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:


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