Friday, 23 June 2017

PREVIEW: New-FM Northern League One Round 16


1st Grade:
Singleton Strikers (9th) v New Lambton F.C (8th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm
Last Time They Met: New Lambton 4-2 Singleton

It's going to be an interesting encounter up at Howe Park between the in-form Singleton Strikers and a desperate New Lambton side. The Strikers were gallant in a recent win over Wallsend with just nine players due to two red cards. Then they showed quality to overcome rivals Cessnock City on Tuesday night.

That win over Cessnock all but ruled out any chance of Singleton picking up the wooden spoon and now there's a chance for them to jump over New Lambton into 8th spot with a win on Saturday. The involvement of defensive recruit Stuart Thomson has been vital for the Strikers as has another former Cooks Hill player in Bowen Bagnall further forward. Both were instrumental in their win on Tuesday night.

New Lambton haven't played a match since the 27th May and no doubt it's been a very frustrating time for all involved. Unfortunately the Eagles' home base of Alder Park has been an issue for the club and improvements to the pitch will be top of the do to list in the off-season to prevent an abundance of wash-outs next year.

On the park, the Eagles do have some games in hands and it isn't out of the realm of possibility that a winning streak could propel them towards the top four but make no mistake, this game has to be a win and nearly every fixture after that for Andrew Packer's side to make finals. It's a tough ask but the Eagles will take it one game at a time. With only one win in their last five, it's important for them to show quality here.

Prediction: It's hard to predict just what New Lambton might bring to the table after not playing a game in so long but Singleton were good value in their last two home games and it wouldn't surprise to see them step up to the plate once again. Maybe a draw?

My Tip: Singleton Strikers 2-2 New Lambton

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Under 23's:
Singleton Strikers (6th) v New Lambton F.C (9th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm
Last Time They Met: New Lambton 3-4 Singleton

Singleton found a way to win late against rivals Cessnock City on Tuesday night. The Strikers are still in finals calculations and that three points picked up midweek could kick-start a run all the way to the finals. Last time they met New Lambton, the Strikers managed to spur themselves to a massive 4-3 victory in a topsy-turvy encounter at Alder Park.

New Lambton's finals hopes by their own admission are extremely slim so it's fair to say that Singleton being the home team may just have a little bit more to play for. The Eagles haven't played since May 27th which will no doubt mean that match fitness will be lacking for the visitors. Make no mistake, any slim hope of finals will be far over if they fail to overcome Singleton.

Prediction: Fitness is a big thing in football, in particular match fitness. No games in around four weeks makes it tough for New Lambton and their lack of form makes it tougher. Singleton fought hard for a result on Tuesday and they definitely need to pick up three points at home to keep their finals hopes high.

My Tip: Singleton Strikers 3-1 New Lambton

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Under 19's:
Singleton Strikers (7th) v New Lambton F.C (5th)
Kickoff: 11:00am
Last Time They Met: New Lambton 3-1 Singleton

Singleton 19's picked up a solid 2-0 over Wallsend two weeks or so ago but they'd fall to a disappointing 1-0 loss to rivals Cessnock City on Thursday night. A penalty miss proved costly and the Strikers missed a chance to keep even on points with 6th-placed Kahibah. Like many at this point, their finals hopes are over and it's simply all about playing for pride at this point.

New Lambton return to action for just their second game in the last month. Their previous outing was a 2-2 draw with Kahibah and the Eagles know too well that they've got to up the ante to try and force their way into the top four. They were fairly comfortable winners last time against Singleton with a solid first half setting the foundation for a 3-1 win.

Prediction: Having top goalscorer Lachlan Jones back in 19's makes New Lambton just that much more of a threat going forward, especially when things click between Jones and Luke Homer up top. They could score goals for fun against a Singo side down on confidence following their loss on Thursday.

My Tip: Singleton Strikers 1-4 New Lambton

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Under 17's:
Singleton Strikers (11th) v New Lambton F.C (5th)
Kickoff: 9:15am
Last Time They Met: New Lambton 6-2 Singleton

Avoiding the wooden spoon is the aim for the Singleton 17's and they took a big step towards that goal with just their second win of the season on Thursday over rivals Cessnock City. A 3-1 win drew the Strikers level with Thornton and was arguably their best result of the season.

New Lambton have only played once in the last month which makes it tough to keep match fitness ticking over. That result was a 1-1 draw against Kahibah that saw the Eagles miss a chance to move into the top four. They sit in 5th position and games like this against low opposition will be key if they want to play Semi Finals football which is no doubt the minimum aim.

Prediction: Last time these sides met, it finished 6-2 to New Lambton. The Eagles haven't found that sort of goalscoring prowess in recent times so a lower scoring game might be the result up at Howe Park. Singleton did well on Thursday but New Lambton should have the quality to win this one.

My Tip: Singleton Strikers 0-3 New Lambton

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1st Grade:
Thornton Redbacks (4th) v West Wallsend SFC (6th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm
Last Time They Met: West Wallsend 1-6 Thornton Redbacks

If it wasn't for the rivalry of Kahibah v Cooks Hill, this would be the Match of the Round. All eyes will be on Thornton Park on Saturday as the Redbacks look to end a barren spell of results and hammer themselves back into serious minor premiership contention. Winless in their last three, their last result was a late 2-2 draw with Cessnock with two goals conceded in the final moments.

With two games in hand, Darrel McAllister's side are about to enter another very busy period that could see them wind out on top when the dust settles. They seem to produce well on short-turnarounds but after a month without a match, it's hard to predict what they might throw up on Saturday. Needless to say, they need to get things kick-started soon or perhaps find themselves out of the top four.

West Wallsend are the ideal opponents on Saturday for neutral's sake. You never quiet know what Gary Rowe's side will do. Their 4-1 loss at the start of the month to Toronto-Awaba was as poor as any they've had this year (including a 6-1 hammering by Thornton) but their last start 2-1 win over Kahibah showed what the Bluebells are capable of when they find their best form.

Discipline was thrown out the window in a fiery encounter last time this side's met with West Wallsend quiet frankly losing the plot. They've improved that for the most part and they're a good side at leading from the front. The first goal in this game will be paramount to who might win it.

Prediction: This game is make or break for West Wallsend. Their finals hopes could be done and dusted with a loss but a win could really throw them into contention. If they play like last week it'll be a tough ask for Thornton but the Redbacks on home turf simply need to up the ante. Very tough to call but Redbacks to win.

My Tip: Thornton Redbacks 2-1 West Wallsend

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Under 23's Match of the Round:
Thornton Redbacks (3rd) v West Wallsend SFC (4th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm
Last Time They Met: West Wallsend 1-6 Thornton Redbacks

The Match of the Round sees two sides that Newysports watched last weekend take to the field. Thornton Redbacks were fast starters in horrendous conditions against lowly Toronto-Awaba and were never in doubt of winning a match that finished in the 58th minute. A much-needed 3-0 win to get back into winning form after some troubling times as of late.

West Wallsend did it a lot harder in their game as they survived a back and forth fist fight with Kahibah. The Bluebells came away with a thrilling 4-3 victory at Johnston Park to move into the top four. Suddenly they find themselves with a chance to jump into third spot. Not a place some expected them to be after results like the one against the Redbacks last time, a 6-1 humbling at home.

Prediction: It's not a must-win game by any stretch but the victor if there happens to be one will take a load of confidence with them out of this game and into the finals race. Home advantage might help the Redbacks who were the more convincing of the two sides last weekend.

My Tip: Thornton Redbacks 2-1 West Wallsend

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Under 19's Match of the Round:
Thornton Redbacks (4th) v West Wallsend SFC (2nd)
Kickoff: 11:00am
Last Time They Met: West Wallsend 3-2 Thornton Redbacks

Thornton picked up a 4-1 win over Toronto last weekend but something about their performance seemed a little off. It was very similar to when Westy put a 4-1 scoreline past Toronto just two weeks prior. Not a convincing display but just doing enough to see off a poor side. The Redbacks need to find that next level to push themselves further into the top four.

West Wallsend are in a battle of their own for the minor premiership with an unbeaten Belswans side. The Bluebells got the job done against Kahibah last week and if that game proved anything they are very dangerous from set-piece opportunities, particularly in the air with some big and tall players. Fortunately Thornton have some defenders who can match it in the air.

Prediction: This could turn out to be a really entertaining match in the Under 19's. There's still doubters out there about Thornton so a win over West Wallsend will surely give their confidence a huge boost. Home field advantage is key but the Bluebells on paper have the attacking quality to edge it.

My Tip: Thornton Redbacks 1-2 West Wallsend

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Under 17's:
Thornton Redbacks (10th) v West Wallsend SFC (2nd)
Kickoff: 9:15am
Last Time They Met: West Wallsend 2-1 Thornton Redbacks

Thornton 17's were fortunate to not have a mud bath of a match against Toronto last week. Lyall Peacock Field really started to become a slog during the 19's but it was still admittedly tough conditions for the Redbacks as they lost 2-0 to the Stags in the Under 17's. Not their worst performance but another week that showed a distinct lack in the attacking third.

West Wallsend were beaten last weekend for the first time this year. Kahibah were lucky in their 1-0 win and it left the Bluebells highly disappointed and they'll no doubt look to get right back to work knowing that the minor premiership is still alive for them. Good teams bounce straight back from disappointment. 

Prediction: West Wallsend are coming off their first loss of the season which spells likely doom for Thornton's chances of an upset. The Redbacks just don't have the players to score enough goals and their defence isn't solid enough to record clean sheets.

My Tip: Thornton Redbacks 0-3 West Wallsend

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1st Grade Match of the Round:
Kahibah F.C (5th) v Cooks Hill United (1st)
Kickoff: 2:30pm
Last Time They Met: Cooks Hill 3-4 Kahibah

Here we go again. After the madness of the first fixture at the AthField, Kahibah will once again take on Cooks Hill. Times haven't been great for either side. Kahibah's recent form has been patchy and includes a fairly length stint of wash-outs and a bye. It's been frustrating for the likes of Andre Gumprecht who thrives on a routine and keeping his squad match-fit.

The Green and Blacks took on Hamilton Olympic in a decent trial hit-out a week and half ago but last week by their lofty standards simply forgot to show up against West Wallsend. A lazy performance and one or two players who were hooked at half-time for varying reasons was all part of a horror day at the office for Kahibah.

Cooks Hill have amazingly not won a game since May 15th. They are winless in their last four. Even that game, a 5-4 win over New Lambton wasn't convincing. It's hard to say that the wheels have fallen off Graham Law's side's charge towards the minor premiership but the stats are damning.

An 89th minute leveller by Wallsend broke Cooks Hill hearts last weekend, a few weeks after Singleton did the same thing at the AthField. Through all of this, the Cookers have remained on the top of the table but they need to find their best now or face a certain drop from top spot. It's arguably the catalyst for their minor premiership hopes this Sunday.

Prediction: Both sides want to win, both sides need to win, so expect quiet an entertaining tussle at Kahibah Oval. It's highly doubtful it'll be a goalfest like last time with neither side showing much attacking-wise in recent outings. A draw, as much as neither side want it could be the end result.

My Tip: Kahibah F.C 1-1 Cooks Hill United

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Under 23's:
Kahibah F.C (8th) v Cooks Hill United (1st)
Kickoff: 12:45pm
Last Time They Met: Cooks Hill 1-0 Kahibah

Kahibah 23's could almost call it a day for their finals chances if not for two vital games in hand. They'll need to upset the ladder-leaders though to really kick-start some self-belief. They fought hard last week with Jackson Gosling securing a hat-trick but their resolve let them down late on. Another tough result to take for the side.

Cooks Hill were beaten 3-0 at home by Wallsend last weekend. The Cookers have been superb all season but it's become very obvious that they don't have Wallsend's number just yet. The Red Devils have beaten them twice but this is a side that will look to get right back to winning ways and make last weekend a distant memory.

Prediction: Kahibah will try to raise the bar on home turf against the ladder-leaders and were gallant in a late 1-0 loss last time against Cooks Hill. The quality has shone through for the Cookers all season and it wouldn't surprise to see it happen again here.

My Tip: Kahibah F.C 1-3 Cooks Hill United

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Under 19's:
Kahibah F.C (6th) v Cooks Hill United (3rd)
Kickoff: 11:00am
Last Time They Met: Cooks Hill 1-0 Kahibah

So often this season Kahibah 19's have failed to put their best foot forward in particular games. Last week's loss to West Wallsend was a case of this but Thursday night saw the side overcome Toronto-Awaba 4-1 at Kahibah Oval. Finals are a stretch but wins over Cooks Hill on Sunday and Thornton next week could see them re-enter calculations. It's a big ask though for a side that haven't put together any consistency this season.

Cooks Hill are coming off a rare loss as they fell to a disappointing 1-0 loss in the final minute against lowly Wallsend last week. It was a huge turnaround from Cooks Hill's 8-1 win over the same opposition two months ago. Suddenly Michael Best's side need to produce a result to keep firmly in the race for the minor premiership.

Prediction: Kahibah will have a depleted squad with captain Luke Jones injuring his ankle on Thursday night and Lucas Emmett-Mourlet and Cal Brzozowski both missing this fixture. Cooks Hill will be fired up after that loss last weekend and they'll come to Kahibah Oval with a lot of belief.

My Tip: Kahibah F.C 1-2 Cooks Hill United

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Under 17's Match of the Round
Kahibah F.C (6th) v Cooks Hill United (2nd)
Kickoff: 9:15am
Last Time They Met: Cooks Hill 1-1 Kahibah

Kahibah are a club that aimed for finals in every grade at the beginning of the year but it's fast becoming likely that only 1st Grade will play in August. The 17's took a huge step towards finals as they handed Westy their first loss last Saturday but on Thursday, it was an all too disappointing 3-1 loss to Toronto. A tough night for the Green and Blacks and not good for confidence.

Cooks Hill 17's were the only Cookers side to win at the AthField last weekend as they kept their form going well. They're well in the race for the minor premiership although Toronto overtook them with that win over Kahibah. They produced a thrilling late goal to draw level with Kahibah last time and no doubt Bruce O'Donnell will want his side to produce a more solid effort across the 80 minutes this time round.

Prediction: Kahibah are a side that excel with confidence and belief but that's just not there consistently. They failed to penetrate Toronto's defence on Thursday and this challenge against Cooks Hill will be a tough one. The Cookers have the best defence in the comp and it might help them in this one.

My Tip: Kahibah F.C 1-3 Cooks Hill United

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1st Grade:
Wallsend F.C (7th) v Cessnock City (11th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm
Last Time They Met: Cessnock City 1-4 Wallsend

No-one gave Wallsend much hope against Cooks Hill last week but the Red Devils showed that famous Wallsend F.C belief to turn-around a shocking 9-0 loss the week before to stun Cooks Hill with a late 1-1 draw thanks to a goal from Isaac Reeves. It was a good day out for Chris Gallagher's side.

The Red Devils are most likely out of finals contention but they can certainly earn some respect with a late form patch to try and solidify a higher mid-table finish. Blooding some youngsters for the future is also going to be a focus no doubt, especially against sides like Cessnock who are doing the same thing. Dan Strazzari is one that comes to mind.

The Hornets were in midweek action against local rivals Singleton and it was all-round just a shocking night at the office for Lino Gatti's side. The gaffer has indicated that goalkeeper Mat Zechel might be dropped to 23's after a tough night for him in front of a vocal Singleton home crowd. 23's keeper Dylan Cheetham has certainly impressed as of late.

Cessnock can trouble sides on their best day but results like Tuesday night and the 4-1 loss to Wallsend last time show that it's still a work in progress. The wooden spoon is now almost a certainty unless Gatti's men can string together at least two or three wins in their remaining 6 games.

Prediction: After a confidence-boosting win last weekend, Wallsend will be hopeful of overcoming a winless Cessnock side. If the Hornets show up to fight for it, it'll be a challenge but if they produce similar to their showing at Singleton, it could be a long day at the office.

My Tip: Wallsend F.C 4-1 Cessnock City

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Under 23's:
Wallsend F.C (2nd) v Cessnock City (10th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm
Last Time They Met: Cessnock City 0-3 Wallsend

What a result for Wallsend last weekend at the AthField. Their second win over ladder-leaders Cooks Hill this season and amazingly their eighth-straight victory. They are the most in-form side in New-FM football and they are a definite title contender in the Under 23's. Despite being a long way behind Cooks Hill in goals scored, the Red Devils are the most solid defensive unit in the 23's this season.

Cessnock City enjoyed a small form patch, winning a game or two but have slipped up in form and luck in the last couple. A 2-1 loss to Belswans at home ended a two-game winning streak and then the Hornets were beaten by the same score on Tuesday night thanks to the latest of goals from Singleton to see them off at Howe Park.

Prediction: It's good to see so many youngsters in the Cessnock 23's, albeit forced in there due to a distinct lack of players and depth. The future is a decent one but the present is still being worked on. Wallsend are in too good of form to let it slip now. A ninth-straight win could be on the cards. They've enjoyed the 3-0 score this year, three of their last four have ended 3-0.

My Tip: Wallsend F.C 3-0 Cessnock City

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Under 19's:
Wallsend F.C (9th) v Cessnock City (11th)
Kickoff: 11:00am
Last Time They Met: Cessnock City 2-1 Wallsend

Both Wallsend and Cessnock took big steps towards avoiding the wooden spoon in their last fixtures. The Red Devils travelled to Cooks Hill last week and turned around an 8-1 loss to the former ladder-leaders with the latest of 1-0 wins thanks to a Jacob Rae goal. No doubt Wallsend's best win of the season and one they celebrated in a big way.

Cessnock City bounced back from a 5-0 hammering at the hands of Belmont-Swansea to knock off local rivals Singleton 1-0 on Thursday night. A quality strike from Jeremy Noone would give the Hornets just their third win of the season and draw them level with Toronto-Awaba. With the bottom four all playing each other this weekend, it could be an important week in the race to avoid the spoon.

Prediction: Cessnock did well to beat Singleton but Wallsend are on their day a tougher challenge than the Strikers. The Red Devils beat Cooks Hill last week and home advantage will play into their favour. It'll be interesting to see who goes in goals after back-up keeper Jackson Bartlett started last week and picked up a clean sheet.

My Tip: Wallsend F.C 2-1 Cessnock City


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Under 17's:
Wallsend F.C (7th) v Cessnock City (9th)
Kickoff: 9:15am
Last Time They Met: Cessnock City 1-6 Wallsend

Back-to-back losses for Wallsend 17's has all but ended their run for potential finals football but on their day, the Red Devils possess a very strong side that can trouble good teams and really cause headaches for lower sides. They ended Cessnock's dream start to the year with a 6-1 hammering last time they met the Hornets.

Cessnock City picked up a result against Southy but a loss to Belswans at home saw them return to familiar losing ways and it'd only get worse as they fell to Singleton on Thursday night. The wooden spoon is a distinct possibility for the Hornets who have slid down the table in horrendous fashion during the middle portion of the season. 

Prediction: Both sides are coming off two-straight losses which makes this one an interesting fixture but with home advantage, it's safe to say Wallsend enter as the favourites. Cessnock are coming off a loss to Singleton and confidence will be low after that.

My Tip: Wallsend F.C 3-0 Cessnock City


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1st Grade:
South Cardiff (3rd) v Toronto-Awaba (10th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm
Last Time They Met: Toronto-Awaba 1-0 South Cardiff

There's been a lot of talk about Cooks Hill's lack of form and the likes of Belswans surging up the table but South Cardiff have gone under the radar and continue to sit fairly comfortably inside the top four. Dino Fajkovic's side are one who take each game as it comes and things are certainly travelling well for the boys from Ulinga Oval.

Southy have won their last four games but more impressively have kept a clean sheet in each of the last three. Only some poor displays and 4 losses has kept them lower than top spot. One of those losses was an unlucky 1-0 loss to Toronto-Awaba. It's quiet possibly that South Cardiff could win the minor premiership if they continue their good form and results go their way.

Toronto-Awaba were washed-out in the final moments before kick-off for the second time this year at Lyall Peacock Field last week as torrential rain left the pitch unplayable. Adding to their woes, the same torrential rain left Kahibah Oval closed for Tuesday's catch-up game.

Their last match was that superb 4-1 victory over West Wallsend and if they play in a similar fashion then they'll feel like a win is a possibility against South Cardiff. With Cessnock losing to Singleton midweek, the Stags dropped to 10th but they sit fairly comfortably clear of cellar-dwellers Cessnock with a seven point advantage.

Prediction: Toronto-Awaba were good value in their 4-1 win over Westy last time out but Southy's form has been superb and their defence has stood firm with three clean sheets in three games. Ulinga Oval can be a tough place to win at and the Stags might find it tricky to overcome the odds against the 3rd-placed side.

My Tip: South Cardiff 2-0 Toronto-Awaba

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Under 23's:
South Cardiff (7th) v Toronto-Awaba (11th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm
Last Time They Met: Toronto-Awaba 1-4 South Cardiff

South Cardiff led a cluster of teams on the edge of the top four but have fallen to 7th, albeit with a game or two in hand on teams above them. This team will no doubt be aiming for the top four but consistency has let them down. A loss to Cessnock last time out was not a good day for them.

Toronto 23's fell to a 3-0 loss to Thornton last weekend in a game that was abandoned with twenty minutes to go due to unplayable conditions at Lyall Peacock Field. They were disappointed to have their game stopped but at 3-0 down, it wasn't likely that the comeback was on. They're playing for pride and it can be a really dangerous thing as they have simply nothing to lose at this point.

Prediction: With respect to Toronto, they sit bottom and their record speaks for itself. No team that's serious about playing finals will drop points at this stage to Toronto. It's a home game for Southy and it's time for them to remind the 23's competition that they are a finals contender.

My Tip: South Cardiff 3-0 Toronto-Awaba


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Under 19's:
South Cardiff (8th) v Toronto-Awaba (10th)
Kickoff: 11:00am
Last Time They Met: Toronto-Awaba 1-2 South Cardiff

South Cardiff's season has been a tough one in the Under 19's but they managed to pick up an important 2-1 win over Cessnock City last time out. Goalscoring has been a major issue for the Gunners but they managed to beat Toronto last time they played. A result for Southy on Sunday will go a big way towards moving them away from the bottom of the table.

Toronto-Awaba have endured a frustrating few weeks and the scoreline of 4-1 is becoming an all too familiar sight. Lindsay Jamieson's side recruited regular 1st Graders Jessie Cowie and Cody Armstrong for their game against Kahibah and whilst it was an improved showing on last week's loss to Thornton, the Stags still went down to a disappointing defeat. Cessnock's win only makes things worse as the wooden spoon looms again for Toronto.

Prediction: South Cardiff deserve to be the favourites on form but Toronto's streak of 4-1 losses will surely end as the Gunners don't have the capacity to bang in four, regardless of opponents. Southy to win but a close one like the last time they met.

My Tip: South Cardiff 2-1 Toronto-Awaba


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Under 17's:
South Cardiff (8th) v Toronto-Awaba (1st)
Kickoff: 9:15am
Last Time They Met: Toronto-Awaba 2-1 South Cardiff

Southy 17's are coming off a two-week break after last week's wash-out and the bye before that. Their last outing was a disappointing 1-1 draw with a Cessnock City side that seemingly every team in the competition have beaten at some stage this year. It hasn't been a good year for Southy and it doesn't get any easier on Sunday.

Toronto-Awaba did enough to see off lowly Thornton last weekend and then they backed that up with a confidence-boosting 3-1 result over Kahibah on Thursday night. Jackson Treiger was quiet impressive on the night and has proved to be a handy sidekick to the free-scoring Thomas Appleby. The Stags moved back to the top of the table with that result over Kahibah.

Prediction: South Cardiff have failed to trouble the top sides this season and Toronto-Awaba's form going into this is fairly impressive. The Stags should have too much quality in this one and it's only a question of what the score might end up. Expect a one or two goal win.

My Tip: South Cardiff 0-2 Toronto-Awaba


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Under 15's Fixtures:


Friday, 16 June 2017

PREVIEW: New-FM Northern League One Round 15


1st Grade:
West Wallsend SFC (6th) v Kahibah FC (4th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm
Last Time They Met: Kahibah 3-0 West Wallsend

West Wallsend were pushing towards the top four until their last result showed that work still needs to be done. The Bluebells were disappointing in a convincing 4-1 loss at Toronto-Awaba and now sit six points behind Kahibah who do have two games in hand, not including this weekend's fixture.

Gary Rowe's side have boasted a decent record at home this season and will need to use that to turn around their last result against Kahibah, a poor 3-0 loss in a mid-week fixture. In the race for finals, the Bluebells simply need to find that next level and take all three points from their higher-ranked opponents.

Kahibah saw another wash-out midweek against New Lambton and have not played a competitive game since May 21st. Andre Gumprecht and co. were quick to contact Michael Bolch and Hamilton Olympic for a quickly thrown together trial match and went down 3-0 to the NPL powerhouse at the LMRFF on Wednesday.

Kahibah were 5-1 victors last time out in an easy display against Cessnock and will need more to overcome West Wallsend. Having a fully-fit side will be key for the Green and Blacks as well as the quality of David Hodgson who has haunted Westy in recent years, including the earlier fixture this season.

Prediction: Kahibah are yet to start their second half of the season and if things go to plan they'll be hoisting the minor premiership in seven or eight weeks' time. Consistency is something Kahibah strive for and their defensive record is an indication of just how hard it is to beat them.

My Tip: West Wallsend 0-3 Kahibah FC

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Under 23's:
West Wallsend SFC (4th) v Kahibah FC (8th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm
Last Time They Met: Kahibah 2-2 West Wallsend

West Wallsend left it as late as they possibly could to see off lowly Toronto-Awaba last time out and despite being a fairly lucky unconvincing result, the three points was indeed vital as it lifted the Bluebells into the top four, at the top of an abundance of teams in the middle of the table, including Kahibah.

Kahibah's midweek trip to New Lambton was again postponed and the side will have been without a game since May 21st when and if they take the field at Johnston Park this weekend. Their finals hopes rely heavily on results and starting the second half of their season will be vital. Expect a very focused performance in a game against a side they drew 2-2 last time out. Two very even squads on paper.

Prediction: Kahibah sit seven points behind Westy but with two crucial games in hand. Their second half of the season begins on Saturday and really it's a mystery what they might produce after a month without a fixture. Westy weren't convincing last time out so it's anyone's guess who may win.

My Tip: West Wallsend 1-1 Kahibah FC

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Under 19's Match of the Round:
West Wallsend SFC (3rd) v Kahibah FC (6th)
Kickoff: 11:00am
Last Time They Met: Kahibah 1-2 West Wallsend

Kahibah did Westy a favour on Thursday by taking a point away from New Lambton and Westy coach Steve Thomson not that long ago claimed that Kahibah were one of the better opponents his side have faced. There's a real competitive respect between the two sides and both teams know it's a big game.

Westy can keep pace with the top sides in the minor premiership race with a win whilst Kahibah really need all three points to remain in finals calculations. It's a key game for both sides and last time they played it was a tight one with Kahibah making a costly mistake or two.

Prediction: West Wallsend will have extra fitness after Kahibah played on a heavy Alder Park surface on Thursday night. The Bluebells didn't have to get out of second gear in a 4-1 victory at Toronto and will need more to see off Kahibah. Still, the top four side deserve to head into this as the favourites.

My Tip: West Wallsend 2-1 Kahibah FC

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Under 17's Match of the Round:
West Wallsend SFC (1st) v Kahibah FC (7th)
Kickoff: 9:15am
Last Time They Met: Kahibah 1-1 West Wallsend

West Wallsend 17's picked up a dramatic late win over minor premiership rivals Toronto-Awaba two weeks ago to move to the top of the table and remain unbeaten in 2017. The ladder-leaders will no doubt look to rise to the next level as the finals series begins to loom in the distance.

Kahibah were in action on Thursday, their first game since May 21st and were frustrated in a 1-1 draw with New Lambton. The same scoreline last time against Westy too as they conceded a heartbreaking late goal. They were that close to beating the unbeaten Bluebells in that midweek game and the Green and Blacks will see their finals hopes boosted in a big way with a win here.

Prediction: Expect a fired-up Kahibah as frustration is boiling over and the Green and Blacks no doubt want to put a run of luckless results behind them. Westy have stood form all season and remain unbeaten so it wouldn't surprise to see them stand strong again.

My Tip: West Wallsend 1-1 Kahibah FC

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1st Grade:
Cooks Hill United (1st) v Wallsend FC (8th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm
Last Time They Met: Wallsend 1-3 Cooks Hill

This is one of the more interesting fixtures this season for various reasons. Firstly is the fact that Cooks Hill haven't won in their last three games. They have South Cardiff and Kahibah chasing them down and suddenly it looks like a dog-fight for the minor premiership.

With a huge game against Kahibah next week, Graham Law will want his side to simply return to winning ways in one way or another. Luck has let them down but the reality is that two points from three games isn't what they're aiming for. A break last week might have helped with injuries and players away on vacation. Expect a more refined effort this time round.

Cooks Hill can ill-afford to get ahead of themselves against a Wallsend side that suffered one of the more embarrassing losses in recent years of the New-FM competition. Chris Gallagher's side got it all wrong at Blacksmiths last week and it wouldn't surprise to see a raft of changes on Saturday as they look to plug the huge holes that saw them concede nine last week.

Luke Alexander and Kyle Macorig both returned from injury and both were nowhere near the quality they normally show; young defender Darcy Hall was no match for Tega Marcus and will likely be switched out for a more experienced defender this week and goalkeeper James Wand cost his side two or three goals on the day. It was terrible from front to back and side to side. And it doesn't get any easier this weekend.

Prediction: The result rests on Wallsend. If they show up like last week it'll end in tears once again, maybe not to the tune of 9-0 but Cooks Hill can easily bag 5 or 6. The Cookers at home cannot drop any more points. Graham Law wants that minor premiership and it's time for the leaders to return to their best.

My Tip: Cooks Hill 5-1 Wallsend FC

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Under 23's Match of the Round: 
Cooks Hill United (1st) v Wallsend FC (2nd)
Kickoff: 12:45pm
Last Time They Met: Wallsend 3-2 Cooks Hill

If all goes to plan this may be the Grand Final in waiting. There's no doubt these two sides are setting the bar high in the 23's and so far, 14 weeks in, no teams have been able to consistently match them. Cooks Hill have at least four goals each of their last five and an impressive 21 goals in their last three games.

The only side Cooks Hill 23's are yet to slay happens to be Wallsend. The Red Devils were 3-2 winners in a midweek fixture back in April and it remains the only blemish on the Cookers' near-perfect league record. This game is a big one for both and could go a long way towards determining the minor premiers and indeed the title favourites.

Prediction: Cooks Hill are back at home and will be adamant on picking up a win over their top of the table rivals. Cookers' coach Ben Nichols, formerly of Wallsend, will know this is a step up in competition and it wouldn't be a surprise to see the home side win a tight one, rather than a lopsided scoreline.

My Tip: Cooks Hill 3-1 Wallsend FC

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Under 19's:
Cooks Hill United (2nd) v Wallsend FC (10th)
Kickoff: 11:00am
Last Time They Met: Wallsend 1-8 Cooks Hill

It's not often the Cookers' 19's have had to back up from a loss this season. Their Round 12 loss to Belswans was just their second defeat of the campaign and with last week's glamour match with West Wallsend washed out, they can use this match as a chance to return to winning ways and re-install some confidence.

Wallsend shouldn't be easybeats but it was all too simple when Cooks Hill blasted them 8-1 at The Gardens and it was that same scoreline that saw the Red Devils demolished at Blacksmiths last weekend. Confidence is completely gone and it'll be a challenge for coach Craig Tselembis to get his side believing they can find something in this match.

Prediction: It's not a matter of who will win. Cooks Hill have surely got three points if they manage to find their best football. Whether it'll be two or three or eight is the question. Wallsend's best young defenders are in 23's and 1st Grade and it's a big reason as to why this 19's side have been nowhere near good enough. Cookers by a few.

My Tip: Cooks Hill 6-1 Wallsend

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Under 17's:
Cooks Hill United (2nd) v Wallsend FC (6th)
Kickoff: 9:15am
Last Time They Met: Wallsend 0-1 Cooks Hill

Cooks Hill return to action following a solid win over Belswans to remain in contention for the minor premiership. The Cookers are a significant threat to West Wallsend in the race for 1st place and they're a side that have shown throughout the first 14 weeks that they know how to win games and sometimes win games ugly like they did against Wallsend last time.

The Red Devils travelled to Belswans last week in a vital fixture and were fairly underwhelming in a 3-1 loss. That result dented their finals hopes and with so many good teams above them, it'll be a tough ask for them to make it into the top four. A win here would do wonders but a loss could see them lose more vital ground on the four.

Prediction: Cooks Hill found a way to get over the line against Wallsend last time via a late penalty after a topsy-turvy match-up. That three points is one of many that the Cookers have had to fight for. Building confidence in the back end of the year will be the target and a win here would do them well.

My Tip: Cooks Hill 3-1 Wallsend

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1st Grade:
Cessnock City (11th) v Belmont-Swansea UFC (5th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm
Last Time They Met: Belswans 1-1 Cessnock

Cessnock City should have beat Belmont-Swansea at Blacksmiths earlier this season. They put in an excellent display on the day but unfortunately it's been rarely seen since. Last time out they were beaten 2-0 by South Cardiff and suddenly they sit six points adrift of Singleton in the race to avoid the wooden spoon.

Lino Gatti's side have a horror goal difference compared to their Hunter Valley rivals and even if they beat Singleton next Tuesday, they'll still need to pick up a result or two elsewhere to avoid the spoon. The good news for Cessnock is that they can play with freedom and without fear. You never quiet know if you're going to wind up in a tight battle with the bottom-placed side.

Belmont-Swansea crushed Wallsend into the ground last weekend and if Cessnock show a similar display to the one that saw them dispatched easily by Kahibah not too long ago, you can expect more carnage. But it's hard to judge. 

The 5th-placed Belswans simply need to keep winning and hope that one of the top four sides will drop off the pace. This side is too good to not play finals football and that is the absolutely minimum target for Josh Rufo and co. Tega Marcus' four goal haul last week took him to 16 for the season, more than any other 1st Grade player.

Prediction: Like the Cooks Hill v Wallsend game, there should only be one winner but by how much is the question. Cessnock are a tricky side to produce but they'll find it tough against an in-form Belswans. If Chris Gazzard and Sean Matthews click and combine with Tega Marcus and others further forward, it could be a long afternoon at Turner Park.

My Tip: Cessnock City 1-4 Belmont-Swansea

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Under 23's:
Cessnock City (10th) v Belmont-Swansea UFC (6th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm
Last Time They Met: Belswans 1-0 Cessnock

Cessnock's sudden revival in the Under 23's has come as a bit of a shock but the Hornets are producing the goods on the back of some much needed confidence and suddenly any chance of picking up the dreaded wooden spoon is a distant memory. Finals are perhaps out of reach but they can certainly impact a lot of sides trying to battle it out for the likely last two spots in the top four.

Belswans were putting up a good fight against Wallsend last week but similar to their heavy loss to Cooks Hill the week before, a young Belswans side just didn't have the quality to match it with the top two side. It's good to see 17's players like Harry Dyer stepping up into this grade and really making an impact. Finals aren't out of the question and it's games like this one that they need to win.

Prediction: Belswans got to play last weekend which no doubt helped their flow and after back to back games against the two pace-setting sides, they'll be happy to see a less challenging task against Cessnock. Still, the Hornets are in good form in the 23's so it's a tough one to call.

My Tip: Cessnock City 1-1 Belmont-Swansea

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Under 19's:
Cessnock City (11th) v Belmont-Swansea UFC (1st)
Kickoff: 11:00am
Last Time They Met: Belswans 8-0 Cessnock

Six straight losses has the Cessnock 19's sitting firmly on the bottom of the table but with a game in hand on the team above them Wallsend. Their last victory came almost two months ago and the less said about their last match against Belswans the better. Their defence simply did not show up at all in that 8-0 loss.

Belswans are really starting to find their peak form and it's a danger to every team in the competition. The defending champions are still unbeaten since last May and have won their last five games to suddenly sit on top of the table. An 8-1 hiding of Wallsend last week brought back memories of that 8-0 win over Cessnock. They'll head into this one as heavy favourites.

Prediction: Anything is an improvement on the last time this sides played for Cessnock. But still, there's no chance of them winning this if Belswans produce their best football. It could be a very long day if Cessnock don't step up to the challenge.

My Tip: Cessnock City 1-5 Belmont-Swansea

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Under 17's:
Cessnock City (9th) v Belmont-Swansea UFC (5th)
Kickoff: 9:15am
Last Time They Met: Belswans 1-2 Cessnock

Cessnock's hapless run of form in the Under 17's came to an ending of sorts as they picked up a rare point against South Cardiff last time out. It was a little bit of a positive moment after some horror results in recent times. They also defeated Belswans last time they met so that plays into their favour slightly.

Belswans 17's picked up a vital 3-1 win over Wallsend last weekend and with the rest of the round washed out, it helped them gain a little ground on the top four. Some of the players have found some confidence and this side are certainly one to watch in the race for finals football. It's a must-win game for them no doubt.

Prediction: Cessnock's draw with Southy brought some much needed relief to their poor form but Belswans are a different challenge all together. Belswans' attackers have been spoken about but defensively they've been quiet impressive at times. Harrison Rapp has been a constant stand-out for them.

My Tip: Cessnock City 1-3 Belmont-Swansea

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1st Grade Match of the Round:
New Lambton FC (7th) v South Cardiff (2nd)
Kickoff: 2:30pm
Last Time They Met: South Cardiff 4-0 New Lambton

New Lambton's finals hopes rest on this weekend's result against South Cardiff. A win won't throw them into the top four or anything along those lines but a loss will surely spell an end to their slimming finals hopes, especially if the teams above can all pick up three points.

So often this season the Eagles have risen to the challenge when asked and have revenge on their mind after a shock 4-0 loss to Southy at Ulinga Oval on Good Friday. Head Coach Andrew Packer is a tough to please and that heavy loss to his old side would have hurt like no other. New Lambton will likely aim up to really make Southy work for it.

The Gunners have gone about their business fairly routinely as of late. A 2-0 win over Cessnock lifted them to second spot and if Cooks Hill stumble again then top spot could await Denis Fajkovic's side. Southy will not get ahead of themselves though. They know the job is still nowhere near complete and consistence performance is needed.

With a low goal differential and Belswans within range of them, South Cardiff need to keep up the winning form to continue their run inside the top four. A loss won't hurt them too much with loads of football still to follow but a win could really hammer them into the top four and arguably end the Eagles' finals tilt.

Prediction: As of writing, there was a chance this game could be moved to Ulinga if any rain fell on Alder Park. If the game does go ahead at Alder, expect an unpredictable and tough surface. It could be a very gritty low-scoring affair between the two sides. But then again, Southy did the work easily on a wet and difficult Ulinga Oval on Good Friday. 

My Tip: New Lambton 1-2 South Cardiff

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Under 23's:
New Lambton FC (9th) v South Cardiff (5th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm
Last Time They Met: South Cardiff 3-2 New Lambton

Confidence has fallen that New Lambton 23's can make the finals and suddenly every fixture going forward is a key one if they are a chance of taking advantage of what is a very tight 23's competition. They were stunned by Southy last time they met with the Gunners scoring late to take all three points at Ulinga Oval.

South Cardiff have been a prime example of the lack of consistency in the Under 23's competition. They remain just one win outside the top four but a whopping 17 points behind ladder-leaders Cooks Hill. Southy's depth has been tested at times with 1st Grade requiring some 23's from time to time and the results just haven't been there some weeks.

Prediction: It's tough to call between two sides keen to build some foundation for a finals run. New Lambton's last outing against West Wallsend was another disappointing result. It's a big character test in belief and that's something that may just favour Southy.

My Tip: New Lambton 1-3 South Cardiff

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Under 19's:
New Lambton FC (4th) v South Cardiff (8th)
Kickoff: 11:00am
Last Time They Met: South Cardiff 2-5 New Lambton

New Lambton welcomed back key attackers Lachlan Jones and Maurice Bechelli on Thursday night but it wasn't enough for the Eagles to see off Kahibah in a 2-2 draw. The word unconvincing comes to mind and it was one of New Lambton's worst displays of the season. The two dropped points sees them drop off the pace in the race for the minor premiership.

South Cardiff have never got going in 2017 in the Under 19's. Their last result was a drought-breaking win over lowly Cessnock but they need to continue that winning form to remain any hope of pulling off a shock and making finals. It's highly doubtful but a respectable back end of the year will be the target for the Gunners.

Prediction: New Lambton were poor on Thursday. Something was off about the display and it wouldn't surprise to see a more refined effort on Sunday. Southy's defence hasn't exactly been solid but attacking-wise they've been the lowest scoring side in the Under 19's. Eagles to win if they're full strength.

My Tip: New Lambton 2-0 South Cardiff

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Under 17's:
New Lambton FC (4th) v South Cardiff (8th)
Kickoff: 9:15am
Last Time They Met: South Cardiff 1-2 New Lambton

New Lambton dropped off the pace in Thursday's 1-1 draw with Kahibah. They led 1-0 but the latter stages of the game saw the Eagles almost lose it. Goalkeeper Jasper Burley was once again a key factor for them as well as Liam Walker who produced another important goal. They've played a lot better games than that on Thursday.

Southy 17's are a long way out of finals contention and no result showed that more than a 1-1 draw with a vastly out of form Cessnock City side last time out. The Gunners did have an injury crisis in the 17's and their form has never got going, similar to the club's 19's side.

Prediction: With Kahibah having a game in hand and Belswans right behind them, New Lambton know that their top four spot is one that's not exactly safe. Winning games is key and it's safe to expect them to raise the bar a little bit against a struggling Southy side. Eagles to win.

My Tip: New Lambton 3-1 South Cardiff

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1st Grade:
Toronto-Awaba (9th) v Thornton Redbacks (3rd)
Kickoff: 2:30pm
Last Time They Met: Thornton 5-2 Toronto

Toronto's stunning 4-1 victory over West Wallsend put an end to any belief that the Stags could wind up with a wooden spoon and there's one or two die-hards that believe the side can pull off a miracle and perhaps sneak into finals. Make no doubt, any hope of that rests on if they can overcome Thornton.

That win over Westy was one of the best performances from Toronto-Awaba in recent years. The team played some good football and were surprisingly clinical in front of goal. If they had more of that this season then they may have been higher on the table. They'll take it one game at a time and on home turf, who knows what they may produce with some confidence behind them.

Thornton's minor premiership tilt has halted, their form has gone out the window and now some predict that their spot inside the top four could soon belong to Belswans. The panic light isn't flickering just yet but a loss to Toronto will have the Redbacks looking for answers. They can't keep this poor form going.

A 2-2 draw with Cessnock last time out was a poor result after the Redbacks lead 2-0 with five minutes to go. Toronto will obviously be fully aware of that result and the form that Darrel McAllister's side is currently in. There were seven goals last time they met but expect less on a heavy Lyall Peacock surface with rugby league playing on the ground on Saturday.

Prediction: This is a tough one to call. Toronto were good value last time out but if Thornton can find their best then they'll be a tough side to stop. Nathan McAllister has been vital for his father's side and Jamie Subat will again be a key up front but the Stags have some confidence lately. Tough to call.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 1-1 Thornton Redbacks

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Under 23's:
Toronto-Awaba (11th) v Thornton Redbacks (3rd)
Kickoff: 12:45pm
Last Time They Met: Thornton 6-1 Toronto

A much more positive performance for Toronto 23's last time out as they pushed West Wallsend to the limits and lost with the final kick of the game. Still, that was another loss and it leaves them seven points behind 10th-placed Cessnock. Avoiding the wooden spoon is a big ask and that's no doubt what the Stags are aiming to do.

Thornton's last game came all the way back on May 28th so no doubt they'll be keen to get back onto the field. Three-straight losses for the previously in-form side has seen them drop off the pace of Cooks Hill and Wallsend but fortunately they have a a few points in hand on the chasing pack and an extra game. Getting back to winning form will do them a world of good.

Prediction: Toronto were smashed last time they met Thornton but the Redbacks will be down on confidence after no wins in their last three. Still, the 3rd-placed side should have the quality to see off the cellar-dwellers but it might not be as simple as that.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 1-4 Thornton Redbacks

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Under 19's:
Toronto-Awaba (9th) v Thornton Redbacks (5th)
Kickoff: 11:00am
Last Time They Met: Thornton 2-1 Toronto

Toronto-Awaba failed to put up much of a challenge against West Wallsend in their last match. The Stags are a long way from finals contention but they do have a chance to pick up a win or two in coming weeks and move away from Cessnock at the bottom of the table. Last time they played Thornton, they went down 2-1 in a hotly contested match-up.

The Redbacks picked up a 1-0 win over Cessnock last time out but it was the sort of victory that doesn't fill onlookers with confidence. Thornton have stumbled in recent times and find themselves outside the top four, albeit with a game in hand on a few higher-placed sides. It's most likely a five-way race for the four finals spots and it's games like this that teams can ill-afford to drop.

Prediction: Toronto will see Connor Morgan return from suspension which gives their attacking potential a big boost but it's further back where things went wrong against West Wallsend. An early goal would do the Stags wonders but another home loss could be on the cards.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 1-4 Thornton Redbacks

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Under 17's:
Toronto-Awaba (3rd) v Thornton Redbacks (10th)
Kickoff: 9:15am
Last Time They Met: Thornton 0-4 Toronto

Toronto-Awaba 17's lost what was a potential finals preview against West Wallsend last time out. The Stags fought hard but were arguably outplayed and lost late on to an unfortunate cross-turned-goal. Still, this team is one that is confident and looks finals bound if they can produce good form and beat teams like Thornton.

The Redbacks picked up a break-through win in their last game as they downed Cessnock City 2-0. It brought a range of emotions to the Thornton squad but mostly that of relief as they finally got to sing the team song. Whether that kick-starts a form run of not is yet to be seen and the Redbacks will be lacking match fitness after three weeks off.

Prediction: Thornton were decent in that win over Cessnock but this game is on another level entirely. The Stags need to bounce back to winning ways with some teams like Belswans and Kahibah potentially chasing down a spot inside the top four. Thornton defenders will need to keep an eye out for 17's top scorer Thomas Appleby. 

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 4-1 Thornton Redbacks

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Under 15's Fixtures: