PHOTO: Valentine Sports Photography
Match of the Round
South Wallsend v Thornton
Sunday, 2.15 pm
At Walkers Fields
Last start: South Wallsend drew 1-1 with Adamstown on March 26; Thornton lost 3-1 to Warners Bay on March 26.
Position on ladder: South Wallsend fifth, one point; Thornton last, nil points.
Squad news: Thornton’s line-up is expected to stay the same. They are still without defender Kristy Martin through injury. South Wallsend will have Emma Stevenson back on deck after being unavailable through work commitments and Stacey Day is expected to make her long-awaited return to the field in some form.
What the coaches say: Thornton coach Al Primmer was happy with his side’s last effort, despite losing 3-1 to the defending champions and will ask for more of the same on Sunday.
“It’s more about us and repeating the attitude we took to John Street Oval two weeks ago,” Primmer said.
“I’m expecting South Wallsend to be a team like us, wanting to get something happening for momentum going forward.”
South Wallsend coach Gary Wilson said his focus was an improvement with each outing.
“We’re playing it a bit blind at the moment until we’ve played everyone in this first round,” Wilson said.
“But we’re just worrying about ourselves. We developed a lot of confidence out of our last game and we want to build on that.”
Bottom line: Training has been a big issue for most teams in recent weeks due to the wet weather but Thornton have really been hit hard. They have not been able to train since Tuesday of last week, which could prove costly. South Wallsend would be favoured in this one looking at the experience they have on the park and Stacey Day is sure to give the Wolves a lift when she takes the field. But the Redbacks have repeatedly shown over the past few seasons that they can frustrate the more experienced teams in the competition with a high-pressing game and speed to burn on the counter-attack. Should be an interesting match-up.
Merewether v Warners Bay
Sunday, 2.15 pm
At Myamblah Oval
Last start: Warners Bay beat Wallsend 5-3 on March 29, Merewether beat Wallsend 3-2 on March 26.
Position on ladder: Warners Bay first, nine points, Merewether second, six points.
Squad news: Warners Bay have no changes while Merewether are without Westfield W-League striker Rhali Dobson, who is overseas.
What the coaches say: Warners Bay player-coach Cassidy Davis believes the key to beating Merewether will be shutting down midfield lynchpin Jane McDonald.
“I think they are going to be very tough; They are always very physical and they’ve got a big, strong team and we are quite small,” Davis said.
“We need to make sure we win the individual battles, whoever we are up against. We also need to shut down Jane [McDonald] in the middle. Shutting her down is a major thing … and just being more physical.”
Merewether coach Cass Koppen wants to see a more miserly defensive effort from United.
“Obviously they’ve got a lot of strike power up front so we need to tighten up our defence,” Coppen said.
“Typically we’ve had one of the strongest defensive records in the competition but we’ve leaked a couple already this season, so we will look to tightening our backline and also dominating the midfield and taking our chances in front of goal.”
Bottom line: This is the top of the table clash and should be an arm wrestle. Both sides have plenty of attacking options, talent in the middle of the park and experience in defence, so this one could go either way. The battle is likely to be won in the middle of the park. Merewether stalwart Jane McDonald and W-League Jets player Cassidy Davis will go head-to-head and whoever dominates is likely to dictate the result of this one.
Wallsend v Mid North Coast
Sunday, 2.15 pm
At The Gardens
Last start: Mid North Coast lost 5-1 to Adamstown on Sunday, Wallsend lost 5-3 to Warners Bay on March 29.
Position on ladder: Wallsend sixth, nil points; Mid North Coast fourth, three points
Squad news: Neither side is expected to have any changes to their last hit-outs.
What the coaches say: Mid North Coast coach Mick Day was holding his cards close to his chest ahead of this clash but said spirits remained high despite a four-goal loss last weekend.
“We had a good game debrief before Tuesday’s training session and identified some key points to focus on for this weekend,” Day said.
“The girls are ready and looking forward to playing Wallsend.”
Wallsend assistant coach Strat Kapalos said the Red Devils would be wary of Mid North Coast, who were an unknown quantity this season.
“We’re not sure what to expect from them with only a few games played but I would think they will be a well-organised side,” Kapalos said.
“Our challenge is to continue the momentum and to play like we did in the first half of the Warners Bay game for the full 90 minutes.”
Bottom line: Some of Mid North Coast’s biggest losses last season came at the hands of Wallsend, including a 6-0 trouncing at this very ground. But a lot has changed since then and don’t be surprised to see the visitors put paid to their demons with a strong effort on Sunday. Mid North Coast have former Wallsend players Shannon Day and Sophie Jones in their ranks this season and the Red Devils have former Mid North Coast shot-stopper Jess Sanderson in goals, which should add interest.
Adamstown – bye.
Points table: Warners Bay 9, Merewether 6, Adamstown 4, Mid North Coast 3, South Wallsend 1, Wallsend 0, Thornton 0.