Thursday, 19 April 2018

PREVIEW: New-FM Round 6 2018 (Newysports Pride Round)


Under 19's:
Kahibah FC (1st) v Singleton Strikers (7th)
Kickoff: 10:45am
2017 Meetings: SIN 0-4 KAH & KAH 3-2 SIN

The pre-season title favourites Kahibah have started the year with four-straight wins but they aren't yet at the peak of their powers. Last week's comeback win over Belswans was good but they're capable of so much more and that is scary for the rest of the competition. Kurtis McRitchie scored twice last week but could have easily had four or five on another day but it's Jensen Hunt who's been improving as the first month has passed. He scored a bomb of a goal last week.

And talking of bomb goals, the impressive Jack Clare finally opened his account for Singleton with a whirling goal from range in the wind at The Gardens last Sunday. That 2-0 win was an important first victory and an important first clean sheet for a hard-working Singleton side. This is by far their toughest test and there's some intriguing battles to be fought out on the field. A win here would do Singo a world of good. 

Prediction: The Strikers are a fearless bunch. They showed that against Cooks Hill. They come to Kahibah Oval with nothing to lose and everything to prove. Watch for the battle between Marcus Morris and Kurtis McRitchie. Singleton's solid centre back will be up for the challenge of marking a potent weapon in Kahibah's attack. The Rams' central defence will need to be fully aware of the pace up top for the Strikers.

My Tip: Kahibah FC 3-1 Singleton Strikers

Additional Tip: Clare to strike again but Hunt and McRitchie to combine well for Kahibah.

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Under 23's:
Kahibah FC (9th) v Singleton Strikers (10th)
Kickoff: 12:30pm
2017 Meetings: SIN 2-1 KAH & KAH 4-0 SIN

Kahibah's slow start to the 23's season looked to had taken a turn when they easily accounted for Toronto-Awaba but then last week they were blunt in their loss at Belswans. Sitting 9th after four games is simply not good enough for a side that were aiming to make something of this season. After slow-starts in 2016 and 2017, they can ill-afford another slip up here. They've got to up the ante.

Singleton have endured a horrendous start to the year and were surprise victors at Wallsend last weekend. One player even admitted the team were surprised they won. The addition of Zane Hand into the defensive line was crucial and will not be a permanent thing going forward with Hand soon to move back into 1st Grade. Last week was good but whether it can be consistent is the question.

Prediction: This is a match between two sides who really need to put the foot down or risk falling further behind the leading back. Kahibah especially have a lot riding on this game and anything but a win will leave them trailing a fair way from where they were aiming to be after six rounds. It's a borderline must-win game for both but Kahibah with home advantage simply need to produce something to prove their potential this year.

My Tip: Kahibah FC 2-1 Singleton Strikers

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1st Grade:
Kahibah FC (9th) v Singleton Strikers (6th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm
2017 Meetings: SIN 0-3 KAH & KAH 4-1 SIN

Sitting in 9th spot after the first month, it's safe to say things need to change and quickly for Kahibah. With Cooks Hill already eight points ahead, the premiership is a long shot but top four minimum is the pass mark for Kahibah FC and so far they haven't looked like a team that will feature come finals time. The first three games were disastrous.

Fortunately a change in personnel and a defensive tweak from their regular system has seen the Rams keep two clean sheets in a row (the 2-0 FFA Cup win over Cooks Hill and a scoreless draw at Belswans). Now the question is, do they change a formula that's working? Last week the attack looked quiet blunt at times and it's safe to say they have to be a lot more proactive in trying to win. A point is not good enough after the start they've had.

Singleton enter this match-up unbeaten in their last three but disappointingly they could have won the two games they drew against Toronto and Wallsend. Sitting 6th will have David Willoughby pleased but he and his players would know it could and perhaps should have been higher. The Strikers have started the season in delightful fashion compared to what some expected.

Last season was a very tough year for the team from the upper Hunter and nothing signalled that more than by two easy Kahibah wins. It was stunning how easily Singo were brushed aside in 3-0 and 4-1 wins and they will surely be a much more difficult proposition this time round. There's a true team belief for the Strikers and that makes them a very dangerous side to face at this point. 

Prediction: Kahibah have looked nothing like the team they were expected to be. They are still a work in progress and they're up against a side that haven't lost since an undermanned match against Cooks Hill. Singo have proven they can match it with the "big guns" and it's more than realistic to believe they can come away from this one with a point. 

My Tip: Kahibah FC 1-1 Singleton Strikers

Additional Tip: If he plays 1st Grade, Zane Hand to continue his scoring form against Kahibah. Or he'll do it in 23's. Either way.

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Under 19's:
South Cardiff (9th) v Cooks Hill United (2nd)
Kickoff: 10:45am
2017 Meetings: CHU 2-0 SOU & SOU 0-1 CHU

Southy were never going to be knocking on the door of premiership contention but they believe they can match it with the big guns on their best day. Last week saw some positives at West Wallsend but they lacked the clinical touch in attack and ended up going down 3-0. If the Gunners are any chance of a major upset here, they need to strike early and build from there. That'll be the likely game plan heading into this one.

Cooks Hill on the other hand come into this game after returning to winning form. The recent goal form of Will Dundas will be pleasing to the side and recent arrival Chris Teasdale has been a welcome addition in goals with his first clean sheet of the year being earned against New Lambton last week. The Cookers have the quality to win this one if they play their best football. They know that and it'll be interesting to see how they go about it.

Prediction: It could be a case of Cooks Hill be willing to absorb pressure early or it could be the complete opposite. If the Cookers strike early it could be a long day for the Gunners. Defensively the home side will be put to the test and they simply need to produce better in the attacking third. Expecting Cooks Hill to be too good on the day here.

My Tip: South Cardiff 0-2 Cooks Hill United

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Under 23's
South Cardiff (11th) v Cooks Hill United (2nd)
Kickoff: 12:30pm
2017 Meetings: CHU 4-0 SOU & SOU 0-1 CHU

Just when things couldn't get worse for Southy 23's, they gave away a 3-0 lead last weekend at West Wallsend and only left with a point. Granted it was their first point of the year but that is little reward at the end of the day. After Singo's breakthrough win, the Gunners are now the only winless team in the 23's after a month of football. Last week showed improvement and showed they can score but defence continues to trouble them.

Unfortunately for the Gunners, things don't get any easier, in fact they get harder. Cooks Hill roll into town after bouncing back to winning form over New Lambton. The Cookers themselves are far from their best form but with Thornton and Belswans clashing, they'll be hoping to prove a point and maybe just maybe reclaim top spot depending on that other result. This is a game the visitors will believe they can win.

Prediction: Southy don't have what it takes to beat the 2nd-placed Cooks Hill. The Gunners defensively have been conceding an average of 3+ goals every game and with the league-leading scorer Emerson Augey and co. arriving at Ulinga, it's going to be a true challenge for the young defensive line to produce their best. Expecting a fairly routine win here.

My Tip: South Cardiff 0-3 Cooks Hill United

Additional Tip: The Emerson Augey train to start rolling again. Two goals to add to his seven already.

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1st Grade:
South Cardiff (10th) v Cooks Hill United (1st)
Kickoff: 2:30pm
2017 Meetings: CHU 3-0 SOU & SOU 1-3 CHU

A lot of talk has been about Kahibah and Belswans starting the season in underwhelming form but South Cardiff have been equally a big a let-down if not more. The Gunners have failed to fire and even their 4-3 win over New Lambton wasn't without it's shaky defensive moments. Slight worries discipline-wise too after two red cards in the last two games. It's something they can ill-afford to continue to do.

Reports say the Gunners tried a couple of different things in recent games and their FFA Cup win over Warners Bay saw that 4-3 scoreline again. Hardly a convincing scoreline and then a loss to West Wallsend last week sent Denis Fajkovic's side crashing down to tenth. It may sound overly-dramatic but simply put this side were aiming for a lot greater things than sitting 2nd last after the first month.

Facing Cooks Hill when out of form is not easy and with the Cookers returning to winning ways last weekend it's even worse. The ladder-leaders proved they can get the points without Graham Law on the sideline but again game reports said the team weren't thoroughly convincing and still have some things to tweak and fix.

Importantly, this game will mark the return of Alex Gillespie to the CHU defensive line and that is a big and more crucially timely inclusion. As good as Southy were last season they were convincingly beaten both times they faced Cooks Hill and it's pretty easy to see all the pressure is on the home side here. Make no mistake though, the champions will want to keep the gap at the top at three or more points.

Prediction: This is a crucial test of South Cardiff's true potential this season. They've been awful at times defensively and it's where they prided themselves last season. Questions need to be answered but they might not be able to answer them against the best team in the league. A bridge too far for Southy with Cooks Hill to come away with a close win.

My Tip: South Cardiff 1-2 Cooks Hill United

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Under 19's:
Cessnock City (6th) v West Wallsend (4th)
Kickoff: 10:45am
2017 Meetings: CES 1-3 WWB & WWB 4-1 CES

With back-to-back wins in the 19's, Cessnock have managed to find a system that works for them after struggling in their first couple of games. Connor Garrington has been a clear stand-out in terms of goals scored and seems to have found a slight groove over the past two games. Jason Zechel is a coach who is more than happy to try new things and Garrington's re-emergence as an attacker is one of those. Can they build on that good form? We'll find out on Sunday.

West Wallsend's return to winning form came at a good time last weekend. Coach Steve Thomson was disappointed with their performance at New Lambton and they certainly put that memory behind them quickly. Caleb Morley-Davies scored a hat-trick in Round 5 plus a goal in the 23's and will be one to watch for on the weekend. The Bluebells will not want to lose too much ground on top spot so expect a switched on display from them.

Prediction: The Hornets have shown some quality in recent times but this is a far tougher assignment than Wallsend or Southy. The Bluebells are a serious title contender in 2018 and whilst a win here for Cessnock would be arguably their best 19's victory in recent seasons, it's safe to say it's going to be a very tough ask. Westy to show their quality on the day.

My Tip: Cessnock City 1-3 West Wallsend

Additional Tip: C.M.D to continue his scoring form. Why not.

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Under 23's:
Cessnock City (7th) v West Wallsend (4th)
Kickoff: 12:30pm
2017 Meetings: CES 1-2 WWB & WWB 3-1 CES

It's been a respectable start to the year for Cessnock 23's. With two wins on the trot after a slow start, things are certainly looking up and now they face another tough test. After beating last year's Champions Wallsend, they now face the beaten Grand Finalists Westy. A third-straight win would certainly get the wheels rolling on their season so hope will be high they can get the result.

West Wallsend have shown their grit and belief in the last two weeks. A comeback with ten men to win against New Lambton and then a comeback against Southy from 3-0 down last weekend. This team is showing that they are again out to do business in 2018 but no doubt they'll want to lead from the front this weekend. Expect a fast-starting Westy side to try and pounce early and set the pace at Turner Park.

Prediction: This could be a decent encounter between two sides that are in decent form. Cessnock will try to make it three on the trot and they are indeed in the better form of the two sides but as mentioned, West Wallsend are a very difficult side to see off. They won't give up the fight and this could very well end in another high-scoring draw.

My Tip: Cessnock City 2-2 West Wallsend

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1st Grade Match of the Round:
Cessnock City (4th) v West Wallsend (5th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm
2017 Meetings: CES 1-2 WWB & WWB 5-0 CES

The Match of the Round sees 4th v 5th in a game that could be one of the most fiery this season. Cessnock City return from the bye (in both the FFA Cup and NL1) fresh and looking to add onto their impressive start to the season. Brendan Slade seemed crazy when he promised Cessnock's defence would be the best in the league but his words have so far been accurate. Only two goals conceded (and one of them shouldn't have been a goal!).

The Hornets have enjoyed their best opening month of a season since 2002 and that year they featured in the State League Finals Series. It's easy to get excited but there's a long way to go and complacency is not something Cessnock can afford to let seep in. Make no mistake, they'll be fired up and more than ready to go on Sunday for a chance to cement themselves in the top four after the first quarter of the season.

West Wallsend's recent form has been quiet decent. Back-to-back wins have fired them all the way up to 5th and sitting just below Cessnock City, the Bluebells are poised to move into the top four with a win on Sunday. The club are winless in their last five Sunday fixtures and the last time they got a victory on that particular day of the week was a 3-2 away win at Turner Park.

Simply put it, if West Wallsend's whole team attitude is right then they'll likely be a serious threat to Cessnock's unbeaten record but as seen many times before over the last few years, sometimes the Bluebells lack desire. The 6-1 loss to Thornton was one of those days and that's probably the most interesting aspect for them this week. Will they produce their best football?

Prediction: Two sides who have struggled at times culture wise meet. Lino Gatti fixed a lot of the issues at Cessnock and now Brendan Slade has brought in capable players things are travelling smoothly. West Wallsend's inconsistency can no longer continue to plague their results. We'll see if that's the case on Sunday. Expecting the Hornets to have the more hunger on the day.

My Tip: Cessnock City 2-1 West Wallsend

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Under 19's Match of the Round:
New Lambton FC (5th) v Toronto-Awaba (3rd)
Kickoff: 10:45am
2017 Meetings: TAW 1-3 NLE & NLE 7-1 TAW

The Match of the Round sees two sides that will be keen to get back to winning ways after hitting stumbling blocks in recent weeks. New Lambton fell to the defending Premiers Cooks Hill and the controversial sending off of Griffin Butterworth certainly didn't help their cause on the day. Recent addition Jim Orr has been a decent recruit to the side and adds something to a team that don't have a lot of goalscoring quality. Defence and goalkeeper is where this side excels.

Toronto-Awaba were gunned down by Kahibah in a 4-2 loss two weeks ago and were expected to get the job done against the struggling Thornton in Round 5. That was before Will Cinello, Tom Appleby and GK Josh Masters were ruled out of the game. With a bare-bones outfit, the Stags did well to earn a point on the day. Sam Willis was the goalkeeper too last week with Josh Masters needed for 1st Grade. Very tough to get a result with two or three key players out.

Prediction: If the Stags are at full strength then they'll go in as favourites but with teams not being named until the weekend it's hard to judge what may happen here. New Lambton have some quality but cannot see them getting past Toronto's best lineup if those names mentioned return, especially Josh Masters in goals. He's been an improvement on the options they've had in past years.

My Tip: New Lambton 1-2 Toronto-Awaba

Additional Tip: Will Cinello to strike again for the Stags. He's taken Tom Appleby's mantle as their best goalscorer in any grade.

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Under 23's:
New Lambton FC (5th) v Toronto-Awaba (8th)
Kickoff: 12:30pm
2017 Meetings: TAW 3-5 NLE & NLE 4-3 TAW

New Lambton were unbeaten when they headed to the AthField last week but they'd fall to the defending Premiers and over the last two games a few cracks have appeared. The foot on the pedal has been let off a bit and the Eagles need to try and steady things to build into a solid top four position which is no doubt the aim. Harry Benbow has two goals in two weeks which is quiet a rarity for a defender.

Like no other team in the league, the wheels have fallen off completely for the Toronto 23's. They won their first two games which was two more wins than they picked up last year but recent results have turned ugly very fast. They lost 3-0 at Kahibah in a game that could have been 8-0 or so and then they'd cop eight unanswered at the hands of Thornton. Graham Jones has left leaving them coachless and truly it'd take some magnificent coaching to turn the team around and win this week.

Prediction: Toronto coming to Alder Park and winning would certainly ruffle some feathers, mostly those of Peter McGuinness. The Eagles coach knows his side is capable of producing results and this game on home turf is simply a must-win. The Stags are in alarming form defensively and the Eagles have to pounce on that to show they can be the real deal this year. The score is anyone's guess.

My Tip: New Lambton 3-0 Toronto-Awaba

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1st Grade:
New Lambton FC (11th) v Toronto-Awaba (7th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm
2017 Meetings: TAW 0-3 NLE & NLE 3-3 TAW

Time is starting to tick fast for New Lambton. Sitting in dead last, they can win on Sunday and still remain bottom of the league. Andrew Packer's departure coincided with a disastrous 5-0 loss to Wallsend in the FFA Cup but fortunately the side showed a lot of fight and resiliency to put up a respectable display against Cooks Hill. Last week's 2-1 loss showed that the Eagles aren't going to be walkovers this season.

But in football, there's showing bravery in defeat and then there's winning. The Eagles will be adamant on turning their form around and getting their first win against Toronto. Despite sitting on zero points from four starts, Riley Taylor is equal leader for the Golden Boot, scoring five of New Lambton's six goals this season. He's definitely the danger man to watch.

Toronto-Awaba have reportedly escaped points punishment for the Will Cinello suspension saga and that for 1st Grade is very good news. Sitting in 7th, the Stags can now look at building on a decent start. Their stunning away win at Kahibah Oval was followed with an underwhelming display against the Thornton Redbacks where they were held to a 1-1 draw.

Last week's performance against Thornton wasn't ideal but in past year's Toronto would have gone on to lose that game. They showed defensive resolve and it was a very impressive display from debutant goalkeeper Josh Masters. The Stags' attack simply has to take it to a New Lambton defence that has at times looked very shaky.

Prediction: The Stags are a very dangerous proposition for New Lambton. The Eagles are definitely a work in progress and last week showed a lot more positives but they've still got a ways to go. Can definitely see either team winning this so will split it down the middle and tip yet another 1-1 draw for Toronto-Awaba.

My Tip: New Lambton 1-1 Toronto-Awaba

Additional Tip: Riley Taylor and Nick Roberts as the goalscorers.

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Under 19's:
Thornton Redbacks (11th) v Belmont-Swansea UFC (8th)
Kickoff: 10:45am
2017 Meetings: BEL 4-0 THO & THO 0-2 BEL

Desperate times call for desperate measures, blah, blah. You know the drill by now. Both these sides need something to kick-start their season, especially the Redbacks. Thornton have been the let-down of the year so far in the 19's competition and sitting dead-last after the opening month is not where they expected to be. They were unable to overcome a depleted Toronto and it was a 17's player (Jay Bersgma) who got the point for them last week. Newysports will be at Thornton Park to find out exactly why this team is in 11th.

Belmont-Swansea's start against Kahibah was superb last weekend. They came firing out of the blocks and the skipper Arch Johnson grabbed another rare goal (his second in a week) to give them the lead. The least said about the rest of the game probably the better. They're still a work in progress and losing to the ladder-leaders wouldn't have concerned Mick Buckley too much. They're very much capable of getting something from this game.

Prediction: It's hard to tip against Thornton but that's exactly what is needed for this game. They've been underwhelming and without seeing any of their games it's hard to pinpoint a reason why. Belswans have some quality in key positions and whilst their attack is still a work in progress, truly they are more than a chance of coming away with an important win here.

My Tip: Thornton Redbacks 1-2 Belmont-Swansea

Additional Tip: Harry Dyer to get a goal for Belswans.

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Under 23's Match of the Round:
Thornton Redbacks (1st) v Belmont-Swansea UFC (3rd)
Kickoff: 12:30pm
2017 Meetings: BEL 0-1 THO & THO 3-0 BEL

Another home game for Thornton 23's and another big encounter. The Redbacks have been in electric form to start the year. 16 goals in four games and only 2 conceded. It's been pretty much the perfect start result-wise but Scott Winslade was adamant that it's only been a good start. Building week by week on their form is the goal for the coach and they face a much sterner test than the free-falling Toronto this weekend.

Belmont-Swansea have turned their start around with some brilliant results as of late. Three straight wins have them up into 3rd place and most importantly it's their defence that's shining. With around 300 minutes of football since last conceding a goal, that's a stat that will please the defensive-minded Dan Rufo. The fact they've done the job recently without a full squad tells a story of their true potential this year. 

Prediction: Thornton are the best team in the Under 23's and it's pretty obvious after their opening to the season. They scored goals for fun last weekend but now they face arguably their toughest test. The aforementioned defensive record of Belswans is admirable but it could take a dent or two this week. Redbacks to continue their run.

My Tip: Thornton Redbacks 2-0 Belmont-Swansea

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1st Grade:
Thornton Redbacks (3rd) v Belmont-Swansea UFC (8th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm
2017 Meetings: BEL 1-3 THO & THO 0-1 BEL

This is a game that has been on the Newysports calendar all season and is the first chance to see in person the new-look Thornton Redbacks. Gary Wand's side went about pre-season business fairly quietly and have started the season in some superb form with the 4-2 win over Cooks Hill being the standout result.

Last weekend the Redbacks were left frustrated as poor finishing, a lack of luck and good last ditch Toronto defending and goalkeeper saw them held to a 1-1 draw despite dominating the chances. Those days happen to even the best teams so it's not going to be worrying the club too much. A win here would certainly erase any memories of last week.

The visitors Belmont-Swansea come into this game after an unsurprising slow start to the campaign. Trying to do things with a makeshift attack didn't work out last week and the return of Cameron Lodge in the next couple of weeks will add a bit of quality up front and it's certainly going to be interesting to hear how Dave Hodgson is progressing.

The result against Kahibah saw one major positive and that was a clean sheet for the side. Josh Rufo and co. were quiet happy with the efforts last weekend and it's safe to say structurally they were sound but an attacking tweak or two might not go astray. Thornton's attack is better than Kahibah's and this'll unlikely finish scoreless. Belswans need to come to Thornton with a goal-hungry mentality. 

Prediction: The omission of key attackers continue to hinder Belswans. They've featured on Newysports three times in five games so the main reason for being at Thornton Park on Sunday for this brand is to see the Redbacks attack in action. MacKellar, Lambert, Rossi, Partridge. A lot of excitement about the home side this year and can see them getting the best of Belswans here.

My Tip: Thornton Redbacks 2-1 Belmont-Swansea

Additional Tip: Jye MacKellar to continue his impressive scoring form.

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YOUTH GAME OF THE WEEK: Alder Park plays host to three exciting fixtures as two clubs who pride themselves on good young talent clash. West Wallsend will bring the fight and really test a quality New Lambton club. The 17's especially will be quiet an exciting match-up.




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