Friday, 5 April 2019

PREVIEW: New-FM Round 5 2019

Under 19's:
Belmont-Swansea (8th) v Kahibah FC (9th)
Kickoff: 11:00am

It's still early in the season but time is beginning to tick for teams that are still winless. Two of those sides meet on Saturday morning in a game that could help kickstart some form for either team. Belswans return to Blacksmiths Oval on the back of a draw with South Cardiff last weekend although they need to produce some improvement as that performance lacked a little bit in the attacking department.

Injuries continue to be a major concern with Cameron Sparkes seemingly joining Elliot Haines and Ethan Blanch on the long-term omissions list. Colin Thompson's cameo and goal in the FFA Cup is an indication that he may be promoted soon enough so pressure is on other attackers to produce the goods. The likes of Yasin Hasyim, Jacob Davies and Liam Lucas will be key to their potential going forward.

Kahibah's attack has also been very blunt to begin the season. It was something Newysports highlighted in the pre-season as a potential concern and so far it hasn't been addressed. Lewis Howells is one name that has been touted as a potential alternate attacker but whether that rings true or not is the question.

The Rams will welcome back Ty Cowley from suspension which should add some much needed composure at the back and perhaps allow the skipper Bailey Plain to play in a more advance role. It was always going to take time for this side to find the results but it's doubtful they would be too pleased with how last weekend went. Expect a refined effort.

Prediction: Newysports has correctly tipped the score for both Kahibah games so far. Ironically the only two correct scores all year. As for this one, depends a lot on the lineups that are named but can really feel a draw given both sides still look a little bit raw at this early stage of the season.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 1-1 Kahibah FC

The Inside Word: This one might lack a little bit in the intensity department.

Belswans 19's will need to dig deep given the injury list that's starting to grow.


Under 23's:
Belmont-Swansea (3rd) v Kahibah FC (5th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

Inconsistency and the 23's grade, find a better partnership in the Northern League One competition. Both these sides bounced back from losses last weekend with fairly strong wins and it makes you think just how things went wrong in the negative results. Either way, two teams who picked up three points last weekend will meet in an intriguing encounter.

Belswans were helped out on the scoreboard last week but Houston Price's brace but it was an all-round team display that got them into a position to win against South Cardiff. There were some stressful times for Benny Haddow on the sidelines and he'll be hoping it's an even more fluent performance on Saturday to lift his team even further towards the top of the pile.

Kahibah's two games have been honestly night and day. Their 4-1 loss to Southy in their first match of the season was pretty disappointing but they came roaring back to form with a 4-0 hammering of Toronto last weekend. You can use the word hammering as they did things pretty easily on the day with Jensen Hunt's return to goalscoring form being a key highlight.

Cameron Wamsley scored on his competitive debut for Kahibah (told you so...) and looks to be one to watch but the MOTM honours went with Luke Jones. Across the park there are players that cause headaches for the opposition and Mitch Gorsuch would have been pleased with some of the things he saw last weekend. Considering they're capable of improvement, the Rams look a contender.

Prediction: It'd be very easy to tip a draw here between two evenly matched sides but alas the 23's grade has thrown up some very strange results at times this year. 15 games in and we haven't even had a draw yet so don't want to take that option. Going to back the away side to cause a stir and leave Belswans feeling a little frustrated.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 0-2 Kahibah FC

Joey Hadden's goal was the icing on the cake of a superb 4-0 win for Kahibah 23's last week.


1st Grade Match of the Round:
Belmont-Swansea (2nd) v Kahibah FC (4th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

It's back! The rivalry that lit up the competition through 2016/17 and provided us with moments like Jamie Hadlow's goal to sink his current club Kahibah and of course that famous Danny Rufo header in extra time. Kahibah are slowly rebuilding to their former selves and travel south to take on their greatest rival in the Northern League One.

For Belswans this is largely just another game on the back of three very impressive results. Defensively they've stood strong through 270 minutes of football but more impressively was the fashion that they for the lack of a kinder term embarrassed South Cardiff last weekend after going down to ten men. Seven goals in the FFA Cup midweek, the Belswans' boys are indeed happy and they're looking to potentially go top of the league.

The Rams were fairly well beaten the last time they met Belswans. After Ben Parmenter's red card, Kahibah still lost 3-0 on home soil, ironically just as Southy did last week. But the last couple of weeks have proven that this is a different Kahibah outfit and one that is feeling confident about troubling the better teams in the league.

Kahibah are still a little bit away from being a finished product but knocking off the defending Champions at Blacksmiths would fire them right into serious calculations for success this season. Andre Gumprecht's been very animated so far this season and looks to want his side to keep teams guessing. They've certainly mixed things up at times in their first couple of outings.

Prediction: The home side are heavy favourites on the day but this will be a tricky outing. Their defence may be kept busy and forced to exert a fair bit of energy on the day. Kahibah like to wear teams down and if they can create some chances they may have a chance of an upset. But on Old Boys' Day at Blacksmiths it's very unlikely Belswans will drop this one.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 3-1 Kahibah FC

The Inside Word: Jamie Hadlow will likely cop a fair share of banter from the hill. The locals always seem to pick someone to get chirpy with on their Old Boys Day.

David Swain had a very memorable afternoon at South Cardiff last weekend.


Under 19's Match of the Round:
Cooks Hill United (1st) v Toronto-Awaba (2nd)
Kickoff: 11:00am

Cooks Hill play their second big clash of the season so far. They got over the line in a tough match with New Lambton but now face the unbeaten Toronto in a battle that could really set the bar as to which side is the one to beat in the 19's this season. The Cookers had a rest last week but before that they eased to a 3-0 win over Singleton.

Andrew Benbow's return to goalscoring form would have been welcome and if he features in the 19's he'll be looking to impress and earn a chance for a 23's or 1st bench spot. Defensive pairing Tom Negline and Taj Abrahams will come up against a few familiar names in the Toronto side and will be hoping to have the last laugh. Expect some banter thrown around.

Toronto did get to play last week and were comfortable enough in a 2-0 win over a pretty lacklustre Kahibah side. Their other wins have come over Cessnock and Singleton so it's safe to say this one is a tougher test and will be a fair indication of where they sit at this stage of the season. Are they the real deal in the 19's or have they just had an easy draw?

Granted Cooks Hill have faced Thornton and Singleton themselves so again it's also a test of their true potential. The Stags though will be feeling confident as they embark on a tricky trip to the AthField. A win here would put them right in the driver's seat and cap of the ideal start to Season 2019.

Prediction: This is on paper a very tough game to split. Both sides have their strengths and weaknesses and both have started the year fairly well. Cooks Hill were tested a big way by New Lambton and this will again prove very difficult. The Cookers have looked good but have they looked good enough to beat Toronto? Calling it a draw.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 2-2 Toronto-Awaba

The Inside Word: Abrahams v Appleby. Can see these two potentially meeting each other sometime in late August or early September.

Andrew Benbow will be hoping to continue building his goalscoring form.


Under 23's:
Cooks Hill United (1st) v Toronto-Awaba (7th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

Cooks Hill only scored 12 last time they faced the Toronto 23's...only 12. That's how easy it was and then the second game didn't even happen as the Stags forfeited another match. Yes the Stags are in a rough patch at the moment but they have the troops to claw their way back and will be more then keen to upset the apple cart and topple the so far unmatchable ladder leaders.

The Cookers missed the chance to test themselves against Cessnock City last weekend and will likely come into this game full of confidence but they can ill-afford any complacency. Goalkeeper Adam Gunster will implore his defence to do the job and help him try to earn a fourth consecutive clean sheet. Further forward, Emerson Augey has seven goals and scored a hat-trick last time he faced Toronto.

As for the Stags, they were hoping to put their heavy loss to Cessnock down as a one-off poor performance but alas they succumbed pretty easily to Kahibah last Saturday night. A 4-0 loss on home turf was certainly nowhere near some of the pain they endured last year but with better players in the squad they wouldn't have been happy with last week. There's not much else to say, they need to step it up.

Prediction: The Stags come in as significant outsiders but considering everyone will be expecting a Cooks Hill win, that may just give them a hope of causing a big stir. With the Cookers sitting on nine points, eighteen goals for and no goals against, it'd be the upset of the season so far if the away side took the points. Based on last week, it could get tough.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 6-0 Toronto-Awaba

How will Toronto 23's reply after back-to-back heavy losses?


1st Grade:
Cooks Hill United (1st) v Toronto-Awaba (9th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

Cooks Hill will be frustrated at missing two games due to the recent wet weather. Graham Law being Scottish is a play at all costs sort of coach but alas the rules here are a little stricter. No doubt the intensity has remained locked in despite a little stint without games. Cooks Hill are cruising after their first three outings but they can ill-afford to let the foot off the pedal with Belswans right on their tail.

Their game against Cessnock has been pushed back to the 16th if memory serves correctly so that will mean they have a match on their bye week which will suit them to a tee. They want to keep momentum going. As for the squad, it's business as usual with the usual suspects all looking to continue their form. Surprisingly no goals yet for Nick Russell so watch for him to try and get his tally ticking.

Toronto's last trip to the AthField was arguably the darkest on-field moment in the club's living memory. 13 goals were blasted past a bare-bones Stags side that featured local die-hard Luke Gibbons in goals. Things have changed a lot since then and the players they have on board now will not be going anywhere near copping double digits in this one.

Darrel McAllister would have been pleased to secure a late point against Kahibah last week and perhaps the squad gained a little mental victory given how they gave away the result v Cessnock the week prior. Nick Roberts has been in form with one goal against Kahibah and two v Westlakes on Wednesday night. One loss and two draws is not the worst start but they'll be hoping to put in a good showing here and gain some belief.

Prediction: Toronto are an improved outfit but still a little under the level of Cooks Hill. Indeed a Stags victory here would be the greatest upset in this league for a while and it would propel Toronto right into top four race but it's highly unlikely given the quality they're up against and the fact that Cooks Hill have a perfect record so far this season. Hopefully a much tighter game than last year.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 3-1 Toronto-Awaba

The Inside Word: It wouldn't surprise to see Cooks Hill fall behind. They've conceded the first goal in both of their last two home games. But they finish games better than anyone.

Graham Law will be a little bit sick of the wet weather after a league and cup wash-out.



Under 19's:
New Lambton (6th) v Wallsend FC (4th)
Kickoff: 1:00pm

New Lambton return from the bye under a little bit of pressure. After being tipped for strong success in the pre-season, they've lost back-to-back games against traditionally high performers Cooks Hill and West Wallsend. Those games showed this talented Eagles side exactly where they need to improve and it probably surrounds taking their goalscoring chances.

In a competition where some teams lack a little bit up front, the Eagles have a few outlets to work with but as the game at Johnston Park showed, it's going to take a little bit more time for those players to work out their styles and combine better in the key moments. Patience and trust is vital and if they can work out how to score consistently they'll be right up there.

Perhaps the biggest surprise in the 19's competition so far is the form that Wallsend have found themselves in. They consider Round 1 as three points dropped in a game that got away from them and since then they've produced back to back victories and climbed all the way to the top four.

The Red Devils won just three matches last year and only scored 19 goals so there's no doubt that the coach Craig Tselembis is delighted with his new-look side's start. One issue they face is the 23's pinching some of their better players. Ben Schieb and Angus Hall look to have caught the eye of the senior coaches but Tselembis has always been supportive of his players getting their chance. Development is a strong factor at Wallsend.

Prediction: Toronto have the chance to prove themselves as the real deal and this game could really show Wallsend's credentials in 2019. It's the toughest test yet for the visitors and the Eagles will be looking to kick off their form at Alder Park in the right way. New Lambton to win but certainly wouldn't go putting the house on it.

My Tip: New Lambton 3-1 Wallsend FC

The Inside Word: Wallsend's defence will be put under the microscope. Can they halt a multi-pronged Eagles attack?

Jack Clare and his fellow attackers had a frustrating day last time out.

Under 23's:
New Lambton (8th) v Wallsend FC (2nd)
Kickoff: 2:45pm

There's been a lot of talk about other teams doing well, doing badly, overperforming, underperforming but not a lot of attention has been directed towards New Lambton 23's. The spotlight has to be forced on them because for a side that has a lot of depth and promise they've so far struggled to hit their straps. 8th place is not where they were hoping to be after three matches.

The most concerning aspect is their lack of goals over the last two games but rest assured this is a very strong side that will likely bounce back soon enough. Their first home game of the season is a better time than ever to get back to winning ways. Refreshed after the bye last week, this is a team that will be more than keen to show the competition what they can do.

The word of the month has been luck when it comes to Newysports describing Wallsend 23's. Last week's win over Thornton perhaps proved that this isn't a flash in the pan outfit and they're going to stick around that top four area for as long as they can. Good teams find ways to win even if it isn't via scoring bucketloads of goals. Wallsend won two Championships in 2015 and 2016 on the back of a win at all costs mentality.

Mick Dempsey seemingly has this team believing they can knock off anyone on their day and so far the results don't lie. Three wins in three matches and a chance to keep the good form going. Impressively they did the job last week without their on-field general Cody Simpson and they have multiple outlets towards goals. This Red Devils team is doing well at the moment.

Prediction: The 23's competition is typically tough to predict but it gets tougher when New Lambton is involved. They'll want to improve their consistency but they're up against a very confident Wallsend side. It seems like whatever situation the Red Devils find themselves in they still find a way to win. Newysports tipping them to win may end up being their downfall though...sorry lads!

My Tip: New Lambton 1-2 Wallsend FC

Wallsend 23's were locked in a tight game with Thornton and still found a way to win.


1st Grade:
New Lambton (3rd) v Wallsend FC (11th)
Kickoff: 4:30pm

It's the second meeting in a few days for these two clubs and after the cup game midweek, the scenario hasn't changed. New Lambton come into their first home league match full of confidence and belief given the fact they sit in 3rd position and Jim Foley will be demanding his troops get the job done and keep touch with Belswans and Cooks Hill above them. Another win would almost be uncharted territory for the Eagles since their return.

A lot has been said about the pure quality and depth that New Lambton have this season and all the usual names are still causing trouble. Riley Taylor and Harry Benbow scored midweek and have been two to watch out for but they've got options all over the park. Newcomer Jack Wetney has been the talk of the town at the club since his arrival and has really added to their quality.

Wallsend will brush off any suggestions that they're in significant trouble but the stats don't lie. 16 goals conceded in their last four competitive matches is tough reading for those in red and white and it's safe to say that they're desperate to turn things around sooner rather than later. Alarm bells aren't ringing just yet but eventually the buck's got to stop.

Their midweek result was closer to where they want to be but they couldn't take their chances and New Lambton ran away with it in the second half. That is a surprising note given Wallsend's strongest suit is their attack and they're normally good for a goal or two every game. For Jesse Pryce and his side it's all about finding that perfect blend of focused defence and clinical attack. They'll believe the ingredients are there.

Prediction: It's too early in the season to write teams off but the odds are starting to stack against Wallsend. They would know New Lambton well after the cup game and need to focus on stemming the flow of goals conceded. Another heavy loss here would certainly rattle them but hopefully they can step up and keep this contest wide open.

My Tip: New Lambton 3-2 Wallsend FC

The Inside Word: New Lambton rested one or two of their bigger names in the FFA Cup so they'll be feeling refreshed and ready to go.

Going down to ten men left Wallsend in a big hole last Sunday night.


Under 19's:
Thornton Redbacks (10th) v South Cardiff (3rd)
Kickoff: 3:15pm

Thornton 19's had a long time to think about their heavy loss in Round 1 and bounced back a little last week with a better performance against Wallsend, although it was still a 4-1 defeat. Will Miles-Schofield returned to the squad and is a key experienced head in a very young side and a side that is still working on their physicality. He's someone who'll be keen to get into the nitty gritty style and do the hard work.

Their goalscorer last week Harrison Bridges is one of the younger attackers in the division but scored 19 goals last season and will be keen to prove himself in a tougher competition. Losing goalkeeper Dylan Delaporte to a red card last week wasn't ideal but his likely replacement is 17's keeper Blair Chaney who is rated as a handy shotstopper.

Facing them is the 3rd place South Cardiff side who's ladder position probably doesn't reflect their reached potential so far. To put it in simpler terms, they are capable of more than what they've shown and they'd probably agree on that after a frustrating scoreless draw with Belswans. Adding the Kahibah forfeit in, that's back to back games without signing the team song.

The Gunners will be hoping to aim up better in the attacking third and if they can do that they'll win more games than not throughout the season. No doubt they've spent a little bit of time thinking about how last week went and what they need to do to make sure this week goes a little better. Depending on the earlier game at the AthField, they could indeed climb into the top two with a win here.

Prediction: The Gunners enter as the favourites and deservedly so but the result depends heavily on how they go in finding the target. One goal scored in the last 160 minutes is not the ideal return and they'll be hoping to shape up against a Thornton side who've conceded eleven in two outings and do some damage.

My Tip: Thornton Redbacks 1-4 South Cardiff

The Inside Word: Southy's Ned Twelvetree remains a key outlet but if Luke Ossington can get into the right areas and find the target he could score a couple.

Kyle Furness did his job but will be hoping the attack can fire after last week's scoreless draw.


Under 23's:
Thornton Redbacks (10th) v South Cardiff (6th)
Kickoff: 5:00pm

The reigning Premiers Thornton lost just twice in the regular season during 2018 and with back-to-back defeats to begin 2019, it's safe to say the pressure is growing on the squad. Coach Scott Winslade would be the first to admit they've got a slightly altered squad that's taking time to adapt but he'll also be the first to admit they are capable of doing better than what they've done so far.

The Premiership will be firmly on the mind of the players and they'll know they can ill-afford to let Cooks Hill and/or Wallsend get too far ahead. 10th place is not a position some of these players are used to and they'll be doing all they can to get away from it this Saturday evening. Less defensive lapses and turnovers and better potency in the attacking third will go a long way towards restoring their usual success.

Southy are in a similar boat after their disappointing outing last weekend. Things just did not go their way and unfortunately they fell to their second home loss of the campaign. Their first away trip will give them a chance to reassess and perhaps bounce back against a out of form Thornton side. But it's not going to be easy.

Zach Tapp celebrated his 100th senior game for the Gunners last weekend and was unlucky not to find the back of the net on the day. The key work for Southy this weekend will come in defence where last week they fell to a penalty and a shot curling in directly off a corner. Those things are more than fixable so Steve Blunt and crew will be confident of doing better.

Prediction: South Cardiff have a decent 23's side that should be tough to handle for the most part of the year but it's hard to not see Thornton bouncing back, especially at home. The Redbacks losing three on the trot is unheard of so through thick or thin just cannot tip the away side to get the points in this one. Thornton to win but the hard way.

My Tip: Thornton Redbacks 3-2 South Cardiff

The Inside Word: Will Alex Evans play or be drinking pints in the stands, find out on Saturday afternoon!

Brock Lewsam and co. were unimpressed with a vital penalty call that went against them.


1st Grade:
Thornton Redbacks (6th) v South Cardiff (7th)
Kickoff: 6:45pm

Thornton's midweek exploits in the FFA Cup were interesting to say the least. Gary Wand rotated a large majority of the 1st Grade squad and relied on the 23's to get the job done. They fell away pretty disappointingly in the second half and at times it was very ugly to watch as their midfield disappeared. That's not reflective at all of the full strength first 11 but was not what the club were hoping for in front of a big crowd.

The Redbacks will be hoping their youth sides get to the park again and cheer on their team in a match that is sure to get some tongues wagging one way or another. Last time Thornton played South Cardiff they produced a stirring victory to enter the Semi Finals and Gary Wand despite watching Southy's horror show last week will know all too well what they're capable of.

A lot of words have been spoken about Wallsend and their start to the season but the team that's under the most pressure at the moment is South Cardiff. A lot of people considered them Premiership contenders and more importantly they themselves also touted themselves as contenders. The last two games they've looked anything but and now they are playing catch-up.

The Gunners would probably love an easy match about now but this is unfortunately anything but. They've lost two in a row and now they've got to find a way to bounce back. The good news is that they've got an extremely strong side on paper but the question is can they find their best football. They'll need their "A game" if they are to win this one. 

Prediction: Another late game and hopefully a decent crowd on hand to watch what is sure to be an intriguing game. South Cardiff are a high quality side that will be fuming with how the last two weeks have gone. Surely you can expect them to be right up for it. Thornton looked good last week but probably not good enough to beat the Gunners on their best day. It all depends on which Southy shows up.

My Tip: Thornton Redbacks 2-2 South Cardiff

Dan Toohey was on fire at The Gardens last Sunday with a hat-trick against the Red Devils.



Under 19's:
Cessnock City (7th) v West Wallsend (5th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

Turner Park is the lone venue for senior NL1 football on Sunday so Newysports will be on hand to see if the Hornets can bounce back in the 19's after a tough loss to Toronto. Indeed their only win so far has been against a struggling Singleton side and against higher opposition they've been brushed aside in convincing fashion.

Facing West Wallsend is another very tough ask and don't forget they've still got a trip to the AthField that they have to play as a catch-up game. Not many teams have had a tougher draw to start the season but they'll look to spring a surprise here. They've certainly had time to think about things after their last game and if they are to challenge for success this year then a third home loss is not the best way to go about it.

West Wallsend as a club have faced 23 or so wash-outs across all grades with Johnston Park struggling through recent wet weather. The forecast is better but regardless this will game will go ahead on one of the more reliable surfaces in the competition. They had Cessnock's number last year although their four goals came from Josh Knight (promoted to 23's) and Lucas Egge (departed to Wallsend) so others will need to step up.

Coach Stephen Thomson will of course return to a ground where he was Head Coach once upon a time. The Hornets have had three different head honchos in that time. Stability is a strong suit of this team as they are largely made up of last year's Championship squad. But they too are still working on their best ideas and plans to win games.

Prediction: There shouldn't be any slipping up here for Westy but that was also said against Belswans. The win over New Lambton was not thoroughly convincing so the Bluebells will be looking to freshen up, flex their muscles and put a few in the back of the net. Hopefully improvement for Cessnock but fearing a tough outing.

My Tip: Cessnock City 1-5 West Wallsend

Bowen Schmidt will be keen to lead his side to a memorable victory.


Under 23's:
Cessnock City (4th) v West Wallsend (9th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

Cessnock's form team in the senior grades is once again the 23's and they've started the season fairly well, bouncing back from a Round 1 loss to record back to back victories. Due to last week's wash-out they did miss the chance to test themselves against the so far unmatchable ladder leaders Cooks Hill and will look forward to that rescheduled match soon enough.

Their win over Singleton wasn't terribly convincing but they built on that with a strong display against Toronto and now enter with a fair amount of confidence built up over those games. Kyle Gillis has three goals in three matches but they have a significant goalscoring threat across the park and it'd be unwise to focus on trying to stop one individual. It's going well so far but they'll want to keep the form going.

As we enter Round 5, Westy 23's have still only played two matches due to the wet weather and the fixture backlog that has become an issue at Johnston Park. The Bluebells would love everyone to forget their first outing and they put that behind them reasonably well with a victory over New Lambton. It's not a huge surprise the 23's were able to produce the goods given they would have been feeling motivated after the Humbo tribute pre-game.

The good news is the fact that the club has more troops on deck for 1st Grade now with a new arrival and a couple of returns meaning the depth is strong and the 23's will likely benefit from that. Despite their win in the last game they still sit 9th which isn't where they'd like to be so it's safe to expect this team to head to Turner Park with full intentions of picking up a win.

Prediction: Despite the ladder positions, this is a very tough game to call and could realistically go in any direction. Cessnock's defence had it slightly easier than usual against a lacklustre Toronto last time out and will need to be weary but as the home side they might head in as the slight favourites. Again it's tough to call.

My Tip: Cessnock City 2-1 West Wallsend

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.

Cessnock 23's have found themselves in good goalscoring form as of late.


1st Grade:
Cessnock City (8th) v West Wallsend (10th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

Cessnock play their fourth consecutive home game which means 10 of their remaining 16 fixtures will be away from Turner Park. They've had time to work on their game plan and no doubt Arthur Hodgetts and co. will be hopeful that they can produce their first win to build the foundation for the rest of the season. The wash-out last week came at a decent time as it allows the likes of Klaudon Ahmataj to have more time to get to peak fitness.

The midweek FFA Cup game against Mayfield Juniors was admittedly an easier outing than some received but it gave the Hornets a chance to fine tune their attack and gain a little bit of belief in the final third. Scoring six in one game is not something the club have been used to over the last few years so that was handy and hopefully it'll give them a sniff of scoring goals. Defensively they've shown some fight but chances need to be taken at the pointy end.

West Wallsend also played Mayfield United during the week although the much-higher rated ZPL club. It was a hard-fought 3-1 win that might give the Grand Finalists some belief after a slow start to the year. They've now got most of their trump cards avaliable with Tye Jones and Ryan Cole back in and newcomer Tom Sparre added into the mix too.

The honeymoon period for new coach Brendan Slade is ticking down too as he will want nothing more than to defeat his old club and put Westy on track to climb the table. A loss here would certainly rattle the cage and add a fair bit of pressure ahead of a trip to the AthField next weekend. The last thing they need to be doing is playing catch-up to the top four.

Prediction: This is the only senior game to be played on Sunday so hopefully a decent crowd on hand to watch two teams that aren't exactly desperate for a win but certainly need a pressure-relieving result. Most neutral onlookers will be expecting the away side to win but Cessnock proved a thorn in the side of Singleton and Toronto so no doubt the home team will do all they can to prevent that.

My Tip: Cessnock City 0-2 West Wallsend

The Inside Word: The excuses are out the window for Westy. They know they need to be better so expect them to be switched right on from the opening whistle.

Bailey Jensen found the scoresheet in the midweek FFA Cup win.



YOUTH GAME(s) OF THE WEEK: Assuming Cooks Hill can win all three games on Saturday, the pressure will turn to the youth teams to keep this magnificant winning streak alive. Toronto youth have been strong so it'll be tough. The 15's game between New Lambton and Wallsend looks to be a potential highlight of the weekend too.

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