Thursday, 15 March 2018

PREVIEW: New-FM Round 1 2018


Under 19's:
Cooks Hill United v Belmont-Swansea UFC
Kickoff: 10:45am
2017 Meetings: CHU 2-2 BEL & BEL 3-1 CHU

This last year was a very, very good match-up on paper but this year one of the two teams has undergone massive changes. For Cooks Hill, it's pretty much picking up where they left off. The Premiers lost out in the Semi Finals and will no doubt look to win everything this time round. There is some pressure on their back-line with Michael Dalton and Luke Muller both gone up to Seniors. They've apparently lost goalkeeper Zac Hamilton to a long-term injury as well. So in that case, it's a mystery who'll be between the sticks this Sunday.

Belmont-Swansea enter what can only be described as a rebuilding year. The side have pretty much been rotated out either into 23's or out of the club all together (Will Dundas will play against his old side). What's left is an inexperienced side made up of a lot of last year's 17's. The team will be hoping that either Rob Stuckey or Dave Scanlon can be routine goalscorers this season. They do have a solid influence in the back-line by the name of Harry Rapp, a player who will no doubt lead the team from the back. 

Prediction: Belswans will show improvement as the year passes by but they don't have the squad to knock off the defending premiers at their home ground. Cooks Hill will want to send a direct message to their title rivals. Cooks Hill have enjoyed a fairly settled pre-season compared to some and are indeed the competition favourites heading into Round 1. Expect them to get the better of an inexperienced Belswans side.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 3-1 Belmont-Swansea

Additional Tip: Newysports will be making some extra predictions in some games. We start here with the prediction that Will Dundas will haunt his old side with a goal. First goalscorer of the year though, Rory Kalnins.

Will Dundas' first game in black & white will be against his former club.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Under 23's:
Cooks Hill United v Belmont-Swansea UFC
Kickoff: 12:30pm
2017 Meetings: CHU 6-1 BEL & BEL 1-7 CHU

Like the 19's and 1st, the Cookers' 23's are defending the Premiership in 2018 and start their campaign at home to Belswans. Pre-season has been a little bit of a struggle for CHU with 1st Grade having a few injury issues therefore a bit more squad movement than usual. The 23's have performed well against NPL sides and look on track to be the team to beat once again this season.

For Belswans, they endured 6-1 and 7-1 losses to the eventual Premiers last season and if pre-season is anything to go by, it's going to be very difficult for them to reserve the result and come away with the win. Belswans have forfeited games and struggled to get the 23's up to game quality at times in 2018. The last couple of weeks have settled a bit but it's a big, big ask for a young side this Sunday.

Prediction: This looks a bridge too far for the young Belswans side. If Belswans don't show up well then it'll likely end in a heavy loss like both games last season. There's really not much else to say about it.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 5-1 Belmont-Swansea

Lachlan McMaster is one of a few Belswans players who've aged up into the 23's this season.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1st Grade Match of the Round:
Cooks Hill United v Belmont-Swansea
Kickoff: 2:30pm
2017 Meetings: CHU 6-2 BEL, BEL 0-1 CHU & GF-CHU 4-0 BEL

Newysports saved this preview until last because it pretty much writes itself. The Grand Final rematch in Round 1, on opening day, at the AthField. For their first two seasons in New-FM, Cooks Hill were at times a shambles. A revolving door for players and indeed coach's before the club took the gamble and brought in Graham Law and half of Adamstown Rosebud (quiet literally).

Club stalwart David Morley visited Newysports HQ in late 2016 and when asked about 2017 he simply said "it has to work". And it certainly worked. Cooks Hill doing what Lakes couldn't in prior years and win the double and taking Lakes mantle as the premier club with the 17's, 19's & 23's all making finals and bringing home respective pieces of silverware. It was a dream year. But now, they are the club that everyone wants to beat. They are the new Lakes.

For Belswans their year was purely all about the second half. They were humbled at the AthField in the early stages of the season but then beat Cooks Hill on home turf. They downed arch rivals Kahibah in a thrilling Semi Final and again made it to the grand stage only to fall at the final hurdle. Unlike the shootout loss in 2016, this time they weren't in it at all as Cooks Hill cruised to an emphatic championship win.

The headline news of the off-season for Belswans was the departure of Tega Marcus to Weston where he is now looking to become a catalyst for New-FM players wanting to be something big in the NPL. He has the chance to show it can be done. In his place are a few recruits but none bigger than Dave Hodgson. Cue the retirement home remarks but Belswans have a side mixed with youth and experience and are a serious contender once again.

Prediction: Newysports has learned both sides will have a few names out but regardless, the simple fact is Belswans are notorious slow-starters. Josh Rufo highlighted this as a focus for them to improve on but this Sunday could be a real wake-up call. Cooks Hill are the elite and they are the team to beat in 2018. Will they lose their first home game, at this stage it's unlikely.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 3-1 Belmont-Swansea

Additional Tip: Lee Ashton to bag one or two goals for Cooks Hill.

The only photo needed to fire up the visitors this Sunday.


------------------------------------------------------------------------------

===============================


Under 19's Match of the Round:
Toronto-Awaba v Wallsend FC
Kickoff: 10:45am
2017 Meetings: WAL 1-2 TAW & TAW 2-2 WAL

You can go back through every weekly preview Newysports has ever put out. There is no chance Toronto 19's have ever been the "Match of the Round". That's how much this side has come in the off-season. Whilst not looking serious title contenders, they are a threat to the top four and in their minds they believe it too which is part of becoming a good team. Sam Willis a big recruit who happened to play for Wallsend last year.

For Wallsend, they were tipped to be a title contender but their form in pre-season has been a little patchy. News broke on the weekend that they've lost key centre back Noah George to the 23's. That leaves a huge hole to fill in the heart of defence and the jury is no doubt still out to see whether they can indeed fill it. Further forward, if they get going they are a great team to watch.

Prediction: Toronto beat Wallsend in a trial match just a week ago. That no doubt plays into the mindset for this one as the result was a fairly comfortable 4-1 win. The Stags didn't win their first game last year but did in 2016, against Wallsend. They'll want to put down a statement that Lyall Peacock Field is no longer a place for 19's teams to come and pick up an easy victory.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 2-1 Wallsend

Additional Tip: Tom Appleby to score either one of Toronto's goals or potentially both.

Toronto 17's graduate into 19's this Sunday and Tom Appleby will be one to watch for.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Under 23's:
Toronto-Awaba v Wallsend FC
Kickoff: 12:30pm
2017 Meetings: WAL 7-1 TAW & TAW 0-2 WAL

It was a year ago this week that Toronto 23's started and pretty much ended their hopes of real success in 2017 with a 10-1 hiding on home turf against Cooks Hill. Graham Jones has come in to coach the team and the depth at Toronto whilst still trailing behind the big clubs has improved and there is no chance this year will end in the same crushing disappointment as the last couple.

Wallsend on the other hand have no current coach after Arthur Hodgetts parted ways with the club on mutual terms. Wayne Edwards will temporarily take the the reigns with son and Head Coach Ben no doubt to play a role as well in guiding the team until a permanent coach comes in. Pre-season has been fairly quiet for the 23's but last week they lost to ZL2 side Merewether Advance. Not a confidence-booster for the defending champs.

Prediction: Last year saw Wallsend put 7 past Toronto early on. That certainly will not happen. This game will likely be similar to the second match. No less than one maybe two goals in it. There's a lot of questions to be asked for both sides and maybe they'll go close to doing so on Sunday. For now, it's Wallsend to win, just.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 1-2 Wallsend FC

Defending 23's champions Wallsend will be looking to start their season with a bang.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1st Grade:
Toronto-Awaba v Wallsend FC
Kickoff: 2:30pm
2017 Meetings: WAL 2-0 TAW & TAW 2-1 WAL

Toronto only won three games at Lyall Peacock last season and one of those was against Wallsend. The Stags have added some quality to the squad including the likes of Jarrod Penfold and Todd Cawley who'll both be ones to watch for in attack. The perennially also-rans are looking to make a rise up the NewFM table in 2018 and based on pre-season, it's safe to believe they can certainly do so.

Head Coach Adam Routledge was happy with their first hit-out which came later than most clubs and saw them take the fight to Kahibah. The club's defensive line has been boosted with Connor Thorpe expected to shine and experienced goalkeeper Blake Redman looking like he's up for another big season between the sticks.

For Wallsend it's been a largely underwhelming pre-season results-wise compared to other clubs. They are flying under most people's radar but that wouldn't be a concern at the club. What is a concern is a lack of clinical scoring at the Heritage Cup last weekend. They were unable to find the back of the net and they need to work on finishing their chances. Defensively they look a little thin/inexperienced after the injury to Kyle Macorig.

Ben Edwards was happy with some of the things he saw at the Heritage Cup. Young defenders Jackson Manning, Darcy Hall and the recently-promoted Noah George all did well under the guidance of Trent Richards who slotted in well. Wallsend have potential in attack which some of their earlier results showed. They'll be hoping last weekend's three scoreless matches was a one-off.

Prediction: For once, it's not just Toronto diehards expecting the Stags to make a move up the table this season. Some have them as real dark horses for the top four. Pre-season for both clubs hasn't been super impressive. Stags struggled to get past ZL2 Merewether Advance 3-2 just last weekend but with Wallsend's attack looking blunt in the Heritage Cup, they need to find their scoring boots. Tough to call but Stags with home advantage look the go.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 2-1 Wallsend

Additional Tip: Jarrod Penfold to score on debut for the Stags.

Scenes like these might be more common at Lyall Peacock Field this season.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

===============================


Under 19's
South Cardiff v New Lambton FC
Kickoff: 10:45am
2017 Meetings: SOU 2-5 NLE & NLE 0-3 SOU

Last year was interesting for these two. Southy lost 2-5 to New Lambton at home but took a 3-0 win away from a night game at Alder against the eventual champions. With both sides enduring mass changes, it is more a historic stat than anything meaningful. Southy have Steve Blunt on board as coach who himself admits his side isn't on paper a team of superstars but it is a team that is willing to put in for each other and take the fight to the big guns.

For the champions it is all out all change. Jack Neenan is the only player left from the 19's last season but is joined by a talented bunch that went to the 17's Semi Finals last season plus some exciting new additions like Jock Dockrill and Nathan Toby...don't forget goalkeeper Blake McDonnell either. The Eagles will take time to gel but are a team to watch closely in 2018. Their pre-season has improved every week to the point where they beat Cooks Hill two weeks ago.

Prediction: Both teams are a rock in progress but New Lambton seem to be tracking a little faster. The promotion of goalkeeper Kyle Furness to 23's meant Southy needed to fill the void (unsure if they have yet) whilst New Lambton have been settled and worked hard this pre-season. The Eagles' quality might just shine through in Round 1.

My Tip: South Cardiff 0-2 New Lambton

Additional Tip: Connor Townsend to score and a unnamed Southy midfielder to be shown a yellow card.

Will rising goalkeeper Blake McDonnell keep a clean sheet in his first official New Lambton match?

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Under 23's
South Cardiff v New Lambton FC
Kickoff: 12:30pm
2017 Meetings: SOU 3-2 NLE & NLE 2-1 SOU

This is for the most part an U19's match-up from last season. South Cardiff have gone for a youth approach in the 23's and pre-season has brought mixed results but a lot of potential. The likes of 2018 U19's players Zac Wolfe and Kynan Currey have enjoyed some chances in this grade whilst exciting 17-year old goalkeeper Kyle Furness has been promoted into the senior squad.

Over at New Lambton, it's a very similar situation. Last year's 19's have made the move up to the 23's and have also endured a mixed pre-season. They found it tough against the NPL sides in trials (namely Lakes) but potential is there based on what was seen at the Heritage Cup. The Eagles returned the favour to Lakes with a victory in the final game on Saturday night. Definitely they've shown improvement over pre-season.

Prediction: Both teams have a few question marks around them, particularly Southy's attack and New Lambton's defence. That will be an interesting part of the match-up but for now, on paper and based on the Heritage Cup, New Lambton have a fair bit of depth in their attack. Here's hoping Lachlan Jones' injury wasn't too serious but they've got players to fill the void.

My Tip: South Cardiff 1-3 New Lambton

Southy 23's have boosted their attacking depth and James Wootton is one of a few looking to score some goals.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1st Grade:
South Cardiff v New Lambton FC
Kickoff: 2:30pm
2017 Meetings: TBC

After looking like serious premiership contenders and being a few expert's tips to win it all this season, South Cardiff have endured some issues player-wise in the last couple of weeks. First was the return of big-name signing Dino Fajkovic back to Broadmeadow Magic. No doubt he would have been one of the best players in the league but no-one can blame him for taking the chance to return to NPL after sorting out his commitments.

Much more of an immediate worry is a stunning turn of events in the goalkeeper position. Ben Corling departed the club this week. The club said one thing and Corling said another so no use going into finer details. It leaves Southy with just one goalkeeper, 17 year old Kyle Furness. Elsewhere on the park things are quiet settled with Nathan McAllister no doubt adding a lot of quality in the attacking area of the park.

New Lambton have no issues in goals with Josh Cox being a stand-out at the Heritage Cup and really looking like he's up for a big season. Squad-wise they aren't a side using resources to bring in big names but one that has looked to strengthen it's depth as it looks to push a bit further up the table than the slightly underwhelming 8th-placed finish last season.

The Eagles' defence isn't the strongest in the league and will need to improve on last season but further forward they are looking re-energised. The likes of Alex Ihlow and Riley Taylor are expected to do big things this year, Nick Pepper is looking fitter and sharper on the ball whilst there's other options going forward. Haines, Jones, Maddalena & Radford all capable of providing goals in 1st Grade.

Prediction: This looks to be a battle of two attacks. Both have potential to be quality. Southy on paper look the stronger squad but the goalkeeping issue is a worrying one. Not since Kaia Roth at Cooks Hill has there been such a meteoric rise to starting 1st Grade keeper. Still, Southy's attack looks good enough to get the job done.

My Tip: South Cardiff 3-1 New Lambton

Baring a late signing, Kyle Furness will make his New-FM 1st Grade starting debut this weekend.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

===============================


Under 19's:
West Wallsend SFC v Singleton Strikers
Kickoff: 10:45am
2017 Meetings: WWB 2-2 SIN & SIN 0-4 WWB

There's a lot of mystery surrounding this game, more so for the away side. West Wallsend on paper look a premiership contender and when at full-strength in pre-season they've been quiet impressive in front of goal. A lot of quality moving up from the Grand Finalist 17's side and added to the experience of the 19's still in the squad, it makes for a solid line-up.

For Singleton there is absolutely nothing known about them apart from a 2-1 trial loss to Mayfield 3rd Grade last weekend. Head Coach David Willoughby gave some insight and said a few players have left, mostly due to university commitments whilst a good five players or so have made the trip down from Muswellbrook after their ZL2 sides folded. So a cloud of mystery surrounds them but they'll need big improvement if their to challenge for finals.

Prediction: It's hard to rule Singleton out of this one without really knowing what they're going to bring but they'll need some effort to knock off a serious Westy side on their home turf. Surprisingly this was a 2-2 draw last year but that was before Singleton endured their slide down the table. Westy to win this one over the new-look Singo.

My Tip: West Wallsend 3-1 Singleton Strikers

Jack Blomfield, not just a good fullback option but a left-footed set-piece specialist. 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Under 23's:
West Wallsend SFC v Singleton Strikers
Kickoff: 12:30pm
2017 Meetings: WWB 2-2 SIN & SIN 1-4 WWB

This game is one that doesn't jump off the page as a potential thriller so to speak. Gary Rowe himself has admitted Westy 23's have had a difficult pre-season in terms of numbers and most of their games have seen the 23's & 1st Grade combine into a "senior squad". With injuries, cricket commitments and other various issues, Westy for the most part have been undersold in this grade. Don't forget, they did make the 23's GF last year.

Singleton on the other hand are a complete mystery. Word from the club says it's been an underwhelming pre-season in terms of the Under 23's but they do have 30 or so players in their senior squad so they should be more than comfortable in fielding a full squad. They fell away last season but they showed at times they are a team to watch for. For now, it's a mystery. 

Prediction: Newysports could flip a coin to determine who wins this game but with the draw an option, there's no three-sided coins laying around as this is written. Neither side have done much, neither said have said much. Westy on paper look the tip as even if they need fill-ins, some of the 19's attack will do the job here.

My Tip: West Wallsend 2-0 Singleton Strikers

Westy 23's haven't been seen much this pre-season but they'll need all hands on deck this Sunday. 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1st Grade:
West Wallsend SFC v Singleton Strikers
Kickoff: 2:30pm
2017 Meetings: WWB 1-0 SIN & SIN 1-0 WWB

Gary Rowe's West Wallsend side were involved in the race for finals for a large portion of last season but ultimately fell away with the killer blow arguably a 1-0 away loss to you guessed it, the Singleton Strikers. Much has been spoken about the inconsistency that plagued the Bluebells' season in 2017 and it's safe to say they need to get 2018 off to the right start.

Westy to their absolute credit have been working with a shoestring budget ever since they came close to going out of business a few years ago. The players there are playing for pride. Other clubs will tell you they're not spending anything but in Westy's case, they mean it. After not being sighted this pre-season (at least by Newysports), the recent Northern preview confirmed Tye Jones will be returning. That adds a big boost to their attack and with some exciting additions (Bailey Jensen, Adam Cooper, etc), they look a side to watch.

Singleton on the other hand are a bit of a mystery (this is getting repetitive isn't it?). David Willoughby admitted he was a little bit cautious during the early stages of pre-season but is happy with how they've progressed. Jake Ball is a player to watch for from Queensland whilst the return of Jackson Cox will add something to the squad. Rumours have it another quality player may join before Sunday.

The Strikers haven't exactly set themselves a goal of winning silverware or anything along those lines but they're aiming to be very competitive against all comers. The spotlight is no doubt firmly on new goalkeeper Corey Cleaver as he returns to the shot-stopping role after playing centre back the last few years. Filling the boots of Stuart Plant is a tough ask but Cleaver is more than happy to take the challenge on.

Prediction: Newysports tipped Singleton to finish last this season mostly because it was hard to squeeze them in anywhere else. Positions 5th-11th may be very tight this season and truly the Strikers will believe they can be a team that takes the fight to the big guns. Westy should be getting the job done here, particularly on home turf. They can ill-afford a slow-start and with Kahibah coming next week, three points here would do them well.

My Tip: West Wallsend 2-1 Singleton Strikers

Fun Fact: These sides last met in Round 1 in 2013. The venue was Johnston Park and West Wallsend won 2-1.

Corey Cleaver steps into goals this season for Singleton and will be looking to impress.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

===============================


Under 19's:
Cessnock City v Thornton Redbacks
Kickoff: 10:45am
2017 Meetings: CES 3-4 THO & THO 1-0 CES

Newysports has been running for three seasons and for the entirety Cessnock 19's have long been a wooden spoon contender. This season they're looking to raise the bar higher than its been under new coach Jason Zechel. They were super impressive in a pre-season win over an undermanned West Wallsend and this game is a chance to get their season off to the perfect start.

Thornton last season were much better than Cessnock but still fell short of finals. They've lost a couple of big names but they've brought in plenty of impressive talent, particularly at the back. Their last trial on the weekend saw them beat Barnsley Third's 7-0. New recruit Ben Fuenzalida (formerly of Maitland 16's) is a young and exciting prospect to watch for after three goals on the weekend.

Prediction: This is a difficult one to call. Especially after both teams have impressed through pre-season. There's a lot of new talent in both sides that will want to make the perfect first impression in Round 1. At the end of the day it's that tight to call that it may just finish in an entertaining stalemate.

My Tip: Cessnock City 2-2 Thornton Redbacks

Additional Tip: Matt Gardiner to score both goals for Thornton.

Cessnock recruits Jackson Watkins, Aden Hesketh and Nick Ryl both face their former club this Sunday.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Under 23's Match of the Round:
Cessnock City v Thornton Redbacks
Kickoff: 12:30pm
2017 Meetings: TBC

In 2015 this was a Semi Final match-up and this weekend it is the 23's Match of the Round. Cessnock City 23's haven't done anything too spectacular in pre-season but based on the pure depth they have and signings they've made for the senior squad, the reserve grade should be quiet strong week-by-week. Brendan Slade is expecting a lot from this side as players look to earn their spot in the top grade. That's what it's all about and you can expect Cessnock 23's to be an improved outfit in 2018.

For Thornton, it's uncertain yet if they have the same depth as Cessnock but with a lot of players in the U23 age bracket, it's safe to say they'll be a side to watch for especially considering they weren't far off making the Grand Final last season. Scott Winslade is a serious coach and as competitive as they come in this grade. Expect his side to be a tough one to beat this season.

Prediction: Thornton have flown under the radar in the 23's this pre-season so it's uncertain exactly who they have in the squad, particularly in key positions. It's likely Wade Attewell will be out to gun down his former club but based on their form, Cessnock probably go into this one as favourites, particularly on their home ground.

My Tip: Cessnock City 3-2 Thornton Redbacks

Sunday is a big day for the Wand family. Gary's first game as Head Coach and James' first match at his new club.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1st Grade:
Cessnock City v Thornton Redbacks
Kickoff: 2:30pm
2017 Meetings: CES 1-5 THO & THO 2-2 CES

June 26th, 2016. The last the Cessnock Hornets won a 1st Grade game in the New-FM competition. Their first goal this season is to end that 25-game winless streak. The team Brendan Slade has assembled is like nothing seen at Turner Park in recent seasons, some really good names and most importantly a lot of depth across the park. It'll have a flow-on effect down to the 23's as well as long as Slade can keep everyone happy.

The whole story has a similar feel to the Newcastle Jets. Cessnock's last finals appearance came in 2002 when they were bundled out on penalties in the NBN State League by Broadmeadow Magic. The committee knew full well that something had to be done this season to build towards a spot in the re-structured NPL system in 2020. They simply couldn't keep languishing in the bottom spots.

For Thornton it's a different situation. They made the finals last year but the board of directors made a decision to part ways with their coach Darrel McAllister and install Gary Wand as the new Head Coach. Wand's past history with Weston youth squads meant a few names from the NPL system have jumped over. It's safe to say they've gone for youth over experience.

The "youth" they've picked up aren't exactly untested 17/18 year olds either. These are players who have played in the NPL system for a few years and players who are expected to bring quality and do the job for the club. Thornton are one club who need to be very proactive in pushing for the NPL 2 or risk falling back to ZPL. It's an interesting couple of seasons ahead and they are a side to watch this year.

Prediction: These sides met in Round 1 last season and on that occasion it was a walkover for the Redbacks, winning 5-1. There's no chance of that happening again but on paper this looks the tightest match-up of the round. With so many recruits from both clubs, it's a mini version of Weston v Maitland. Will this be the day Cessnock finally a win again, we're tipping it is.

My Tip: Cessnock City 2-1 Thornton Redbacks

Additional Tip: Match-winning goal from Jason Zechel. You read it here first.

Is Brendan Slade the man to return Cessnock City to former glory? Sunday will be a tough first outing.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

===============================


No comments:

Post a Comment