Friday, 12 May 2017

PREVIEW: New-FM Northern League One Round 10


1st Grade Match of the Round:
Belmont-Swansea (4th) v Thornton Redbacks (2nd)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

What an intriguing fixture to headline Round 10. Belmont-Swansea are coming off three rather unconvincing results. A 4-3 loss to Toronto, a late worry and a 4-3 win over Westy and last week's 2-0 loss to rivals Kahibah. Josh Rufo's side didn't take their chances at Kahibah Oval and fell to a 3rd loss to the season.

Josh Rufo isn't a coach who'll sit by idly. With an expected full-strength side to choose from this weekend, Rufo will be looking to make a statement with a big result at home. Considering some of Belswans' struggles this season, their home form is rather solid, apart from a draw against Cessnock and that late drop-off against Westy.

Thornton are in blitzing form with four wins in their last four New-FM games. Darrel McAllister's side is the top scoring side in the competition but have the ability to grind out the tough games. A 2-0 win over Singleton and a 3-1 midweek win over New Lambton has the Redbacks on the verge of drawing level on points with Cooks Hill, whether it be just for 24 hours and they still have a game against Kahibah on Wednesday to play.

Apart from Cooks Hill, Thornton are the most exciting side in the competition to watch. Unlike Cooks Hill, the Redbacks employ a very aggressive high press that is capable of doing some serious damage to unsure defence. Considering Belswans have some older heads who thrive with time on the ball, the Redbacks will no doubt look to close that down and any mistakes will be pounced on. Youngster Jack Halverson would be near enough the fastest player in the competition and proved his pace with a goal against New Lambton.

Prediction: Belswans need their best here. They can't put in an effort like the Westy game and especially one like the Kahibah game. Thornton will pounce on errors and pounce on uncertainty. This and Wednesday's game against Kahibah is one of Thornton's most important weeks in recent years. It's their chance to prove themselves as the real deal. Fatigue may prove costly though.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 2-1 Thornton Redbacks

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Under 23's Match of the Round:
Belmont-Swansea (5th) v Thornton Redbacks (2nd)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

Belmont-Swansea enter this week in the 23's on the back of a disappointing loss to Kahibah last weekend that saw them drop out of the top four. It's a congested table in the 23's and with a draw against Westy and now a loss, Belswans need to turn things around to get things back on track. With a solid lineup they're certainly capable of doing just that.

Thornton Redbacks recorded a convincing 5-0 win last weekend over a Singleton side that sat above them going into the game. The Redbacks would back this up with a hard-fought 3-2 midweek win over New Lambton that moved them within three points of Cooks Hill at the top of the table. A win here against Belswans would really cement a spot inside the top portion of the table. A very dangerous side that is looking likely to push for silverware this season.

Prediction: Based on the last two performances, Thornton head into this one as the favourites. Belswans lacked against Kahibah last weekend and quiet often their wins in 2017 have been just good enough on the day but not enough quality to see off top sides. Thornton are a top side and very likely to win this one.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 1-3 Thornton Redbacks

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Under 19's
Belmont-Swansea (5th) v Thornton Redbacks (4th)
Kickoff: 11:00am

The defending 19's champions Belmont-Swansea are sitting fairly solidly in 5th position but a major worry has to be the fact that they've drawn six of eight games this season. Some of these draws have been solid performances but games like last week's scoreless scrap with Kahibah do no favours for the side's finals hopes. Missing Will Dundas hindered attack a little but it just wasn't good enough with chances not being taken.

Belswans have the exact same amount (19) goals scored as Thornton but considering eight of those came against a hapless Cessnock, the Redbacks are in a better spot. They put five past Singleton last weekend and hold a game in hand on a Belswans side they sit four points clear of. A win here would do wonders for Thornton and at their best they are capable of it.

Prediction: The possibility of a draw is a very high one considering Belswans' track record. After all of their huffing and puffing this season, they still haven't lost in 12 months and sit in a decent position. A win here is vital for their confidence. They need to pull up the socks and produce their best. They could just edge it in the end.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 3-2 Thornton Redbacks

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Under 17's:
Belmont-Swansea (6th) v Thornton Redbacks (11th)
Kickoff: 9:15am

Belswans' 17's are starting to get a few handy players back from injuries and suspensions and the memory of having a one-man bench with said substitute nursing an injury is fortunately now a distant one. Mitchell Boyce and Jacob Winzar both returned last week but it was Sam Lethbridge who produced the goods with two headers that won the game against Kahibah and lifted Belswans back towards the top four.

Thornton 17's missed out a chance to record their breakthrough victory as they fell to a disappointing 3-0 home loss to fellow strugglers Singleton. They've fallen to six-straight losses and whilst defence isn't great, it's further forward where the problem lays. The Redbacks have just five goals from seven games which isn't a good enough return.

Prediction: Thornton's attack in the 17's is the 2nd lowest scoring in New-FM football, only better than Cessnock's Under 15's. Defensively they aren't setting the world alight and lapses prove costly. Thus the abundance of losses. They simply need to score goals. Belswans if they play like last week will like their chances. A loss here would be detrimental to their top four hopes.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 2-0 Thornton Redbacks

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1st Grade:
Cessnock City (11th) v West Wallsend SFC (6th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

Cessnock City produced a quality comeback last week with ten players against Toronto to draw 2-2 but result aside, it's wasn't enough to get Cessnock's much-needed first win and they remain rooted to the bottom of the table. Experienced goalkeeper Mat Zechel was dropped for last week's game as Lino Gatti continues to try and find the perfect lineup to plug some holes.

A draw against New Lambton in their last home game proved that Cessnock have some fight about them and they'll certainly need in on Saturday. Jason Zechel is a rumoured injury concern and considering how vital he has been for their attack, Lino Gatti will be hoping he can take the field in this game.

West Wallsend's form has taken a positive turn and they've started to show a lot of the promise that Gary Rowe spoke about heading into the season. A win against Southy at Ulinga was a big result for them and last week's drought-breaking Derby win over Wallsend took Westy above New Lambton, the same New Lambton that put six past Rowe's men not that long ago. It's a good turn-around.

Goalkeeper Zac Park and his defenders showed some questionable moments against Kahibah and Belswans but last week was a lot more solid at the back which is key for Westy's success. Fletcher Price has been a solid addition and has popped up for a goal or two whilst Ryan Cole and Tye Jones are starting to really trouble defences, along with fullback Brad Andrews who is always a threat on the overlap.

Prediction: Cessnock City will show some fight but West Wallsend thrive in the scrappy physical style which is what these two clubs usually produce. The Bluebells could potential climb into the top four with a win and they'll see this game as a must-win. It's nowhere near a guaranteed three points but Westy are playing some good football at the moment.

My Tip: Cessnock City 1-3 West Wallsend

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Under 23's:
Cessnock City (10th) v West Wallsend SFC (7th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

Cessnock 23's put seven-straight losses behind them with a solid 3-0 win over fellow strugglers Toronto-Awaba last weekend. That result doesn't exactly fire the Hornets up the table but it lifts them off the bottom and gives them some foundation to build onto. A fairly young squad, they will thrive on a little of confidence and self-belief.

West Wallsend 23's were the only side not to record a win over rivals Wallsend last week which no doubt stung a little on the day. Inconsistency is the only thing keeping them outside the top four and they'll look at this game as a must-win against a side lower then them on the table. With a bye next week and a game in hand on every other team, Westy could be a long way from the top four if they lose this game.

Prediction: Cessnock's win over Toronto was a good drought-breaker to put seven losses in a row behind them but West Wallsend are a better side than Toronto and will be fired up for a big three points that'll shift them closer to the top four. Physicality will play a part and Westy have the size and experience on some of Cessnock's younger heads.

My Tip: Cessnock City 0-2 West Wallsend

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Under 19's
Cessnock City (10th) v West Wallsend SFC (2nd)
Kickoff: 11:00am

Absolute madness for Cessnock last week as they fell to Toronto-Awaba 6-3 at Lyall Peacock Field. Penalties, send-offs and just all round craziness as the Hornets slipped further away from the higher sides on the table. Goalkeeper Brandon Zechel was sent off last week for reportedly almost getting involved in a melee with a Stags player. It's not looking good right now for the Hornets.

Whenever these sides meet, there's normally some sort of incident whether it be on the field or off. There is a genuine disliking between the two clubs, particularly in the 19's. Josh Knight has often been the villain that Cessnock love to hate and he along with James Barnes could do some serious damage to Cessnock's questionable defence. 34 goals shipped so far is not a good return.

Prediction: For better or worse, there will be some sort of craziness in this game. A push and shove, some fan abuse, something. If not, there's sure to be some goals and there's sure to be a Westy win. Cessnock have a poor record against the top sides and that may continue on Saturday.

My Tip: Cessnock City 1-5 West Wallsend

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Under 17's:
Cessnock City (7th) v West Wallsend SFC (1st)
Kickoff: 9:15am

There was a time when Cessnock 17's sat in the top two. That seems like an eternity ago. The Hornets have fallen to back-to-back 7-0 losses in consecutive weeks and turning things around seems like an incredibly tough ask. Fortunately that solid start to the season has them clear of the bottom sides but things aren't travelling great at Turner Park.

West Wallsend did enough to see off Wallsend in the Derby last weekend and the Bluebells as a result propelled themselves to the top of the table with New Lambton having the week off. They're yet to lose in 2017 and Blake Ciappara, Sam Whyburn and Khye Drayton have 17 goals between them. Defensively they've been strong too.

Prediction: There'd be Cessnock players who'd know this likely be another loss. They won't admit it but it's true. Stopping this being another drubbing would be a start for the Hornets and fortunately for them, Westy haven't been ruthless this season. They've never scored more than two in a game...until this week.

My Tip: Cessnock City 0-4 West Wallsend

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1st Grade:
Singleton Strikers (10th) v South Cardiff (5th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

Singleton are a strange case in 2017. Predicted to finish inside the top four, they've lost some experience and some quality and what's left is a fairly young side that is likely a year or two away from finding their best football. Last weekend's 2-0 loss to Thornton wasn't that bad a result considering the record Thornton boast and the Strikers will look to simply take it one game at a time.

Finals is well and truly out of the question for David Willoughby's side and he'd no doubt admit that but the Singleton coach has spoken about the future of the club and where the club aim to be in two or three year's time when the NPL window opens once again. That's probably the key for Singleton. In terms of results, attack-wise, they just aren't consistent enough and they've made some errors in defence.

South Cardiff's incredible start to the season is a distant memory with the Gunners losing three straight matches heading into this week. First was the horror 6-0 loss on Old Boy's Day to Thornton, followed by a midweek 3-2 loss to Westy and then finally a 3-0 loss to ladder-leaders Cooks Hill. It wasn't that long ago that Denis Fajkovic's side were matching the Cookers on the table.

Still, this is a Southy side that knocked off Kahibah 1-0 not that long ago and are capable of beating most sides in the competition. They need to find that form with Westy right on their tails and New Lambton behind them. It's a tight table and a couple of wins would do wonders for the Gunners who'll reportedly have a full complement avaliable for selection this weekend.

Prediction: Both sides will want to get the three points here but with respect to Singleton, it's a lot more important for South Cardiff to win this one and get their form back on track. A loss here for the Gunners would be their fourth-straight and it's hard not to see them putting everything they've got into getting a result here. They've got the experience needed to get over a young Singleton side.

My Tip: Singleton Strikers 0-3 South Cardiff

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Under 23's:
Singleton Strikers (4th) v South Cardiff (6th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

Singleton's shock 5-0 loss last weekend in the Match of the Round to Thornton Redbacks was unexpected and it's uncertain if the Strikers were missing troops or not on the day. Regardless of players missing, losing 5-0 is never acceptable for a side inside the top four and they'll look to quickly turn things around and prove that loss as a blip on the radar.

South Cardiff 23's just like the club's 1st Grade have seen their form go by the wayside. Back-to-back losses have the Gunners sitting 6th. A 3-2 loss to Thornton wasn't the worst result in the world but they were thoroughly  dispatched in a 4-0 loss last week by Cooks Hill. A trip to Singleton is never easy so they'll need their best on Saturday.

Prediction: A couple of weeks ago, Southy looked a side to beat in the 23's. They've now been beaten twice in a row and their form is starting to look worrying. Singleton's 5-0 loss to Thornton also worries. Neither side scored last week and shipped nine goals between them. A draw sounds likely here as a result

My Tip: Singleton Strikers 1-1 South Cardiff

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

Singleton's solid start to the season in the 19's is a distant memory. The Strikers have not won since March 29th and in their last two games they've fallen to a 4-0 loss to Kahibah and a 5-0 loss to Thornton. It's certainly worrying form heading into this weekend and they've got a lot of catching up to do with the top four. It's simply a game they cannot lose on Saturday.

South Cardiff aren't travelling too badly at the moment. They pulled off a win over Kahibah and ended Thornton's winning run before testing Cooks Hill last weekend in a 2-0 loss. They sit even with Singleton and no doubt the Gunners know this game is vital for both club's to avoid being also-rans for the season. It's a chance to kick-start a push for finals as the halfway mark approaches. They need to find more regular goals from across the park.

Prediction: It's a very difficult game to call between two sides that will be desperate to record a win. Southy have some decent threatening players. Ethan Spiers has five goals but nobody else has more than 1 whereas Singleton have a few more sources. The home side will like their chances and need a good result.

My Tip: Singleton Strikers 3-1 South Cardiff

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Under 17's:
Singleton Strikers (10th) v South Cardiff (9th)
Kickoff: 9:15am

Last week's cellar-dweller clash between Singleton and Thornton saw the Strikers finally break through for their first win of the season and an important one at that as they left the Redbacks behind at the bottom of the table. After that solid 3-0 win, next for Singleton is a South Cardiff side that they can overtake. Confidence will be rising and at home they'll be gunning for the win.

South Cardiff started the season well enough with an entertaining draw with Wallsend and have proven tough opponents against the top sides until last weekend when Cooks Hill put five goals past them. Injuries have been a major concern and unfortunately that's cost them a lot of chance of building some foundations for a push for finals. A loss here would really kill off any confidence they have.

Prediction: It's a tough game to predict without knowing how Southy are travelling with injuries. Singleton produced the goods last week but Southy have a bit more steel about them than Thornton. Although playing at Howe Park, the Strikers will hold no fear heading into this.

My Tip: Singleton Strikers 2-1 South Cardiff

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1st Grade:
New Lambton FC (7th) v Cooks Hill United (1st)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

New Lambton's topsy-turvy season looked heading upwards when they sent Kahibah crashing out of the FFA Cup in front of 600 people at Alder Park. A date looms next week with Broadmeadow Magic where the club, win or loss, can expect upwards of 1000 supporters at The Nest.

All of that is a fleeting thought in the back of the mind though after the Eagles crashed to a 3-1 home loss, their first of the season, to high-flying Thornton on Wednesday night. A week earlier the club were singing 'we love you Packer we do' at coach Andrew Packer but the only noise coming from the home sheds on Wednesday as a loud spray from the coach towards his under performing side. Injured players Nic Pepper and Jono Whiting struggled to watch on as the side surrendered their proud home record to Thornton.

Cooks Hill United know none of the trouble. After that painful 4-3 loss to Kahibah, the Cookers have won four-straight games and warded off every single challenger. Head Coach Graham Law and a couple of his players were at Alder on Wednesday night and left as Thornton made it 3-1. They know exactly what game plan that want to play on Sunday. It's what Graham Law excels at as a coach, studying the opposition.

Despite Thornton being hot on their tails, Cooks Hill still possess the most threatening attacking in the league. Lee Ashton is unstoppable somedays and Nick Russell and Cal Gallagher aren't too far behind. Defensively they're fairly solid but Graham Law will want more clean sheets. It's okay to concede one when you score three but Cooks Hill will want to solidify things. They're a side that constantly ask themselves where they can improve on their quality.

Prediction: Fatigue will hinder New Lambton who'll no doubt have one eye on Broadmeadow Magic and the possibility of the club's greatest non-Grand Final win in several years. Last time Cooks Hill came to Alder, it was a 3-2 win to the Eagles but the Cookers progressed on aggregate to the 2014 ZPL Grand Final, that they won. A three-year trophy drought could end this year.

My Tip: New Lambton 1-4 Cooks Hill United

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Under 23's:
New Lambton FC (8th) v Cooks Hill United (1st)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

With the halfway mark fast approaching, time is running out for New Lambton 23's to find their best form and start to build onto a push for finals football. So often their own inconsistency has shot them in the foot this season and a side that should be higher on the table sit in 8th position. A midweek loss to Thornton only hindered things even more ahead of this clash.

Cooks Hill are the ladder-leaders although Thornton are gaining ground at an alarming rate. The Cookers produced a solid 4-0 result against a decent South Cardiff side last weekend and their only blemish remains a loss to Wallsend. Coach Ben Nichols was an interested onlooker at Alder Park on Wednesday night and will know his side can ill-afford to be complacent.

Prediction: It's too early to say New Lambton look gone from contention but this is a game they'll struggle to win. Cooks Hill are flying high at the top of the table and should be able to record three points against an Eagles side low on confidence after a midweek loss.

My Tip: New Lambton 1-4 Cooks Hill United

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Under 19's Match of the Round:
New Lambton FC (1st) v Cooks Hill United (3rd)
Kickoff: 11:00am

Another week and another big game for the New Lambton 19's. Before last week's bye, the Eagles bounced back from a shock loss to Thornton with a 2-1 win over Wallsend and a comfortable 5-0 win over Cessnock City. A lot of the damage this year has come from Lachlan Jones and Luke Homer who have combined for 18 goals of New Lambton's 27 goals.

Cooks Hill returned from the bye with a 2-0 win over South Cardiff last week and sit in a position where a win on Sunday would propel them above New Lambton on the table. Cooks Hill have blasted lower teams but struggled against top sides. Draws against Belswans and Westy and a loss to Thornton is the sort of issues they'd need to correct in finals if they do indeed make it, which they should.

Prediction: Alder Park is a very difficult place to travel to and New Lambton have a solid record in the 19's. Their only blemishes are a loss to Thornton (who also beat Cooks Hill) and a 2-2 draw with Belswans (who also drew Cooks Hill 2-2). New Lambton have the in-form attackers and might just get over the line in a battle of the heavyweights.

My Tip: New Lambton 3-1 Cooks Hill United

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Under 17's Match of the Round:
New Lambton FC (3rd) v Cooks Hill United (4th)
Kickoff: 9:15am

It's a big time game in the 17's as well with previous ladder-leaders New Lambton hosting Cooks Hill United. The Eagles have been the surprise packet of the season and boast two of the comp's top scorers in Connor Tindall and Liam Walker. Players like Josh Mamic have proven decent and this side across the park is playing some quality football. Really for them anything is possible.

Cooks Hill coach Bruce O'Donnell two weeks ago would have said the only blemish for his side is their lack of ruthlessness in front of goal. Four goals against Thornton and five against Southy fixed that and gave their goal difference that much needed boost. The Cookers have a solid side across the park and the best defence in the competition.

Prediction: These two sides could very well cancel each other out. Both are very solid across the park. New Lambton have the better performing attack but Cooks Hill have a solid defence so really anything is possible. It's only fair to say they're both very good and predict an entertaining 2-2 draw.

My Tip: New Lambton 2-2 Cooks Hill United

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1st Grade:
Wallsend FC (8th) v Kahibah FC (3rd)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

Last Saturday was a disappointing day for Wallsend as they fell to their first Derby Day loss in 1st Grade since being promoted three seasons ago. Backing up from a very difficult trip to Magic Park in the FFA Cup, the Red Devils just lacked the energy needed to defeat their fired-up rivals in the Wallsend Derby.

Head Coach Chris Gallagher kept his troops in the sheds for a far while after the game as the side no doubt went through some home truths about where they sit at the moment. Their record isn't the worst but against top four opposition, the Red Devils are struggling. Chris Gallagher pointed out young defender Darcy Hall as a positive as of late. Hall started 1st Grade last week and has come along in leaps and bounds in 2017.

Kahibah FC enter this game in 3rd place with eyes on 2nd place Thornton and still with hopes of catching Cooks Hill at the top. Last weekend the Green and Blacks produced a 2-0 win to beat Belmont-Swansea and considering it was their fourth clean-sheet of the season, Wallsend will need to be up for a very firm test.

Last time Kahibah came to The Gardens, Wallsend fell to a very poor 4-1 loss but with a lot of water passing under the bridge and players moving on, that'll be a distant memory. It's a return to The Gardens for David Hodgson and the Kepreotes brothers among others now at Kahibah. Hodgson scored a memorable bicycle kick last time he played at The Gardens in the Semi Final against Lakes.

Prediction: Wallsend lacked on Derby Day last weekend and it continued some worrying inconsistency by the back-to-back champions. In Newysports' mind they're gone, out of finals contention. Reading that will fire a few people up and who knows, this game could be the catalyst for change. Kahibah should win this.

My Tip: Wallsend FC 1-3 Kahibah FC

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Under 23's:
Wallsend FC (3rd) v Kahibah FC (9th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

Wallsend 23's saved the Red Devils' blushes last week on Derby weekend as they produced the club's only win of five grades over the weekend as arch rivals West Wallsend proved a very tough opposition. Trent Milton scored a quality goal to give Wallsend a lead and Ty Cousins produced a decent finish to get the goal that turned out to be the winner. Sitting in 3rd spot, Wallsend 23's will want a win to continue occupying a top four position.

Kahibah finally broke through for their first win of the campaign last weekend. A 3-1 victory over Belmont-Swansea relieved a lot of stress and proved that the side is capable of putting their front foot forward. It was a similar time last season when Kahibah 23's kick-started their form and pushed all the way towards the top four at the end of the year. The Green and Blacks welcomed back young attacker Bailey Chaplain from a six month footballing journey in Spain last weekend.

Prediction: It really sits on a knife edge this game. Wallsend were decent value in their Derby win last weekend but Kahibah produced the goods against Belswans to pick up their maiden win of the season. Goalscoring has been an issue for Kahibah with their attackers struggling to find consistency. All three goals last week came from defence and midfield. Wallsend have options across the attacking front.

My Tip: Wallsend FC 2-1 Kahibah FC

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Under 19's
Wallsend FC (11th) v Kahibah FC (9th)
Kickoff: 11:00am

Only the most optimistic Wallsend supporters would claim the 19's can still push for finals. As it stands they are a distant last-place, 14 points outside the top four and after losing the Derby 5-0 last weekend, confidence is unfortunately at a low. What they can do is put together their best football and move off the bottom of the table over the next few weeks. This team is capable of a lot more and at times luck has let them down but other times they've just lacked the quality needed. The good news is that the potential is certainly there.

Kahibah 19's have endured a fairly inconsistent start to the season and sit in 9th position ahead of this game. After a fairly tame 0-0 draw with Belswans last week that saw the Green and Blacks batten down the hatches and play for the point at the end of a tough second half, they'll be gunning for three points here to really kick-start their season. With a few good sides occupying the top four, teams lower down cannot waste too much time with almost half of the season already gone. 

Prediction: Simply put, if Kahibah want to play finals football in the 19's, they've got to win this. Wallsend have huffed and puffed in games that saw them denied by luck but other games have seen the Red Devils quiet frankly lose the plot defensively. Last week was one of those and they're at a low point in confidence.

My Tip: Wallsend FC 1-4 Kahibah FC

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Under 17's:
Wallsend FC (8th) v Kahibah FC (5th)
Kickoff: 9:15am

A fairly disappointing Derby Day loss for the Wallsend 17's leaves them nine points outside the top four as the halfway mark of the season approaches. The Red Devils showed some fight last Saturday but couldn't find the back of the net as the in-form Bluebells held them out. This side is capable of some good results but inconsistency has let them down. Expect a committed effort against a decent Kahibah side.

Kahibah fell to an unexpected 2-0 loss last weekend to Belmont-Swansea in a result that saw them lose ground on the top four. Once again, poor finishing and just plain luck at times left Kahibah deserted. They've probably hit the post as many times as any side in the competition and just like Wallsend, they've been unable to find consistent form in 2017.

Prediction: Derby Day saw a fired-up West Wallsend get the best of Wallsend on the day and the Red Devils aren't travelling great in 8th position. Kahibah's loss last week could have been different if chances were taken in the first half. Kahibah need to find the target and if they can they'll get the three points.

My Tip: Wallsend FC 1-3 Kahibah FC

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Under 15's Fixtures:



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