Friday, 29 March 2019

PREVIEW: New-FM Round 4 2019





Under 19's:
Cooks Hill United (1st) v Cessnock City (7th)
Kickoff: 11:00am

It's been a dream start for the Cooks Hill 19's with three wins from three starts. Granted two of those games were against lower opposition in Thornton and Singleton but their gritty win over New Lambton showed that they're prepared to get into tight arm wrestles and that is the making of a very successful team.

Following this game are home matches against Toronto and West Wallsend. Those two matches in particular will really test the quality of the team. Andrew Benbow's double last weekend kickstarted the routine goalscorers 2019 account whilst Sean Crook has found the target twice in two games. It's good to have some variety and not rely heavily on one player.

As for Cessnock they were brought back to square one last weekend. Following their big 5-0 win over a depleted Singleton side, the Hornets went down 4-2 to Toronto and now face their first away trip with a worrying ten goals in the against column. They'll need to improve that record against the top sides if they're any hope of climbing the table.

The Hornets managed a draw in their trip to the AthField last season so they have to keep the belief and try to cause an upset. One key positive has been the inclusion of Ethan Garrington into the 1st Grade squad and Zac Kronholm also getting onto the bench for the main game. It's an indication that perhaps the chance to be promoted will come if the players do the job well.

Prediction: The home side head into this game as the favourites but have to be weary of a Cessnock side that will be itching to get their form back on track after two losses in three starts. The stats generally don't lie and this is a tough ask for the away side given the fact they've conceded ten goals in two games against teams higher on the table.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 5-1 Cessnock City

The Inside Word: Cooks Hill's fitness may run over the top of Cessnock late on.

Fullback Hugh Dallen has been an unheralded piece of the puzzle for the Cookers 19's. 

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Under 23's Match of the Round:
Cooks Hill United (1st) v Cessnock City (2nd)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

Cooks Hill's form in the 23's has been quiet impressive so far. A 4-0 win over defending Premiers Thornton after the Redbacks controlled the first half was followed by a comfortable 3-0 win over beaten Grand Finalists New Lambton. Last week it was an 11-goal hiding of poor old Singleton and the fact that seven different players have scored their 18 goals so far is a scary stat for opposing sides.

It's very early days and Newysports is waiting to see how Thornton bounce back but there doesn't seem to be much in the way of stopping these talented players in black and white from marching on to a very strong lead at the top of the table. The squad is strong across the park but individually speaking, defending Golden Boot winner Emerson Augey already has seven goals to his name, the same number as Cessnock's whole squad!

Cessnock players will read those first two paragraphs and shake their heads in a cocky and confident fashion. So they should too because that's what having a competitive and winning mentality is all about. The Hornets have bounced back from their opening loss to New Lambton with a tough 3-2 win over Singleton and a more convincing 4-0 display against Toronto-Awaba.

There's little doubt that this is Cessnock's toughest test yet and indeed it will be their first time leaving the Hornets' nest in 2019. Their away form through 2018 was a strong point of what they achieved so winning at the AthField would really get the wheels in motion for another big year. They'll be hopefully of a real eye-opening upset here.

Prediction: Cooks Hill have so far looked in a league of their own in the 23's. They have players who could comfortably be playing 1st Grade at other clubs but they're willing to stay and test themselves and improve as footballers at the league's strongest club. There's no reason to expect their form to stop anytime soon. Can see the clean sheet record disappearing though.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 4-1 Cessnock City

Cooks Hill 23's have 18 goals and three clean sheets. 11 goals coming in a whitewash of Singo last weekend!

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1st Grade:
Cooks Hill United (1st) v Cessnock City (7th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

Three games into Cooks Hill's six week spell at the AthField and so far they have been able to walk away with nine points. It certainly hasn't been all smooth sailing given Thornton, New Lambton and Singleton all brought a challenge of their own to the back-to-back Premiers and it goes to show that nearly every side in the league bring their "A game" to the black and white fortress.

The Cookers last week showed some real fight to still find a way to win despite losing Tyler Curran to a red card and they've shared around the goals with no less than seven players chipping in for their nine goals this season and that's without the defending Golden Boot winner Nick Russell finding the target. When he does, look out!

Cessnock haven't set the world on fire in their first three outings but have shown a fighting spirit to come from behind against Singleton and last week Toronto. Last week was memorable with Jayden Ziernik scoring in stoppage time to secure a point but with just the two points from three home matches, they've still got some work to do if they are to climb the ladder.

The tough thing for the Hornets is their atrocious record against their opponents on Saturday. Even when Cooks Hill were going through their tough times during both the Spinks and Glennie era they still found a way to put Cessnock in their place. They've never lost in eight games against the Hornets and have 34 goals in that time. In fact the last time Cessnock took anything off Cooks Hill was a draw at the AthField all the way back on the first day the Cookers joined the competition. Four long years.

Prediction: This is an extremely tough match for anyone let alone a Cessnock side that's still working on structure and performance. Cooks Hill are the benchmark and if anything this game could give Arthur Hodgetts and co. a true gauge of what the Hornets need to work towards in 2019. Cooks Hill to win but hopefully the visitors to take some positives out of it.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 3-0 Cessnock City

The Inside Word: Newysports is a football kit fanatic. Could we see Cessnock break out an all yellow kit (shirt, shorts and socks) for this away trip?

Cessnock have never beaten Cooks Hill since the team in black and white entered the league.

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Under 19's:
Toronto-Awaba (2nd) v Kahibah FC (9th)
Kickoff: 3:45pm

With all the talk about Cooks Hill's impressive start, Toronto have flown a little under the radar. The Stags have flexed their muscles against Singleton and Cessnock and whilst some will call that an easy achievement, the team impressed at times through pre-season and have multiple players from their top four squad last season still with them.

Conceding twice last week would have been a slightly disappointment so there's an area to work on and with four different goalscorers at Turner Park, it's safe to say they can definitely strike from anywhere. Tom Appleby again looks a major threat with three goals already this season. Toronto 19's have never had the best record against Kahibah so they'll be more than keen to get a result here.

Kahibah finally got their season underway last weekend and for the 19's it was a real grind as they drew 1-1 with South Cardiff in a game that didn't hit any great heights. The Rams' still considerably look a work in progress but with a decent defensive line and hard-working midfield they could end up being a tough side to overcome.

It's hard to see Kahibah scoring goals for fun any time soon but with players that are prepared to get into an arm wrestle they may find some success soon. There's improvement in the team and a fair bit to work on but that's the challenge that they'll take on. Jason Zechel seemed happy enough with the first-up draw and with Mat Moncrieff watching on closely he definitely has an avenue to discuss tactics and ideas.

Prediction: This is arguably the toughest test yet for Toronto but given how they've started and how many players they have left from last year they do deserve to head in as favourites. Kahibah still look a little bit raw so to speak and knocking off the Stags on their home turf is a very difficult proposition.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 2-0 Kahibah FC

The Inside Word: Potential one on one battle of big Stags attacker Tom Appleby and Kahibah CB Ty Cowley looks decent on paper.

UPDATE: Newysports is aware of the result being changed for Kahibah. Sticking with what was said in the preview (written on Thursday morning) and just cancel that bit about Appleby and Cowley...obviously.

The newest member of Kahibah's ex-Hornets crew Lewis Howells was impressive at times last weekend.

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Under 23's:
Toronto-Awaba (5th) v Kahibah FC (9th)
Kickoff: 5:30pm

Newysports may have picked the wrong choice of words when the review last week said Cessnock's 4-0 defeat of Toronto brought the Stags down "a peg or two". What it did do is just give them a little bit of food for thought. The first-up win over Singleton was fairly easy but Toronto failed at producing the goods last week and that will frustrate them.

In previous years Toronto 23's simply didn't have that competitive edge about them due to the severe lack of depth but now they're a more professional unit and they'll be itching at the bit to bounce back and prove that they're a team on the hunt for success this season. One or two things may be tweaked from last week and the Stags will look to move on. Pretty simple situation and one they'll believe they're capable of.

Kahibah are in a bit of a rough patch after their first outing of the season. Losing 4-1 was definitely not the way they wanted to begin the year and it leaves them sitting in 9th position. A lot of players are stepping up to the 23's so it will take time but the Rams will put their hands up and admit that last week was a little underwhelming.

Cameron Wamsley was a noted absence from the squad last week and if he returns it will give a much-needed boost to their attack. One or two players looked decent last week (Kye Condon comes to mind) but as an overall squad they're definitely going to need to work better as a unit. The results will come but how long they may take is the key question. 

Prediction: A very tough game to call given both sides are coming off fairly tough losses. The spotlight will be on the defensive players but alas both teams weren't able to find the back of the net when need be last weekend. This is one of those games that could realistically go in any direction.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 1-2 Kahibah FC

The Inside Word: If Cam Wamsley doesn't return for Kahibah then perhaps a Stags win. Again, tough to call.

Tyson Johnson and the Stags' 23's will be looking to rebound to winning form.

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1st Grade:
Toronto-Awaba (8th) v Kahibah FC (5th)
Kickoff: 7:15pm

Yes you could go to a multitude of games on an NPL Super Saturday or you could come and watch all your favourite characters like Darrel McAllister and Andre Gumprecht go head to head in a coaching battle that will be very intriguing. The Stags are coming off a hugely disappointing late slip up against Cessnock and will be extremely focused at securing three points.

It was never going to be easy for the new-look Toronto side to find instant success but after leading 2-0 early against the Hornets, they'll be filthy with the fact that they missed a chance to win it. Nick Roberts has two goals from two outings whilst Nathan McAllister is poised to really start getting his form going. Darrel will likely be pushing his players for a complete ninety minute plus performance. They'll need to be switched on the whole time.

Kahibah co-coach Mat Moncrieff promised that pundits will be surprised with the Rams and after one game that's proven to be very true. A lot was spoken last year of a lack of culture and unity in the Senior Squad and last week was not just a victory but an indication that everyone in green and black is on board and ready to start putting pride back in their colours.

Kahibah won just three matches last year (ironically one of those at Lyall Peacock Field) so to potentially make it two from two and climb towards the top four would be a huge stepping stone. Their attack is still a bit of a work in progress (Jye Hodson's wonder goal aside) but the most impressive aspect of last week was their defensive resolve. A hark back to the 2015/16/17 era when they set the bar for tight hard-fought wins.

Prediction: This is a far more exciting match up on paper than the late season clash last year. Toronto are in need of bouncing back whilst Kahibah are looking to build on what they started last week. Toronto deserve to head in as the favourites given they're the home side but it's easy to see it being a very tough time for them.

My Tip: Toronto-Awaba 1-2 Kahibah FC

The Inside Word: Can we expect Jye Hodson to score bombs every week? Newysports will go out on a limb and say yes.

This photo just caught the celebration of an absolutely stunning Jye Hodson goal last Sunday.

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Under 19's:
West Wallsend (4th) v Singleton Strikers (11th)
Kickoff: 11:00am

There were questions being asked of the defending Champions after their fairly underwhelming start to the year, drawing with a ten man Belswans side. Last week they did manage to bounce back albeit rather fortuitously against New Lambton. The Eagles missed some vital chances and Westy were able to take theirs late in the game to win it.

Blake Ciappara finding the back of the net was a welcome relief in a very tight game in hot conditions at Johnston Park. It wasn't a thoroughly convincing display by any means but it was a game won with hard work and a much firmer defensive display. The effort level was strong but there's still some work to do and they'll look to really get their attacking gears rotating in this game.

Singleton were boosted by some extra players last week although it's never a good sign when six of the twelve players in the 19's squad were actually from the U17's. A 3-0 loss to Cooks Hill was an improvement on their first two outings and it is nice to see some younger players putting their hand up for a chance to test themselves in a higher age bracket.

The Strikers unfortunately have not lived up to their namesake with no goals scored through three games but this team will work as hard as they can to try and turn that around. It's tough times but as the 23's showed last weekend, things could certainly be much worse. They'll look to start the game well and maybe sneak the first goal to turn the pressure onto Westy.

Prediction: When there's teams in higher grades and lower grades being brushed aside for double digits, Singleton's 19's side haven't done too badly considering the difficult circumstances they find themselves in. They'll try to put their best foot forward and hopefully the better days will come. As for this one, Westy will be in a rough spot if they can't beat the bottom placed side on their home turf.

My Tip: West Wallsend 4-0 Singleton Strikers

The Inside Word: Westy may miss some chances to really blow the scoreline out.

Fullback Brodie Jupp was a strong performer in Westy's 1-0 win over New Lambton.

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Under 23's:
West Wallsend (8th) v Singleton Strikers (11th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

Newysports hasn't laid too hard into poor performances so far this year but Westy 23's copped a fair chunk of criticism for their opening display. A 5-0 loss to Belswans was not a true reflection of the talent in the side and their hopes for this year. Bouncing back with a 2-0 win over New Lambton restored some belief and hopefully will prove a catalyst to kickstart their form.

The goalscorers on the weekend were Cameron Smart and Matt Turner. Smart looked decent through pre-season and Turner will likely be a key attacking component given his success in past season's at the club. A club source was praising of Josh Knight's effort on the weekend with the dangerous attacker performing well at the unusual position of centre back against New Lambton.

Speaking of poor performances and the need to bounce back, Singleton suffered their biggest loss in the 23's grade for a long time (let's not dust off the history books) when they went down 11-0 to Cooks Hill at the AthField. Granted the Strikers had some players out but it wasn't pretty and it would have been a painful day physically and mentally to get smashed like that.

If they can be closer to full strength they will do better but the club are fairly short depth-wise so there's always a possibility that the lower grades may struggle on a particular day. It's hard to remember any side who got beat by double digits and still went on to have a successful year but there's always a starting point for records. They have to dust off and go again.

Prediction: There's no real way to build up a team who lost 11-0 last week as a majorly credible threat. West Wallsend should be winning this one at home especially with the confidence gained from their victory last week. Singleton had a few out for cricket last week so if some return they'll go better and Westy shouldn't be potent enough to produce a cricket score but who knows how the scoreboard will look.

My Tip: West Wallsend 4-1 Singleton Strikers

Cal Melville is one of a few promoted players still adapting to life in the 23's comp.

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1st Grade:
West Wallsend (9th) v Singleton Strikers (4th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

Is the pressure starting to mount on West Wallsend? Back-to-back losses on home turf was not the way the Bluebells were expecting to start the season and alas despite it being early days, they'll be feeling the need to get things back on track before it gets worse. Tye Jones was an injury concern last week in his return so it'll be interesting to see how that pans out.

Westy were able to find the back of the net three times against New Lambton but conceding four goals is never going to end well so expect a more defensive resolve. It's not a huge surprise to see the team starting slow under new coach Brendan Slade as it always takes time to adjust to a new system and different philosophy.

Singleton on the other hand sit in fourth position and poised to kickstart their season. They were beating Cooks Hill last week but things didn't work out too well in that regard and it would have been disappointing to not at least leave with a point against ten men. Still, there were positives to take out considering the Strikers had a few players out.

Rumours are that Jordan Phelan and Hayden Nicol will miss this game and with those two being key pieces of the Singleton puzzle it'll again make things a little difficult. Jake Barner has chimed in with two goals so far but no doubt the Strikers will want more and also be keen to address their defensive lapses. Each week is a learning curve and to sit 4th right now it isn't a bad place to be.

Prediction: There's not many easy predictions in 1st Grade considering how early it is in the season. West Wallsend are in a spot of bother but a win will bounce them right back into the hunt. Singleton will always bring a difficult opposition but without Phelan and Nicol might have to lean towards the home side here.

My Tip: West Wallsend 2-1 Singleton Strikers

The Inside Word: Tom Sparre's one to watch for the Bluebells. The newcomer adds a lot of quality to the side.

Blake Redman will be searching for his first clean sheet since joining Westy.

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Under 19's Match of the Round:
South Cardiff (3rd) v Belmont-Swansea (8th)
Kickoff: 11:00am

Southy 19's are a side that have looked an improved outfit on last season but still a work in progress after their first two matches. They showed character to fight back against Wallsend and win and then so again to get back from a losing situation against Kahibah. Leading from the front is obviously an easier way to get results and that will be the focus on Sunday.

The early signs are positive and sitting 3rd is a comfortable position but the team will likely feel they are capable of more than what they've shown so far. A lot has been said about Ned Twelvetree in attack but their defence stood pretty firm last week and they have a keeper in Kyle Furness who could easily be playing 23's or even 1st Grade at other clubs who don't have the same depth and quality.

Belswans have suffered some difficult setbacks in their first two games. The red card in Round 1 which they fought past and still almost won and then the injury curse which hit them last week with co-captain Elliot Haines suffering a suspected broken collarbone and the man who replaced him Ethan Blanch being carried off with a worrying leg issue.

That will be a key worry for Will McMaster and the coaching staff but Belswans are a club that will fight and persevere so expect these players to put their best foot forward despite being a little underdone now. Sam Houston was impressive last week at fullback and on the opposite side Solomon Amos was just as hard-hitting and hungry for the ball.

Prediction: This will be a very interesting encounter given where both teams are at. Belswans' Colin Thompson was unable to find the heights of Round 1 last weekend whilst Southy's main man up front Ned Twelvetree was unlucky not to score v Kahibah. Wouldn't be surprised if one of them two decide the match.

My Tip: South Cardiff 2-1 Belmont-Swansea

The Inside Word: Belswans' attack may find it difficult to get past a sizable and physically commanding Southy defence.

UPDATE: Newysports is aware of Southy being rewarded a 3-0 win. Not changing the preview though. Two bonus points for them to build on which is good if you're a Gunner.

Cohen Ward's goal for South Cardiff helped them to a 1-1 draw v Kahibah.

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Under 23's:
South Cardiff (6th) v Belmont-Swansea (4th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

Heeeeeeeeee's back! If rumours are true then this game marks the competitive debut of Alex Evans in Southy red. The player/15's coach's suspension is apparently ending after his sideline ban for the youth matches meaning he is free to return to the playing squad. Although let's be fair, the 23's were decent last week and aren't exactly crying out for the fanatical Leeds diehard to help save their souls.

All that aside, it was a convincing display from the Gunners in 23's last week although post-game the gaffer Steve Blunt admitted they're capable of more and he's keen to see a complete eighty minute performance. Things just went a bit quiet in attack after James Wootton's substitution so perhaps they need another outlet (enter Evo?).

Belmont-Swansea's unbelievable 5-0 win in their opening game was helped by a very disappointing West Wallsend performance and when the stakes went a little higher last week v Wallsend the boys from Blacksmiths drew a blank....several blanks as a barrage of chances at goal went by the wayside.

Will McMaster would have been ripping his hair out if not shaved mostly bald already and as typical with football, the bad luck ended up proving costly with Wallsend snatching a goal and holding on for a 1-0 win. It's a nice welcome to NewFM 23's coaching for Benny Haddow where the team can great in front of goal one week and not be able to find it the next. That's football. 

Prediction: The Belswans result last week would have been different if they could have taken their chances, let's be completely honest. Southy did take their chances well and on their home turf should enter this game as the favourites but they'll need to be weary of a Belswans side that will be gunning for the back of the net.

My Tip: South Cardiff 3-1 Belmont-Swansea

The Inside Word: Will McMaster and Alex Evans potentially on the same field? Sign us up!

Goalkeeper Will Reeves would have been shaking his head at his sides' wasteful attack.

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1st Grade Match of the Round:
South Cardiff (6th) v Belmont-Swansea (2nd)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

Two games in and South Cardiff have felt ecstasy and disappointment. After looking near unstoppable in a barnstorming first half against Wallsend, the Gunners dropped a little in the second half and couldn't reach great heights against Kahibah last weekend. Despite bossing the chances in the first half, they'd go in at 1-1 and end up losing 3-1.

With Cooks Hill sitting neatly on nine points, their eyes will be set on the two teams that pundits consider the most likely to push for the top of the table and considering the Premiers dropped just eight points all last season, Southy will know that they've got to get back to winning ways and fast. Expect one or two tactical changes as things just didn't seem to work last week.

Belmont-Swansea are two from two and happy about their start. The Round 1 game wasn't much to gauge on considering how hot it was and the fact it was a stop start affair but with multiple first choice players out last weekend, the defending Champions were able to get the job done and get it done convincingly against Wallsend. And unlike Southy they didn't let go of the throttle once in charge of the Red Devils.

Players like Chris Gazzard and Mitch Cook need absolutely no introduction but these players won't be around forever and that's why Belswans are adamant on preparing the next generation. The likes of Harry Rapp, David Swain, Charlie Herivel and Joel Nicholson are all potential long-term investments at the club. Nicholson especially looks raring to go after returning to the club. That will please Mick Stafford and the coaching crew.

Prediction: Belswans will likely have some of those bigger names slot back in to match up with the equally impressive names in the Southy squad. The Gunners looked a bit underdone last week so perhaps some changes to try and bounce back. A very tough ask but think the home side will find a way.

My Tip: South Cardiff 2-1 Belmont-Swansea

The Gunners will be under pressure to bounce back against the defending Champs.

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Under 19's:
Wallsend FC (6th) v Thornton Redbacks (10th)
Kickoff: 3:15pm

One win, one loss, four scored and four conceded. It's been an okay start for Wallsend but of course if they want to start pushing the top sides they'll need to kickstart their form. Craig Tselembis' 19's side won just three games last season so it's already a fairly positive start and after surrendering an advantageous position against Southy in Round 1, the coach will be happy his side worked hard and got the win last week.

Last week's 2-1 win was helped in large parts by the performance of goalkeeper Jakeb Keating who was the Man of the Match with a stirring display between the sticks. It's a team with some decent talent in it and hopefully it will start to really shine over the coming weeks. They'll be happy to be back on home turf with a chance to perhaps climb further up the table.

Thornton come into this game on the back of a three week break between games. Whilst Senior Coaches Gary Wand and Scott Winslade would have been ripping their hair out after the bye and having the same game washed out twice, the 19's crew will maybe have enjoyed the break and a chance to tweak things after an underwhelming start to the year.

After Jay Bersgma scored in the very first seconds of the season, things went downhill and the young Redbacks side lost 7-1 in their opening game. It's unknown if they had players to still slot back into the side but regardless of that, they've had plenty of time to address their issues and with a bit of hope they'll come out looking an improved side for this late afternoon fixture at The Gardens.

Prediction: The Redbacks unfortunately looked a long way off where they'd like to be in that first outing of the season. They've had more than enough time to get back on the training pitch and work on their structure and game plan but can't see them upsetting the Red Devils in this one. Wallsend need to win games like this at home if they are to really challenge for the higher positions in 2019. Can't see the scoreline blowing out.

My Tip: Wallsend FC 3-0 Thornton Redbacks

Jakeb Keating put on arguably the best goalkeeping performance by anyone so far this season last weekend.

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Under 23's:
Wallsend FC (3rd) v Thornton Redbacks (10th)
Kickoff: 5:00pm

The Red Devils' players and coaching staff will tell you different but there was probably no luckier team in Round 3 then Wallsend 23's. They were onlookers at times for a catalogue of goalscoring opportunities for Belswans and were able to ride their luck to get past that. The chances that were a significant threat on goal were fortunately warded off by Chris Teasdale with the goalkeeper performing very well.

Wallsend worked hard in hot conditions at Blacksmiths and the coach Mick Dempsey had to shift one or two players around to suit the occassion. Angus Hall moved back into the defensive line and was one of their best on the day. But attention will be further forward with only two goals so far in 160 minutes of football and one from the penalty spot. They'll need to boost that total to continue their winning form.

You can be forgiven for forgetting that Thornton are part of the competition after the Redbacks have had to sit on the sidelines for the past three weeks. The 23's especially would be itching at the bit to get back onto the field and hopefully turn around what was a poor start to the year with a 4-0 loss at the AthField.

Scott Winslade's men sit in the unusual position of 10th but there's plenty of time to get things rolling and the defending Premiers will look to do so right here with a victory. Similar to Wallsend, they'll be hopefully of improving their output in attack and taking their chances. This should be an interesting encounter between two sides aiming for success.

Prediction: Wallsend haven't looked too convincing in the attacking department so no doubt they need to fix that and their defence should be tested a lot more by a well-rested Thornton side. The Redbacks will have been frustrated by the lack of game time and that might spell trouble considering they could be upwards of 12 points behind their biggest 23's rivals in Cooks Hill by the time this kicks off. Wallsend's luck to run out.

My Tip: Wallsend FC 0-4 Thornton Redbacks.

The Inside Word: Thornton would have had plenty of time at training to discuss where things went wrong in Round 1. Expect them to come out firing.

Ryan Mclure and the Wallsend 23's have won both their games 1-0.

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1st Grade:
Wallsend FC (11th) v Thornton Redbacks (10th)
Kickoff: 6:45pm

Wallsend were the final participants in the Newysports Pre-Season Interview Series and were confident of pushing up the ladder this season and surprising a few clubs but their start has been nowhere near where they would have been hoping for. The Red Devils sit bottom of the pile and have conceded eight goals in two outings.

Obviously it's very early days but that's not to say there'll be no pressure being felt. Results are a key component but a lot of focus needs to go on plugging the holes and not leaking four goals a game. It's safe to expect the home side to really put their best foot forward and try to control the game. It won't be easy but they'll be confident that things can get better.

Thornton on the other hand will be delighted just to take the field on Sunday night. 22 days will have passed since their first and only game played this season and for Gary Wand and co. it's been a frustrating period of a bye and the same game against West Wallsend being washed out not once but twice. It's impossible to create any momentum like that.

Those with short memories may forget how Thornton went all the way back on the opening day of the season but it was a 4-1 loss to Cooks Hill after being the better side through the first half hour or so. The Redbacks have to concentrate on taking their chances for one and once that's done, not fading away in the second half. Just like Wallsend, not easy but that's the job at hand

Prediction: The Red Devils need to find more. Their defence has been the worst in the league and their attack has become one-dimensional and predictable. Thornton will be feeling very much fired up after having to sit and wait whilst the rest of the league has moved on without them. 22 days is a very long time to think about a loss.

My Tip: Wallsend FC 1-4 Thornton Redbacks

The Inside Word: Thornton could have this won and done depending on how Wallsend can line up. Defence is the key for the home side, it needs to be better.

Wandy's certainly had plenty of time to think as of late with Thornton's big break.

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YOUTH GAME(s) OF THE WEEK: After clean-sweeping them in pre-season, can the young Stags find a way to overcome Kahibah in a big day of football at Peacock Field? Sure to be some cracking games there. Southy v Belswans in the 13's and in particular 14's looks to be a potential clash to see whilst Westy and Singo 17's will both want to kickstart their form with a win.


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