Friday, 20 July 2018

PREVIEW: New-FM Round 19 2018




Under 19's:
Belmont-Swansea (5th) v South Cardiff (11th)
Kickoff: 10:45am
Last Time They Met: SOU 1-3 BEL

This game right here is pretty much the season for Belswans 19's. If they are to continue the club's superb streak of making the Under 19's finals, they must win this and then hope that Toronto slip up in big tests against Westy and Cooks Hill. The door is still open but they have to walk through it. Last week's draw with New Lambton was decent and something to build on as they return to Blacksmiths Oval. A draw will not be good enough tomorrow.

Southy come into this game on the back of arguably their best form of the season. Indeed they still sit bottom with a fairly forgettable set of stats but their performances recently against the likes of Cooks Hill and West Wallsend have shown some improvements and some potential for the future. Injuries have hurt them a little bit but they have a team that is willing to give it all each week and that's all you can expect from their position at this stage.

Prediction: Actually expecting this to be quiet an even match up. Southy have troubled the top teams as of late and clearly via looking at the ladder, Belswans aren't exactly on the same level as a Cooks Hill for example. Therefore this game looks very much winnable for the Gunners if they put together their best football. For the tip, it's another draw.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 2-2 South Cardiff

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Under 23's:
Belmont-Swansea (6th) v South Cardiff (7th)
Kickoff: 12:30pm
Last Time They Met: SOU 0-2 BEL

There's no "Match of the Round" in the 23's this weekend...if there was, this would be it. It's essentially a knockout fixture, especially for Belswans. With one extra game played, it's highly unlikely Belswans will be able to make the finals but if they win this there is still some light. Back to back losses has seen them slip off the pace and their hopes will be well and truly gone if they can't get the points here. It's a rather simple equation.

Southy were in midweek action against West Wallsend last night and without having a clue of how that game went, it did finish 1-1 and everything else aside, one point out of three is simply not enough if the Gunners want to make that late push for finals. Ultimately it's not the end of the world if they fall short but the chance is still there so why not go for it and see what happens. They too need to win this game.

Prediction: To be honest, Newysports would love the finals to start on Saturday, in particular for the 23's. It's been a drag some games but hopefully these sides can produce their best and play some nice entertaining football on the day. We're assured one helluva 1st Grade battle but wouldn't it be something for this game to steal the show on the day. Will it, probably not. Who wins? We'll go the safety draw.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 1-1 South Cardiff

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1st Grade:
Belmont-Swansea (2nd) v South Cardiff (4th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm
Last Time They Met: SOU 1-1 BEL

The odds of another Cooks Hill v Belmont-Swansea Grand Final are shortening by the week considering the wonderful form that the boys from Blacksmiths are in. They've beaten nearly everyone put before them in the second half of the campaign and added another scalp with a convincing 3-0 win over New Lambton last weekend. That hoisted them into outright 2nd and has capped a stunning rise from 9th or so not that long ago.

What Belswans possess is big game experience and it's showing with their form. They know how to win well, they know how to win ugly if need be and that is the big test for Southy. Josh Rufo's comments each week in the Northern preview have a firm confidence behind them. They concentrate on their own game and leave it to the opposition to find a way to stop them. As of late that simply hasn't happened.

The game is no doubt one of the toughest test yet for a South Cardiff side that really showed some championship-challenging credentials with a solid first half against Cooks Hill two weeks ago. Last weekend was a pure formality as they blasted Toronto 6-1 but it was also a display that would have earned the trust of the Old Boy's on their Day at Ulinga Oval. If the Gunners do make it to finals, they'll have a solid supporter base behind them.

But...they have to make it. No team in the finals race has a tougher run than Southy. After this game they face Singleton, Kahibah and Thornton, granted Kahibah are way below par but on their day can cause trouble. It's a difficult month and will either shape Southy for a chance at making history or it'll see them fall short. This'll be a firm test of their resolve and their will to win big games.

Prediction: It's still too early to call this one a dress rehearsal for finals but there's a very real possibility that they will meet in the 2nd v 3rd Semi Final depending on how things go. Either way it's a game that'll have some substance and feeling to it and indeed serve as a warm-up for bigger things to come. Belswans can prove themselves as the best team outside of Cooks Hill with a victory here.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 2-1 South Cardiff

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Under 19's:
Singleton Strikers (9th) v New Lambton (6th)
Kickoff: 10:45am
Last Time They Met: NLE 4-1 SIN

Another match where a lower-table team can really cause a stir in the finals race. Firstly onto Singleton and their form has come done a little bit as of late. Their late loss to Thornton last week came with a couple of changes to the squad and pretty much summed up a season of "what-if's". Their first result against New Lambton was one of their worst this season so there is definitely some revenge on the cards in this one.

For New Lambton, this is a must-win fixture. They're somehow still alive in the finals race even after a costly draw with Belswans last weekend. Toronto may very well falter against Westy and Cooks Hill meaning just seven points from the last four games could see the Eagles sneak in. They can't afford any complacency and that is one thing this side have shown a lot this year. They've got to pull up the socks and go for the win.

Prediction: Singleton came very close to winning last weekend. The late goal they conceded follow a close-range miss from Lachlan Neal that 9/10 times he'd bury. They need to take their chances which is something New Lambton did well last night. The Eagles are playing for their hopes of finals and they need to aim up.

My Tip: Singleton Strikers 1-3 New Lambton

Additional Tip: Nathan Toby to score two again. He has been a stand-out this year.

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Under 23's:
Singleton Strikers (10th) v New Lambton (5th)
Kickoff: 12:30pm
Last Time They Met: NLE 3-0 SIN

Watching Singleton 23's last weekend just highlighted the need for change in 2019. The club really needs to address its depth and if it had depth this year then it might have helped them in the finals race for 1st Grade. Attitude-wise and performance-wise it just hasn't been good enough some weeks. It's tedious to go over it week after week. Truly believe this team are capable of more than they've offered.

New Lambton were in action last night and really they were more than up for the fight against the in-form Cessnock City. The Eagles had a good period in the latter stages of the second half where they equalised, looked like winning and then as it's so often done for them, it just all went wrong. Cessnock scored late, the Eagles were beaten and now they have to bounce right back. They are in this finals race and should be piling the pressure on Wallsend.

Prediction: Truth be told, if New Lambton can't beat this out-of-form Singleton side than maybe they don't deserve to be in the finals. That's the reality that faces them and the difficulty of travelling to Singo on a short turn-around is something they also have to face. Their defence will need to be weary as Singo did strike a wonder goal through James Bates last week. Eagles to win this though.

My Tip: Singleton Strikers 1-4 New Lambton

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1st Grade:
Singleton Strikers (7th) v New Lambton (9th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm
Last Time They Met: NLE 2-8 SIN

The hopes of breaking a long-standing finals drought for Singleton are on life support after a heartbreaking late equaliser saw Thornton deny them an extremely valuable three points. Indeed they only left with one and it was a very frustrating end result for David Willoughby and co. as they simply failed to hang on. They'd lost their grip on the game and after one or two close calls, their luck ran out in stoppage time.

Willoughby is a coach that sees the bigger picture and this year has seen Singleton really progress on where they were last season and if they can keep the majority of the team together and add some depth they'll be right up there again next year. But there's still an outside chance things might just go their way. It's must-win football for the last three games and ultimately that's when they'll know if that holy grail is still in reach.

Newysports won't lie to you. It was impossible to remember what New Lambton did last week or who they played without a search on SportsTG. That's a result of the fact that they're out of the finals race but anyway they are still indeed playing for pride and playing for the future. Last week's 3-0 home loss to Belswans was not a surprise given their injury toll but they've still got a chance to affect the finals race and cause havoc for those above.

There's really not much else to say about the Eagles at this stage. It's a case of watching what they can do and seeing which of the young players coming through can maybe slot in to a regular 1st Grade role in 2019 and beyond. This particular game is a chance to gain some revenge for what was their worst loss in close to two decades when they last faced Singleton.

Prediction: A Singleton club member last week told Newysports that the Strikers would have a massive crowd on hand if they were to make it into the finals. Seeing the town get behind their football club and pack out Howe Park would be absolutely brilliant and for that, here's hoping they stay in the race. It's nothing personal against New Lambton but the heart wants Singleton to win this and stay alive in the finals race.

My Tip: Singleton Strikers 2-0 New Lambton

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Under 19's:
Kahibah F.C (1st) v Thornton Redbacks (7th)
Kickoff: 10:45am
Last Time They Met: THO 1-2 KAH

Kahibah 19's are ticking off win after win as they march towards what looks to be a likely Premiership but the job is indeed still incomplete. With Cooks Hill having the bye, they'll have to wait until next weekend but a win here would mean they only need one point in their last three matches. Lots has been said about the Brady McRitchie's and Ryan Stuchbury's of the world but as of late Kye Condon has been an unsung hero. His confidence has risen each week and has been a vital cog in the machine lately. Last week's 2-0 win over Wallsend was as comfortable as they've looked this year in control of a match.

Thornton are a team that give you a challenge. They've taken it to the "big guns" in 2018 and that's a credit to them but they'll be keen here to get a result rather than just be brave in defeat. They pulled a rabbit of the hat with a late win last weekend over Singo but it wasn't a terribly convincing display. They're capable of more than what they showed that day and if they show it here, they are a chance.

Prediction: This is a danger game for Kahibah and they should be aware of that. A few Kahibah personnel were on hand the day Thornton smashed Westy 5-0 and the Redbacks admittedly deserve respect. For the Redbacks, it's really about time Jacob Bartlett gets back to scoring form. A player of his quality should have eyes set on the Golden Boot. Ben Fuenzalida, Edan Ruddy, Matty Gardener, they'll take it to Kahibah. But they'll fall short. 

My Tip: Kahibah FC 2-1 Thornton Redbacks

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Under 23's:
Kahibah FC (8th) v Thornton Redbacks (1st)
Kickoff: 12:30pm
Last Time They Met: THO 2-1 KAH

Kahibah 23's look gone in the race for finals after their disappointing result against Wallsend last weekend. They eased past Singo a fortnight ago but then when the pressure got turned up they crumbled on home turf yet again. Some individual players look really down on confidence and belief and that doesn't bode well for a clash with the stand-out team of the competition. Kahibah took it to Thornton last time so that's all they can aim for.

Again Newysports was on hand for a Thornton match last weekend and again they did it all in first, maybe second gear. Large portions of the season has been them "flexing their muscles" as they wait for the inevitable appearance in the finals. The Premiership is all but assured and will be a done deal if they win this one and it's a testament to Scott Winslade as Coach and the side he has put together. Simply too good.

Prediction: Thornton were terrible by their lofty standards last time they met Kahibah and they still managed to win. With Kahibah looking out of form and out of confidence following last week's loss, it wouldn't surprise to see this one be a fairly convincing scoreline. The Redbacks know what this win would mean as it would wrap up the title race. If Thornton turn up the heat, it could get ugly.

My Tip: Kahibah FC 1-4 Thornton Redbacks

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1st Grade:
Kahibah FC (10th) v Thornton Redbacks (3rd)
Kickoff: 2:30pm
Last Time They Met: THO 1-2 KAH

All the talk around Kahibah Football Club is about Season 2019 and the possibilities that await in the future as this season has been a total write-off. Even with close to their top lineup back on the park in recent weeks, it's clear there needs to be a little bit of a shake-up to get the side back to where they aim to be. 10th place is not where Andre Gumprecht and Mat Moncrieff expected to be, even after the injuries earlier this year.

Yes that is a copy and paste from last week's preview because it'd sound the same this week. The performance against Wallsend showed some good as they went up early and lead at half-time. As has so often been the case with Kahibah in 2018, it all fell apart soon after and they'd lose at home again. Two more home games remain for the chance to record their first victory at Kahibah Oval this season. An entire season without a win at home would be an embarrassing outcome. 

Right, onto the Redbacks who are still in contention but themselves perhaps in just as bad a form patch as Kahibah, at least by their lofty standards. The wheels have definitely not fallen off as of yet but a loss here could drop them as far as 6th and it's safe to say that a lot more is needed from this side as they look to build towards finals football. Last week's late 2-2 draw with Singleton was not exactly a convincing selling point of their potential.

A lot has been said about their inexperience but they possess quality that was at one stage this season the most fluid in the competition. Where that has gone is the question and how they get it back is what they'll be addressing. Their side isn't one with a lot of old heads but they're old enough and wise enough to know that they have to up the ante or it'll fall by the wayside. The pressure is firmly on.

Prediction: The Kahibah story has played its course in 2018. Similar to New Lambton it's all about playing for pride and indeed playing for a spot in next year's lineup. Gumps & Moncrieff have one eye on 2019. They did beat Thornton last time they met and indeed they have the experience factor on their side. Tippett, the Kepreotes brothers, Leyland, Butzmann. They're capable of a result here. Maybe a draw.

My Tip: Kahibah FC 1-1 Thornton Redbacks

Additional Tip: Thornton to end the week outside the top four if they don't win this.

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Under 19's:
Toronto-Awaba (4th) v Cessnock City (8th)
Kickoff: 10:45am
Last Time They Met: CES 0-2 TAW

The pressure is firmly mounting on Toronto 19's and whilst things are still in their control, they will spiral out of control if they do anything but win against a severely lacking Cessnock City side. The Stags have stumbled right out of top two contention and now have growing pressure from below. They've got to iron out some kinks and they'll be looking to solidify their scoring form here.

As for Cessnock, what do you say. Newysports was really undersold on their win over Wallsend and it proved with a heavy loss to Cooks Hill and then last night's 4-1 loss to New Lambton. They have a three or so quality players and the rest are really inconsistent. Team chemistry would be free-falling towards 0 if you were to really judge it. To give them some credit, they recognise that's it's just not good enough. Some teams would turn on negative reporting and try to defend their poor results. Own it, analysis it, plan the next move. That's all they can do.

Prediction: The Stags have been on a slight slide but a win here would get things right back on track. New Lambton's game in hand is against Kahibah so yeah that might give the Stags breathing room. With Westy and Cooks Hill their only remaining games after the bye, this is must win football for Toronto. They need to get the wheels rolling again and truly they should be more than capably of dispatching the Hornets.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 4-1 Cessnock City

Additional Tip: Sam Lynch to score for the Stags. Random tip.

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Under 23's:
Toronto-Awaba (11th) v Cessnock City (3rd)
Kickoff: 12:30pm
Last Time They Met: CES 5-0 TAW

***TORONTO-AWABA HAVE FORFEITED THIS FIXTURE***

Cessnock City are into 2nd place without even needing to attend this week's fixture and whilst you'd expect one or two from Cooks Hill to grunt, it's their own doing that they were in a position to be overtaken and in all fairness it was highly likely Cessnock would have won this game against Toronto. Anyway, all that is simply water under the bridge, Hornets into 2nd.

*Now onto this horrid Stags situation and I think print media doesn't really do this justice and it's hard to sum it all up without a video. But will try to do that and obviously things have gotten worse as the season has ticked by. This 23's team has used 42 players for the 2018 season and this forfeit looks to be a result of the 17's playing on the same day at a different venue.

Shaun Paterson was left frustrated with the game at Thornton due to the fact that it cost him two of his 19's players for the next game. Josh Masters got sent off in goals, someone else I believe was injured. It just wasn't good and it seems they've favoured having the 17's fill the void and now they have their own game and indeed finals race to worry about. All that aside, this forfeit is no surprise.

Lots of credit needs to go to the players who continue to lace up the boots for this team. They know who they are (indeed Patto one of them) and they have done a great deal of service for the club when it may have just been easier and probably better mentality to just walk away.

The situation behind the scenes at Toronto is rumoured to be spiralling out of control with a big committee turnover expected and a lot of players to probably move on. There's so many bleak comments going around and this is looking very similar to what happened at West Wallsend a few years ago.

This preview is not the time nor place to discuss it in details but at this stage, Newysports would not be surprised to see Toronto-Awaba fail to make it into the 2020 2nd tier competition (whatever it may be called) and now suddenly there is a possibility they may find it tough to put together a competitive senior squad in 2019. Here's hoping they can sort out the issues but it's seemingly getting worse by the week.

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1st Grade:
Toronto-Awaba (11th) v Cessnock City (8th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm
Last Time They Met: CES 6-2 TAW

These are the games that are very difficult to preview. These sides met around this time last season and things haven't changed too much since then. The only real change is Cessnock's improvement and Toronto's slide down to the bottom of the table. On reflection, the Stags are now incapable of matching their 18 point total from 2017. So where has it gone so wrong for this team that in pre-season looked a mid-table possibility?

Defence has been non-existent at times. Their 74 goals conceded is already the worst total for a New-FM team since West Wallsend in 2014. Reading stories of Westy's troubles during that year strikes a familiar chord to the Stags currently. This goes far beyond an under-performing 1st Grade side (ala Kahibah/New Lambton). There needs to be a heavy focus on recruiting sponsors and building depth. The Stags have been on a downward spiral for years and it simply needs to stop before it's too late.

Opposite them is Cessnock City and again this preview goes away from this actual match. The Hornets are a good example as to what Toronto need to do. Brendan Slade is a coach who is front-up about the way things work and it's all about getting sponsors on board to attract players, staff and resources to the club. Where Cessnock is now, results aside, is far higher than where they were two or three years ago.

Speaking of results though, Cessnock picked up a big midweek win over Wallsend but were put firmly in their place last weekend by Cooks Hill as the competition's powerhouse club secured another piece of silverware. Just like your New Lambton's and Kahibah's, it's the same old story. The Hornets are playing for pride and that's all they can really do from this point.

Prediction: These sides have been around the lower end of the table for more years than they'd like to remember and whilst Cessnock have improved, it hasn't been good enough to the standards they set and the goals they put out. The Hornets should win but you never quiet know with these dead rubbers at the end of the season. 

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 1-4 Cessnock City

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Under 19's:
Wallsend F.C (10th) v West Wallsend (3rd)
Kickoff: 10:45am
Last Time They Met: WWB 1-2 WAL

Derby Day has arrived once again and what a showing it was last time these U19's sides met as Wallsend produced probably their most memorable win of the season. The heart and desire they showed that day was admirable and it's admittedly gone missing a bit as of late. Their recent performances have been under the weather to say the least and definitely they need to raise the bar if they are to get a result here. The important thing is they have nothing to lose on the table so they may as well go for glory.

West Wallsend are deep in the race for finals and have really put together some excellent form as of late. It's still not impossible for them to sneak into 2nd spot but that will take some doing and results to go their way. What is certain is that they look on track for finals football again and they'll want to keep their momentum ticking over and their confidence building. They'll remember the wild celebrations of the Reds when they won at Westy so expect them to be fired right up for Derby Day.

Prediction: It's hard to not connect Westy's brilliant rise up to 3rd place to the return of Josh Knight into the 19's set up. He has six goals in just three matches and he alone is the reason they are likely heading to finals. Anyone hoping to debate that only needs to look at their form before he come back into the side. They were on the outer heading for a mid-table finish. He is in three games already their top goalscorer and he is Newysports' tip to make a stunning late tilt at this low scoring 19's Golden Boot.

My Tip: Wallsend FC 0-5 West Wallsend

Additional Tip: Josh Knight to score a hat-trick.

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Under 23's:
Wallsend F.C (4th) v West Wallsend (9th)
Kickoff: 12:30pm
Last Time They Met: WWB 1-2 WAL

Those with long memories will know that this was last year's Grand Final and a lot has changed since then. Wallsend's form last year just hasn't been matched consistently enough this season but that said they are still on track to get into the finals as long as they keep winning games. After losing late to Cessnock in a midweek game, their performance against Kahibah last week in a 2-1 win was decent. Their hopes are still in their hands.

Westy 23's are one of a few NL1 teams that are ruing the "ones that got away." Only five wins this season and crucially five draws. As of late they've been only able to draw crunch fixtures against the likes of New Lambton and South Cardiff and thus it'd take some doing for them to make it back into the finals. Needless to say, it will require a win against Wallsend for any hope of closing the gap. This for them is a genuine six-pointer.

Prediction: Probably have mentioned it before but Westy 23's just seem to be lacking a mental edge this year compared to last year's determined side. They've lost a bit of experience and that is probably where it's gone wrong for them. Wallsend are building towards another finals appearance and they can ill-afford a slip-up here. A draw is very much possible but think the Reds will edge it.

My Tip: Wallsend FC 2-1 West Wallsend

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1st Grade Match of the Round:
Wallsend F.C (6th) v West Wallsend (5th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm
Last Time They Met: WWB 2-0 WAL

No the massive Belswans v Southy game does not get "Match of the Round" status. Purely because of the historical rivalry these clubs share and the fact that looking at the ladder and how many games are left, this is borderline a knockout match as the loser will be in a very tough situation in terms of pushing for the finals. It's the most important match of the season so far for both clubs.

Wallsend's win over Kahibah last week pretty much rescued their campaign. At half-time with players arguing, coach Wayne Edwards showing visible frustrations and Kahibah leading 1-0, the Reds managed to find more, much more, in the second half. They're still alive but this is a test that will ultimately prove them as a contender or pretender. It has reached that point of the season.

These previews use hyperbole a fair bit to really boost the matches but this really is the biggest football game West Wallsend have played in five seasons. Four and a half years ago, they were a week or two away from expulsion from the 1st Divison, three years ago the Bluebells finished with the wooden spoon and now here they are, on the brink of perhaps securing a spot in the finals series.

The fact that Thornton are struggling and Southy have a tough draw means that this team are in a position where if they win three of their last four, it might just be enough to get them over the line. Beating Cooks Hill will be a tough ask but before it gets to that, it's this. The biggest Wallsend Derby in years. This is the game, the rivalry that means more than any other for these players on both sides. The Red & The Blue clash at The Gardens.

Prediction: Don't let the bye week cloud the judgement here. West Wallsend are in very ominous scoring form and that is a true threat and danger to Wallsend's hopes of finishing in the top four. The Reds were far from convincing against Kahibah and even when they went up 3-1, they still managed to almost throw it all away late on. Expect one helluva Derby Day at The Gardens but it's Westy to win it...convincingly.

My Tip: Wallsend FC 1-3 West Wallsend

Additional Tip: Wallsend keeper Joel Magnee to keep it from getting ugly.

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YOUTH GAME(s) OF THE WEEK: It really is a crunch match between Toronto and Wallsend in the 17's this Saturday. With Kahibah out-of-form and facing an unbeaten Cooks Hill side, the winner here will be right on the tails of the fourth-placed side. On Sunday, the stand-out match is in the 14's where Cooks Hill and Kahibah clash in a game that could define the Premiership race.



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