Friday, 13 April 2018

PREVIEW: New-FM Round 5 2018


Under 19's:
Belmont-Swansea UFC (8th) v Kahibah FC (1st)
Kickoff: 10:45am
2017 Meetings: KAH 0-0 BEL & BEL 0-2 KAH

It was a highly eventful match when these two sides last met. Kahibah ended Belswans' 14 month or so unbeaten streak in dramatic fashion and it was indeed the highlight of the Rams' season. The new-look Belswans side finally picked up their first win last weekend and they have shown that they can take it to the best but there are still some teething issues for their attack.

Kahibah on the other hand are sitting firmly on top of the table after an amazing eight day run saw them knock off Cooks Hill, West Wallsend and Toronto all in successive games. Now becomes a true test. Belswans don't have the attacking class of those three teams mentioned but they will punish Kahibah if they get complacent. Consistency is the key word as always for Kahibah and they will want to keep the run going.

Prediction: The Rams were forced to rotate some players after three games in eight days but now they will have a near full-strength line-up. Belswans' defence has been pretty sturdy but this test is their biggest yet. Both sides can play some good football when they get going so no doubt it could be another thriller. Kahibah's attack gets the edge here.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 1-3 Kahibah FC

Additional Tip: Dave Scanlon to score against his former club Kahibah.

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Under 23's:
Belmont-Swansea UFC (6th) v Kahibah FC (9th)
Kickoff: 12:30pm
2017 Meetings: KAH 3-0 BEL & BEL 1-1 KAH

Two sides that looked a long way behind the eight ball in pre-season are now starting their climbs up the league table. Belswans in particular have been impressive with a stirring defensive display against Wallsend followed by an undermanned 5-0 win at Singleton. The team have started the season well and the results are now coming. A win here would likely lift them into the top four as well.

Kahibah's critical goal was to win one of their first five matches as slow-starts to season's has been their Achilles' heel. That win came last weekend against Toronto in very comfortable fashion. A 3-0 win could have easily been 10 on a day where Kahibah dominated the chances but lacked the finishing touch. They may not get a catalogue of opportunities here so taking chances will be paramount.

Prediction: This will likely be a low scoring affair and it might not live up to attacking expectations. The battle is likely to be won or lost in the defensive half of the field with chances to be perhaps minimal. Belswans are the gut feeling for this one as they are the home side and have been rock solid defensively for the past two games.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 1-0 Kahibah FC

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1st Grade Match of the Round:
Belmont-Swansea UFC (9th) v Kahibah FC (10th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm
2017 Meetings: KAH 2-0 BEL, BEL 2-1 KAH, BEL 0-2 KAH & KAH 0-3 BEL

A week is a long time in football, Belswans proved it last time these sides met by overturning a 2-0 1st Semi Final deficit. It's been a week of pure frustration for the team from Blacksmiths. Their first loss to Singleton in 11 years was compounded by their exit from the FFA Cup at the hands of local rivals Swansea yet again.

Sources that watched last night's game confirmed that Josh Rufo subbed himself on for Dave Hodgson. A bizarre move to say the least but their performance in that game was underwhelming. An insider from the Swansea camp simply said they did it fairly easily and Belswans lacked the quality the ZPL side were expecting. Belswans starting the season slowly isn't a surprise but time is certainly starting to tick.

Kahibah's first week of action saw them concede a whopping nine goals in three outings. Yes they beat West Wallsend but it was hardly a Kahibah-esque performance and after a weekend loss to Toronto, calls were growing for some changes to be made and the side reacted by making multiple defensive changes and stunningly knocking Cooks Hill out of the FFA Cup.

The clean sheet on Wednesday night would have installed some much needed belief in the Kahibah side and now they move onto a game against their biggest rivals. The magnitude of this rivalry has been boosted by two years of Semi Final football and it's safe to say the ledger is very even. Over the three seasons of playing each other in the league, this is arguably the most evenly contested match of any in New-FM football.

Prediction: Before Wednesday it would have been a Belswans win but now the tip swings Kahibah's way. Their defensive re-structure worked wonders on Wednesday and with Belswans coming off three straight losses it might just be a chance for Kahibah to leave their rivals sitting very lowly in 10th place. Expect a fiery game.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 1-2 Kahibah FC

Additional Tip: Kahibah to keep Dave Hodgson at bay. No goals from Hodgo on Saturday.

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Under 19's:
West Wallsend SFC (6th) v South Cardiff (7th)
Kickoff: 10:45am
2017 Meetings: SOU 0-4 WWB & WWB 0-1 SOU

Similar to a few teams across the grades, Westy 19's cruised through their first two games but have fallen to consecutive defeats. Sitting mid-table is not something they intended on doing at all this season so safe to expect a more refined effort on Saturday. They looked fatigued last weekend after a short turn-around and no doubt they would have been put through the ringers at training after an underwhelming effort at Alder Park.

South Cardiff return from the bye looking to continue their improvement over the first half of the season. It's been a mixed bag form-wise but development was the word that came up the most through pre-season. Similar to the 23's below, the team is a work in progress but that said they'll be keen to spring an upset against a high-quality West Wallsend side. This is by far Southy's biggest test yet.

Prediction: It's hardly a desperate time for Westy but this is a key game. They only lost consecutive games once last season (ironically one of them at home to Southy) so to lose three in a row would be quiet dramatic. As mentioned above, expecting a refined effort and they've got the players and quality to beat a middle of the pack Southy side.

My Tip: West Wallsend 3-1 South Cardiff

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Under 23's
West Wallsend SFC (3rd) v South Cardiff (10th)
Kickoff: 12:30pm
2017 Meetings: SOU 1-1 WWB & WWB 2-0 SOU

West Wallsend 23's have endured a fairly mixed start to the season. Their win over Kahibah showed some good qualities but they did lose heavily to Thornton before that. They showed a lot of character to draw with ten men and an outfielder in goals last week so things are going alright so far. If word last week was true, gun attacker Josh Knight will return for this match from a two-game suspension.

South Cardiff have so far fell a fair way behind where they would have been hoping to be at this stage of the season. After three games they sit second-last and improvement is certainly needed both in attack and especially in defence. It's a young side that is still a work in progress so every game will see them improve just that little bit more.

Prediction: South Cardiff will show improvement as the season passes by but for now they look a little bit off the pace. The mongrel and physicality of West Wallsend will likely be too much for some of their inexperienced players. The Bluebells will be eyeing off top spot on the table and at home they should be winning this.

My Tip: West Wallsend 3-0 South Cardiff

Additional Tip: Josh Knight with two goals on his return.

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1st Grade:
West Wallsend SFC (7th) v South Cardiff (8th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm
2017 Meetings: SOU 2-3 WWB & WWB 1-0 SOU

An important mid-table match-up awaits at Johnston Park as two sides that have shown some positives and negatives to start the year meet. West Wallsend have been the better of the two and their display against New Lambton last week showed good character. On a short turn-around from the midweek 5-3 loss to Kahibah, Gary Rowe's men lifted in the final half hour to come away with a 3-1 victory.

The word consistency will just keep popping up for the Bluebells until they can prove that they are capable of being at or near enough their best every week. The club fielded a fairly second-string squad for the midweek FFA Cup loss (again the scoreline of 5-3) so the big guns should be all rested and raring to go. If they can produce similar to what they did at Alder, they'll be tough to beat.

South Cardiff come to West Wallsend with some pretty poor form. The bye week gave them a chance to tinker and that they did. They changed a couple of things and worked on them against Warners Bay in the FFA Cup. Down 2-0 in the first half, they'd fight back and win late in a stunning 4-3 result. The spirit and character shown on Wednesday would have pleased Denis and Daddo. Very similar to the New Lambton game.

But with Southy originally tipped to challenge for top spot, they seem a fair way behind the eight ball compared to what some expected. Defensively they've been at sixes and sevens and that is alarming for a side that prided itself on its rock solid backline last season. Ultimately that's where they need to improve the most and no doubt the coaching staff will be well aware.

Prediction: This is going to be physical. Perhaps the most physical game of the season. The referee will likely be the busiest person on the pitch. Westy enjoy a bit of a niggle and Southy, if the game v New Lambton was anything to go by will appeal every little bump and try to win fouls. As for a result, West Wallsend haven't lost to Southy since the 2012 NBN State League. Furthermore, they've won the last five.

My Tip: West Wallsend 2-1 South Cardiff

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Under 19's Match of the Round:
Cooks Hill United (4th) v New Lambton FC (2nd)
Kickoff: 10:45am
2017 Meetings: NLE 0-2 CHU, CHU 2-0 NLE, NLE 2-2 CHU & CHU 2-2 NLE

What a 19's game this could turn out to be. Cooks Hill meet New Lambton for the first time since the "AthField Screwjob". Yes we'll be that dramatic. Onto this year and the Cookers finally produced the sort of football they've been aiming for last week. Dylan McGarrigle and Gordon Ferguson were back in and they got their best eleven on the park. Will Dundas finding form and scoring twice also added a lot to that result.

The idea of revenge for finals should be ruled out as New Lambton have zero starting players left from that infamous 2-2 draw. The promoted 17's squad (plus some newbies) have so far been the surprise packet of the 19's comp. They've yet to concede a goal and they've won three in a row, including a quality win over predicted title contenders West Wallsend. Now they face their toughest test.

Prediction: Make no mistake, New Lambton win this one and keep that defensive record alive and suddenly a lot of attention will go their way. Cooks Hill have seemingly clicked. Some important squad changes were made and they will be fit and firing at home. This would be the biggest win in two seasons for this particular group of Eagles but the home side have the quality.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 3-1 New Lambton

Additional Tip: Dundas double. With the scent for goal, he'll kick on now.

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Under 23's Match of the Round:
Cooks Hill United (2nd) v New Lambton FC (4th)
Kickoff: 12:30pm
2017 Meetings: NLE 1-4 CHU & CHU 3-0 NLE

The Match of the Round is an all-top four encounter at the AthField. Cooks Hill looked a little shaky in their home draw with Kahibah and then got a reality check of sorts last weekend as they were beaten by fellow title rivals Thornton. Ben Nichols isn't a coach who'll be panicking too much and will be keen to see his side get back to winning ways.

New Lambton saw their season hit its first stumbling block as they were unable to get past a ten man West Wallsend last weekend. Signs of frustration were obvious as the team walked off the field and they'll need to put that behind them pretty quickly. An 80-minute performance is no doubt required and then some if they are any chance of causing an upset away from home.

Prediction: Cooks Hill's first loss would have them fired up to return quickly to the winners' circle. They've dropped five points in their last two games and with that in mind, it's safe to say the home side will be gunning for the win. They have a better lineup on paper and they can ill-afford to let Thornton get too far ahead of them

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 2-0 New Lambton

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1st Grade:
Cooks Hill United (1st) v New Lambton FC (11th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm
2017 Meetings: NLE 4-5 CHU & CHU 5-3 NLE

There's been a fair few first v last battles over the last few years but this one is as intriguing if not more than any other. Firstly onto Cooks Hill where Graham Law's departure to a month-long exodus to the homeland for a coaching course among other things has coincided with a rare occasion of back-to-back losses for the premiers. It was obvious last night that the team may have taken the foot off the pedal a little without the demanding gaffer there egging them on.

Alex Gillespie's send off left their defence great exposed at times on Wednesday as his input is absolutely paramount and quiet frankly irreplaceable. Not many are as good as AG when he is at his best. No doubt the Cookers are content with things at the moment and panic certainly isn't anywhere near setting in, although a loss to the cellar-dwellers and a third-straight loss overall might raise a few eyebrows.

New Lambton's month from hell saw them lose all three league games, it saw players frustrated, emotional, disheartened, and then on Wednesday it finally all culminated. A 5-0 loss to Wallsend in the FFA Cup was followed by news that Head Coach and TD Andrew Packer has resigned effective immediately.

Anyone who watched their first three league games would have seen that the situation behind the scenes was just not working and at the end of the day the decision is ultimately best for all parties. What now for New Lambton? Now they face arguably their greatest test since coming into the league. Away from home, with club stalwart Tony Gascoine taking the reigns, against all odds and against the defending champions. The only way is up from here. 

Prediction: They always say beware a team coming off the back of a coaching change. The Eagles will be looking for the upset of the year so far against a Cooks Hill side that will be gunning to restore order after two losses in a row. Both games were goalfests last year and it could likely be the same again. For now, Cooks Hill 3-1.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 3-1 New Lambton

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Under 19's:
Toronto-Awaba (3rd) v Thornton Redbacks (10th)
Kickoff: 10:45am
2017 Meetings: THO 2-1 TAW & TAW 1-4 THO

Toronto's return to Lyall Peacock Field comes at a good time after the 19's lost their first game of the season last weekend. Cracks appeared in the win at Singleton and lacklustre stages of the match last week ultimately proved to be their downfall. The team is highly capable of beating anyone in the league at their best so similarly to Westy, expecting a refined effort this Sunday.

Thornton on the other hand are in a slightly more dire situation. They have admittedly played one less fixture than most but the fact they've only scored one goal in that time whilst conceding 7 is a true worry for a side that looked like it'd be rock solid in both attack and defence. So far the attackers haven't found the target and time is starting to tick for the Redbacks to get themselves into gear.

Prediction: There's some tall timber in both squads. Toronto's attack, the likes of Will Cinello and Tom Appleby will be keen for a physical battle with Thornton's central defenders. That's most likely where the game will be won or lost. The Redbacks' attack has been mysteriously out of form so expecting the Stags to get the job done here and firmly nail down that top four spot for another week.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 2-0 Thornton Redbacks

Additional Tip: Someone not named Tom Appleby or Will Cinello to score for Stags.

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Under 23's:
Toronto-Awaba (8th) v Thornton Redbacks (1st)
Kickoff: 12:30pm
2017 Meetings: THO 6-1 TAW & TAW 0-3 THO

Toronto 23's have found themselves slipping down the table after a less than convincing win at Singleton followed by a comprehensive 3-0 loss to Kahibah. They struggled to mount more than probably two or three clear chances last week and defensively they were wide open at times for a Kahibah side whose attack is nowhere near the quality of Thornton. Safe to say the Stags need a major improvement this weekend.

Thornton Redbacks were confident of knocking off the defending premiers Cooks Hill and did so after a stirring opening period of the match-up. The Redbacks will want to build on their fast start to the season and their depth is as strong as any club in the league. A lot of their 23's played part in the midweek FFA Cup win at Mayfield Park and will come into this game full of confidence.

Prediction: To be quiet frank, it could get ugly if Thornton are at their best and Toronto play the way they did last weekend. The Stags need to man up defensively and make sure their structure is well set-up to deal with a very high-tempo attacking Redbacks side. The away side will very likely get the points. The score could be anything.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 1-5 Thornton Redbacks

Additional Tip: Tallan Martin to score a goal after missing some chances on Tuesday.

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1st Grade:
Toronto-Awaba (8th) v Thornton Redbacks (2nd)
Kickoff: 2:30pm
2017 Meetings: THO 5-2 TAW & TAW 0-3 THO

Newysports was on hand last time these sides met and Thornton came away with a fairly easy 3-0 midweek week. Things have changed and last weekend proved exactly that. The 4-3 win at Kahibah was arguably Toronto's most stirring victory in a few years. It was the confidence boost and belief builder than Adam Routledge's team needed so very badly after a admittedly slow start to the campaign.

The Stags are showing some danger in attack but it's at the back where things are still a work in progress. The second half against Kahibah saw them show some lapses which teams like Thornton with their energised youngsters will pounce on. The midweek 3-2 win over ZL3 Maitland Juniors isn't exactly impressive but nonetheless the Stags are a dangerous outfit and a win here would be one of their biggest in the last five years.

Thornton Redbacks' 4-2 home win over Cooks Hill raised a fair few eyebrows around the league. Newysports headed to Mayfield Park on Tuesday to see this team in action but unfortunately for keen onlookers but obviously understandable, the "big guns" were rested. That result was still a positive as the Redbacks overcame a quality Mayfield side on penalties.

An interesting fact is, as good as Thornton went last year under Darrel McAllister, they never beat Cooks Hill. Last weekend they overcame the competition's premier club and for Gary Wand and the new lineup, that is a big tick of approval. Their defensive will again be tested by Toronto's fast-breaking attack. Ultimately it's a tough away trip for the Redbacks.

Prediction: Toronto come into this game full of confidence but still unsold on their defence. Thornton have a young and enthusiastic attack that may pounce on a fatiguing Stags backline if last week's display is anything to go by. If Toronto are to win, they've got to lay down the gauntlet in the first half. Thornton to finish strongly and get the points.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 2-3 Thornton Redbacks

Additional Tip: Jye MacKellar to keep his form going. Two goals in this one.

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Under 19's:
Wallsend FC (9th) v Singleton Strikers (11th)
Kickoff: 10:45am
2017 Meetings: WAL 1-3 SIN & SIN 0-2 WAL

A work in progress would be the best way to describe both of these teams after the opening month. Wallsend have endured an underwhelming start compared to what was expected but there are some positives to build on and coach Craig Tselembis is no doubt hoping to see further improvement from his side week-in, week-out. Steve Sarayeldine has been the early stand-out for the 19's and is an exciting player to watch in attack.

Singleton sit on the bottom of the table but their performances have shown promise. Going forward they have some decent quality players and if they can minimise the amount of goals they're conceding (12 goals in 4 games), they'll likely start picking up some results. Both teams will be aiming for a win to try and move away from the bottom of the table so it's safe to expect a competitive match-up.

Prediction: This game is a highly important one for both sides but especially Wallsend. On home turf and sitting six points outside the top four, the Red Devils simply need to produce. Singleton are not a team to take easy and one of these days they'll break through for their first win. As for a prediction, Wallsend simply have to get the points to get their season back on track.

My Tip: Wallsend FC 2-1 Singleton Strikers

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Under 23's:
Wallsend FC (5th) v Singleton Strikers (11th)
Kickoff: 12:30pm
2017 Meetings: WAL 0-3 SIN & SIN 0-3 WAL

Things were travelling smoothly for the defending champion Wallsend 23's with eight goals to nil scored in their first two wins. Back-to-back losses have seen the team drop out of the top four but no doubt panic is not setting in just yet. They've only lost by the lone goal in both games and there's little need to re-invent the wheel. With a bit of fine-tuning the team will be back to winning soon enough.

Singleton on the other hand may be trying some more dramatic things to kick-start their campaign. With four losses and an alarming 23 goals conceded, defensive resolve no doubt is a key target and focus of theirs. Despite their status as the "whipping boys" so to speak of the first few weeks, Singleton have little to lose and everything to gain. Teams that afford them the luxury of being complacent may be in for a rude awakening.

Prediction: The preview above this goes into the Wallsend program each home game so didn't want to be too harsh in an official format like that. In all honesty it should be an easy win for Wallsend if they're up to task which they no doubt will be after back-to-back losses has seen them lose pace with the top sides. How many goals they win by is the question. Singleton look absolutely gone.

My Tip: Wallsend FC 4-0 Singleton Strikers

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1st Grade:
Wallsend FC (3rd) v Singleton Strikers (5th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm
2017 Meetings: WAL 3-1 SIN & SIN 4-2 WAL

Wallsend's unbeaten start to the 2018 season continued in the past two games. It was a scrappy old game at Turner Park last weekend as the Red Devils drew 1-1 with fellow top four side Cessnock City. In a controversial affair, Wallsend finished the game with just nine players. Midweek they returned to the winners' circle with a convincing 5-0 FFA Cup win over New Lambton at Wallsend Oval.

This game sees the Red Devils return to their home of The Gardens for the first time this season after the first two home games were moved and with the team sitting in 3rd position, Ben Edwards and co. will have the squad intent on turning their home ground into a fortress. The points were split between these two clubs last season so it's certainly not going to be an easy proposition.

Singleton picked up their first win of the campaign with a stirring 1-0 win over Belmont-Swansea. Whilst the Strikers again saw some chances go begging in attack, they got the one goal that made all the difference and put in a major defensive shift that saw them pick up their first clean sheet of the season.

The Strikers sit in 5th position poised to move into the top four with a victory and considering where they finished last season it has been a very solid start with the team improving week by week. Their midweek exploits saw them stumble slightly over the finish line in a penalty shootout win over ZL2 side Charlestown JFC. They'll be looking for a more comprehensive performance against Wallsend.

Prediction: It's a tough one to call as both sides are coming off some decent form. Singleton have improved week by week but this is a tricky test for them. Wallsend have never been a side that's tipped regularly to win here on Newysports but after the start they've had, they've earned the right to go into this one as the favourites. Wallsend to win 2-1 (enjoy the draw or win Singo!)

My Tip: Wallsend FC 2-1 Singleton Strikers

Additional Tip: Sam Bradshaw to net a goal.

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YOUTH GAME OF THE WEEK: The Wallsend Derby is always a big day and the first ever youth matchday version of the Westy v Wallsend classic sees one game stand out above the others. The U14's is an all-top four encounter between two sides that are both coming off losses to Kahibah FC. Getting things back on track quickly is the goal and it'll be interesting to see what happens.


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