last night at The Gardens. The Cookers' couldn't rescue a point after an uncharacteristic first half performance left them chasing down a 3-1 lead at the break. In some football minds, perhaps this was the loss they needed to really find their potential.

Thornton 23's haven't played a lot of football (only two games so far) but they've produced two quality results so far. A 3-0 win over Cessnock was followed a month later by a 6-1 win over Westy. Only having two games in a month, the Redbacks will be fired up for this trip to the LMRFF. There's one or two former Redbacks in the Cookers camp. Jordan Smallhorne and Damian Spohr come to mind.

Prediction: Thornton are two from two but they're up against a Cooks Hill side that will be determined to bounce back from Wednesday night's loss. The slick LMRFF synthetic pitch will play a part and Cooks Hill as the table-toppers will go in as favourites. Still, they'll need more than they produced last night.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United


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Under 19's Match of the Round:
Cooks Hill United (2nd) v Thornton Redbacks (5th)
Kickoff: 2:45pm (Field 2)

The Match of the Round in the 19's sees Cooks Hill host an unpredictable Thornton Redbacks side. The Cookers are in action tonight against Wallsend but after putting six past Cessnock last week, confidence is surely rising in the minds of their attackers. Dylan McGarrigle and Jayden Wiggins had a field day against a sloppy Cessnock defence.

They will test Thornton's defence which still remains a big question mark about that squad. Their 4-2 midweek win over New Lambton showed attacking quality with Edan Ruddy being a stand-out but one or two worrying moments defensively saw chances for the Eagles. Cooks Hill have the quality to pounce on that sort of insecurity. This is a real test of Thornton's resolve.

Prediction: Expect goals on the fast-synthetic track. Both sides possess goalscorers but it's at the back where this game will be won or lost. A look at the line-ups show that Cooks Hill probably have the better defenders on paper and that could prove vital.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 4-2 Thornton Redbacks


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Under 17's
Cooks Hill United (5th) v Thornton Redbacks (9th)
Kickoff: 1:00pm (Field 2)

Cooks Hill's 17's picked up a 2-0 win against Cessnock last week but it wasn't as convincing as they would have liked. It was a fixture where they did just enough to win it. They've got a game against Wallsend tonight that will see one side go to that next level. Solidifying the team's combinations will be the key factor over the coming weeks as the season passes the quarter mark.

Thornton's defence was the biggest question mark heading into their catch-up fixture with New Lambton and one or two errors proved costly enough to see them lose that game 2-0. Going forward they lacked the combinations to turn midfield possession into attacking threat. This game will again be a very difficult test for them.

Prediction: This prediction may change tomorrow based on Cooks Hill's performance in tonight's (Thursday) game. That said, they have the quality to overcome a Thornton side that is still finding the sort of football needed to get results this season.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 3-1 Thornton Redbacks


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1st Grade:
New Lambton FC (5th) v Wallsend FC (7th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

After missing their midweek match against Thornton due to lighting issues, the Eagles will be roaring to get back on the pitch and try to put last week's loss to Belmont-Swansea behind them. They showed good signs at times against the 2016 Runner-Ups but they'll need a consistent effort to down the defending champions.

New Lambton did train at Alder Park on Wednesday when the 17's and 19's were playing and new goalkeeper Josh Cox was in attendance at said training session. Having Cox join up will boost their ranks and give competition to Keegan Pulik who has been fairly reliable as of late. Andrew Packer will no doubt enjoy having two keepers to pick from.

Wallsend's loss last night to Cooks Hill certainly wasn't a poor result. They were down 3-0 at half-time to three well-worked goals but they fought hard in the second half and with a bit more luck in front of goals they could have potentially pushed for a draw. It was a loss but one the side will look to simply move on from fairly quickly.

Ethan Coker scored their goal last night and despite being fairly short for a striker, he rose for a header that came off the crossbar and could have made it 1-1 at The Gardens and arguably a different game. There's some players in 23's too that may very well push for a 1st Grade spot this weekend. It'll be interesting to see who Chris Gallagher will favour. 

Prediction: These sides do have a history in the Zone Premier League but there's not too many players involved now that were three or four years ago. Chris Gallagher will know what the Eagles offer and how that club fight for the result. At Alder Park, New Lambton will look to bounce back into winning form.

My Tip: New Lambton 2-1 Wallsend FC


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Under 23's:
New Lambton FC (8th) v Wallsend FC (5th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

It's safe to say that the wheels have fallen off the New Lambton 23's bus after four-straight defeats. A first-up 5-1 win over Kahibah sent a message to the competition but since then, the Eagles have dropped games they could have won and slumped a massive 12 points behind leaders Cooks Hill. It's getting to a point where they simply need to turn it around.

Wallsend's midweek win over Cooks Hill was arguably the shock of the season in the Under 23's so far. The Red Devils produced some quality to see off the previously unbeaten Cookers and will look to build on that on Sunday. Goalscoring was an issue for them but they scored three last night and they do have some confidence about their play.

Prediction: New Lambton at home will probably see this as must-win. They sit seven points outside the top four and playing a game of catch-up isn't ideal. This weekend is the quarter point of the season when you consider wash-outs so it's important they go for the win.

My Tip: New Lambton 2-1 Wallsend FC


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Under 19's
New Lambton FC (1st) v Wallsend FC (11th)
Kickoff: 11:00am

As of writing (and this preview may change on Friday), Wallsend sit last in the Under 19's, the only side without a win in 2017. New Lambton may lose top spot if the Red Devils lose by three or more tonight but as for now they sit top of the table and deservedly so. They've been quality so far.

But, cracks have began to show in the seemingly untouchable Eagles side. They fought hard to draw 2-2 with Belswans last week and then on Tuesday night they were beaten 4-2 by Thornton in a bit of a shock result. They just lacked the quality on the night that saw them produce the goods through the first month of the competition. Not a huge worry but they need to get back on track quickly.

Prediction: No doubt there may be one or two Eagles in the stands for the Wallsend game tonight trying to get an indication of just what to expect on Sunday. The Red Devils will bring the fight to Alder Park but New Lambton going forward just seem to have the better form.

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


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Under 17's
New Lambton FC (1st) v Wallsend FC (4th)
Kickoff: 9:15am

By the time this game kicks off at Alder Park, Wallsend may very well sit in 2nd spot. They face Cooks Hill tonight in a catch-up fixture. New Lambton picked up a 2-0 win in their catch-up match with Thornton on Tuesday which was their fourth-straight victory. They've really come from nowhere to lead the competition. No one standout player either, they have options across the park.

Wallsend as mentioned face Cooks Hill tonight and will look to win that after last week's bye. A win tonight and a win on Sunday will take them to the top of the league and they certainly have some players capable of doing just that. This is definitely their toughest opponents to date as they face New Lambton and it'll be a test for the Red Devils.

Prediction: New Lambton will keep an eye out for Wallsend's result tonight but the Eagles at home deserve to go into this one as favourites. They'll need a little bit better of a performance than the effort they gave against Thornton to see off what is a quality Wallsend outfit.

My Tip: New Lambton 2-1 Wallsend FC


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1st Grade:
Kahibah FC (4th) v South Cardiff 
Kickoff: 2:30pm

New-FM football returns to Kahibah Oval for the first time in 2017 this weekend when Kahibah host South Cardiff. The Green and Blacks are coming off two quality wins in their last two outings. A heartstopping 4-3 victory over Cooks Hill United and a more clinical 5-0 win over Toronto last night. That 5-0 win could have been more if not for one or two missed chances.

When taking the FFA Cup into account, Andre Gumprecht's side have scored 13 goals in their last three competitive games. They've got plenty of options going forward. Penfold, Abshilava, Hadlow and even the likes of Jayden Demir as he returns to full fitness. Kahibah are playing catch-up after missing more games than any other side bar Thornton in 1st Grade.

South Cardiff's midweek 5-1 win over Cessnock City was just like Kahibah's win down the road at the LMRFF, fairly convincing and a solid performance across the park. Troy Runge scored twice, Klaudon Ahmataj got a double and Denis Fajkovic stamped his name onto the scoresheet once again. The Gunners are playing some good football in 2017.

This is an all-top four encounter and even at this stage of the season, both teams will be adamant on getting a result. South Cardiff weren't a side that travelled well in 2016. They only won two away games all season. After losing a tight game to Toronto last time they left Ulinga, the Gunners will be looking for at least a point against a tricky Kahibah side.

Prediction: South Cardiff if they produce their best will provide a very difficult test for Kahibah but considering the Green and Blacks saw off a barnstorming Cooks Hill side in that Round 5 thriller, confidence must be high in the squad that they can turn Kahibah Oval into a fortress this season. Home advantage could get them over the line.

My Tip: Kahibah FC 3-1 South Cardiff


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Under 23's:
Kahibah FC (10th) v South Cardiff (2nd)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

Kahibah 23's were awfully close to knocking off Cooks Hill in their last game but they fell to a late penalty in that 1-0 loss and now they sit a whopping 14 points behind the ladder-leaders. A 5-1 loss to New Lambton was awful, a 3-3 draw with Toronto terrible but that performance against Cooks Hill showed some fight and character. There's no better place than home for Kahibah to kickstart their campaign.

South Cardiff grounded out a tight 1-0 win over Cessnock last night to move into 2nd place. Zac Tapp scored his 7th goal of the season to give the Gunners a vital three points on home turf and he has to be one to watch out for on Sunday as he's in a purple patch of form. This could be a very tightly contested match in the Under 23's.

Prediction: Kahibah dealt well with Cooks Hill in their last outing but South Cardiff are a challenging prospect. Still, Southy only getting one against Cessnock leaves a little bit to be desired. This could be the chance for Kahibah to put some runs on the board so to speak. Newysports likes the draw here though.

My Tip: Kahibah FC 1-1 South Cardiff


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Under 19's
Kahibah FC (8th) v South Cardiff (7th)
Kickoff: 11:00am

Kahibah 19's have apparently brought in a new player in the form of Kaileb O'Donoghue from Valentine. That addition will boost the stocks of Jarrod Gorsuch's side. They've been lacking at times this season and they certainly need to knuckle down, put in the hard yards and produce the results or they'll languish in the middle/lower portion of the table. Sunday offers a chance to get their season moving with a big win.

South Cardiff showed some decent signs in their first couple of games but the wheels fell off last week when they were well-beaten, 4-0 by West Wallsend. They are an unpredictable side though so it's certainly not time to hit the panic button just yet. Just like Kahibah, Sunday offers a chance for Southy to really get some momentum going for their season.

Prediction: Kahibah posses the better lineup on paper but whether they put their best foot forward is the question. Lucas Emmett-Mourlet will be hunting a goal or two against his former club whilst the aforementioned O'Donoghue could be a late debutante if rumours are correct.

My Tip: Kahibah FC


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Under 17's
Kahibah FC (7th) v South Cardiff (10th)
Kickoff: 9:15am

Kahibah 17's have only played one 9:15am kickoff in their three games this season. It's been a pretty wild start to the season but with two weeks since their last fixture, they'll come into their first game at Kahibah Oval with some hope that they can get the points. Confidence won't be high after dropping two points in the final seconds at Cooks Hill two weeks ago but they'll look to put that firmly behind them.

Southy face Cessnock City tonight in what is a chance to gain their first win of the season. They fell to a loss against West Wallsend last weekend and with only the lone point gained from four fixtures, they'll be aiming to get their first win of the year soon enough.

Prediction: Southy are a slightly unpredictable side in most grades but Kahibah 17's on their home turf will look to gain their second win of the season. They've got the players going forward to do damage and a very solid defensive line that will look to lock things down after conceding the late goal last time out.

My Tip: Kahibah FC 2-0 South Cardiff


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*MOVED TO JOHNSTON PARK*

1st Grade:
Toronto-Awaba (10th) v Belmont-Swansea (2nd)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

 A week ago, Newysports was predicting Toronto to beat Singleton. A week and two games later, the Stags have conceded nine goals in two matches. They showed patches of quality against Singleton last week but missed the crucial finish in front of goal.

Then on Wednesday, an undermanned and fatigued Stags side went down 5-0 to Kahibah F.C. Nick Roberts missed the match after a head knock last week, Blake Glennie played injured and there were some other players who didn't feature. Key player Michael Bru has apparently left the club bound for Charlestown in the NPL. It hasn't been the best week for the Stags but they'll look to erase it all with a big win on Sunday.

Belmont-Swansea's hard-fought 2-1 win over New Lambton moved them into 2nd-place and Josh Rufo's side will be primed for another big fixture here. They've got Edgeworth coming up soon in the FFA Cup so times are certainly interesting at Blacksmiths.

Tega Marcus has been key in front of goals but there's been some decent performers elsewhere on the park. Sean Matthews is showing quality despite being one of the older heads in the competition whilst both Matt Redmond and Ben Parmenter are doing quality work in goals. Having options like that will have Belswans feeling good about their chances in the next few weeks.

Prediction: Toronto stunned Belswans twice last year. A scoreless draw at Blacksmiths then a gutsy 2-1 victory at Lyall Peacock. This game will be played at Johnston Park and it's a different Belswans side. The Stags are probably a few weeks away from hitting their potential. Belswans to win it.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 1-3 Belmont-Swansea


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Under 23's:
Toronto-Awaba (9th) v Belmont-Swansea (4th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

Toronto just like Singleton were ruing missed chances in last Saturday's scoreless draw at Howe Park. The Stags showed a lot of character to pick up the clean sheet which will help install some confidence in their side's defence. Still they did ride their luck at times at Singleton. Nonetheless, getting three points is the next step as they look to create some separation between them and the foot of the table.

Belmont-Swansea sit in 4th place with three wins from five games. Those three wins were all dogfight sort of games. 1-0 wins where the side don't really play to their potential and to a lesser extent 'win ugly'. It's not the worst thing in the world as three points is always paramount but football-wise, there are better performing sides sitting lower on the table. They'll want to kick-on and prove themselves as a quality outfit.

Prediction: Toronto's home field advantage is sacrificed this week but they'll know the field well at Johnston Park after playing there a few weeks back. Belswans will look to put in another good defensive shift and if they can score more than one goal, then they should get the win. Toronto will be keen to get their first win though so it could be a tight one.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 1-2 Belmont-Swansea


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Under 19's
Toronto-Awaba (9th) v Belmont-Swansea (6th)
Kickoff: 11:00am

There were wild scenes of celebration at Howe Park last Saturday as Toronto 19's put in the hard yards to pick up their first victory of the season. Connor Morgan was key for them and Ben Hastings free-kick was superb. It was a true team effort with all hands on deck and exactly what the Stags needed after some poor results to begin the year.

Belmont-Swansea have been involved in two high-intensity and entertaining 2-2 draws in recent weeks and will look to go one step further and record a win against Toronto. Joel Nicholson was a big out for them last week and if returns then they'll have one extra option going forward. A lot of talk is about the likes of Ellis and Dundas going forward but watch for Arch Johnson and David Swain. They've both been reliable in transition. 

Prediction: Toronto's confidence will be high after last week's victory over Singleton but Belswans certainly possess one of the more threatening strike forces in the competition. Defensively there were one or two worrying moments for the Stags last week and it's right there that this game will be won or lost.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 2-4 Belmont-Swansea


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Under 17's
Toronto-Awaba (=2nd) v Belmont-Swansea (8th)
Kickoff: 9:15am

With a solid 3-0 over Singleton last weekend, Toronto 17's put more of a foothold into their spot inside the top four. Andrew Clempson was key for them with two goals but defensively they stood firm. Young goalkeeper Brock Redman picked up a deserved clean sheet and his defenders were very reliable.

Belmont-Swansea were comprehensively beaten last weekend, 4-0 by New Lambton. Discipline lacked a little and Mitchell Boyce was sent off for picking up a second yellow card for kicking the ball away. Missing for them last week was centre back Solomon Amos who was Man of the Match in each of their first three matches. Defensively they just weren't up for the battle with the Eagles.

Prediction: Belmont-Swansea will threaten with some decent attackers but Toronto have a stern defence in the 17's. Arbi Watt is a real stand-out so far this season. Belswans will offer more than Singleton did last week but the Stags will be looking for another quality victory.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 3-1 Belmont-Swansea



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Under 15's Fixtures:



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