Friday, 12 April 2019

PREVIEW: New-FM Round 6 2019





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

Call it the Match of the Round, call it the Match of the Year so far in the 19's. Cooks Hill have warded off challenges from New Lambton and Toronto-Awaba but now they face their toughest test in the form of the defending Champions. For the boys in the black and white, it's been pretty much a dream start to a new era with new players and new coaches. It's fresh, it's exciting and it's working well so far.

His name is mentioned a lot on here but Andrew Benbow has four goals in two 19's matches according to the official stats and Louis Rothfield also has four so far this season. Here's the number four again...that's how many players in this team haven't scored a goal yet (not including the keeper). The skipper Taj Abrahams, fullback Hugh Dallen, midfielder Cooper Floyer-Kell and most surprisingly James Poslon are yet to score this season. Tipping that'll change eventually.

Yes this preview is starting to go off the rails with a barrage of goalscoring stats but here's another one and perhaps the main one. The Bluebells scored ten during the week in their demolition job of the Thornton Redbacks. Blake Arthur was the crew chief of the job, finishing the match with an incredible five goals to his name. Certainly has put him into the hunt for the Golden Boot now.

Newysports was on hand for Westy's 3-1 win over Cessnock and certainly their attack did lack a little bite compared to what they're capable of. They've now seemingly found that and more so they come into this game full of confidence. But the Champions must stay grounded because beating Cessnock and running laps around Thornton is one thing but beating the in-form Cookers is another. What a game it could be!

Prediction: Newysports is making sure to be on hand for this one before the late games at Kahibah Oval. It could be one of the matches of the season and certainly will put the spotlight on both teams after the first quarter of the campaign. Expecting some eyes from other teams to be in the crowd to see what the benchmark is. As for a tip, a stalemate could be on the cards.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 2-2 West Wallsend

The Inside Word: Was almost leaning towards a Cooks Hill win but Westy will bring a very firm test.

Blake Arthur's five goal haul on Tuesday put him on the foot front for the Golden Boot race.

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Under 23's:
Cooks Hill United (1st) v West Wallsend (7th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

With the amount of inconsistency you see in the 23's competition, the race for the Premiership could be dead and buried long before any of the other senior grades. Cooks Hill have jet-packed their way to four convincing victories and have amassed a grand goal difference of 26 scored and only 1 against. They keep that form up and there will be no stopping them.

The defending Champions were pretty good last year but it's hard to not say that the squad this year isn't better. Emerson Augey is back to his goalscoring best and has ten goals in four league matches plus an FFA Cup hat-trick. But it's the strength across the park that teams are struggling to match. They are nothing near a one or two-man team and they are without a doubt the benchmark so far in the 23's.

West Wallsend 23's have certainly endured a roller-coaster of an opening month. They were smashed 5-0 at home, they bounced back to win 2-0 over 2018 Grand Finalists New Lambton, they lost to Cessnock and seemingly had a conflicting clash between captain and coach and then they drew with last year's Premiers Thornton during the week. You can't really script that sort of form.

Ultimately it's been tough to get a gauge on Westy 23's due to their unpredictable start but it's safe to say that they need to build some form soon considering they sit in 8th position. The whole Kyle Clarke situation definitely happened in public eye and notable he did not feature at all in the midweek draw. The good news for the senior squad is that Ash Illfield made his return from injury.

Prediction: The form Cooks Hill are in almost puts them as unbackable short-priced favourites. A team that is averaging over six goals a game deserves that honour and it's over to West Wallsend to try and stop the CHU 23's train from rolling on. The rest of the competition probably wishes them luck in doing so.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 4-0 West Wallsend

Adam Gunster's conceded just once in four games. An impressive return so far.
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1st Grade:
Cooks Hill United (1st) v West Wallsend (7th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

Cooks Hill's long-term AthField stay will end with this match and the midweek clash with Cessnock. The back-to-back Premiers have the bye next weekend so will be very much focused on securing six points and capping off the perfect start to the season. They aren't scoring goals for fun like the 23's side but this team is one that is seemingly guaranteed to grab three or so goals a game and win more often than not.

Last week was a change from the prior games as the Cookers lead from the front foot and won the game 3-0 over Toronto-Awaba. That would have been a refreshing feeling for Graham Law who had watched his side fall behind in consecutive games. Top sides win from any situation but if Cooks Hill take the lead they are almost bound to always pull off the result. Add to that, the goals are coming from multiple sources. 12 goals and nine different goalscorers!

Westy's win at Cessnock last weekend certainly wasn't the most convincing display of attacking football but they got the job done and worked fairly hard for the result. The 2-1 win ultimately lead to another coaching change at the Hornets which Brendan Slade will know all too well (although very different situations). Slade's start at Westy has been difficult but a win would have pleased him greatly.

As for the team, what last week taught us is that Tye Jones is the man for penalties and that Cessnock's attack was as blunt as a butter knife. The Bluebells conceded a late consolation last week but had it fairly easy in defence on the day, at least compared to the task ahead of them this weekend. This is a very serious test of West Wallsend's credentials after the first month. Whatever the result, it will give them an indication.

Prediction: Whichever team knocks off Cooks Hill first will need their very best efforts both in attack and defence. West Wallsend still look a little off where they need to be if they are to be defeating the Premiers. Certainly a victory would hoist the Bluebells right into top four calculations but it's hard to see this game going that way. A defeat and a chance to gauge themselves against the top of the table team.

My Tip: Cooks Hill United 3-1 West Wallsend

The Inside Word: The script has been very similar for Cooks Hill's games so far. They aren't blowing teams off the park but they're just a level above.

Tye Jones is trusty from the spot but can Westy find their goalcoring form in open play?

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Under 19's:
Singleton Strikers (10th) v Wallsend FC (6th)
Kickoff: 11:00am

To be completely honest, Newysports had to check the results to remember how things have gone for the Strikers 19's so far. Not surprised that happened as it has been a forgettable start for the boys from Singleton. They remain scoreless through 240 minutes of football (three games) and have conceded 12 so far in that time.

Depth is always a weak point for Singleton and it's shown again so far this season. But now that the cricket season is over that's certainly one less excuses and they've had time to nurse any injury concerns and get their mindsets right for their first home game. They have a fair bit of work to do but the players will likely take that challenge on and try to put their best foot forward.

Wallsend started the season very well with victories over Belswans and Thornton and a game they probably should have won against South Cardiff. But last week's 4-0 loss to New Lambton perhaps brought them back to square one or at the very least gave them a little bit of an indication as to where they need to improve.

The Red Devils do favour development over the results at this level but the players that are in the team will obviously want to win more often than not. That competitive edge has been on show against some of the lower sides ala Thornton and they will feel as though this game could be a chance to earn three points and put pressure back onto the top four.

Prediction: The visitors enter as the favourites given the fact they've seen off Thornton and Belswans so far this year. Those victories were confidence-boosters and against a team that has so far been yet to score in Season 2019, they'll feel as though their defence will be able to stand tall. If Wallsend can take their chances they will win it.

My Tip: Singleton Strikers 0-3 Wallsend FC

Singo 19's will be hoping a return to Howe Park will bring a change of fortunes.

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Under 23's:
Singleton Strikers (11th) v Wallsend FC (3rd)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

It's very difficult to fill two paragraphs about the struggling Singleton 23's without sounding like a repeating record. They did have a wash-out and a bye so time has passed since they were crushed 11-0 by Cooks Hill in Round 3. In all seriousness, one look at the team sheet that day shows that they were very much undermanned so hopefully they'll get things going soon enough.

Wallsend head into this match on the back of their first defeat of the season. A 1-0 loss to New Lambton perhaps gave the Red Devils a taste of their own medicine as so far they have been a team that have managed to win tight matches. Certainly there will be no hitting of the panic button after one loss and impressively they've only let in three goals through four matches so far.

As pleasing as that defensive stat is, the thing they need to address if they are to go to the next level is their attack which has hit just five goals in four matches. It doesn't sound bad but compared to Cooks Hill's ridiculous total and even teams like Cessnock & Kahibah, it isn't exactly their strong suit. This game may prove a chance to polish the scoring boots and get their form ticking over.

Prediction: The result depends largely on how many players Singleton have avaliable on the day. It's very quickly beginning to resemble the situation they were in last year and for their sake let's hope it doesn't go the same way. Wallsend if they're serious about being a contender will win this and if they're serious about being a top contender they'll win it well.

My Tip: Singleton Strikers 0-4 Wallsend FC

Can Wallsend 23's bounce back to winning form against a struggling Singo side?

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1st Grade:
Singleton Strikers (5th) v Wallsend FC (9th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

Singleton had a wash-out in Round 4 before last week's bye so you can be forgiven for forgetting how things stand at the moment for the Strikers. The biggest news in that time was their shocking exit from the FFA Cup at the hands of Zone League Two side Nelson Bay. Singo lead the Bay twice but were tied twice and then went out without scoring a penalty in the shootout.

It's uncertain how strong the squad taken to Tomaree was but it wasn't what was expected regardless and coming off a somewhat slowish start to the season, the team will be hoping their first home game will give them a much-needed boost. Singleton are sitting 5th but will feel as though they are capable of more than their one win in three outings. They've flown under the radar a little so it's uncertain exactly what to expect from them.

Turning attention to Wallsend and it's safe to say that Newysports is not on the Christmas card list at the moment after writing off the squad. Based on last week's win they may have the capabilities of shrugging off their poor start and building a foundation for a successful season. The club's always excelled at proving people wrong and they do it better than most.

Lez Wallace's cameo against Thornton was impressive but he took it to a new level with a starring role in their 3-2 win over New Lambton. He's experienced at playing alongside others in the team and there's absolutely no doubt that Wallsend have one of the more formidable attacks in the league. 15 goals conceded is a worry so they'll continue to try and address their defensive lapses and keep winning form ticking over.

Prediction: The Red Devils could be the sort of side to win games 5-4 or something in that regard. A team that might not keep a clean sheet but a team that can score goals for fun. That might provide some entertainment. As for this game it will be very interesting. Singo haven't exactly clicked just yet and they're up against an attack that's on the improve. Going the draw and almost leaning towards a Wallsend victory.

My Tip: Singleton Strikers 2-2 Wallsend FC

The Inside Word: Lez Wallace has added another dimension to Wallsend's prized attack. Keeping them scoreless will be a tough ask for most teams.

How will the Strikers react after a wash-out, a bye and a shock FFA Cup loss?

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Under 19's:
Kahibah FC (7th) v Thornton Redbacks (11th)
Kickoff: 3:15pm

The Rams make their return to Kahibah Oval this weekend and for the 19's it's a later kickoff time which they have become a little bit used to over the first few games. Jason Zechel's side picked up their first win of the campaign in style against Belswans last week and looked like they had finally found a bit of their mojo in attack. Clayton Williams was a crucial piece of the puzzle and added some much needed spark going forward.

This week they will welcome back Ty Cowley which will solidify their defence although they didn't do too badly at all in that area of the field last weekend. Confidence will have risen after the breakthrough win and now they face a lower-ranked opponent but one that they cannot afford to take in a complacent fashion. They'll feel as though it isn't a game they should be dropping on home turf.

Thornton are coming off a midweek shellacking at the hands of West Wallsend and will be fairly rattled after conceding ten goals in a night to forget. That makes it 21 goals conceded in their first three matches which is something that they'll be hoping to address and quickly. It's unfortunate that they've found themselves a fair way behind the eight ball.

The Redbacks were tipped to be slow starters given their mass changeover of players and the fact that they have possibly the youngest side in the 19's competition. Physicality is lacking in some areas and that's probably where Westy steamrolled them. A coaching change due to their previous coach moving overseas for work is another headache to consider. They'll look at where things went wrong and how to begin to fix them.

Prediction: This is one of those must-win sort of matches for Kahibah. Teams that have grand intentions will not be dropping points to a team sitting in last place and struggling to hit their straps. For Thornton's sake hopefully it's a much improved scoreline but it's very difficult to see them turning it around and leaving with three points.

My Tip: Kahibah FC 5-1 Thornton Redbacks

The Inside Word: Kahibah's attack need to continue to boost their confidence. This is a chance to do so against the struggling Redbacks.

Clayton Williams' return was certainly a good one for the Rams.

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Under 23's Match of the Round:
Kahibah FC (4th) v Thornton Redbacks (10th)
Kickoff: 5:00pm

It's not often you see a 4th v 10th clash be declared the "Match of the Round" but that's the situation heading into this clash. Kahibah have roared into winning form with convincing displays against Toronto and Belswans. Considering how things started with their loss at Southy, not many would have pictured them doing so well in the proceeding matches.

Mitch Gorsuch's side have very much addressed their shortcomings and are now starting to build on their strengths. They conceded twice last week which isn't great but when you score five goals it doesn't really matter as much. The depth is seriously stronger at Kahibah this season and this team will want nothing more than to finally end the horrific finals drought for Kahibah 23's.

20 games is a long time but when you're winless in three it does build a little bit of pressure. The defending Premiers from Thornton have so far struggled to hit the heights of last season and have endured a lot of frustrations not just results-wise but also in terms of the weather. A broken up schedule doesn't do any good for a team that is trying to gel into form.

The midweek game was from a Thornton point of view one that perhaps got away, at least according to one club source. Things got a little fiery (as they did at times with Wallsend) and ultimately a 1-1 draw wasn't what the doctor ordered. Scott Winslade is a coach that values the Premiership over anything else and certainly Cooks Hill are starting to look a blip in the distance. It's time for the Redbacks to hit their straps.

Prediction: If Thornton fail to win this and Cooks Hill win on Saturday and their midweek game with Cessnock, winning the title could be a mountain too high to climb. Of course the top four is easier to break into but the Redbacks will be fired up for a win. The problem is Kahibah are playing some solid football and if they keep it up they'll very much like their chances.

My Tip: Kahibah FC 2-1 Thornton Redbacks

Andre Gumprecht's new playing role in the 23's has added much needed experience.

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1st Grade:
Kahibah FC (4th) v Thornton Redbacks (6th)
Kickoff: 6:45pm

Northern League One football returns to Kahibah Oval for the first time in 2019 and a friendly plug that Central Leagues is now the post-game venue for the Rams this season. The club are one that always look to support away sponsors and hope that teams do the same. Now that's aside, let's talk about the start to the season that sees a side that were tipped for 10th-11th sitting nicely in 4th position.

It's still early days but a win over Southy was followed by a late draw with Toronto and another late draw with Belswans. Of course Kahibah hit Belswans deep into stoppage time and their attack was nothing to write home about. What was something to write home about was the belief and the defensive resolve. A throwback to the Kahibah of old. It is Old Boy's Day this Saturday so some legends of the club will be on hand to see the new guard take charge.

It's been very difficult and almost impossible to get a gauge on Thornton considering they've played just two matches in a month. Unfortunately the cricket pitch was left in a bad way after heavy rain and it was unsafe for any football to be played last Saturday. Gary Wand and Scott Winslade may be spotted doing rain dances soon enough. (what a sight that'd be...)

The Redbacks were fairly lethal against Wallsend in attack but did have some moments in defence that they'll be hoping to stamp out from their game. Dan Toohey's form is probably the main headline at the moment after that game at The Gardens and he's one who looks to be tipped for a much bigger role at the club this year. Kahibah has typically been a tricky team for Thornton to beat so a tough test for the side.

Prediction: The pressure is on for both teams as they look to rustle their way into the top four. Kahibah are there but under pressure to hold it and we can't forget that the Rams didn't win a single match on their home turf in 2018. Kahibah are definitely on the improve but this is another very difficult opponent and will be a thoroughly different prospect than the Redbacks side they beat in the FFA Cup.

My Tip: Kahibah FC 1-1 Thornton Redbacks

The Inside Word: It's Old Boy's Day at Kahibah. Will the supporters get to see Kahibah's first victory on home soil since Round 22 2017?

It could be a different game to the FFA Cup clash just a week and a half ago.

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Under 19's:
South Cardiff (4th) v New Lambton (5th)
Kickoff: 11:00am

Saturday's 19's match at the AthField will be a cracker but this also provides an interesting lead-in with both teams sitting on the edge of the top four. South Cardiff have a game in hand now given their wash-out last week so didn't get the chance to take on Thornton and prove what they can do. The Gunners have started well but certainly there's still a little bit to be desired if they are to be serious contenders.

This match will probably prove to be the toughest defensive test for the Gunners so far and definitely more so than the one they faced against Belswans. That's probably one area of the field where they've yet to really been pushed to their limits. Yes Wallsend troubled them and Kahibah technically drew them but this is their biggest test to date and should be a good indicator of where this team is at.

New Lambton did play last weekend and enjoyed their first home outing of the season. A comfortable 4-0 win over Wallsend certainly got things back on track after a very frustrating day at West Wallsend two weeks prior. The Eagles' attack that day at Johnston Park were a little off and probably lost their patience as time wore on. Combinations were still being worked on and confidence still rising.

Last week stepped it up a level and the clean sheet would have been a pleasing aspect. Aidan Galvin continues to score goals which is an interesting note to keep on this team but that aside, this is another firm test. They prevailed over Cessnock and Wallsend but Southy are a tricky opponent. A very intriguing battle awaits on Sunday.

Prediction: Whichever team wins this will likely enter Round 7 being spoken of as "contenders" and the loser (if there is one) will be talked of as a "work in progress". It's a game that could really prove either team as a top four contender if they perform well enough so it's safe to expect both to be switched on. As for the result, a bold prediction...Eagles to win.

My Tip: South Cardiff 1-2 New Lambton

The Inside Word: Southy's defence will be put to the test by a New Lambton attack that is beginning to gain belief.

Can the Gunners pick up their biggest win yet and fire themselves right into the top part of the table?

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Under 23's:
South Cardiff (8th) v New Lambton (6th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

Newysports it not putting the typical "will Alex Evans play" paragraph in as it'd just likely lead to a wash-out. He is finally due back but other questions will be asked, in particular how will Southy bounce back after their 2-0 loss at home to Belswans. That was an underwhelming performance by the standards the Gunners are hoping to reach and they'll need to improve if they are to climb the ladder from 8th position.

Strangely enough their win over Kahibah showed that they are capable of being in the discussion of the top half of the table but consistency will be a big part of if 2019 is a successful year or not. The depth is deep and there's certainly plenty of options if things go awry but Steve Blunt and the coaching staff will be hoping Sunday is a return to winning form.

New Lambton's slowish start of one win in three matches was cancelled out by their 1-0 win over Wallsend. That result was impressive considering the form Wallsend had found themselves in and it leaves the Eagles in a fairly neutral ground of 6th position. They'll want to build their form and cause some trouble in the top four. With a fair few home games to come, it's a catalyst to potential kick start their season.

The return of five goals conceded in four outings isn't bad reading at all but the fact they've only scored three goals is a little worrying when you consider the quality they have, especially in the attacking department. Unlike other squads who need their defenders to get affairs in order, the Eagles will be hoping their scoring boots can be dusted off.

Prediction: This is a mid-table clash that is pretty difficult to predict. Home ground advantage didn't seem to help Southy last time but should add some extra pressure on them. They'll want to pick up more wins than losses at Ulinga. New Lambton have flown a little under the radar and are still not ticking the boxes in attack. If the Eagles can get going they'll probably win it but for now feeling like Southy may edge it.

My Tip: South Cardiff 2-1 New Lambton

Rourke Armstrong is one of many newcomers at the club and has worked hard in the 23's  midfield.

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1st Grade:
South Cardiff (8th) v New Lambton (3rd)
Kickoff: 6:45pm

The top four race is proving to be a very wide open affair with teams dropping points left, right and centre but make no mistake, South Cardiff's intentions this year were to push Cooks Hill all the way in the race for the Premiership. After the opening month, those hopes have gone up in smoke with the Premiers already sitting on 12 points and Southy lingering on three.

It's still early days but don't be fooled. South Cardiff will be feeling very disappointed with their last two outings and will be extremely focused on returning to winning form. Whatever the reasoning for the two home losses, they can ill-afford to make it three. Whether or not Chris Moylan/Denis Fajkovic make some changes is yet to be seen but these are very interesting times for the Gunners.

Jim Foley's chance to have a full pre-season in charge of New Lambton and their recruiting of some impressive players paid dividends over the first few weeks but last week was indeed a setback against Wallsend. The Eagles returned to their home of Alder Park and would have been disappointed to lose their first game of the season, especially after beating the Red Devils in the FFA Cup.

The Eagles paid credit to Wallsend for their performance but make no mistake they too will be disappointed with dropping points on their home turf. The last time New Lambton visited Ulinga Oval was quiet a stunning twilight affair with goals, goals and more goals. Definitely there's potential for something similar. The visitors won't mind too much what the score is, as long as they are on the right end of it.

Prediction: This has a chance to be a goalfest given the lineup of both teams. Southy are struggling a fair bit with a lot of quality in the squad and perhaps one or two players who aren't matching it completely right at the moment. It'd be a bold choice to go with the Gunners to lose again and fall further into a hole but truthfully nothing would surprise in this game.

My Tip: South Cardiff 4-3 New Lambton

The Inside Word: Some pundits from other clubs have admitted Southy look a bit off since Denis Fajkovic slotted back in. Bold calls to make about the captain/coach!

Ben Prangemeier and his fellow defenders will need to be alert against the Gunners.

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Under 19's:
Belmont-Swansea (9th) v Toronto-Awaba (3rd)
Kickoff: 11:15am

This game has been switched to be a Belswans home game but that doesn't bide too well for the 19's team. They've been a little flat on home turf so far and need to start getting the wheels in motion before they fall too far behind. Indeed they've faced a greater injury toll than any other senior NL1 squad so far and they don't have the strongest depth to rely on.

Last week's 3-0 loss was very underwhelming. A few referee calls left them high and dry and lead to a lot of frustration but that's no excuse for a display that didn't reflect where the team aim to be this season. The players will know that they are capable of better and they'll know that they'll have to produce that if they are to take down their opponents this weekend.

Toronto enter this match on the back of their first setback of the season and certainly a notable setback at that as they went down 5-2 to Cooks Hill. The Stags would have been hopeful of dethroning the ladder leaders but ended up going down in fairly convincing fashion, at least on the scoreboard. That will have frustrated them and they'll be looking to bounce back.

It's obvious the Stags are good going forward but last week highlighted they're still working towards their best in defence and they'll need to be switched on given Belswans do have one or two players who can cause headaches on their day. Last week can be a distant memory if they pick up a win here and continue to hover in the upper portion of the league table.

Prediction: After Belswans' performance last weekend, it's tough to see them overcoming a Toronto side that will be feeling a bit peeved at their loss last week. The hosts have been lacking in the attacking third and are in a little understaffed in the defensive third. It's difficult to see this going any way but Toronto's but stranger things have certainly happened.

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

Despite their winless start, Finn Herivel's efforts have been a positive for Belswans' 19's.

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Under 23's:
Belmont-Swansea (5th) v Toronto-Awaba (9th)
Kickoff: 1:00pm

Belswans 23's are summing up the definition of inconsistency so far in 2019. Good one week and bad the next is how it's gone after four games. That's a feature of this reserve grade and always has been. Teams can struggle to get the wheels rolling on a consistent basis and now the boys from Blacksmiths have to re-assess and see where things have gone wrong.

Conceding five goals last weekend certainly played an overwhelming part in why they lost. They did manage to find the net twice so obviously the defensive woes need to be addressed. Key mistakes and lapses wouldn't have pleased Benny Haddow and that's no doubt an area the coach addressed at training. They've got the troops to get things back on track without too much of a fuss.

It's never a surprise to see Toronto 23's in a defensive crisis given the last few years but this team had a lot of promise and at the moment it's going unfulfilled. Consecutive 4-0 defeats to Cessnock and Kahibah would have worried the powers that be in the coaching staff and then last week's 8-1 hammering at the hands of ladder leaders Cooks Hill certainly put the Stags in their place.

This is a team that won 6-0 in their opening match of the season but whatever changed after that has seen them spiral down to ninth position. Newysports was on hand for their clash with Kahibah and what they seemed to be missing that day was just an all-round team focus. Still looked to be in the process of gelling as a unit, particularly in the defensive portion of the field. It's tough times but we'll see how it goes.

Prediction: The form Toronto-Awaba find themselves in makes it very difficult to predict a win in their favour. Belswans have already shown at West Wallsend and South Cardiff that they have the talents required to find success in the Under 23's competition, they just need to prove it on a much more consistent weekly basis.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 4-1 Toronto-Awaba

The Inside Word: Josh Davies is looking a potent threat for Belswans. It might not be long before he starts climbing the goalscorers tally.

Will Reeves will be hoping his defenders tighten things up after a tough outing last week.

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1st Grade:
Belmont-Swansea (2nd) v Toronto-Awaba (11th)
Kickoff: 2:45pm

The final match of the round is certainly one with intrigue around it. Belswans will be happy to have got this game at home earlier than expected after the fixture switch as their home form is typically stronger than that of their away form. Although last weekend proved otherwise with a disappointing late draw against rivals Kahibah. It would have stung even more given the scrappy stoppage time equaliser and the fact it was Old Boy's Day.

Head Coach Mick Stafford has seen plenty of setbacks to the Belswans boys over the last few years but they always dust themselves off and get right back into the fight. They were perhaps a little underdone in attack and didn't really go for kill, admittedly against a Kahibah defence that stood fairly firm all day. A win will get things back on track as they look to continue to stay on the tails of Cooks Hill.

At the opposite end of the table, Toronto-Awaba find themselves in the all too familiar position of last place. It's a more even competition at the moment and they're only three points away from the top four but certainly time is starting to tick and their schedule is absolutely daunting. Trips to Blacksmiths, West Wallsend and Thornton in their next three await before the bye.

It's not unrealistic to picture Toronto still rooted on two or three points when the dust settles after the next month of action. They've shown to be a far sterner opposition in 2019 but Darrel McAllister will not be content with just being a tricky opponent. Him and his players will want to win games and they'd love to upset one of the big guns like Belswans on their home turf. A chance to readjust from last week and go again against a top team.

Prediction: Toronto weren't tipped to be a top contender but sitting last is not where they'd like to be. Their difficult draw over the next three weeks makes this game very important. If they can at the very least gain some belief it'll be a good result but as for the actual result, it's hard to not see Belswans bouncing back.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 3-1 Toronto-Awaba

The Inside Word: Toronto's defence needs to step up their game. That's the key component separating them from the higher spots on the table.

Darrel McAllister's Stags sit bottom after a winless opening to the 2019 campaign.

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YOUTH GAME(s) OF THE WEEK: There's two big clashes this weekend with strong youth programs in South Cardiff and New Lambton going toe to toe on Saturday and then on Sunday it's an intriguing set of games between Cooks Hill and West Wallsend. Two improving youth squads in Belswans and Toronto are also meeting this weekend. Some very interesting games across the board.

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