Hills Premier League Season Preview – Part 1

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Hills Footballs Premier League 1 season preview – PART 1

North Rocks FC

Last Season’s Finish: PL2 Minor Premiers

North Rocks are one of four clubs making the jump to Premier League 1 this year, extending the competition to ten teams.  Rocks promotion will end a near decade absence from PL1 football, something the club will feel is well overdue given their 50 plus year history.

Having finished Minor Premiers in PL2 last year, and being bolstered by the addition of several young exciting talents, North Rocks should have enough footballing stock to hold their own in 2018.  However they’ll need to produce something special to replace one of last year’s finalists and relive the glory days of 1992, the year when the club last won a PL1 Championship.

A mid-table finish will be a successful return for the newly promoted club.

North Rocks travel to Kenthurst Park in their round one opener against The Bush Boys.

Reserve Grade 1pm

First Grade 3pm

Baulkham Hills FC

Last Season’s Finish: PL1 3rd, knocked out in Preliminary-Final (def. 4-1 by Kenthurst)

For a side with the most astute defence in 2017, Baulkham Hills may still be hurting after conceding four goals in their semi-final against Kenthurst to end their season.  However, after a short off-season their focussed turned to the future.  BHFC begun pre-season in November, and long standing coaches Peter Denyer and Graeme Luck were left with the positive problem of having vast numbers to pick from for their 2018 campaign.

Many faces remain from the successful 2017 season, however the addition of several imports and a new breed of BHFC juniors making the jump means they’ll be fielding a one of their youngest top grade squads in some time; the average age being a youthful 23 years.

With a focus on the importance of the squad rather than individual players or teams, combined with a huge pre-season, expect a fit young side in both firsts and reserves for the Kookaburra’s this year.

If the new additions can contribute goals, a top two finish and Grand Final berth may be on the cards.

Baulkham Hills travel away to Glenhaven in round 1.

Reserve grade 1pm

First Grade 3pm

Sydney NorthWest FC

Last Season’s Finish: PL1 4th, knocked out in Semi-Finals (def. 3-1 by Baulkham Hills)

The Goats will have a point to prove in 2018.  After spending the majority of last year’s season in the top three, a disappointing end saw both the firsts and reserves side knocked out in the semi-finals.

They’ll have some ground to make up if they’re going to supersede last year’s finalists in Kenthurst and Winston Hills, but some heavy off-season recruiting makes that a stark possibility.  Sam Belcastro, Michael Lok, Nick Giampietro, Josh Raad, and Harpreet Singh have joined the Goats for 2018; all five of whom have NPL backgrounds.

Coaches Gary Hibbert and Brad Eagleson will look to continue the clubs reputation for a strong defence and organised structure, and build on the team-work culture that was developed last year.  However they’ll need to add more goals to that mix if they’re going to be vying for silverware come August.

Sydney North West FC host Kellyville Kolts at Hills Sports High in round 1

Reserve Grade 1pm

First Grade 3pm

Castle Hill United

Last Season’s Finish: PL1 6th (Reserve Grade Champions)

Castle Hill United FC returns after a successful 2017 campaign, taking the trophy in last year’s PL1 Reserve Grade Championship, with First Grade only missing out on finals by 5 points; notwithstanding the fact they still finished second last, such was the parity of the competition last year.

Nonetheless, with the Hills Knights leaving PL1 this year, United are the lowest finishing team to remain in the competition this year, meaning they’ll want to vastly improve on their placings in 2018.

Head Coach “Bezza” returns with the bulk of the 2017 squad donning the green and white for another year.  A couple of new faces including club stalwart Benny Kershaw join the crew, along with Dan Bounpraseuth and Peter Lautre returning to the Caterdome; both having walked the hallowed halls in years prior.

Season 2018 also marks the anniversaries of 3 CHU-loyal familiar faces, with Connor Wares, Jayden Halford, and Joel Baker all booting up for their 15th consecutive year at the club. Balancing out the introduction of young guns Moyley, Jac, and Anthony to PL1 football.

Off-season recruiting also saw Isaac Di Matteo and Will McMurray join for the first time, along with Kaan and Rosie from the disbanded Rockets squad.

Castle Hill United host Coptic United in a postponed kick off to the season on the 10th April.

Reserve Grade 6pm

First Grade 7.45pm

Kellyville Kolts

Last Season’s Finish: PL1 5th

There was a lot to be celebrated about the Kolts 2017 season: a 40 year anniversary of serving the local football community, a move to the Hills competition, and a Reserve Grade Finals berth in their first year.  However the pain of missing out on a First Grade Semi-Final by a single goal differentiation to ‘red-and-black’ rivals Sydney North-West FC may still be lingering.

Kellyville may look back to their round 14 loss against the Goats that cost them that spot, and thankfully, they won’t have to wait long for revenge with Round 1 serving up the perfect shot at redemption.

However experienced skipper Conall Tayler – who will be leading Kolts for a seventh season – has aspirations beyond Round 1, stating their aim is to win everything on offer.  They’ll have the fire-power to do so, with striker Reece Iredale having “clinical striker instincts” according to his captain.

An off-season recruitment drive that ended in 70 player’s trialling for the squad means their defensive stocks should be bolstered.  A necessary improvement on their 2017 showings if they’re  to return to winning the silverware they became accustomed to in the Granville competition.

If pre-season form is anything to go by, it isn’t out of the question.  A gruelling three months of pre-season training by new head coach, Clinton Hulley, has seen the Kolts win most of their pre-season matches, as well as a Round 3 FFA cup tie win against Gerrigong FC.

 

The Kolts travel to The Hills Sports High to take on Sydney North West FC in round 1

Reserve Grade 1pm

First Grade 3pm

– Alex Perkins