Photo: Valentine Sports Photography
Match of the Round
South Wallsend v Merewether
Sunday, April 30
At Walker Fields, 2.15pm
Last start: South Wallsend lost 1-0 to Warners Bay last Thursday night; Merewether beat Adamstown 6-0 last night.
Last time they met: Merewether won 6-0 in round one.
Position on ladder: Merewether first, 18 points; South Wallsend fourth, four points.
Squad news: South Wallsend will be without Erin Wilson, who sustained an ankle injury against Warners Bay last week and could miss a few matches. Merewether are missing goalkeeper Alison Logue, Grace Macintyre, Rebekah Stuart and Sarah Halvorsen through unavailability but welcome back Jaimee Ellis and Ellie Withers, who did not play last night.
What the coaches say: South Wallsend coach Gary Wilson expected the game to be a good gauge of where they are in terms of the rest of the competition.
“We are in a much better place than we were at the start of the season,” Wilson said.
“We’ve got a few more players back than in that round-one game, Stacey Day is getting closer to starting a game and we are a lot better prepared for them.
“I thought we were impressive against Warners Bay last week and will be buoyed by the way we played.
“We’ll go in with confidence but we’ll certainly respect them. Obviously, they are the benchmark and are unbeaten, and it will be a test in how far we have come.”
Merewether coach Cassie Koppen had few complaints ahead of this clash.
She was “thrilled” with how United were travelling and described the performance in last night’s 6-0 win over Adamstown as “probably the best I have seen us play since I have been coaching at Merewether”.
But that did not mean they would be taking South Wallsend lightly.
“Stacey Day is a quality player and as soon as she steps on that field her experience is invaluable,” Koppen said.
“I expect a totally different side to the first round and I think they are a team who have definitely underperformed.”
Bottom line: This will be Merewether’s third game in eight days but that should mean little to the competition pace-setters, who have been virtually untouched in their past two outings. They have scored 11 goals in those two games and recorded two clean sheets. South Wallsend have however been steadily improving since their shock opening round 6-0 loss to Merewether and more than matched it with defending champions Warners Bay last week, despite going down 1-0. United have a few players out and this looks set to be a tight battle.
Adamstown v Warners Bay
Saturday, April 29
At Adamstown No.1 Oval, 2.15pm
Last start: Adamstown lost 6-0 against Merewether last night; Warners Bay beat Mid North Coast 3-2 on Sunday.
Last time they met: Warners Bay won 4-2 in round one.
Position on ladder: Warners Bay second, 15 points; Adamstown third, five points.
Squad news: Warners Bay are without Sass Seaborn through unavailability and Sophie Stapleford is in doubt with a quadriceps injury. Experienced defender Brooke Miller returns from injury to stabilise the back line. Adamstown will be without striker Sarah Moore, who is unavailable, and the rest of the squad will be determined by how everyone pulls up from last night’s clash with Merewether.
What the coaches say: Warners Bay player-coach Cassidy Davis says the focus this round would be on leaking fewer goals.
“We definitely need to be better than in the first game against Adamstown,” Davis said.
“We’re scoring goals but we’re conceding a lot too. We’ve only had one clean sheet and for this round, we will be concentrating on keeping clean sheets and on our defence.”
Davis also pinpointed Rosebud captain and centre-back Clare Cummings and key midfielder Elodie Dagg as Adamstown’s danger players.
Adamstown coach Ben Herron is calling for “consistency”, describing his side’s performances so far as “Jekyll and Hyde”.
He was critical of his side’s first-half performance against Wallsend on Sunday and of the second-half effort against Merewether in a resounding loss last night.
“I thought the girls were playing well and thought they were competing in the first half,” Herron said after last night’s game.
“But I was disappointed with my girls in the second half. I don’t think they showed enough character … they actually looked like they gave up and I can’t condone that.”
Bottom line: This will be Adamstown’s third game in seven days and how their fitness holds up could be a telling factor. Herron was not impressed with Rosebud’s first-half performance in a two-all draw with Wallsend on Sunday then last night was equally frustrated by a poor second-half effort. But Rosebud have the chance to get their season back on track with a defining performance against the defending champions this weekend. Warners Bay have the team to do damage but Rosebud have the personnel to match it with them if they remain committed to the task at hand.
Thornton v Mid North Coast
Sunday, April 30
At Thornton Park, 2.15pm
Last start: Thornton lost 5-0 to Merewether on Sunday; Mid North Coast lost 3-2 to Warners Bay on Sunday.
Last time they met: Mid North Coast won 8-0.
Position on ladder: Mid North Coast fifth, four points; Thornton last, nil points.
Squad news: Mid North Coast will be at full strength while Thornton are without Ash Vickery and Tahla Grant is in doubt. The Redbacks welcome back Luci Maddison and Holly Wilcox.
What the coaches say: Mid North Coast coach Mick Day was not expecting another one-sided scoreline when they meet the Redbacks for a second time this season.
“Thornton are a dangerous team, especially at home,” Day said.
“We’ve been watching their results and they are competitive with all teams and we are expecting a much tighter game than round one.
“Our girls are playing great football and have been unlucky not to be on the right side of the scoreline.”
Day suggested he make changes to their playing system but was keeping his cards close to his chest.
Thornton coach Al Primmer is still looking for a sustained 90-minute performance from the Redbacks, who have pushed all of the teams in the competition in the earlier stages of their clashes.
“We’ll just be asking for more the same from the first 45 against Merewether last weekend,” he said.
“We worked hard and we actually had 45 percent of the ball, which is our best effort all year.
“Mid North Coast will be fast; they hit you on the counter and press as a unit and we need to be switched on.”
Bottom line: Both teams are desperate for points as the competition enters the second of three rounds, and looking at the first-round result it would be easy to assume Mid North Coast had this one in the bag. But the hosts had sections of all of their games where they have pushed all of their opponents. They just need to be able to continue to do it for the whole game. Mid North Coast would probably still be favoured to win this one but it is not expected to be another eight-goal whitewash.
Wallsend – bye
Points table: Merewether 18, Warners Bay 15, Adamstown 5, South Wallsend 4, Mid North Coast 4, Wallsend 2, Thornton 0.