Thursday, 14 June 2018

PREVIEW: New-FM Round 14 2018




Under 19's:
West Wallsend (5th) v Thornton Redbacks (8th)
Kickoff: 10:45am
Last Time They Met: THO 0-5 WWB

West Wallsend will be seething of frustration after back-to-back wash-outs and face the difficult trip to Singo midweek but before that is a game against an improving Thornton side. The Bluebells have fallen out of the top four and really need to start building some form to gain some confidence. Attack has been a concern at times and at other times it's been a lack of luck. They need a positive mindset heading into this.

Thornton have really gelled as of late and produced some quality results to boot. They've consistently found the back of the net and their defence has in the past couple of games really knuckled down well. The 23's loss was their gain when it comes to Jacob Bartlett who has been a key part of the turn-around in form whilst winger Edan Ruddy is starting to hit his straps. A win here could do wonders for their season.

Prediction: The pressure is firmly on for West Wallsend. New Lambton's bye comes at a very good time for the Bluebells and the next few weeks could see them cement a top four spot or possibly fall away if things don't go to plan. Busy times ahead with catch-ups away to Singo and Kahibah but for now, expecting them to just get over the line. High-scoring affair too.

My Tip: West Wallsend 3-2 Thornton Redbacks

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Under 23's Match of the Round:
West Wallsend (5th) v Thornton Redbacks (1st)
Kickoff: 12:30pm
Last Time They Met: THO 5-1 WWB

After back-to-back wash-outs, West Wallsend will be hoping they can get their 23's match played on Saturday and be able to finally start their tilt at turning some recent poor form around. Their last outing was a disappointing loss to Belswans in which discipline went right out the window. Time has passed and it's likely they'll be very switched on to take down the ladder leaders. This could throw them right back into serious contention.

As for Thornton, they had the bye last round so it was business as usual for the competition pace-setters. Their lead at the top isn't what it was after their unexpected draw with Cessnock. The fact is they are still unbeaten and their level is expected to rise as the chances of winning the Premiership rise in the coming weeks. It's all about getting back to winning ways quickly for the Redbacks.

Prediction: West Wallsend need to show a bit more to sit with the top three as serious silverware contenders in 2018. The Redbacks will be looking to return to winning ways and keep their lengthy unbeaten streak alive. It should be a much tighter affair at Westy than it was back in the first match. The Bluebells will give it a good go but still look a little under Thornton's level.

My Tip: West Wallsend 1-2 Thornton Redbacks

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1st Grade Match of the Round:
West Wallsend (5th) v Thornton Redbacks (2nd)
Kickoff: 2:30pm
Last Time They Met: THO 6-1 WWB

West Wallsend entered Round 12 against Singleton with a great need to win after four consecutive losses and they'd produce one of the performances of the season as they recorded a commanding 3-0 win away to a side that hadn't lost since Round 2. Was it perfect? Probably not. But it was as close to perfect as you could have asked for after some poor form heading into it.

Last week was of course washed out but the situation is still the exact same for the Bluebells. They sit in 5th place and they sit capable of securing a place in the finals for the first time in a few years. They've built the foundation and now it's time to start stacking the good results together. It was ugly the last time they played Thornton and here is the chance to gain some revenge and perhaps climb back into the top four.

For Thornton, the wash-outs didn't affect them due to the fact they played on the Saturday in Round 12 and had the bye last weekend. Where the wet weather has hit them is interrupting their training regime but it's a similar story for all. Questions were asked of their match management and their ability to battle for 90+ minutes after the Southy game and they answered that with a thrilling 3-2 stoppage time win over Cessnock.

Still they remain with just one loss all season, surprisingly to a struggling Kahibah side. The 5 draws is what they need to fix in the final two months of the regular season. The Premiership is fast fading as they sit eight points behind Cooks Hill who don't look like they're going to lose many games. The Redbacks' key focus will be finishing in the top two and being able to have a vocal home support behind them in Week 2 of finals. 

Prediction: This is a very interesting encounter, especially after Westy's impressive performance at Singleton. The physical game may be overwhelming for a fairly youngish Thornton side. They've got to be prepared for a very tough battle with a hard West Wallsend outfit. This could be one of the games of the season and it's very, very hard to split.

My Tip: West Wallsend 2-2 Thornton Redbacks

Additional Tip: Expecting a goal from Bailey Maxton. He's been on to watch at Westy.

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Under 19's:
Belmont-Swansea (6th) v Wallsend FC (10th)
Kickoff: 10:45am
Last Time They Met: WAL 2-1 BEL

This was a pretty poor match-up the last time the sides met but hopefully there'll be improvement on show as both teams have done well in recent times. Belswans of course were beaten by Cooks Hill but had four-straight wins before that and continue to hover just outside the top four with their eyes firmly on the prize of finals football. The return of Harry Rapp from suspension will give them something extra in attack if he continues his stint up top.

Wallsend do sit in 10th but for those who can remember past all these wash-outs, their last result was a positive 2-0 win over 4th-placed New Lambton. Craig Tselembis was full of praise for his team and the way they reacted after a very poor 6-1 loss to Cooks Hill. Mathematically they are still a chance and they simply have to produce here and try to build some form. Who knows where they may end up?

Prediction: This could be a fairly decent match-up with both sides being desperate to earn three valuable points. But it's hard not to feel as though Belswans will get the job done because they sit in a realistic position of taking a spot in the top four and every game is suddenly growing in importance. Wallsend won 2-1 in the first game but expecting a reverse this time round.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 2-1 Wallsend FC

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Under 23's:
Belmont-Swansea (6th) v Wallsend FC (7th)
Kickoff: 12:30pm
Last Time They Met: WAL 0-1 BEL

The inconsistent 23's competition is still a fair way from determining who'll make the top four but at this moment it looks as though Thornton and Cooks Hill will be there and Cessnock may join them. That leaves an abundance of teams including Belswans and Wallsend competing for one, possibly two spots. Belswans lacked discipline against Cooks Hill and were punished for it. Perhaps a calmer game to be expected from them this week.

Wallsend have defined the word inconsistency with their performances and results this season. The team itself is more than capable on their day of testing anyone but some days it just hasn't been there. Certainly they have at times looked a shell of the team that won the Grand Final last year but there is plenty of time on their side to correct things and patch together some good form.

Prediction: This is a very tough game to call compared to most as both teams are evenly matched and both are capable of producing a decent effort and on the flip side, a not so good effort. You don't really know what you are going to get and thus it becomes a difficult match to predict. Home ground advantage might sway things Belswans' way and they did win the match earlier this year too.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 2-1 Wallsend FC

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1st Grade:
Belmont-Swansea (7th) v Wallsend FC (8th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm
Last Time They Met: WAL 3-2 BEL

Certainly this game has a tonne of importance around it when it comes to the race for finals football. Saturday won't define the season for either team but it definitely does pose as a key match-up. Belswans are seemingly in the midst of their much-expected climb up the league table after a fairly poor start to the year. With nearly everyone back on board, the situation is pretty positive for Josh Rufo's side.

The football Belswans are producing has changed in the last month or so and is looking a lot sharper and a lot more productive. Something has clicked and they took it to the ladder leaders Cooks Hill last time out. Belswans would feel as though they dropped two points that day and a more refined attacking display will help them on Saturday. Goalkeeper Ben Parmenter is expected to play after his trip to the World Cup was cut heart-breakingly short due to a friend's visa issues (absolutely feel for you mate!).

Onto Wallsend and a lot of time has passed since their last outing. It feels an eternity ago when New Lambton produced a 3-1 win to upset the Reds on their home turf at The Gardens. That was Wallsend's fourth loss in a row and that is simply not good enough for a team that have high ambitions and earlier this year looked like they'd be in more than in contention for a top four spot.

Where has it all gone wrong for the Reds? That is the million dollar question that they have to try and answer. Injuries would likely be coming good for them after a couple of quiet weeks and the return of club captain and key defender Kyle Macorig will help them fix what has at times been a leaky backline. Their attack has gone quiet. 16 goals in the first six games and now only three in the last four. It needs to be better.

Prediction: Newysports is expecting Belswans to be back in the Semi Finals. At who's expense is the question. Therefore it's going to be a prediction that is positive for the home side. They're turning the tides for their season and they have a team that know how to grind out results. Wallsend are down on confidence. Can see the Reds stopping the rot soon but not yet. Belswans to win.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 3-1 Wallsend FC

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Under 19's:
Toronto-Awaba (3rd) v Singleton Strikers (9th)
Kickoff: 10:45am
Last Time They Met: SIN 1-2 TAW

It's that time of the year where each fixture grows with importance and this is a big one for both teams. First onto Toronto who of course have the catch-up with Wallsend still up their sleeve but a growing need to get back to winning ways with a few teams starting to put pressure on them from below. The Stags have seen their hopes of finishing top two all but fade away but they are still very much capable of finishing top four.

Singleton's come from behind draw against Cooks Hill last weekend proved that they are on their day capable of competing with anyone and they only sit eight points outside the top four. A couple more wins and some continued ill-form for those teams not in the top two may make things interesting. Make no mistake, anything short of a win on Sunday and it's curtains for their hopes but the team will be confident after last week.

Prediction: There should be a fair battle going on between Singleton's tough defence and Toronto's tall and difficult to mark attackers. That will be one of the key areas where it will be won or lost but on paper and at home, the Stags deserve to go in as favourites. Singleton cannot be underestimated but Toronto really need three points to settle things down and cement their top four spot.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 2-1 Singleton Strikers

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Under 23's:
Toronto-Awaba (10th) v Singleton Strikers (11th)
Kickoff: 12:30pm
Last Time They Met: SIN 2-3 TAW

Following on from what could be a very exciting 19's match is this fixture between two sides that have struggled greatly in 2018. Toronto won the first meeting this season but have gone backwards ever since they patched together a couple of victories. Seven-straight losses for the Stags and a few players who have abandoned ship leaving nothing more than a bare bones 23's side propped up largely by 19's players backing up.

Singleton have actually been boosted as of late with a couple of new players making their way into the team. Newysports keeps a good eye on the Singleton Argus and the paper revealed that the 23's had two new players in Jarrad Castledine and Lachlan Nicol. Whether that helps the team avoid the wooden spoon is the question (Castledine was their goalscorer last week) but definitely, the only way is up for the Singo 23's.

Prediction: Toronto haven't played since their harrowing 12-0 loss to Cooks Hill two weeks ago. The side they put out that day was half made up of 19's players backing up. Singleton don't have the same issues of being down on troops and with the two new players in and the knowledge that this is pretty much a six-pointer to avoid the spoon, expecting the away side the prevail. But don't expect a memorable match-up.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 0-1 Singleton Strikers

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1st Grade:
Toronto-Awaba (11th) v Singleton Strikers (4th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm
Last Time They Met: SIN 1-1 TAW

All Toronto-Awaba would want to do is to get back on the field and try to erase the harsh memories of their last outing when Cooks Hill ran rings around them in a 10-1 victory. Blake Glennie is no doubt thinking forward into next season and in a way the faster this year ends, the better for the last-placed Stags. They look destined for a low finish but the question is how low? 

They seem capable of producing one or two wins along the way putting their last result aside. It wasn't all that long ago that the Stags beat Westy at Johnston Park so they have to channel what they did well that day and try to do that again. The news has been quiet out of the club as of late so there is no word on how things are progressing squad-wise but it's safe to say, the only way is up after the last home game.

Singleton looked to maybe be sitting a little prettier than expected in 2nd place a few weeks back and they've now as predicted hit a point of the season where they are at a crossroads and need to figure out which way to go. It may be time to tweak one or two things after back-to-back home losses has left them on the brink of dropping out of the top four.

The Strikers won most of their games with tight scorelines and their defence needs to solidify after conceding five goals in the past two outings. They're much more likely to win 1-0 than they are 4-3 so no doubt it's all about how they work in the defensive third. The good news for Singo is that they still sit in the top four but anything less than a win here would heap more pressure on them.

Prediction: There's a big question as to how Toronto will bounce back after their biggest loss in nearly two decades. There's every chance Singo will put them to the sword like they did New Lambton but the respect has to be given to the Stags that they can put the misery of last time out behind them and at least show some more fight here. Not being 5-0 down after 20 minutes should help do that. Singo to win though.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 1-3 Singleton Strikers

Additional Tip: Zane Hand to score a header from an unstoppable back post run.

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Under 19's Match of the Round:
Kahibah FC (1st) v Cooks Hill United (2nd)
Kickoff: 10:45am
Last Time They Met: CHU 0-4 KAH

Things haven't really changed much from the first round for these two. They were tipped to be two of the three Premiership contenders and although Westy have fallen away, the battle is heating up at the top. Kahibah will be without Kurtis McRitchie after a highly-publicised BMX stunt gone wrong as well as Isaac Zek in midfield. The team have won 10 in a row and look to produce arguably their biggest scalp yet against their only threat at the top.

Cooks Hill were cruising along nicely after big wins over Wallsend and Toronto and showed they can win ugly with a 1-0 win at windswept Belswans. They were building nicely towards the Kahibah match until last week when Jack Clare and Singleton kept them to a 2-2 draw. Now the gap remains three points with Kahibah having two games in hand (this obviously not being one of them). This is a genuine six-pointer for the Cookers.

Prediction: This game will go a long way towards determining the Premiership. It'd take quiet a form rise for anyone but Kahibah or Cooks Hill to finish on top. No Kurtis McRitchie makes it tough but it could be the omission of Zek in midfield that turns the table. Kahibah destroyed CHU in the middle of the park in that 4-0 win earlier but can see this being different. Can see a draw if Kahibah don't have anymore late omissions. This is where the winning streak ends.

My Tip: Kahibah FC 1-1 Cooks Hill United

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Under 23's:
Kahibah FC (8th) v Cooks Hill United (2nd)
Kickoff: 12:30pm
Last Time They Met: CHU 1-1 KAH

Mathematically speaking, Kahibah's chances of finals in the 23's are still well alive but there is a growing sense of pressure on them to perform at a consistent level and push for where they aim to be. Sitting six points outside the top four, the next couple of games could really be make or break for their hopes this season. The desire simply needs to be at its peak going forward.

Cooks Hill on the other hand come into this game with superb form. Four wins in a row and only one goal conceded in the past five matches and that was off a defensive error. The team is fast turning into what was expected and that is a serious contender for the Premiership. Thornton aren't that far ahead and the Cookers are rolling along nicely. They enter this match as deserved favourites.

Prediction: The chances of Kahibah actually making a 23's finals series after being so close for a couple of years now is pretty bleak. Whether it be luck or performance, they simply need to put it all behind them and step up. Cooks Hill are the in-form side at the moment and look on another level to any team not called Thornton or Cessnock. This is the killer blow for Kahibah.

My Tip: Kahibah FC 0-4 Cooks Hill United

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1st Grade:
Kahibah FC (9th) v Cooks Hill United (1st)
Kickoff: 2:30pm
Last Time They Met: CHU 2-0 KAH

Football can be a pretty crazy game and the die-hard Kahibah faithful will still be holding out some hope of retaining their perfect appearance record for New-FM finals since joining the league in 2015. The luckless Rams sit one point adrift of the last place Toronto and a whopping 19 points behind their opponents and predicted title rivals Cooks Hill. It was a nightmare first half of the season.

Now Kahibah sit at a verge where if they can produce three wins or so in a row then suddenly they may be back in calculations. It simply has to happen here. Murray Leyland's return will help boost the defensive line and may allow Jake Kepreotes to move back to a preferred midfield role. It's all on their attack who need to fire. Bad luck has hindered them in recent weeks and they need to look beyond that.

Cooks Hill had kicked it up a gear or two since Graham Law arrived back in the country but found themselves 2-0 down in windy and rainy conditions at Belswans. The fight in the second half was a true showing of the champion team they are and last weekend they produced a decent result, downing Singleton 2-0 with ten men for the majority of the game.

According to the Singleton Argus, Law admitted Singleton were the better side on the day. So if anything a more solid performance can be expected this week. It'll be without Alex Gillespie after his first half red card. The Cookers no doubt will be out for FFA Cup revenge and to continue their run towards a likely Premiership. They've won the last two against Kahibah in the league and they'll want to make it three straight on Sunday.

Prediction: Remember when Kahibah claimed they took Cooks Hill's best attacker? The pre-season banter has certainly not worked out well for the 9th-placed side. Yes injuries have been an issue (all three of them) but take Jake Hamilton, Alex Gillespie and Lee Ashton out of CHU and they still probably get the job done most weeks. Adam Gunster, Luke Muller & Emerson Augey, need I go on? Cookers to hammer the final nail into Kahibah's finals hopes.

My Tip: Kahibah FC 1-4 Cooks Hill United

Additional Tip: Kahibah to claw one back and CHU to kill it off midway through 2nd half.

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Under 19's:
Cessnock City (7th) v South Cardiff (11th)
Kickoff: 10:45am
Last Time They Met: CES 2-3 SOU

Cessnock were facing a do or die game last weekend at New Lambton until it got washed out. Now they have a chance to pick up three valuable points against a struggling Southy side. The first game ended in a Southy win and what is still their only points of the season. If the Hornets can win the next three before the bye they may be back in contention but it's key they produce the goods here and answer their critics.

Southy have lost eight games in a row and look destined for the wooden spoon. They are seven points adrift at the bottom and it must be tough knowing that two wins in a row wouldn't be enough to help guide them from the bottom. Therefore it has to be a case of one game at a time. Steve Blunt will be trying to get his side to channel the sort of form that saw them defeat Cessnock earlier this year. 

Prediction: This is a pretty simple equation for Cessnock. They need to win this to remain any real chance of sneaking into the playoffs. A draw or worse still a loss to the cellar-dwellers would all but put a line right through their credentials. The home side need to put frustrations aside and just focus on areas where they need to improve. They're more than capable of winning this.

My Tip: Cessnock City 2-0 South Cardiff

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Under 23's:
Cessnock City (3rd) v South Cardiff (9th)
Kickoff: 12:30pm
Last Time They Met: SOU 1-4 CES

Cessnock have really come to life in the Under 23's. Everything they were dreaming of for their 1st Grade squad appears to be happening in the reserves. Six games unbeaten now and the only points they've dropped are against fellow top three sides Thornton and Cooks Hill. The Hornets have proven they are on the same level and a class above any other side in the competition. They'll be hoping to continue that form on Sunday.

Southy are in a similar situation to Kahibah. Sitting at the bottom of a mid-table jam and with some belief that they can indeed push for finals this season. Just like Kahibah, it's time for them to really kick into next gear or risk falling out of contention. They showed excellent desire and fight to gain three valuable points against New Lambton and this really would be a boost for them if they stop the Hornets on their home turf.

Prediction: The Gunners have some belief about them and will be keen to pick up the biggest result of their season but in all seriousness it looks a very tough ask. Cessnock are absolutely killing it as of late and the fact that they've got three or four really dangerous attackers will just cause an overload that Southy's young defence won't be able to handle.

My Tip: Cessnock City 4-0 South Cardiff

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1st Grade:
Cessnock City (6th) v South Cardiff (3rd)
Kickoff: 2:30pm
Last Time They Met: SOU 0-3 CES

The wash-out didn't help Cessnock City too much in their race to turn their form around but their chances of making the top four took a positive turn as Singleton dropped three more points to Cooks Hill. Suddenly there is a game in hand and that will play into the minds of the Hornets a little bit, especially if they can produce the goods and make it two from two against the Gunners this season.

Cessnock's last result was a painful one to take as they choked up a 2-1 lead to lose 3-2 at Thornton. Their defence must put up a stern show for 90 minutes and stoppage to keep out what is a very high-quality South Cardiff attack. This is as it stands the biggest game yet for the Hornets in 2018 and certainly a win could really install some belief that they may be a good chance of breaking their finals drought.

Ulinga Oval was of course washed out last Sunday and the hotly-anticipated second leg of the Gallagher Shield (v Wallsend) will have to wait but this game is equally as important for the 3rd-placed Gunners. They've managed to up the ante as of late and their last game a fortnight ago was a superb attacking performance and a 4-1 victory in tough conditions at New Lambton.

The race for the top two is going to be very interesting this season as was the case last year. The prospect of a home Semi Final in week two of the playoffs is something that'll have Southy really keen to keep their good form ticking over. The team is rising with belief and of course Nathan McAllister is doing some serious damage in the goalscorer ranks this season. They'll remember the 3-0 loss to Cessnock and will want to right the wrongs.

Prediction: This game really is a crossroads for Cessnock's season, especially when added with the catch-up against New Lambton next week. A loss here would really hurt their hopes but definitely not kill them off just yet. Southy are in some decent form and they will head into this game with real intention of solidifying their spot in the top four.

My Tip: Cessnock City 1-2 South Cardiff

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YOUTH GAME(s) OF THE WEEK: The two biggest matches are top of the table games this weekend. First is the 17's match at Alder Park as the Eagles host the ladder leaders Cooks Hill. Both sides are unbeaten so it should be good. Then on Sunday, Kahibah's perfect 15's record may be under threat against 2nd-placed Southy. With less games played in this grade, a win for the young Rams would be a big step towards silverware.




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