Friday, 26 April 2019

PREVIEW: New-FM Round 8 2019





Under 19's:
Thornton Redbacks (10th) v Toronto-Awaba (5th)
Kickoff: 3:15pm

Despite losing 6-0 last weekend and not playing during the week, Thornton 19's climbed off the bottom of the table on Tuesday night due to Singleton's disastrous 11-0 thumping at the hands of ladder leaders West Wallsend. The Redbacks copped ten from the champs and Toronto not far behind on seven so all these teams have something in common.

What they don't have in common is the fact that Thornton and Singleton will likely battle it out for the spoon whilst Toronto are out to prove that they are a serious contender and cement their place as the third-best team before facing CHU and Westy again later in the year. The Stags have been a little undone but squad changes but are a talented group regardless.

Thornton had looked to have turned a corner with their result against Kahibah but alas they were undone by a winless Belswans side. Losing 6-0 to a team without a victory in 2019 certainly would have dented the Redbacks confidence and now they face a team that is on par with the top contenders. This will be a serious test for Thornton. 

A game on May 12th v Singleton will prove to be a key point of their year but for now all they can is try to put their best foot forward. 

Prediction: This hopefully won't be yet another blowout scoreline but it'll more likely than not be a comfortable win for a Toronto side that will be looking to climb back into the top four. Despite last week's loss, they still put four goals past West Wallsend and that alone is an impressive stat.

My Tip: Thornton Redbacks 0-6 Toronto-Awaba

The Inside Word: Thornton may start well but could see some damage done later in the game if Toronto's depth and quality proves too much.

Toronto will need to ward off the pressure from a desperate Thornton side.

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Under 23's:
Thornton Redbacks (9th) v Toronto-Awaba (10th)
Kickoff: 5:00pm

This is a very crucial game for both these sides as the top four keeps gaining points. More so for Thornton with the defending Premiers coming off the back of a horror start to the season. Their form finally clicked into gear last week with a 3-2 win over Belswans which was their first three points of the 2019 season and lifted them above the Stags into 9th place.

Thornton are two but more likely three wins off the pace needed and they'll know that last week was just one step on the long road ahead. Coming from behind was a positive move and the victory itself will do a little bit in restoring some confidence and belief. It's a slightly later game than usual but it could be a louder home crowd than normal given the late kick off and some of the youth teams sticking around from earlier.

Toronto 23's in similar vein to Thornton U19's had seemed to have turned the corner with their efforts at Blacksmiths Oval but last week they fell 5-0 to West Wallsend and thus saw the gap to the top four stretch to six points. Losses do happen from time to time but the scoreline isn't really reflective of a team that is looking for a successful season.

There isn't an obvious threat from Singleton to overtake them anytime soon but time is ticking if the Stags are to lift themselves into the mid-table joust. With a bye next weekend, another loss would certainly leave a significant gap to try and make up later in the year. The Stags need to find their best if they are to leave Thornton Park with anything

Prediction: Winslade's men have finally found the winning touch although they are a squad that are never really satisfied with just getting the job done. They'll look to build on last week's win and pick up another victory. They'll go from 9th to 8th which isn't a significant jump but it'll slowly close that gap to the top four. If they happen to lose then it'll be a big dent.

My Tip: Thornton Redbacks 3-0 Toronto-Awaba

Thornton 23's will be looking to build after gaining some belief in recent games.

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1st Grade:
Thornton Redbacks (6th) v Toronto-Awaba (10th)
Kickoff: 6:45pm

The lone senior games on Saturday culminate with a big game under lights at Thornton Park with Darrel McAllister making his return to the ground where he helped turn the Redbacks from pretenders to contenders over a multi-year period. That's just one part of the storyline heading into a game that could make a big impact on the table.

The Redbacks bounced back from their loss to West Wallsend with a hard-fought 3-3 draw with the Champions Belswans. Three times they come from behind and they even had a penalty waved away that could have won it. They've shown some character in that game and their battle with Kahibah which indicates they're more than ready for the battle ahead. This is a big one for them.

Toronto have dropped points from potentially winning situations on multiple occasions now. The Cessnock game, last week at Westy, it's just becoming a habit that they have to kick if they are to really start threatening for a place higher on the table. They've improved massively on how bleak things were late in 2018 but they simply need to find more.

The win against Belswans showed that the new-look Toronto can compete with the top dogs and this game will be another serious test of their steel. The crowd at Westy would have been fairly vocal and they can expect similar with Thornton's typical rowdy onlookers probably keen to give the McAllister's a jab or two and the Redbacks' youth grades to likely stay for the day after their matches. A passionate home crowd for sure.

Prediction: There's no doubting Toronto's attacking quality with Nathan McAllister, Jarrod Purcell and Nick Roberts all causing problems for teams this year but their defence has been a little underdone. Keeping eleven on the park should see them stay in this game but feeling as though Thornton will get the points. Wouldn't surprise at all to see the visitors win though. A very tricky one to call.

My Tip: Thornton Redbacks 3-1 Toronto-Awaba

The Inside Word: Thornton's fitness may prove vital in the later portions of the game when things no doubt open up a little bit.

EDIT: Somehow forgot to mention that Saturday is the Groovin the Moo festival and it hurt these two clubs more than any others. You may remember it played a part in Adam Routledge leaving the post as Toronto coach.

McAllister and Wand will have their finger on the pulse but can see both clubs being short in 23's as a result and who knows what it'll do to the games. Will anyone even show up at Thornton? Guess we'll find out on Saturday evening...

Toronto are in a very tough spot to try and turn their form around. The gap is building.

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Under 19's:
Belmont-Swansea (8th) v New Lambton (3rd)
Kickoff: 11:00am

Belswans 19's were in a form slump and dealing with with an injury curse during the first six rounds but last weekend they finally hit their straps for the first time since that infamous season-opening draw with now ladder-leaders West Wallsend. A 6-0 thumping of Thornton certainly helped boost some goalscoring confidence and would have also boosted morale after some tough results.

That win did come against a team that is struggling at the bottom of the table and there's no doubt that they'll face a much sterner test against New Lambton this Sunday. Before last weekend's six goal win, the Belswans boys had just three goals from five games so the attack has got to fire again. This is a chance to prove that they can maybe be more than just mid to low table also-rans in 2019.

New Lambton despite sitting in 3rd have yet to hit their true potential. The team on paper is a high quality one yet their last two results, whilst being wins, have been fairly underwhelming. The first half v Southy was an indication of their quality but the second half and most of last week's game against a lacklustre Kahibah side didn't hit great heights.

They did miss a couple of key attackers in Jacob Brain and Nathan Toby last weekend and had issues at the back with Alex McConnell missing. But any team will find it a little tough when you start plucking some of their best eleven away. The Eagles' depth is strong enough to keep the form going but no doubt the coaching staff will want to see a more consistent 80-minute display. And no sarcastic arguing this week!

Prediction: With all due respect, beating Thornton 6-0 isn't exactly a massive statement especially when you consider what West Wallsend did to them. It's good but if Belswans fall to New Lambton then they are right back to where they were before the Thornton trip. The hosts will look to prove they can go toe to toe with a top dog but it's hard to see them winning it. New Lambton should win comfortably but can see them struggling to hit their best form again.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 1-2 New Lambton

Colin Thompson returned to scoring form in a big way at Thornton last weekend.

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Under 23's:
Belmont-Swansea (8th) v New Lambton (7th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

Despite being separated by just one position on the table, these two teams are in slightly different situations. The home side are now three games without a win and sliding further down the table. Two losses and a draw in the last three rounds is ironic considering they've scored twice in every match. They've got the find a way to close up shop a little at the back and give themselves a platform to work with.

If memory serves correctly they lead both Toronto and Thornton in those games so their confidence may be sitting lower than where it needs to be. It's a tight competition and that's highlighted by the fact that just one win could take them as far as 4th. They've definitely got potential to do better than what they've done so far, despite their perceived lack of experience in key areas.

New Lambton's season so far has defined the inconsistency that normally plagues this grade. A win, two losses, a win, then a loss and another win. The worrying thing is that those three losses saw them held scoreless each time. But that aside, this same team won just half their games last year and still made a Grand Final so it certainly isn't panic stations.

The Eagles looked alright against Kahibah last week with a more focused defensive effort than that of their Southy loss the week before. They're a strong lineup on paper and good enough to be in discussions for the top four so hopefully they can kick on and start building their case for a high position on the ladder.

Prediction: This is one of those games that could realistically go either way. Surprisingly there's only been nine draws or so in about 100 senior NewFM matches this season. Belswans would love a win on home turf but New Lambton are decent on their day. Flipped a coin and decided on Belswans to win. That's how the pros do it!

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 2-1 New Lambton

Belswans 23's are in need of some consistency. Can they knock off an improving New Lambton side?

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1st Grade Match of the Round:
Belmont-Swansea (3rd) v New Lambton (5th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

Belmont-Swansea haven't won in the last three games and have seen their Premiership hopes take a big hit. Cooks Hill likely won't drop many points so the boys from Blacksmiths will likely turn attention to performing well and aiming for a top two finish with hope that maybe the race will open up again as the year passes by. It was always going to be a tough ask to maintain that consistent winning form.

The defending Champions ironically didn't win a single game in the month of April in 2018 and if they can't get the points here it'll be the same. It was New Lambton who visited around this time last year and came away with a solid 2-2 draw. But the home side will be more than focused at bouncing back from their last match on their turf which was of course the surprise loss to Toronto.

There's an obvious case to believe that New Lambton are a better side now than they have been in 2017 and 2018 but there's still a feeling that they aren't legit finals contenders compared to your Belswans, Southy's and West Wallsend's. The Eagles have done well but have to maintain that for the entire season and aim to win at least half their games and likely more.

They showed some character to come from 1-0 down against Kahibah and win 3-1 in a second half that was memorable for a superb Riley Taylor finish and Jacob Brain's maiden goal in the top grade. Beating Kahibah is one thing but taking down a Belswans side that are hungry for a win is going to be a tough ask. These are the games the Eagles need to perform in if it is to be a memorable year.

Prediction: This is a tricky match to predict and on paper very even considering the form the sides are in. It can't be ignored that New Lambton took down a Westy side that is roaring in 2nd place but this would be their biggest scalp since Jim Foley arrived back at the club. Belswans are in a form slump and it very well could continue.

My Tip: Belmont-Swansea 2-2 New Lambton

The Inside Word: Belswans have the player experience factor but they're up against a team coached by the league's most experienced and successful coach. Intriguing battle.

Jacob Brain's maiden 1st Grade goal capped off a brilliant night for the Eagles at Alder.

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Under 19's:
Kahibah FC (7th) v Singleton Strikers (11th)
Kickoff: 11:00am

These two teams have found themselves under growing pressure. Firstly Kahibah are of course a long way ahead on the totem pole compared to Singleton but are a fair distance of the pace needed to be challenging for the top four. Their performance last week at Alder Park was in stark contrast to a 19's side that wrapped up the Premiership title on that ground last season.

Jason Zechel's appointment was met with a few raised eyebrows and ironically his Rams sit lower than his Hornets sat the same time last year. Andre Gumprecht gave a golden opportunity to Zechel and he'll be keen to build on what the team has started. Taking a firm leadership and increasing the communication on the sidelines and on the pitch would be a start. The Rams were at sixes and sevens last week and need a lot more.

As for Singleton, they have gone from bad to worse with their form patch to start the year. The Strikers are still goalless through six games in 2019 and after showing some worrying defensive signs against Southy in a 3-0 loss last Friday, it all fell apart during the week as the free-scoring ladder leaders West Wallsend put eleven past the Strikers.

Singo are unfortunately hindered by a lack of numbers and of course a severe lack of form. 32 goals conceded and none scored really paints a picture that doesn't look like improving anytime soon. Getting some goals and earning the "Strikers" moniker back would go a little way towards improve some morale.

Prediction: If Kahibah can't find a way to bag a few goals than you can probably rule them out of the top four race. This is a must-win game and one they should win well but we said the same thing about the Thornton match. Don't expect this game to hit any great heights but it should be a comfortable victory for the home side. Anything less and it's hard to see them pushing for the top four.

My Tip: Kahibah FC 4-0 Singleton Strikers

The Inside Word: Urgency was poor for Kahibah last weekend whilst SIngleton worked hard against Southy. The Strikers could with a shock early goal really rattle the cage.

Kahibah have started worse than Cessnock did last year. Jason Zechel will be keen to turn that around.


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Under 23's:
Kahibah FC (6th) v Singleton Strikers (11th)
Kickoff: 12:45pm

It's a very important game for Kahibah 23's who saw their winning form halted by New Lambton last weekend. It was another fairly flat display when accounting their scrappy 1-0 win over Thornton and certainly Mitch Gorsuch would want nothing more than to see his side play out an 80-minute display and hit their straps in attack.

There were some positives last week with Joseph Hadden putting in a strong effort but more so when Matt Parker made his return from injury. His first touch of the season happened to be putting the ball in the back of the net which would have felt good personally. The key attackers were a little blunt at Alder so they'll look to fire a few goals against the struggling Singo.

Singleton's match review last weekend was a fairly scathing one but the Strikers would probably be content enough to accept that their performance in the 11-0 loss to South Cardiff was nowhere near the level expected of them. Things did improve midweek as they halved that tally and only conceded five times against West Wallsend.

Still, it's difficult to see their losing form turning around anytime soon but as with one or two other teams in the club, it's all about playing with pride and not giving up. The players only need to look at the 19's or perhaps event the club's 13's side for inspiration. It's tough but you got to give your all for your club and your teammates. They can't just give up.

Prediction: This should be a routine win for Kahibah against a Singleton side that is really having a difficult time staying in games this season. The Strikers have been anything but with 0 goals scored and a whopping 36 goals against since that 2-3 loss to Cessnock. Kahibah's attack needs to get back in form and this is a chance. Can't see it being double digits unless the Rams really hit their straps.

My Tip: Kahibah FC 6-0 Singleton Strikers

Singleton 23's were better during the week but will look to dig deeper and keep improving.


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1st Grade:
Kahibah FC (8th) v Singleton Strikers (7th)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

By the time Sunday arrives it will have been 630 days since Kahibah last tasted victory at Kahibah Oval. Toronto have a similar league record at their field but alas have the FFA Cup to vouch upon. It's quiet stunning for a club as ambitious as Kahibah that they've gone so long without singing the song on home turf. And it's safe to say after back-to-back losses the pressure is on.

The Rams aren't too likely to be there come finals but would love to at least be in contention until the final few rounds. The last thing Andre Gumprecht would want is the team to fall further away from the leading pack. It's hard to say where it's gone wrong the last two weeks but conceding seven goals in two games is probably a place to start. Relying less on penalties and Rhys Tippett would be another.

Turning attention to Singleton and to be truthful this particular preview is being done on Wednesday night at 10:30pm. Less than two hours after watching the Strikers fall to their worst loss since 2014 and their biggest defeat under David Willoughby. The review is yet to be typed but as you would have read by now, it's not nice and it was a very embarrassing night for the team.

Depth is paper thin too with the 23's and 19's in absolute freefall so when you consider that the squad Singo fielded wasn't far off their best avaliable it paints a truly worrying picture. The positive thing is that they are capable of much, much more. A lot of the early and telling damage midweek was self-inflicted. Willoughby will call upon his troops and try to get a response this Sunday. It'll be hard on a short turn-around though.

Prediction: The loser from this game will be in a spot of bother when it comes to distance from the top four. It's a crucial game for both but arguably more so for Kahibah given their atrocious home form. Singleton on the short turn-around from the midweek horror show will surely improve but the Rams should have the attacking threat to do the job. It's about time that home winless run goes away.

My Tip: Kahibah FC 3-1 Singleton Strikers

The Inside Word: The key battle will be between the likes of Tippett and Hadlow against a Singo defence that fell to shreds midweek.

Kahibah have hit a roadblock in recent weeks. Can they finally end their home ground curse?

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Under 19's Match of the Round:
Wallsend FC (4th) v Cooks Hill United (2nd)
Kickoff: 11:00am

The next two weeks more than any other will prove if Wallsend are on track to be serious title contenders in 2019 or are still a team that looks like falling into an ultimate finish of 5th or 6th. Either way it'll be an improvement on some of the stuff they did last year and it's pretty obvious that Craig Tselembis has a better team on paper this season and the results have proven it.

Wallsend won 3-0 at Turner Park last weekend but their attack didn't exactly hit the target as well as they should have. The likes of Cody Faulks and Ben Schieb were racking up a few notable attacks and they'll need them this weekend as it's unlikely Cooks Hill will bring a similar attacking output than Cessnock. The Reds' best chance of winning is probably in a high-scoring affair and they're capable of that.

Cooks Hill had the bye last week and certainly have fallen back under a lot of people's radar. Since their last game (a 3-2 win over Cessnock) their title rivals West Wallsend have beaten Toronto and embarrassed Singleton to a combined score of 18-4. All of a sudden the Champions have a +27 goal differential that looks big compared to Cooks Hill's +13.

The above paragraph will make good reading for the likes of co-coach Jeff Evans with the Cooks Hill crew more than happy to play underdog in this seemingly two-horse race. The race could be turned into a triple threat of sorts if Wallsend can win their next two games so it's certainly very interesting times in the top four. The Cookers need to improve on their last two outings there's no doubt about that.

Prediction: After a loss to West Wallsend and a very dodgy 3-2 win over Cessnock that required a fair bit of luck to come from 2-0 down the pressure is on Cooks Hill. Wallsend have the makings of a serious attack but their defence will face a major test. Result depends on the visitors lineup but feeling as though an upset might be on the cards.

My Tip: Wallsend FC 2-2 Cooks Hill United

The Inside Word: If Wallsend can get it right they'll go very close to winning this. But can they get everything they do right?

Cody Faulks is part of a Wallsend attack that looks really strong on paper.

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

The Gardens gets to host a back to back "Match of the Round' with the 23's clash just like the 19's looking a very intriguing prospect on paper. Mick Dempsey taking on the role as 23's coach was seemingly out of left field given he was around the Westy club for a big but the well experienced Dempsey and his assistants have this team playing a strong hard-fought brand of football.

Indeed when compared to the form of Wallsend 1st Grade, it's chalk and cheese with the 23's currently sitting in 2nd place and eyeing off a very big scalp. Last week they were arguably the better team against Cessnock, definitely in the second half, but unfortunately it wasn't to be as they fell to a 1-0 loss. They'll need to have their eyes on the goal this week as it's unlikely to stay a very low-scoring affair like most of their games.

On the other side of the ledger is an almost untouchable Cooks Hill side. The defending Champions have destroyed all in their way for a six out of six start and a whopping goal difference of 35 scored and 3 against. Nobody can deny that the team in black and white are the standard setters so far and the team to beat.

Now, after such a highly publicised impressive start, the Cookers will likely come under increasing pressure. Wallsend, Southy and Kahibah are their next three which is a very difficult run but they'll be full of confidence. But like the 1st Grade side, the CHU 23's now have a big red target painted on their backs and they'll need to be weary of the Red Devils who'll look to take them down.

Prediction: Newsyports isn't exactly on the Christmas Card list for a lot of people at Wallsend but have to give credit to Mick Dempsey and his 23's side who are playing in a positive mindset and fashion. Would be wonderful for the competition to see the top dogs get bit but it's hard to see the form just ending that abruptly. Perhaps in the second half of the year when other teams have had a taste of how CHU play.

My Tip: Wallsend FC 1-4 Cooks Hill United

Cooks Hill face perhaps their toughest test to date when they take on a strong Wallsend side.

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1st Grade:
Wallsend FC (11th) v Cooks Hill United (1st)
Kickoff: 2:30pm

It's as painful a time for Wallsend as any since they returned to the competition. It would have been a long public holiday Monday in the wash-up of being the first team to lose to Cessnock this year and a Hornets side that were down to ten men after having their keeper sent off on half-time. Regardless of what anyone says, that would have killed inside.

The next two weeks will define the season for Wallsend. They face Cooks Hill here and then in-form fierce rivals West Wallsend in a massive Sunday night fixture next weekend. News is that the club captain Matty Williams has departed to link up with mates in the ZL1 squad and a lot of people around the league are starting to share some rumours that all is not well with the team. It's a very crucial period of the season and they simply need to stand up.

Cooks Hill haven't been blowing teams off the park (they only have 20 goals compared to the 23's with 35) but they have been incredibly consistent to begin the year. A run of six home games to begin the season certainly gave them a platform to build on but it was safe to expect maybe one or two draws given the difficult draw and teams like Thornton and Westy but alas they sit on 18 points.

No team has started the season this well since Graham Law's Maitland FC in 2014 and we all know where they ended up at the end of that journey. For those who can't remember, it was a double-winning season were they lost just once all year. Just like the 23's, there's a huge target on these guys and they have the knowledge that every single game they play will be one where the opposition are gunning for them.

Prediction: Now Wallsend weren't too pleased with the "upset of the year" comment about the game at Alder. This would earn that tag and more some because they were as flat as a tack last weekend against the Hornets. Their defence was slightly better than usual last week but on paper this looks very much a danger game and one where the struggling Reds could put to the sword.

My Tip: Wallsend FC 1-5 Cooks Hill United

The Inside Word: This score could be anything if 

Chris Teasdale's effort was one reasonable positive above Wallsend's loss last week.

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Under 19's:
South Cardiff (6th) v Cessnock City (9th)
Kickoff: 12:30pm

Newysports has had a close eye on the 19's competition given it's the first game of the day and the analytical football mind is wide awake. Southy sit just outside the top four but are a handy side that have still yet to hit their peak. Their end product in the final third has been underwhelming when you consider the amount of chances they create to those that they finish.

Defensively the Gunners have been strong enough to get the job done and Kyle Furness in goals is miles ahead of some of the keepers that man the goals for other 19's teams. Where the Gunners really excel is in the midfield with a lot of high energy and a keen physical style. Players like Damon Cochrane and Roan Panther are just two to watch for who are good at what they do.

The Hornets are a different prospect without their star man Zac Kronholm. The team can't possibly say that the lack of his presence doesn't hurt their chances. But it looks as though they'll need to be assigned to letting him go because he killed it on the 1st Grade stage last weekend. Ultimately that means a chance for others to take the spotlight away and make their mark.

The attack certainly posses a decent threat (far more than what Singleton gave Southy last week). Callan McNamara is proving to be a handful for the opposition and Ethan Garrington's abilities have been noted for a couple of years now at the club. The key issue for this team is their defensive woes. 18 goals conceded in six games is not the return they would have liked.

Prediction: Southy have found the net just eight times in five games and that is the root of why they don't sit in the top four. Last week was a step in the right direction and hopefully once they start consistently finding the back of the net they'll take their chances more often than not. Players like Ned Twelvetree and Luke Ossington could be putting their name in the hat for Golden Boot if luck was a little bit more on their side.

My Tip: South Cardiff 3-0 Cessnock City

The Inside Word: Don't be surprised to see a 5-2 or something like that. The Hornets are capable of scoring but their defence might find it tough to stop Southy.

Remy Keats is certainly a player to watch for the Southy 19's.

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Under 23's:
South Cardiff (5th) v Cessnock City (3rd)
Kickoff: 2:15pm

Southy 23's come off last week's bye...no we can't call it that! They come off last week's 11-0 thumping of poor old Singleton with a much-needed goal differential boost. That's all you could really take out of what was a shambolic game where the Gunners rolled in goals for fun. Riley Taylor's five goal haul was a nice personal moment and he'll be keen to hit his straps on Old Boy's Day given his family's history at the club.

Steve Blunt was adamant that his side would look to get this win in the bag and take the challenge to Cooks Hill. He is more than keen to do battle with the ladder-leaders next weekend and firmly believes his team is good enough to occupy a top four spot. It's nice to see Steve enjoying himself after some lean years and he certainly does have close to the best squad of players you could ask for at this 23's level.

Cessnock's 1-0 win over Wallsend last week was certainly a strange one as it felt more like a loss given the amount of chances the Red Devils had the general flow of play in the second half. Michael Gatt would not have been pleased with how his team failed to control the lead but ultimately it was pleasing to see their defense work hard and the goalkeeper Jackson Bartlett perform in 23's and 1st Grade.

The keeper will likely back-up and play both grades after Jed Horder's send off but he is more than capable of doing so. That won't hinder them too badly but the challenge will be upon them because this Southy team is full of confidence at the moment. Some quality attackers in the Gunners' ranks which means another difficult day at the office for the captain Skip O'Hearn, his understudy of sorts Liam King and the rest of the defence.

Prediction: This will be a decent match up but hard not to favour the home side on their Old Boy's Day. Cessnock are likely to be a little short in attack given the situation at the club. Guys like Ethan Garrington will probably need to pull double duty again. The Gunners won 11-0 last week so it'd be daft to not expect them to win again, just by a whole lot less.

My Tip: South Cardiff 4-1 Cessnock City

The Inside Word: South Cardiff's attack in the 23's is as good as any of the teams on their day...although maybe not Cooks Hill...yet.

What a disappointing day last week for Riley Taylor who should have got six goals but only got five 😆

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1st Grade:
South Cardiff (4th) v Cessnock City (9th)
Kickoff: 4:00pm

Southy have not played finals football since 2011 and that is driving them on for bigger and better things. They got so close last season and now after a slow start they've got their affairs in order and are occupying fourth position. There's still a fair bit of room for improvement but the important thing is that the results are coming in.

The 1-0 win over Singleton on Good Friday certainly wasn't pretty but it was a tight battle and one where Southy picked up a much-needed clean sheet. They return to Ulinga looking for a third-straight win on what happens to be the club's Old Boy's Day. A victory on a day like that isn't just expected, it's almost required. Chris Moylan, Denis Fajkovic and the rest of the team will not want to let the home supporters down.

Cessnock walk into the Gunners' cauldron with some added confidence after what was one of their most memorable wins in years against Wallsend. It took a day or two to comprehend just what happened last Sunday night but now the journey continues and the pressure is on again to find that inner-belief and hunger to perform and perhaps stun the competition.

Make no mistake, beating a Wallsend team that is approaching an all-out crisis is one thing, but beating a team that boasts several former NPL championship winners is another. The Hornets' best attribute at the moment is playing their homegrown youth. It's refreshing to see so many players who have come up through 17's and 19's playing 1st Grade compared to other clubs who have brought the names in. On this principle alone they should be becoming a team everyone hopes will do well.

Prediction: The Hornets will put their best foot forward but can't see it being enough against this star-studded Southy side. Greg Anderson's experience and quality will help keep the scoreline closer than if he wasn't there but this should be a routine victory for the home side on a very big day for the club.

My Tip: South Cardiff 4-0 Cessnock City

The Inside Word: Expect this one to play out similar to Cessnock's loss to Cooks Hill. A performance with pride but ultimately a little too much class from the big guns.

Cessnock's younger brigade is taking over! Kyle Gillis was the hero in their breakthrough 1-0 win.

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YOUTH GAME(s) OF THE WEEK: Saturday's big games see Belswans 13's and 14's face a big test in the form of New Lambton whilst Singleton 17's could go to another level with a victory away to Kahibah. Sunday's standout match on paper has to be the 15's clash between Wallsend and Cooks Hill.


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