Friday, 8 June 2018

PREVIEW: New-FM Round 13 2018





Under 19's:
New Lambton (4th) v Cessnock City (7th)
Kickoff: 10:45am
Last Time They Met: CES 0-1 NLE

Last weekend's wash-out for West Wallsend was great news for New Lambton. Of course Westy have the game in hand but to sit 4th is a confidence boost ahead of this game which is absolutely the most important yet for the Eagles. With Westy and Belswans both facing tough opposition this weekend, this is suddenly a huge fixture. 6 wins, 5 losses. The time is now to start producing consistency.

It's the flip-side for Cessnock. It is pretty much their slim finals hopes on the line here. The loss to Thornton left them 7 points off the pace and anymore is simply unlikely to be made up in the remaining games. Even making it now would be quiet an amazing feat. The team has had decent patches in amongst some fairly underwhelming stuff. They too simply have to step it up.

Prediction: The same thing is said after every positive New Lambton result. They need to do it a more consistent basis and there is certainly a chance to finish in the top four if they do so. With Belswans also hunting down a spot inside the four, it's safe to say this is a key fixture for their hopes. Therefore expecting New Lambton to do the job once again.

My Tip: New Lambton 2-0 Cessnock City

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Under 23's Match of the Round:
New Lambton (4th) v Cessnock City (3rd)
Kickoff: 12:30pm
Last Time They Met: CES 2-3 NLE

The wash-out at Howe Park was good news for New Lambton who held on to their top four spot. Without a win in the last month, the pressure is really heating up on them. Last weekend's loss to lowly South Cardiff simply isn't good enough for a team that fancies itself as a finals contender. Now they face a very tough test against an in-form Cessnock City side. There's still nine or ten weeks left but certainly this is a preview of the Eagles' true potential this season.

As for Cessnock, what a run they're currently on. Six games unbeaten with four wins in that time and 2-2 draws against the top two teams in Cooks Hill and last weekend the runaway ladder leaders Thornton. The Hornets became the first team to take points off the Redbacks and that is a huge confidence boost. Across the park, this is a team full of belief and a win here would certainly put them on another level to the bottom eight sides.

Prediction: The Eagles form is not pretty. They managed to stop the rot a tad with a draw at Wallsend but losing to South Cardiff is not a confidence boost. Cessnock are one of the in-form sides in this grade and if they play their best football they'll get the job done fairly comfortable at Alder Park this Sunday. Hornets to sting the Eagles.

My Tip: New Lambton 1-3 Cessnock City

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1st Grade:
New Lambton (10th) v Cessnock City (6th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm
Last Time They Met: CES 2-1 NLE

New Lambton's recent revival under Jim Foley hit a bump in the road as they went down 4-1 on a testing evening at Alder Park. The late kick-off meant they copped a fair share of bad weather and an injury to Luke Jovcevski means they're down yet another troop. The loss all but ended their very slim finals hopes but certainly it's a case of simply moving on from a disappointing outing and seeing what they can produce here.

Fortunately being a Sunday match, the Eagles can play in the usual time-slot and avoid the low lighting and cooler temperatures once the sun sets. With rain expected once again that may be a good thing. They're stretched numbers-wise and certainly the season is all about pride for now. They've done quiet well for themselves at times recently until last week so expect another determined effort.

As for Cessnock City, they simply need to win this. With just one win in the last eight games, their finals hopes are in free-fall. You simply cannot play Semi Final football with form like that. Head Coach Brendan Slade was once again asking himself why he puts himself through it as the Hornets threw away a 2-1 lead to lose 3-2 to rivals Thornton. It's a tough gig some days and last Saturday was one of them.

The defence ultimately let in three goals last week which is never good and with that being their strong suit in 2018, suddenly they are under even more pressure to get the job done. Three of the top four sides have brushed New Lambton aside this season and if the Hornets want to be in the finals, this is a must-win fixture. It's as simple as that.

Prediction: The situation is becoming fairly critical at Cessnock. Their 23's have kicked in superb fashion and now it's over to 1st Grade to do the same. No doubt there is plenty to look forward to in 2019 but for their finals hopes this season which they no doubt want to make, this is a very key fixture against a 10th-placed New Lambton side.

My Tip: New Lambton 1-2 Cessnock City

Additional Tip: The coach's son Luke Slade to get better minutes on the park after his brace in 23's last week and perhaps a goal against his former club.

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Under 19's:
Singleton Strikers (10th) v Cooks Hill United (2nd)
Kickoff: 10:45am
Last Time They Met: CHU 3-2 SIN

It feels like a lifetime ago when Singleton took the fight to Cooks Hill in Round 2 and showed their bright potential. Unfortunately it just hasn't been found consistently enough to sit in contention for the finals. 3 wins and 7 losses is not the sort of return they would have hoped for but definitely there is potential for improvement in the second half of the year. With Southy struggling, Singo have a bit of freedom to play without fear. It's got to be attack from the get-go and if it costs them then at least they tried.

Cooks Hill on the other hand sit at the opposite end of the table and coming off the back of three victories in a row. Last week wasn't a high-scoring affair ala the previous two games but it was a professional display from the team in very difficult conditions. Their attitude and demeanour screams a side that is going to go very close to winning some silverware this year. Lots of quality and it's starting to show lately.  

Prediction: The Cookers were fairly awful the day Singleton should have beat them in Round 2 but they still managed a victory. There's just a gap in class in the 19's between the top sides and the rest and there's an ability to get over the line whether it be by a lot or by one goal. The top sides know how to win and Cooks Hill should be winning this. Singo's defence will be firmly tested.

My Tip: Singleton Strikers 1-4 Cooks Hill United

Additional Tip: Damon White double after an unlucky display against Belswans.

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Under 23's:
Singleton Strikers (11th) v Cooks Hill United (2nd)
Kickoff: 12:30pm
Last Time They Met: CHU 8-0 SIN

Well this on paper is a huge mismatch. It got ugly the first time they played and whilst Singleton aren't as bad as they were then, they certainly haven't shown a lot of improvement. The team is averaging four goals conceded every week and when they've only managed to score six all year, the maths simply doesn't add up. The fact they've won one game is amazing when looking at their record. Keeping the score respectable would be a pass mark for the cellar-dwellers.

Cooks Hill are absolutely flying and suddenly find themselves as the in-form side of the Under 23's. Thornton are seven ahead but there's a long way to go and still a battle between the top two sides to come. It's one game at a time for the Cookers but with four clean sheets on the trot and 15 goals scored in the past two matches, they're fine-tuned for another attacking masterclass if conditions are ideal. The fact they managed three goals in atrocious conditions last week speaks volumes.

Prediction: This could indeed get very, very ugly. Newysports has been pretty generous with scoreline tips this year but this is when that ends. Singleton have struggled in some matches this year and with Cooks Hill in delightful form, it's truly a matter of how many will they score. A lot of talk about Emerson Augey and rightly so with 15 goals but CHU have multiple players who can tear Singo to shreds. Our money's on red seven. Spin the wheel.

My Tip: Singleton Strikers 0-7 Cooks Hill United

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1st Grade Match of the Round:
Singleton Strikers (4th) v Cooks Hill United (1st)
Kickoff: 2:30pm
Last Time They Met: CHU 5-0 SIN

Singleton managed to get their game played last Sunday and they'll be wishing they never did after a depressing 3-0 loss on home turf to West Wallsend. The Strikers lengthy unbeaten run came to a halt right there and then and certainly it wasn't what they hoping for. Fortunately they know they are capable of offering so much more than they did last weekend. Some tweaks here and there will help.

Newysports was at the Royal Hotel for the Players' Player presentation and Dave Willoughby's speech whilst short was straight to the point. It wasn't a good enough display and they need to raise the bar rapidly for the visit of the best team in the league. Westy really kept Singleton grounded so a slight tactical change or two can be expected as the Strikers know they're up for a challenge and then some against Cooks Hill. Dylan Bentley returns from suspension at fullback which adds something more to the squad.

Cooks Hill were expected to find a way past an improving Belswans side but for the first time this season with Graham Law on the sidelines, the Cookers were unable to get three points. It ended a lengthy winning streak for Law who hadn't been on the sideline for a draw or a loss since last season. Granted there were positives shown as they came from 2-0 down but they had plenty of time to win it and didn't. That'll frustrate the coach.

The ladder leaders can ill-afford any complacency. Their last outing against Singleton was a 5-0 victory but things have changed and Singo are certainly on the hunt for a major upset. Conditions were tough last weekend with wind and rain hindering them but still it was an underwhelming performance at times. They'll be fired right up to get things firmly back on tracks with three valuable points as 2nd-placed Thornton have the bye.

Prediction: This is a very interesting fixture and could very well be the turning point of Singleton's season. Certainly a loss to the league leaders will not rule them out of contention but a win would be arguably their biggest in several years. Dave Willoughby's a realistic coach and would likely accept a draw here given the stage of the season. Either way, expecting Cooks Hill to be too good on the day.

My Tip: Singleton Strikers 1-3 Cooks Hill United

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Under 19's:
Toronto-Awaba (3rd) v Belmont-Swansea (6th)
Kickoff: 10:45am
Last Time They Met: BEL 1-3 TAW

Despite having a game in hand, pressure is growing on Toronto 19's as they just haven't managed to produce the goods against fellow finals contenders. A Belswans source last week claimed the Stags were "the way into finals", believing if any of the finals contenders will fail it's Toronto. It's a key match for the Stags as a loss will send them packing from the top four. Expect a more focused effort in this match.

For Belswans it's arguably their most important fixture to date. They've done very well to get themselves into this position and certainly the next few games will make or break their 2018 season. Their excellent winning run was ended by a superb Cooks Hill side last weekend but they have to go into this game believing they can win it. The return of makeshift striker Harry Rapp will add something extra to their thin attacking stocks.

Prediction: It's a very big weekend ahead in the 19's and this game is as important as any of them. The Stags have been very impressive against teams outside the top four but Belswans are on the improve and Newysports thinks they'll go very close to getting a result. If it were at Blacksmiths it'd be a Belswans win but home advantage will help the Stags.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 2-2 Belmont-Swansea

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Under 23's:
Toronto-Awaba (10th) v Belmont-Swansea (6th)
Kickoff: 12:30pm
Last Time They Met: BEL 0-1 TAW

*Copied and paste from Round 11 wash-out*-Still accurate
Unfortunately the player movement at Toronto has left their depth paper thin and last weekend a bare-bones 23's side were beaten heavily by Cooks Hill. A double digit loss is never good for morale and hopefully they can keep their heads up but certainly it's a difficult time with a fair few 19's players required to perform double duties at the moment. The best thing the Stags can do is forget about last week. It's a new week and a new challenge.

*Not copy & paste...
Belswans really were a disappointment against Cooks Hill last week. Discipline went right out the window in the first half and they were fortunate to not be down to nine men at half time. They were however down to ten and ended up losing 3-0 in that match. The second half was an improvement as they focused more on the football and if they do that then this'll be a fairly routine win against lowly Toronto.

Prediction: Belswans to win. The score is the only question and for this one we'll go with 3-0. Would be more but can't see the visitors scoring more than three goals. Probably will be proved wrong, probably don't mind but anyway, Belswans should win this one fairly routinely. Stags just don't have the troops.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 0-3 Belmont-Swansea

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1st Grade:
Toronto-Awaba (11th) v Belmont-Swansea (7th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm
Last Time They Met: BEL 5-1 TAW

Last week's wash-out brought some extra time for Toronto to try and compose themselves after their heaviest loss in 18 years. Blake Glennie's first official game in charge went swimmingly well as they picked up a win at West Wallsend but it all went so very wrong on that day against Cooks Hill. The Stags once again have nothing more than pride to play for this season and here's hoping they can kick the second half of the year off well.

The rebuilding phase was never going to be an instant effect and it's expected that Glennie will remain in charge next season and the rumour wheel is already spinning as to who will join him. But his immediate concern is to try and plug the holes in a very leaky defence. They need to have a solid opening twenty minutes and avoid being blasted off the park earlier. The game simply needs to be taken in five or ten minute periods.

All eyes are on Belswans as they embark on what is expected to be another stellar second half of the season to earn a spot in the Semi Finals. They picked up expected home wins over Cessnock and West Wallsend but could only get a point against Cooks Hill, despite leading 2-0 at half-time. The quickness which they surrendered the lead is a worry but things are certainly looking up.

The key issue for the next five games is the omission of Ben Parmenter in goals. The World Cup-bound goalkeeper has left along with defender Steele Harvey and whilst both will be missed, it's Parmenter who's valuable experience will be sorely missed. 23's keeper Will Reeves is a certain starter but is coming off a shaky match last week and has minimal 1st Grade experience. Interesting times ahead in that regard.

Prediction: The away side should be winning this. Obviously if they have serious intentions about once again playing in the finals, they have to beat a team that sits bottom of the table and has conceded 43 goals in just ten games. It'd be a disaster if Belswans were to lose this one and that's with all respect to the Toronto side. One side is on their way up and one has already gone crashing down. Expect goals...

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 2-5 Belmont-Swansea

Additional Tip: Toronto to take an early lead before the tables turn.

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Under 19's:
South Cardiff (11th) v Wallsend FC (9th)
Kickoff: 10:45am
Last Time They Met: WAL 0-2 SOU

With ten losses in eleven matches, it's been a fairly forgettable season for Southy 19's however their one positive result was a 2-0 win over Wallsend all the way back in Round 2. If they did it that day, surely they can try and do it again. This side is six points adrift at the bottom of the table and simply needs something, anything to try and get their belief back. To make matters worse, they've only scored once in their last three games.

Wallsend's very slim finals hopes rest on this match and next week's catch-up against Toronto. If they can win both and Toronto lose to Belswans then the Reds will be only three points outside the top four. That slight chance must play in their minds and at times they've shown some real positives. Their last result was an impressive win over New Lambton so they have to channel what they did that day and do it every week.

Prediction: The pressure is firmly on Wallsend for this fixture. They are the favourites and they still have a chance, albeit a very slim one of making it into the finals series. This next fortnight makes or breaks their season whilst Southy will want something to try and start their climb away from what looks a highly likely wooden spoon. Reds to win (the purple Reds)

My Tip: South Cardiff 0-2 Wallsend FC

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Under 23's:
South Cardiff (9th) v Wallsend FC (7th)
Kickoff: 12:30pm
Last Time They Met: WAL 3-0 SOU

The tightness of the 23's competition means both of these under-performing sides are a chance of the finals. The young Southy side have undertaken a learning curve and picked up a rare win last weekend as they took down 4th-placed New Lambton 3-2. That result leaves them six points outside the finals spots so a win here and some good form after that, you never know what might happen. They've surely avoided the spoon, now let's see if they can truly produce an unexpected second half of the year.

Wallsend are the defending champions and impressively won their first two games although looking at their spot on the table that'd be hard to believe. Those two games to start the year were against Southy and Toronto and certainly the next week will go a long way to showing what Wallsend may achieve this year. They've got a better lineup than 7th place suggests so it's a matter of producing the goods consistently.

Prediction: Newysports will be on hand at Ulinga Oval this Sunday and is expecting a very keenly-fought match-up. Wallsend probably have the edge when taking in an experience factor and that may play a part. Southy's attack until last weekend was questionable but if they can fire again then who knows. Tough one to call but will go with the form guide.

My Tip: South Cardiff 1-2 Wallsend FC

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1st Grade:
South Cardiff (3rd) v Wallsend FC (8th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm
Last Time They Met: WAL 2-2 SOU

The Gallagher Shield is always a fiercely-contested affair but we cannot forget "the drop-ball goal" that Wallsend referred to for weeks. Southy's 2nd goal in that first meeting was something that didn't go down well with those in purple on the day and once again Ulinga Oval will be the host as the Gunners look to shoot down the out-of-form Red Devils. It will be a very fiery match-up and potentially one of the games of the season.

For Southy, they managed to get their game played last weekend and it was a good thing they did as they fired four past New Lambton to move up into 3rd place. Form is fast improving for a side that started slowly. They're unbeaten in the last three and their confidence is rising. Last week showed that Nathan McAllister isn't their only way to goal which is something they needed to prove.

Wallsend's been on a downward spiral ever since a Derby loss on A-League Grand Final Day. Four losses in a row is a stat they simply have to erase if not this Sunday then surely next Wednesday night against the struggling Stags. The Red Devils started the season very brightly but the pressure is firmly on them to produce the goods now.

Injuries have been an issue but the extra week off will ease that a little but with only three goals scored in the past four games and a whopping 15 conceded, they need to work hard at both ends of the field to solidify their form. They certainly are capable of doing so and there's no better time to do that than their second biggest regular season game of the year behind the Wallsend Derby, the Gallagher Shield.

Prediction: Not many teams lose four games in a row and go on to play finals. For Wallsend the time is indeed now to prove their credentials. They sit 8th but it could be as low as 10th if they lose again. The next two games could decide their fate this year. Will they go to Ulinga and get a result once again, it's doubtful on current form. 

My Tip: South Cardiff 3-1 Wallsend FC

Additional Tip: Macca to keep his goalscoring form going with two against Wallsend.

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Under 19's Match of the Round:
Kahibah FC (1st) v West Wallsend SFC (5th)
Kickoff: 10:45am
Last Time They Met: WWB 1-2 KAH

Who would have thought 14 points would separate these two championship contenders after ten games. It's all gone swimmingly well for Kahibah 19's. Even their poorer performances have resulted in wins and that is a sign of a very talented side. They did things the hard way at night to beat Westy in Round 2 and with the Bluebells and Cooks Hill up next, the winning streak is certainly in some serious jeopardy. Especially after top scorer Kurtis McRitchie suffered a collarbone injury after an off-road biking mishap.

Westy were washed out last weekend and frustratingly lost their spot inside the top four because of it. Now they face a very difficult match to try and regain that spot. Things just didn't fall their way in their last outing which was a 3-0 away loss to Belswans but with the pressure rising, they surely must rise to the occasion. This team should be doing much better than they are.

Prediction: Newysports is prepared to say that two more wins for Kahibah (over Westy and Cooks Hill) will all but seal the Premiership. Realistically Cooks Hill are the only side that can catch them. Not long ago Westy were thought of as a serious contender but their attack has let them down. They need to fire here but against the best defence and goalkeeper in the competition, it's a tough ask. Think maybe a draw.

My Tip: Kahibah FC 1-1 West Wallsend

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Under 23's:
Kahibah FC (8th) v West Wallsend SFC (5th)
Kickoff: 12:30pm
Last Time They Met: WWB 3-1 KAH

The inconsistency has returned in 2018 for Kahibah 23's and now it is time for them to raise the bar and try to produce a memorable second half of the season. A couple of games has shown their true potential but it's just not been seen enough. Their last outing against Cessnock was very poor by their standards and certainly more will be needed here. Time is starting to tick away despite the 23's being such a tight competition.

West Wallsend's wash-out means they have a game in hand on the under-performing New Lambton. Thornton, Cooks Hill and Cessnock at the moment look in a league of their own so the 4th spot is a very valuable one and the Bluebells will be hoping to return to winning ways. Discipline was borderline disgraceful as they had two players sent off at Belswans two weeks ago. If they fix that then they're a chance.

Prediction: Two inconsistent teams and it's a mystery as to what they may serve up on Monday. Kahibah's really got to show their best within the next couple of games if they are to challenge for finals but you can never be sure what you are going to get from them. If Westy use their physical dominance smartly they should be able to leave with all three points.

My Tip: Kahibah FC 0-2 West Wallsend

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1st Grade:
Kahibah FC (9th) v West Wallsend SFC (5th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm
Last Time They Met: WWB 3-5 KAH

Mathematically speaking, Kahibah are still the race for finals football and the fact that they've never missed the New-FM finals makes it all the more important that they at least try and produce a miracle. Make no mistake, this game is simply must-win. They have to overcome their bad luck in front of goal and go for glory. Their worrying home form certainly does nothing to boost their belief either.

They had the bye last week to try and focus on what needs to change but as of late it's clear no coach could have the answers to what has at times just been very bad luck. The late misses against Cessnock summed up the season for the Rams. There are six home games out of ten for the 9th-placed side so they need to find form on home turf. Their lacklustre attack has clearly missed Jamie Hadlow as of late and still no word on when he may return.

West Wallsend had some bad form of their own to put behind them and they did that extremely well last Sunday. Heading into the Singleton match they had lost four games in a row and saw their finals hopes take a big dent but the Bluebells rallied for their biggest win of the season. They were switched on, they were tactically sound and they frustrated Singleton with a very convincing display.

Over the years, Westy has really stuck it to Kahibah. Last year's victory at Johnson Park was quiet something and the earlier game this season was certainly eventful. The Bluebells obviously enter this game as the slight favourites but they need to be weary of a desperate side. If they bring the game they showed at Singleton, they'll go very close to achieving what they want and perhaps moving back into the top four.

Prediction: Newysports likes the odds of a West Wallsend victory here to hammer the last nail into the finals coffin for Kahibah but the Rams as of late have shown a bit more defensive resolve and the addition of Riley Hill in goals adds to that. Andre and co. know they have to lock the gates at the back to stand any chance. 1-1 draw here.

My Tip: Kahibah FC 1-1 West Wallsend

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YOUTH GAME(s) OF THE WEEK: The big games for the week come at Kahibah Oval where the young Rams are hosting a club coming off a clean sweep last weekend in West Wallsend. The two clubs pride themselves on quality in the younger grades so expect three very well-fought matches.




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