PHOTO: VALENTINE SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
Match of the Round
South Wallsend v Adamstown
Sunday, July 2, 2.15pm
At Walker Fields
Last start: South Wallsend lost 4-3 to Mid North Coast; Adamstown beat Merewether 3-2.
This season: Drew 1-1 in round three, Adamstown won 3-2 in round 10.
Position on ladder: South Wallsend fifth, 12 points; Adamstown third, 20 points.
Squad news: South Wallsend welcome back Gemma Pearce and Adamstown have their full complement.
What the coaches say: This will be the second match in four days for South Wallsend, who play Merewether tonight (June 29) and Wolves coach Gary Wilson rates both as “make or break games”.
“We get Gemma [Pearce] back, which is massive for us as she holds the team together,” Wilson said.
“We trained well Tuesday night and just need to take that onto the pitch.”
Adamstown coach Lou D’Amico was expecting a desperate South Wallsend and a tough encounter.
“Both times we have played them this season have been tight and we expect this one to be the same,” D’Amico said.
Bottom line: Adamstown will be full of confidence after becoming only the second team this season to defeat competition leaders Merewether. Adamstown have been building their momentum nicely since their last meeting with South Wallsend and are in a good position for a top-four finish. The Wolves have a strong line-up and have so far underachieved this season. This is the time for them to fire if they want to be around, come finals time. This could go either way.
Wallsend v Merewether
At The Gardens
Last start: Wallsend lost 3-1 to Warners Bay; Merewether lost 3-2 to Adamstown.
This season: Merewether won 3-2 in round three and 1-0 in round 10.
Position on ladder: Merewether first, 33 points; Wallsend sixth, eight points.
Squad news: Wallsend are without Keely Gawthrop and Kally Lewis, who are both suspended due to card accumulation, while Merewether are missing just Sarah Halvorsen through other commitments.
What the coaches say: Wallsend coach Jason Harrison said the Red Devils would approach this match the same as they did against other competition front-runners Warners Bay last week.
“We will have the same game plan now for the rest of the year, we’ve just got to score goals,” Harrison said.
“We’re creating but we’re not scoring them.”
United are scheduled to play South Wallsend tonight (June 29) before backing up for this match and Merewether coach Cassie Koppen said the focus for both was “discipline”.
“We need to be more disciplined with how we play,” Koppen said.
“If we limit our touches on the ball and we move the ball around quickly then we can do that.
“We’re not reading too much into the result last week against Adamstown, we felt we let ourselves down more than anything.
“We’ve got a tough period coming up with catch-up games and we’ve just got to focus on getting through that.
“We expect both South Wallsend and Wallsend to be desperate. Every team in the league is capable of beating anyone if you don’t turn up on the day, as we found out last weekend.”
Bottom line: Wallsend are nine points adrift of the top four with six games to play and must win this if they want to keep their season alive. It will be a hard task against the league leaders but the Red Devils have proven a tough team to beat for United this season with both prior encounters closely fought. Wallsend have struggled all season to score while Merewether have had no shortage of goalscorers in their ranks. Can’t see United being beaten in this one, and the loss of key midfielder Keely Gawthrop will definitely be felt by the hosts.
Thornton v Warners Bay
At Thornton Park
Last start: Thornton lost 7-1 to Merewether on June 21; Warners Bay beat Wallsend 3-1 last round.
This season: Warners Bay won 3-1 in round three and 7-0 in round 10.
Position on ladder: Warners Bay second, 33 points; Thornton last, three points.
Squad news: Warners Bay are still without captain Nadja Squires and Sophie Stapleford through unavailability but welcome back Corinne Krupa from suspension while Thornton have everyone on deck.
What the coaches say: Thornton coach Robbie Richardson said the Redbacks have got nothing to lose and will “just have a dig”.
“The girls will be up for a challenge,” he said.
This is the second match of a weekend double-header for Warners Bay, who play Mid North Coast in Taree on Saturday, and Warners Bay player-coach Cassidy Davis said it would be a tough two days.
“Mid North Coast are getting their rhythm now and we will need to shut down their key players,” Davis said.
“Thornton have only won one game and are probably looking to build for next season so they’ll try things, and this last round is about who performs on the day.”
Bottom line: This is the second game in as many days for Warners Bay but the defending champions have only sustained one loss this season and will be odds-on favourites for this one.
Points table: Merewether 33, Warners Bay 33, Adamstown 20, Mid North Coast 17, South Wallsend 12, Wallsend 8, Thornton 3.