PHOTO: VALENTINE SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
Sunday, July 16, 2017
Merewether v Warners Bay
At Myamblah Oval
Last start: Merewether beat Wallsend 3-0 in round 17; Warners Bay drew 1-1 with South Wallsend on Sunday.
This season: Merewether won 2-1 in round five, Warners Bay won 1-0 round 12.
Position on ladder: Warners Bay first, 40 points; Merewether second, 36 points.
Squad news: Warners Bay will be back to full strength with the return of Sophie Stapleford and Sass Seaborn, who have been out through unavailability. Merewether will have everyone on deck aside from Bek Stuart.
What the coaches say: Warners Bay player-coach Cassidy Davis rates this as a “massive game” but was focused on tonight’s rescheduled clash with Adamstown at Walker Fields.
“We obviously have to take tonight first,” Davis said.
“Adamstown are third and still good competition, so we’ll see how we go against them before looking to Merewether.
“A major thing against Merewether will be physicality – muscling up and being prepared for those one-v-one battles and winning those one-v-one battles and those 50-50 balls.
“We’re both obviously good teams so it is going to be about who turns up and wins those; it’s going to be a fight.”
Merewether coach Cassie Koppen said they were also looking at tonight’s rescheduled game with South Cardiff first.
“Southy have definitely improved and it’s clear they’re fighting for a finals spot,” Koppen said.
“We’ve got to get through this game first before we even worry about Sunday.
“The minor premiership is still up for grabs and is likely to be determined Sunday. “We can’t afford to lose a single point and need to play accordingly.”
Bottom line: This match has been looming large since the two sides last traded blows. There will be plenty of feeling in this and no need for motivation with both teams knowing the winner is likely to also end up with the premiership. They both have games scheduled for tonight so will be backing up for what should be an entertaining, physical and hard-fought match.
Wallsend v Mid North Coast
At The Gardens
Last start: Wallsend beat Thornton 6-0 and Mid North Coast lost 3-1 to Adamstown last round.
This season: Drew 2-2 in round five and round 12.
Position on ladder: Wallsend sixth, 11 points; Mid North Coast fourth, 17 points.
Squad news: Mid North Coast have all fit players available while Wallsend are without Alice Munro through injury.
What the coaches say: Wallsend assistant coach Strat Kapalos said the Red Devils were buoyed by their win over Thornton last weekend as they prepared for this match.
“The team is in good spirits leading into this must-win game,” Kapalos said.
“Three points is vital to our season and to giving us a chance of securing a semi-final position.”
Mid North Coast coach Mick Day admitted it was a risk to change systems at this point in the season but is confident the gamble can pay off for the fourth-placed side.
“Coming into the finals we are evolving our game plan with positional and system changes,” Day said.
“Many would say there is a risk in doing that with three games to go, but we have the talent to adjust our playing style and believe that risk will equal reward.
“We know Wallsend very well with Shannon [Day] playing there last season; it’s a great club, team and coaches.
“They [Wallsend] had a good game last weekend and we have had two draws with them this season, so we are expecting a tight match.
“This has been a great year for women’s football, proven by how close it is to make the top four.”
Bottom line: Wallsend gave themselves a glimmer of hope to make the finals with their big win over the Redbacks last round but need to back it up with another three points against an equally desperate Mid North Coast. Expect another cracking match between two sides who are yet to show their full potential this season. Could go either way.
South Wallsend v Thornton
At Walker Fields
Last start: South Wallsend drew 1-1 with Warners Bay and Thornton lost 6-0 on Sunday.
This season: South Wallsend won 5-0 in round five and 2-0 in round 12.
Position on ladder: South Wallsend fifth, 16 points; Thornton last, three points.
Squad news: Thornton will be back to full strength after losing a couple of players last minute last weekend while South Wallsend will be without experienced defender Gemma Pearce but get Georgia Amess.
What the coaches say: South Wallsend are set to play Merewether in a rescheduled clash tonight and coach Gary Wilson believes by the end of their next two games “we will know if we are real semi-final contenders”.
“We are confident of picking up points in both games, especially after matching it with the best side in the comp in Warners Bay on Sunday,” Wilson said.
Thornton coach Robbie Richardson expects “Southy will be pushing hard this weekend” but said his side would go out with nothing to lose.
Bottom line: South Wallsend have staged a late-season revival with a strong showing against Warners Bay last weekend. They were unlucky not to get the three points against the defending champions and ladder leaders and will take plenty of confidence into their match tonight. They should account for Thornton on Sunday but the Redbacks will still put up a fight.