Thursday, 17 August 2017

PREVIEW: New-FM Northern League One Semi Final 2nd Leg

Under 17's:
Cooks Hill United v Toronto-Awaba
Kickoff: 9:15am
1st Leg: Toronto-Awaba 2-2 Cooks Hill
2017 Meetings: TAW 2-1 CHU & CHU 1-4 TAW

Both teams meant business last Sunday. Unlike Saturday's match which was somewhat nervy, both these sides were going all out as their finals series kicked off. At 2-0 down after a spectacular Nick Hart goal from range, it was safe to say Toronto were facing a very tough challenge to overcome. To their credit they'd do just that. Two Thomas Appleby goals sealing a 2-2 draw.

Cooks Hill still hold the advantage after two away goals but the Stags are well and truly in the fight. Toronto were annoyed with some of the calls that went against them and there was a fair bit of feeling in this game. As the away side this week, they'll be looking for a good start and to put pressure on the higher-placed Cookers.

Key To Victory: For Cooks Hill it is quiet simple. They need to close down Thomas Appleby. Toronto-Awaba isn't a one-man show but as the leading goalscorer and with two goals last week, Appleby is the target. The Cookers can ill-afford anymore lapses. At 2-0 up, they would have been disappointed at drawing last week.

It's the opposite for Toronto. They'll want to use Appleby to their advantage. Set-pieces will be a chance for him to use his height. Their defenders are the key to staying in this Semi Final tie. They got found out a little under pressure last weekend.

Prediction: Cooks Hill came out firing last weekend but were unable to go on with the job. Toronto will be playing for away goals and if they score early it's in their favour. Still, Cooks Hill have the better side on paper and a refined effort might see them get over the line.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 2-1 Toronto-Awaba
Aggregate: Cooks Hill United 4-3 Toronto-Awaba


Under 19s:
Belmont-Swansea UFC v West Wallsend SFC
Kickoff: 11:00am
1st Leg: West Wallsend 1-1 Belmont-Swansea
2017 Meetings: BEL 2-2 WWB & WWB 0-2 BEL

West Wallsend were facing a difficult task last week, playing as the home side at Blacksmiths Oval. They were able to take a lead through a tight-angled finish from Josh Knight and then survived some scares in the second half to come away with a satisfactory 1-1 draw.

Both sides had chances wasted in the game last week so expect a goal or two more here if they can produce better chances. Physicality was a repetitive theme in all grades at Blacksmiths and both sides will be up for yet another testing game. A cagey opening would not surprise with neither willing to concede early.  

Key To Victory: Defence is the best form of attack between two sides that like to score goals and possess some quality attackers. Goalkeepers Aaron Taylor and Will Reeves were both reliable last week and really that's probably where this Semi Final tie will be won or lost.

Belmont-Swansea need a refined effort and to get more ball to Joel Nicholson and Will Dundas. Their only goal last week saw Dundas pounce on a mistake at the back. They might not get that luxury this week. For Westy, a similar story. Josh Knight seemed to be involved heavily in their best attacking moves.

Prediction: It's a game where one moment will probably define the result. A set-piece, a defensive error, something along those lines. Newysports called a Belswans win before last week and will stick to the same here. The defending champs to edge it and make it to another Grand Final.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 2-1 West Wallsend
Aggregate: Belmont-Swansea 3-2 West Wallsend


Under 23's
Wallsend F.C v Thornton Redbacks
Kickoff: 12:45pm
1st Leg: Thornton Redbacks 1-2 Wallsend F.C
2017 Meetings: THO 1-3 WAL & WAL 1-2 THO

Wallsend 23's are the club's lone side in the finals and thus they received a mammoth amount of support last week. The Red Devils produced the biggest and most colourful crowd of the weekend and the same can be expected at Kahibah Oval. Thornton did not have the same luxury and it does play a part.

Set-pieces were vital last weekend as they lead to all three goals. Wallsend got off to a 2-0 lead on away goals but a quality free-kick from Josh Colman would put the Redbacks back in it. Still, it is advantage Wallsend after the first leg but that said, Thornton scoring first would put some pressure onto the Red Devils.

Key To Victory: For Wallsend it is a case of repeating what was a solid first leg display. If they win 2-1 again then they go through. They'll need to be wary as Thornton will have different ideas and structures to try and open up the Red Devils. As mentioned in the 19's, defence for Wallsend will be the best form of attack. T

he longer they stay 2-1 up, the more desperate Thornton become and the gaps will start to form. For Thornton that's what they need to avoid. It's a game of patience and there's absolutely no need for them to come out aiming for a goal in the first ten minutes.

Prediction: As mentioned, set-pieces will be vital and that's probably where the best chances to score will be. Thornton have some quality but Wallsend are on a high after the first leg. The Red Devils were good enough to win it last week and they're definitely worth a shout to do it all over again here.

My Tip: Wallsend 2-1 Thornton Redbacks
Aggregate: Wallsend 4-2 Thornton Redbacks


1st Grade:
 Kahibah F.C v Belmont-Swansea UFC
Kickoff: 2:30pm
1st Leg: Belmont-Swansea 0-2 Kahibah F.C
2017 Meetings: KAH 2-0 BEL & BEL 2-1 KAH

After a fairly one-sided result last Saturday, all eyes were on Belswans v Kahibah for a much tighter and perhaps much more dramatic Semi Final 1st Leg. It got off to a very entertaining opening as Jamie Hadlow fired Kahibah ahead with a superb finish against his old side.

Belswans battled well but lacked penetration. Their attack force simply couldn't find a way through and Kahibah were slightly unlikely to not stretch their lead. The hammer blow would come for the home side just before full time as Hadlow stole the ball from Dan Rufo and fired it home for a 2-0 lead. Hadlow the key man just as he was last year in the Semi Final.

Now Belswans chase a fairly tough deficit to overcome. Kahibah's record at home this season has been very solid. They simply don't concede many goals on home territory and considering the fact Kahibah aren't often held scoreless, it's likely Belswans will need at least three goals. Only Cooks Hill have managed that against the Green and Blacks this season.

This tie is nowhere near done. Josh Rufo was the man in charge when Wallsend pulled off an infamous second leg result at Macquarie Field two years ago. A few players on both sides will remember that day. A fair few were on that Wallsend side whilst Belswans' midfielder Sean Matthews was in the side for Lakes. That's all Belswans needs. It's not impossible. Nothing ever is with them.

Key To Victory: This is what Andre Gumprecht would have wanted. He's built Kahibah all season on defence. For goalscoring purists, it's sometimes a slightly bore but they've worked tooth and nail to have the best defence in the league and this game is their moment to shine. Keep them out and the gaps will start to form.

Belswans need something more. A change of tactics, structure, direction, something. Tega Marcus was kept fairly quiet last weekend and will be looking to raise the bar here. Defensively they cannot afford to make any mistakes. They've had all week to think about it. Expect a fired-up side with a renewed focus. It's all or nothing for them now.

Prediction: If anyone can do it, it's Belmont-Swansea. They keep proving doubters wrong but this is a very difficult challenge. With rain predicted and a 15 degree maximum, Saturday will be a tough day to produce good football. Kahibah are so close to that breakthrough GF appearance. They'll put everything they have into keeping Belswans at bay.

My Tip: Kahibah FC 1-1 Belmont-Swansea
Aggregate: Kahibah FC 3-1 Belmont-Swansea



Under 17's:
West Wallsend SFC v New Lambton FC
Kickoff: 9:15am
1st Leg: New Lambton 0-0 West Wallsend
2017 Meetings: NLE 1-1 WWB & WWB 1-1 NLE

Out of all eight games last weekend, this was by far the least inspiring of the lot. It seemed as though the sides were almost scared to try and take the challenge on. Westy were the better side and got one or two vital chances, including one blocked by Ben Jones late on but it was just a forgettable performance all round.

New Lambton were probably the happier of the sides as now they play for the away goals and looking back at the two 1-1 draws in the regular season, that is absolutely vital. Westy simply need to win the second leg. A scoreless draw would take it to penalties but that's extremely doubtful. Therefore, all the pressure is on the minor premiers.

Key To Victory: Goals! For both sides. Westy's attack was blunt last week. They edged the chances just but it wasn't the sort of display that took them to the minor premiership. Josh Snedden wasn't tested a lot in goals last week but Westy's defence cannot afford to get complacent. It's all about controlling the nerves for them.

New Lambton have everything to gain and nothing to lose. Not many thought they'd hold Westy at bay last week and suddenly just one late goal (remember the game at Westy) could be the path to the Grand Final. Their defence put in a quality display last week and it's safe to expect them to put everything they have into it once again.

Prediction: To say this game is on a knife's edge is an understatement. Westy have the better side on paper but New Lambton held them out last week. It's got an eerily similar script to Cooks Hill 17's Semi Final "win" over Kahibah in 2015. Scoreless in the first leg and then a vital away goal. That's all New Lambton need. Westy though have the better attack.

My Tip: West Wallsend 3-1 New Lambton
Aggregate: West Wallsend 3-1 New Lambton


Under 19s:
Cooks Hill United v New Lambton FC
Kickoff: 11:00am
1st Leg: New Lambton 1-1 Cooks Hill
2017 Meetings: NLE 0-2 CHU & CHU 2-0 NLE

Based on their Round 22 performance against Cooks Hill, it was a predictable bet to rule out New Lambton 19's last weekend but to their credit they turned things around and arguably they were the better side for large portions of the game last weekend. A bullet into the back of the net from Lachlan Jones would rescue the draw and that might come in vital.

Cooks Hill's attack was kept reasonably quiet on the day and it's a credit to New Lambton's back-line. The key moment for them was Bailey Graham scoring his first goal of the season. Nicholas Fakes going off with a leg injury was a worry and it'll be a dent if he's not able to recover in time for this game. Still, they have more in the tank than what they showed last week.

Key To Victory: Home ground advantage will play a big part for Cooks Hill. They won the minor premiership by beating New Lambton at the AthField just two weeks ago. The Cookers' coaches should be aiming for everybody to be there for a big day. 1st Grade should be there early to support 19's and 19's should stay to support 1st Grade. It's another huge day for the club.

New Lambton's key is once again their attacking threats. Lachlan Jones proved what he can do last week and Luke Homer also did well of being a headache for the Cooks Hill defenders. Where it is won or lost for the Eagles is in defence. They need to be at their very best to keep Cooks Hill out.

Prediction: It felt like Cooks Hill could have gone up a gear last week. New Lambton on the other hand I'm not quiet sure had more to offer. The Cookers are the better side on paper and really they should be getting the job done on home turf.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 3-1 New Lambton
Aggregate: Cooks Hill United 4-2 New Lambton


Under 23's
Cooks Hill United v West Wallsend SFC
Kickoff: 12:45pm
1st Leg: West Wallsend 4-3 Cooks Hill
2017 Meetings: CHU 5-3 WWB & WWB 2-3 CHU

This was the game of the weekend last week and if the first leg is anything to go by, good luck to whichever official gets appointed to the centre for this return legs. Cooks Hill were cruising at 2-0 up but they fell into the trap of trying to 'out-niggle' West Wallsend. It'll never ever happen. They were stunned by the turn-around the Bluebells produced.

Westy would win 4-3 on the day but wild scenes of celebration after the game would have quiet frankly annoyed the minor premiers. The Bluebells will need to bring their A game once again. They got under the skin of Cooks Hill and for Westy that's probably their best chance of winning it. It's more than just a football game, it's a mental game. And Westy thrive on that.

Key To Victory: For Cooks Hill it is simple. Keep the mind on the job. They've got the players to see off Westy and if they produce their best then it should be a win for the team that finished top of the table. A refined effort on home territory is what this side will be aiming for on Sunday.

Westy's key to victory is to simply keep stirring the pot. They've gotten in Cooks Hill's mind. They've got a vocal support, they've got little to lose and everything to gain. It's a lot like the Westy 19's last year against Lakes. The key to victory for them is their attack. The Maxton brothers in particular are a lot to handle. 

Prediction: Away goals will come in vital. Cooks Hill have three of them and that could be the difference maker if the game is as tight as it was last week. Home field advantage will play a part for the Cookers. Westy have little to lose so don't rule them out.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 3-1 West Wallsend
Aggregate: Cooks Hill United 6-5 West Wallsend


1st Grade:
Cooks Hill United v Thornton Redbacks
Kickoff: 2:30pm
1st Leg: Thornton Redbacks 0-3 Cooks Hill
2017 Meetings: CHU 4-2 THO & THO 2-2 CHU

Last Saturday saw Thornton Redbacks fall to a devastating 3-0 loss in their home Semi Final. Lacking the experience and quality of Jamie Subat up front, it was their defence that let in three fairly avoidable goals and helped hand the Cookers a significant result in the 1st Leg.

The Redbacks were blunt for the most part and only really threatened in a decent opening to the game. The second half in particular was a real worry as they never looked likely to start clawing their way back. Needless to say, they need to produce a small miracle from here.

Cooks Hill weren't at their blitzing best last week but for Graham Law the fact that they recorded a rare clean sheet will be a blessing. They return to the AthField with a mammoth three goal lead and confidence that they can do the job again and secure a spot in the Grand Final.

Two years ago, Lake Macquarie City were stunned as Wallsend came out firing and scored four goals in 20 minutes to turn a deficit around. The Redbacks don't have the quality that Wallsend side had though and they've got to come from even further behind. With nothing to lose, expect an open game from the away side as they go for glory.

Key To Victory: Cooks Hill's mission is quiet a simple on on Sunday. All they need to do is hold Thornton at bay. The longer this game goes without the Redbacks scoring, the more desperate they become and suddenly big openings will start to form. That is when they can put the final nail or two in the coffin.

Thornton also have quiet a simple task. Goals, goals, goals. There's no sugar-coating it. They need to produce the greatest escape in recent memory in this competition. Darrel McAllister's reign as coach is coming to an end but adding an extra week to it would be his greatest moment at Thornton. They will come out all guns blazing.

Prediction: They always say do not write off teams but this is a near safe bet. Thornton were poor last week. To come to the AthField and turn this around would be like nothing ever seen in the "Newysports" New-FM era. It'd be the greatest upset and the greatest choke both in the same day. No chance.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 3-1 Thornton Redbacks
Aggregate: Cooks Hill United 6-1 Thornton Redbacks


Under 15's:
Toronto-Awaba (2nd) v Cooks Hill United (3rd)
Kickoff: 11:00am
2017 Meetings: TAW 1-3 CHU & CHU 3-4 TAW

The 15's one-off Semi Finals take place at Alder Park and the first of the two games sees two talented sides in Toronto-Awaba and Cooks Hill meet once again. Last time they played it was Toronto who won it, a 4-3 thriller back in Round 12 or so.

The points were split this year as Cooks Hill came away with a 3-1 win back in Round 1. In Round 1 it was a Marty Willson hat-trick that sent the Cookers to a first-up 15's win whilst a Jordan Heil hat-trick helped guide Toronto to a win in the return game. Two even squads with everything to play for. It promises to be an entertaining battle.

Key To Victory: As mentioned, the two strikers Jordan Heil (Toronto) and Marty Willson (Cooks Hill) are ones to watch. Toronto have a quality side all round. Aiden Wilson was impressive in the games Newysports saw this season and their midfield transition very well.

Cooks Hill have a side that aren't scared to get into a high-scoring match-up. Alder Park's surface doesn't do anyone any favours but Cooks Hill have a fairly sturdy side. They can be handy from set-pieces and no doubt they'll be looking to simply outscore the Stags.

Prediction: Away goals don't count so it's all to play for in this one and done match-up. Newysports has watched both these sides twice in the second half of the year. Toronto won 6-1 on both occasions, Cooks Hill lost 3-0 and drew 0-0. The Stags look a quality side so it's them who get the prediction here.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 3-2 Cooks Hill United


Under 15's:
New Lambton FC (1st) v West Wallsend SFC (4th)
Kickoff: 1:00pm
2017 Meetings: NLE 5-3 WWB & WWB 0-2 NLE

The 15's finals are a copy of the 17's but the difference here is that New Lambton are the minor premiers and thus the favourites to progress to the Grand Final. Nic Pepper's side have been superb in the second half of the season and have secured a home Semi Final as a result. Funny enough, Pepper admitted his side aren't keen on playing on a highly-criticised Alder Park pitch.

West Wallsend have had a superb first year in the 15's but their biggest test is no upon them. They lost all four games against the top two sides this season and that simply does not play into their favour. Their last game saw them lose to Cessnock City of all teams and with that in mind, they're the firm underdogs here. They won't mind that tag one bit though.

Key To Victory: For New Lambton it's more about defence than it is about attack. Half of their games this year have ended in clean sheets. It's a superb stat and it makes them the best defence in the entire league. 14 goals conceded in 20 games and a whopping 57 goals scored. Luka Phelan is their top scorer and one of a few dangerous players they have.

Before the shock loss to Cessnock, Westy 15's had not conceded a goal in six games prior. They've got to be stern in defence just like New Lambton. Proven goalscorer Ethan Wright will be likely marked tightly but Tom Maddock also provides a decent option for the away side. Frustrating New Lambton is their best path to victory. The longer the Eagles don't score, the better for Westy.

Prediction: Hopefully New Lambton provide a big turnout for their 15's. Unfortunately Westy 23's are on at the same time whilst New Lambton 19's will be able to make a 1pm kickoff from the AthField. Both clubs should be sending a good support for these lads. It's been a good year for both but New Lambton to win it.

My Tip: New Lambton 3-1 West Wallsend


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