Match of the Round
New Lambton 4 (Tara Andrews 2, Lauren Allan 2) def. Wallsend 1 (Olivia Kennedy)
Sunday 31 March, 2.30pm, Arthur Edden Oval
The Herald Women’s Premier League (WPL) match of the round was described by both teams as a “cracker”, and BarTV sports couldn’t have picked a better clash to broadcast in the history-making online stream.
Although the 4-1 scoreline fell to home side New Lambton in an eventual lopsided fashion, the contest between the Eagles and the travelling Wallsend outfit was a tense end-to-end clash for most of 90 minutes.
Wallsend started the game in the ascendancy, taking control of the meeting at Arthur Edden Oval and threatening Imogene Tomasone’s goal a handful of times before New Lambton stamped their authority on the live-streamed match.
The Eagles, led by dual midfield pivot Lisa Cochrane and Imogen Tusek, slowly began locking Wallsend out of their defensive final third, before launching their own raid into Red Devils territory as the first half ticked on.
It was just before the half-hour mark when New Lambton landed the first blow, with Tara Andrews slipping into an open channel down the Eagles’ right flank and slamming a shot past Wallsend’s Danielle Redding and a glut of defenders to open the game’s account.
Lauren Allan doubled New Lambton’s advantage minutes out from the break as a half-chance down the left became a fully-fledged goal after the Eagles winger lobbed a sharp chip at the top of Redding’s goal. Wallsend’s keeper brushed her glove against the floating chance, but the ball nestled into the back of the net regardless.
Allan and Andrews carried their shining start into the second half, and although Wallsend’s defence held strong for the first seventeen minutes a slick through-ball put Allan in on goal and she finished the opportunity to all but put the game to bed. Andrews delivered the final nail to Wallsend’s coffin minutes later off a looping corner kicker minutes later.
The Red Devils were able to drag one back late on, with Olivia Kennedy beating two Eagles defenders to lob one of the best finishes of the game past Tomasone, but it wasn’t enough to mount a comeback for the travelling outfit.
For New Lambton coach Keelan Hamilton, the three-goal margin was a “happy moment”, considering the club helmsman believes Wallsend has the quality to “beat a lot of teams this season”.
“It was a really good game of football, and we scored some good goals to get the three points,” Hamilton said post-match.
“There were a few nerves in the dressing shed ahead of the game because we recognised Wallsend were a good side with good players, and it was going to be a tough test.
“When you start with three wins people start talking about you, and it puts pressure on everyone including the players, so it was good to pass this strong test that we faced with flying colours.”
The win at home moves New Lambton to a 4-0 record at the top of the WPL standings, an undefeated run to start the season that Hamilton chalks up to his solid team for 2019.
“We didn’t have a bad player in the game at all, and apart from the first ten minutes we were mostly in control, so I’m happy,” he said.
“I thought our two holding midfielders were fantastic, they really kept Libby [Copus-Brown] quiet in the match, and that gave us a good platform to play some football.
“Everyone played well, but those two let everyone else do their jobs and continuously got the ball forward quickly to give our forwards chances.”
Wallsend coach Brad Jones was also full of praise for his squad, despite the final three-goal deficit that sent them home empty-handed. For Jones, who had just watched his side fall for the second time in their 2019 campaign, believed the overall performance was “really great”.
“I think we absolutely took it to them, New Lambton are absolutely class but we showed heart, desire, and desperation and we looked great,” Jones said.
“There were so many positives for us in terms of game plan and the style of football we’re trying to play.
“We created plenty of opportunities, and on another day when we put our chances away it’ll be interesting to see how the big teams react.
“New Lambton are a brilliant team, but I think we have a plan now that can match it with these guys and as our players continue to mesh we’ll get better. Our brand of football allows us to cause every single team in this competition plenty of headaches.”
Wallsend’s leading coach also praised the BarTV Sports coverage that Northern NSW Football had rescheduled to the Arthur Edden Oval clash in Round 4.
“I hope there were plenty of people tuning into BarTV today, I love the idea that Northern’s taken the initiative to bring the women’s game to the public that can’t get to the matches,” he said.
“We need more of it, and I thought for the first BarTV game it was a cracker.”
Football Mid North Coast 2 (Jenna Doyle PEN, Jessica James) def. Thornton Redbacks 0
Sunday 31 March, 2.30pm, Taree Zone Field
In the second game of Round 4, Football Mid North Coast (FMNC) welcomed the Thornton Redbacks to Taree Zone Field in the two club’s first matchup since returning to the Herald WPL in 2019.
Mid North Coast took the spoils in the clash, with a late goal from Jessica James confirming their 2-0 victory over a ten-woman Thornton.
It was a “step up from last week”, according to Middies coach Mick Grass, who said he was pleased to get the job done against the Redbacks considering the next few weeks.
“It’s always good to get off the mark and get that monkey off your back, a bit of pressure might come off the player’s shoulders now,” Grass said.
“There’s also been a bit of criticism that the girls have coped since the start of the season, that hopefully now will slide away a bit. It’s definitely a confidence builder for us, and something we can work with going on from here.”
FMNC found their first advantage of the match when Thornton were dropped to ten players just ahead of the half-break, with Jenna Doyle stepping up to the spot following penalty and slotting it home to give her side the advantage.
Mid North Coast were able to keep Thornton scoreless over the next forty-five minutes and nabbed one final goal from James in the dying moments of the match.
While the Redbacks returned from their journey north with zero goals and no competitive points, it was a successful trip nonetheless according to Thornton coach Alan Primmer.
“I’m happy with the way we’re playing, we know what we’ve got and it’s not any W-League stars or anything like that, so we’re working on a specific style of football,” he said.
“It’s great to see the girls playing to instructions and have it look good on the park, I think if you take out the 45th-minute penalty and the send-off it’s a tight game, which is what you’d expect between us and Mid North Coast.”
Primmer also praised returning forward star Sophie Milton, who he pinpointed to provide impact for the club ahead of the Wednesday catch-up match last week.
“I was wrapped with Sophie Milton’s performance, she was on the end of some of our best opportunities on Sunday, and on Wednesday,” he said.
“She has those smarts to pick up on those chances, and she was the one three or four times getting us close.”
“Middies stopped her a few times through recovery or shots blocked, but she was great for us in attack. Anais Moore was fantastic in the middle as well.”
Merewether United 3 (Nicki Jones 2, Rhali Dobson) def. Adamstown Rosebuds 2 (Elodie Dagg, Chelsea Lucas)
Sunday 31 March, 2.30pm, Myamblah Oval
For 80 minutes at Myamblah Oval, it seemed like Adamstown were going to walk away with three points against local rivals Merewether.
The Rosebuds headed into the half break locked at 1-1 with United after Elodie Dagg had opened the scoring in the Round 4 clash before a Nicki Jones corner kick floated straight into Adamstown’s net to level the scores.
Adamstown danger woman Chelsea Lucas put the away side back into the lead in the second half, with a moment of magic putting her side back in control.
Then Westfield W-League striker Rhali Dobson struck just ten minutes out from the final whistle, levelling the score, before a second from Jones who put the defending champions into the lead for the first time in the game as well as taking the three points.
Rosebuds coach Paul Devitis said he “could not believe it” after the rapid-fire double closed out the match and snatched three points from his team’s clutches.
“We were winning,” he said after the match.
“It’s one of those games that you’re just gutted after if you’re involved in, I felt so bad for the girls because they had defended so well. When the third went in it was just like “no”, absolute heartbreaking stuff.
“That said, there’s a lot of positives for us to take out of the match. We have spoken about working on our shape because we’ve conceded a lot of goals so far, and jeez we were fantastic at that.
Devitis revealed that after the late defeat he and the team held a post-match team talk and decided the game had been rife with positives despite it appearing on their 2019 record as a competition loss.
“We had a chat and everyone I think is in good spirits because of how well we played across 80 minutes,” he explained. “To be an elite team we just have to stretch out that performance that we had to 90 minutes. We got very close…
“The girls know that was a top-four team we played against and we nearly got points, so we now want to harness that momentum from the game and get points going forward.”
Merewether coach Cass Koppen, who did, in the end, walk away with three points for her side, simply said it was “far too close” after the match finished.
“I think we were far too complacent heading into the game, we looked a little fatigued and didn’t stick to individual roles,” the Llamas coach said.
“It was a lacking performance really, but I think full credit to the girls for coming back from being behind 2-1. It showed our overall composure to be able to get a result in that final fifteen minutes.
“Our experience showed, we didn’t panic and we realised we’d been in pressure situations like this before, and bigger moments like the finals, and we knew we had what it took to come from behind and get those key three points.”
South Wallsend 1 (Mary-Jane Mason) def. by Warners Bay 6 (Shannon Day 2, Jenna Kingsley 2, Nadja Squire, own goal)
Sunday 31 March, 2.30pm, Walker Fields
The final game of the fourth round saw Warners Bay make a statement at Walker Fields, downing hosting club South Wallsend 6-1, with the five-goal victory keeping the Panthers into second place.
Doubles for attacking midfielders Jenna Kingsley and Shannon Day clocked up most of the goals for the travelling side, with Kingsley opening the scoring against the Wolves just a minute into the contest.
Day bagged her first ahead of the ten-minute mark before a long-ranged Nadja Squires’ free-kick forced an own goal for South Wallsend to give Warners Bay a 3-nil lead at half-time.
Day added her second early in the next stanza, while Squires recorded a proper goal to push the Panthers’ lead to near-untouchable margin. Mary-Jane Mason scored one for South Wallsend late-on before Kingsley sealed her brace and confirmed the three points for the away side.
“We wanted to come up against South Wallsend and play a certain style that we had prepared, and it paid off,” head coach Antonio Ambrogetti said of the win.
“We were fairly organised and played our passing game well, and took advantage of the control that we had because of that.
“South Wallsend responded well to it all and put us under a lot of pressure, but overall we got the result and I’m really happy with how the squad played. Hopefully, we can continue to show the same level of football and style, and go on from here.”
Ambrogetti also levelled praise to the match officials, who reportedly controlled the game with a raft of yellow cards at Walker Fields.
“I think the referees controlled the game very well, it was very physical and I think Cassidy Davis, in particular, got knocked around a bit in the midfield, but the officials did very well. Handed out a lot of yellows overall, and made sure the game stayed very organised.”
Ambrogetti also confirmed former player-coach Cassidy Davis would be returning to her former role in the coming weeks, while he was away from the club for three weeks.