Friday, 4 May 2018

PREVIEW: New-FM Round 8 2018


Under 19's:
West Wallsend SFC (4th) v Wallsend FC (10th)
Kickoff: 9:15am
2017 Meetings: WWB 5-0 WAL & WAL 0-2 WWB

West Wallsend return from the bye with teams above team all picking up points and no doubt hopeful of continuing their recent winning form. The Bluebells haven't been as good as they're potentially capable of but it shows what a quality lineup they have when they still sit comfortably inside the top four. The routine goalscorers have been quiet lately so expect a refined attacking effort.

The corresponding game last year saw Wallsend absolutely destroyed and considering they were blasted 5-0 by Kahibah last weekend, confidence is no doubt at an alarming low for a side that sit in 10th position and already look gone in the race for finals football. Make no mistake another big loss here and it's all over for their hopes. Defensively the Reds need to ask big questions of themselves after last weekend.

Prediction: Even a tight one goal loss will be a big improvement for Wallsend who have really dropped off as of late. So much more was expected of the team but for now this looks a game where Westy will be hoping to solidify its top four spot and keep pressure on the other top teams. Westy to win but by how many is the question. It may be a few.

My Tip: West Wallsend 3-0 Wallsend

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Under 23's Match of the Round:
West Wallsend SFC (4th) v Wallsend FC (5th)
Kickoff: 11:00am
2017 Meetings: WWB 1-2 WAL, WAL 2-3 WWB & WAL 4-1 WWB

Newysports isn't typically pumped up for 23's games but these side's Grand Final meeting was built up and saw some entertainment provided and thankfully after Wallsend awoke from their slumber last weekend, this game now looks a beauty at Johnston Park. Westy return from the bye with the Reds hot on their tails. It's been a crazy fortnight of football but for those with good memories, Westy's last outing was a convincing 6-0 display at Cessnock.

Wallsend are the defending champions but have looked disinterested at times this season. Three straight losses including one to the cellar-dwellers Singleton had them in free-fall but it's like they pushed a button and said "let's be serious" in their 5-0 thumping of Kahibah last Sunday. This team on its day is capable of taking it to the big guns like Thornton so it's nice to see them back in their groove and they'll hope it continues here.

Prediction: Eleven goals scored in their last two outings and none conceded. It's safe to say this could be entertaining. The Wallsend Derby more often than not serves up a fierce battle in every grade so the game comes at a very good time. Westy sit in 4th looking to boost their lead over 5th place Wallsend and with home advantage, that's the way Newysports is leaning. A high-scoring affair hopefully.

My Tip: West Wallsend 3-2 Wallsend

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1st Grade Match of the Round:
West Wallsend SFC (5th) v Wallsend FC (3rd)
Kickoff: 1:00pm
2017 Meetings: WWB 2-1 WAL & WAL 2-1 WWB

What a day it is on Saturday. Arguably the biggest single day of football Newcastle has ever had and to kick it off with the region's oldest rivalry is absolutely delightful. This history behind these clubs and this game stretches back over 120 years and whilst it's always a headline-creating match-up, this time it's even more special given the day it falls on and not to mention where both sides sit on the table. This is the biggest Wallsend Derby in a decade.

West Wallsend's start to the season has been brilliant by their standards. It started slowly with a draw at home and then something happened that changed the course of their season, a 6-1 hammering and quiet frankly an embarrassment against Thornton. They're capable of pushing for finals and now with three straight wins for the first time in five years, they are flying high. The last time they won four-straight was in 2007 when they won the 2HD Grand Final. That run included a 6-1 Derby Day win at Wembley.

Wallsend are enjoying their best start to a season since, well not that long ago. Last year saw the back-to-back champions slumber to a lower mid-table finish and pick up some ugly results. The FFA Cup midweek saw the Reds go down 4-1 to Broadmeadow Magic after Ben Hamilton scored perhaps the fastest goal in FFA Cup history with a shot off the opening kickoff. Last year they copped 9 goals at the hands of Magic so that shows something.

Tactically speaking, Wallsend have shown they can indeed score goals, they may indeed be the best first half team in the league but they've also shown they can concede goals. They seem to fade in intensity during second halves so it may be a case of Westy having to keep the visitors at bay in the first half. Fatigue may play a part too after the midweek match so Wallsend head into this one with that in mind. They'll look to fire early on.

Prediction: This is the match that this historical rivalry deserves. Both teams are flying at the moment but only one can win it. The area of the field that either wins or loses this game is West Wallsend's defence. Can they keep the constant Wallsend pressure at bay? Home advantage played a big part in this match last year and can foresee a vocal home crowd helping the Bluebells to their best streak of wins in 11 years.

My Tip: West Wallsend 2-1 Wallsend

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Under 19's:
New Lambton (5th) v Singleton Strikers (8th)
Kickoff: 10:45am
2017 Meetings: NLE 3-1 SIN & SIN 1-4 NLE

New Lambton's slump recently has seen them lose three straight games and no goals from open play in those games. The top four will begin to breakaway if the Eagles don't find a way to return to winning ways. Goalkeeper Blake McDonnell has been enormous for the side and there's a real need for some under-performing key players to match his quality. These guys are fast looking like pretenders rather than contenders.

Singleton are in an uphill battle to climb towards the top four but their win last weekend puts them on six points and suddenly they have risen from last place to sit just three points behind 5th-placed New Lambton. Combinations have seemed to start working for the side but there is still plenty to do. This is a game though they'll feel is very possible to get something out of.

Prediction: The Eagles are struggling as of late. Last weekend was a very underwhelming display. They simply lacked defensively and played very similarly to Thornton who went down 3-1 to Singleton at Howe Park. The Strikers aren't the best team going but can punish teams if they're lacking. New Lambton simply need to to win this one so going to give them the backing but got real doubts.

My Tip: New Lambton 2-1 Singleton Strikers

Additional Tip: Jim Orr to score for New Lambton. Has been a very good addition.

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Under 23's:
New Lambton (3rd) v Singleton Strikers (11th)
Kickoff: 12:30pm
2017 Meetings: NLE 3-4 SIN & SIN 3-2 NLE

The inconsistency that plagued New Lambton's season last year has slowly disappeared and the Eagles are flying in 3rd position but more is needed. Again they faced ten men for the majority of the game and whilst this time they won they failed to put the foot down, scoring only one goal and almost blowing the lead with Belswans having some chances of their own. To sit five clear of 5th place really shows how easy this grade is this year. New Lambton have more in the tank than they've shown.

Singleton were again blown off the park last weekend by a very casual Thornton side. The Strikers are simply a walkover on their poorer days but have shown they can put up more of stern fight. With 32 goals conceded in 7 games, it can't really get much worse and from here it's all about avoiding the wooden spoon because finals are surely all but gone already. They need major improvement on last week's display.

Prediction: Can the Eagles actually put more than one or two goals into the back of the net. Stages of the second half at Howe Park last week looked more like a training session for Thornton so no doubt chances will come against the free-falling Singo side. With the Wallsend Derby also on Saturday, New Lambton will be aiming to lock down that top three spot even more.

My Tip: New Lambton 4-0 Singleton Strikers

Additional Tip: Asama Radford with a couple of goals.

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1st Grade:
New Lambton (11th) v Singleton Strikers (6th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm
2017 Meetings: BEL 2-1 NLE & NLE 0-2 BEL

The Wallsend Derby isn't the only game on this Saturday. At 2:30pm, Alder Park plays host to a key match for the New Lambton Eagles. Jim Foley's homecoming coincides with the biggest single day of football in the New Lambton area in a long, long time. Club President Chris Brain said that he has associates from Melbourne attending the game and location-wise, the club may get a few more walk-up attendees on the day than usual.

Results-wise, it's been a difficult year for the Eagles but recently they've shown a lot more fight and now they head into a new era under Jim Foley who is adamant that improvement will not just happen overnight. There's a plan in place at Alder but no doubt the club will look at the sudden rise of South Cardiff as some inspiration. It's such a tight league that a couple of wins on the trot will send you flying up the table. It's time for New Lambton to rise.

This weekend is difficult though as a high-flying Singleton side head to Alder Park. The Strikers sit in 6th and have 2 wins to their names but a whopping four draws. Two, maybe even three of those draws on another day would have been a win. David Willoughby has been delighted with some of the things happening for this squad but no doubt they need to start turning those draws into victories.

Of course squad news is never assured in this league but the return of Hayden Nicol to the starting lineup may add a lot to their momentum going forward. A few questions were asked of Corey Cleaver as he made the move into goals but with two clean sheets and some impressive moments so far, he has shown a fair bit of quality. In truth the entire team is doing a job and that's the big key factor in their success so far.

Prediction: It'll be a very intriguing match but at this stage it's safe to expect a tight encounter and the draw may be the favoured result. New Lambton are on the improve but Singleton are unbeaten in their last five games. With three draws in those five games, the Strikers know how to grind out a point. Both sides will want more but expecting a 1-1 draw at Alder.

My Tip: New Lambton 1-1 Singleton Strikers

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Under 19's:
Thornton Redbacks (9th) v Kahibah FC (1st)
Kickoff: 10:45am
2017 Meetings: THO 1-2 KAH & KAH 1-4 THO

Last week really was a contrasting time for both of these sides. Thornton crashed to a 3-1 loss at Howe Park to a Singleton side that sit in a similar position on the ladder. The coaching staff were left visibly disappointed as the side produced some very basic effort that in some ways came down to a lack of desire. This is a team that needs everyone at 100% and carrying a couple of players who are clearly lacking in a particular game is never going to work out.

Kahibah are a team that can get away with having one or two players having a bit of an off-day. They did so at Singleton with Preston Cunningham clearly far from his best. He was the opposite at Wallsend as he fired in a rocket of a goal and the best of five the Rams fired in on that day. The team finally seeing its true potential and sitting with six wins in six starts. The eternal underdogs looking more like premiership favourites every week.

Prediction: There's no contest here if the sides repeat last week's form. Thornton simply have to be better to avoid a blow-out if Kahibah turn up and play their best football. The visitors know very well there is a chance to go five points clear of their closest premiership rival (sorry Toronto) in Cooks Hill. Squad quality should shine through.

My Tip: Thornton Redbacks 1-4 Kahibah FC

Additional Tip: Jack Smith to score a double.

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Under 23's:
Thornton Redbacks (1st) v Kahibah FC (8th)
Kickoff: 12:30pm
2017 Meetings: THO 1-4 KAH & KAH 2-2 THO

Complete opposite of the 19's. The roles are reversed in the Senior Grades and let's talk about Thornton 23's. They were awful at times last weekend but still won 5-1. That's how much further ahead of the pack this team is. Cooks Hill and maybe Wallsend, Westy and New Lambton are the only ones who can get near them. The rest of the teams are simple playing for numbers. Scott Winslade was not pleased with the attitude some of his players showed in what was quiet frankly a "piss-take" at Howe Park.

Kahibah 23's are talked up every season and each year they find new ways to disappoint. Sitting in 8th position, even the games they've won have been underwhelming. Losing 5-0 to Wallsend last week was arguably the lowest point this squad have had in the last couple of seasons and it's hard to see them bouncing back. With injuries popping up in 1st Grade, there's simply not enough players showing desire to push for spots. A couple are but that's it.

Prediction: Carnage. Basically if Thornton show up it could be anything based on last week's Kahibah result. The Rams need to find the energy and spirit they showed in drawing with defending Premiers Cooks Hill in Round 3 or they risk being completely humiliated once again. Thornton will be fired right up after being given a stern talking to post-game last weekend.

My Tip: Thornton Redbacks 6-1 Kahibah FC

Additional Tip:  Jack Stoneman to score a couple more and maybe show off another unique goal celebration.

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1st Grade:
Thornton Redbacks (2nd) v Kahibah FC (10th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm
2017 Meetings: THO 0-1 KAH & KAH 1-0 THO

Is it now or never for routine finalists Kahibah? This is a game they simply need to win against a side that have so far looked a serious title contender. Thornton were left frustrated at Howe Park last week but apart from a couple of chances they simply didn't do enough to win it and judging by his mid-week comments, Gary Wand knows it. Just a bit more on the day would have gone a long way.

The Redbacks have the best defence in the competition with just four goals conceded. The next best, Cooks Hill has double that. The team that held that particular mantle last season was Kahibah and defensively they are one of the poorer teams this campaign. The likes of Jye MacKellar, Jake Millsteed & Luke Lambert could really cause some major headaches for the visitors. It's all about a fast start for the Redbacks.

Kahibah put in a proud display as they went down 5-1 to Hamilton Olympic in the FFA Cup midweek. Defensively they showed a lot more fight in the first half after being down to the same scoreline at just half time v Wallsend. Simply put, Andre Gumprecht and co. cannot get the selections wrong again. The formation and indeed the lineup will determine Kahibah's chances on the day.

The issues for Kahibah have been largely defensive as they have shown they're capable of scoring some goals. Last night saw the squad pull up their socks and try and restore some resolve. After two 1-0 wins over the Redbacks last season, the visiting Rams cannot afford to choke up a lead early on. A clean sheet would be huge for Kahibah but a win would be even bigger. Time is indeed ticking for their fading finals hopes.

Prediction: The pre-game tips were done on Wednesday before the FFA Cup match at Kahibah Oval. On that game I'd be predicting a 2-1 Redbacks win but I said on Wednesday 4-1. Either way, can't see Kahibah getting a result against a high-flying Thornton squad, particular on their home turf.

My Tip: Thornton Redbacks 4-1 Kahibah FC

Additional Tip: Jye MacKellar to score and keep touch in the Golden Boot race.

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Under 19's:
Cessnock City (6th) v Toronto-Awaba (2nd)
Kickoff: 10:45am
2017 Meetings: TAW 6-3 CES & CES 0-2 TAW

Cessnock were expected to be smashed by Cooks Hill last week with the Hornets missing a few players due to Groovin The Moo. Instead, some 17's stepped up and the remaining 19's players all put in quiet a quality shift to almost beat the title contenders. Belief will be high with some players slotting back in this week and no doubt having home advantage will play a part. They have to keep touch with the top four so this is a key game.

Toronto moved into the top two as a result of Cessnock's draw and the Stags were 3-0 winners over South Cardiff so their confidence will be rising again after a couple of lean results. Back-to-back wins and clean sheets in the process sees Toronto head into this game as favourites but complacency cannot seep in. This is a team that can sometimes produce some poor performances.

Prediction: Tough to go against Cessnock after their showing last weekend but another solid performance here may see their stocks rise in the predictions area. For now, expecting Toronto to be switched on and produce the goods to keep in touch with Kahibah at the top of the table.

My Tip: Cessnock City 1-2 Toronto-Awaba

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Under 23's:
Cessnock City (7th) v Toronto-Awaba (9th)
Kickoff: 12:30pm
2017 Meetings: TAW 0-3 CES & CES 4-1 TAW

Just like the 19's, Cessnock 23's produced a solid draw against Cooks Hill to re-install some confidence in a team that needs to get back to winning form. With names expected back for this clash with the out of form Toronto, the Hornets can try to surge back towards the top four and away from the trailing pack. It goes to show if they don't have a goalkeeper sent off inside ten minutes or so they have every chance of winning!

Toronto-Awaba return to the scene of their wooden spoon "crowning" after losing 4-1 in a later round last year to be given their second straight last place finish. Recent form has seen them slide down the table but fortunately there's a team called Singleton helping them avoid the dreaded foot of the table and South Cardiff for now as well. Toronto's key to any sort of success is to score first and put the pressure on Cessnock early.

Prediction: Pretty simple prediction here. Cessnock need to prove they are capable of climbing back towards the top four and anything but a win here on home turf against the struggling Stags will be a disappointing result for the Hornets. Won't be a heavy win but should be a couple of goals in it.

My Tip: Cessnock City 3-1 Toronto-Awaba

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1st Grade:
Cessnock City (7th) v Toronto-Awaba (9th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm
2017 Meetings: TAW 2-2 CES & CES 1-2 TAW

Both of these clubs were affected by the Groovin' festival last weekend but one much more than the other. Firstly on Cessnock, the Hornets have fallen off the pace a little bit in recent weeks and now the question is do they indeed have the quality and class to turn it around and start building back towards the top four as we approach the middle of the season. They sit in 7th place but that doesn't reflect their true potential.

The midweek FFA Cup win over Cardiff City restored some winning feeling in the side and it came at a very good time. Now they move into the next round where a win would send them to the June long weekend and potentially just two wins from the unlikeliest of appearances on the national stage. If Balmain Tigers FC did it then who knows. Until then, the goal is to get back on track in the league. Kyle Williams and Josh Dwyer are expected back which boosts their hopes.

Toronto are coming off an absolute disaster in Round 7. The 8-0 hammering at home was their biggest league loss at Lyall Peacock Field in 18 years and their biggest league loss anywhere since the final round of the 2014 season. A club source described Head Coach Adam Routledge as furious with the players that left them high and dry to attend said music festival. For a club with thin depth, it's simply not good enough by those players.

It will be interesting to see what Toronto do this weekend, whether those aforementioned players are desperately thrown into the starting squad or whether they are dropped to prove a point about club pride. This is a backs against the wall weekend for the Stags and to be frank, that's indeed the way they like to go about their business. Make no mistake, they are sliding down the table rapidly so now is a good time to kick back into gear.

Prediction: The Stags may indeed put a big name or two into the 23's which may boost their chances in that grade but drop their chances here. Even with their best squad on the park, they may struggle to get past a determined Cessnock side. The Hornets are celebrating Skip O'Hearn's 400th game on Sunday and whilst he'll be most likely playing Ressies, the team will be fired up to deliver for their club captain.

My Tip: Cessnock City 2-0 Toronto-Awaba

Additional Tip: Kyle Williams to score on his return to the side.

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Under 19's:
South Cardiff (11th) v Belmont-Swansea (7th)
Kickoff: 10:45am
2017 Meetings: SOU 1-3 BEL & BEL 5-1 SOU

This game is the most important so far of Belswans' season. South Cardiff head into Sunday with their form heading in a sharp downward direction. Beaten 3-0, 5-0 and 3-0 in their last three games, albeit against top quality opposition, the pressure is firmly on them to try and turn things around. The 19's competition is starting to split into three. The teams expected to make finals, those that may contend and those that are no chance. Southy were all about development over results but copping 11 goals in three games is not what they want.

Belswans picked up an important victory last weekend as they held off New Lambton but again the full 80 minute performance just cannot be found. There's still some things that need ironing out but sitting in the middle of the table, the time is now for them to either climb up or fall down. The top four are adding extra points week in week out so it's key for teams to Belswans to show consistency. 

Prediction: Belswans have to go into this game with full belief. It's potentially a very important three points for them as they look to secure back to back wins for the first time this season. Southy have been brushed aside in recent weeks but by quality opposition so they too are a better chance against a team that lack firepower. Interesting game on paper but Belswans to win it and keep Southy's under-performing attack grounded.

My Tip: South Cardiff 0-2 Belmont-Swansea

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Under 23's:
South Cardiff (10th) v Belmont-Swansea (6th)
Kickoff: 12:30pm
2017 Meetings: SOU 1-1 BEL & BEL 4-0 SOU

Southy 23's seemingly drew a line in the sand at Toronto last week, knowing another week without a win, especially against a lacklustre side will see them slumber some more in last spot. Their first win of the season comes at a good time and unlike the 19's, the 23's competition is a bit more unpredictable. Despite sitting a long way from the four, some good form over the middle of the season will see them rocket up the table. Turning one win into two is their immediate goal.

Belmont-Swansea were fairly poor against New Lambton last week. No they weren't blasted off the park like they were at Thornton but they probably should have been. Hopefully with Klaudon Ahmataj and now Clayton Poole on board it may free up someone like Matty Ellis to come and lead the line in 23's. They can't have Josh Rufo at #9 again this weekend. It's entertaining yes but on a serious football note, there are people at the club who want to see someone else get a go.

Prediction: This is a very tough one to call as Belswans do sit in 6th and are more than capable of winning but their last couple of performances have been quiet frankly poor. They've been a better second half side than first so they need to convert that into the full 80 minutes. Southy won their first game last weekend and can see them turning it into two.

My Tip: South Cardiff 2-1 Belmont-Swansea

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1st Grade:
South Cardiff (4th) v Belmont-Swansea (8th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm
2017 Meetings: SOU 1-0 BEL & BEL 2-1 SOU

Previews are written earlier this week and due to the FFA Cup, this is the first 1st Grade one being written and the midweek result for South Cardiff was one to forget. A couple of young players featured against the NPL champions Lambton Jaffas and the big guns ran away with it in the end, winning 11-0. With that said, the likes of Nathan McAllister, Corey Nicholas, Cam Herring & Jock Thompson started the match. It was an ugly night but that result in a stand-alone cup game is something that shouldn't affect league form.

The Gunners won 8-0 last weekend against a depleted Toronto side and it's safe to expect a fairly top quality lineup from Southy this weekend after some names were rested midweek. They have absolutely rocketed up the league table after back-to-back victories but now they face the challenge of a desperate Belswans side not to mention former striker Klaudon Ahmtataj who left Southy just a fortnight ago. A couple of niggling fouls may be expected early on to welcome Ahmataj back to Ulinga.

Belswans have been frustrated by a lack of clear goalscorers with Cameron Lodge and Dave Hodgson sidelined and a look at the goalscoring list shows an alarming stat. No player has more than two goals across the ENTIRE club. Klaudon Ahmataj was a decent pick-up but can't be a one-man goalscoring machine (ala Tega Marcus), enter Clayton Poole. The former State League star will be expected to create chances and score goals. His on board with the Belswans philosophy of helping out some mates and having some fun.

A lot of talk recently has been "when will Belswans and Kahibah start their climb". Belswans have struggled at times but confidence is slowly starting to build. A loss could leave them upwards of eight points or so outside the top four and with a bye still to come. They didn't have to contend with the FFA Cup midweek so freshness may be on their side.

Prediction: Belswans will be heading to Ulinga with intent to secure a very important victory but they aren't against an easy opponent. Southy put eight past a lacklustre Toronto last weekend and their confidence is starting to rise. Their 11-0 hammering midweek to the Jaffas will have some of the younger players feeling down but the older heads will guide the way. An entertaining 2-2 draw on Sunday.

My Tip: South Cardiff 2-2 Belmont-Swansea

Additional Tip: Klaudon Ahmataj to haunt Southy.

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YOUTH GAME OF THE WEEK: The original 17's rivalry is back! Kahibah v Cooks Hill. Mat Moncrieff coaching his 17's against Cooks Hill for the first time since that infamous day that Kaia Roth put on a Manuel Neuer-esque display to send the Rams packing from Semis. It's a top of the table clash that is sure to be highly entertaining.


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