Match of the Round
Warners Bay v New Lambton
John Street Oval – Sunday 3pm
Warners Bay coach Craig Atkins will call on his side to lift to another level this weekend when the Panthers face New Lambton at John Street Oval.
“The girls know that we need to keep stepping up. That semi-final spot is in our hands, so we need to lift again this weekend,” Atkins said.
“The quality of football we played last weekend [against Thornton] was fantastic. But we still had that little patch where we just went away from our game plan.”
Warners Bay round out the regular season with matches against Merewether and Adamstown, with the Panthers in the position where a loss this weekend could open the door for either Rosebud or Mid Coast FC to move within striking distance of finals qualification.
“I said to the girls last week that we pretty much need to be playing with the intensity like we’re playing finals football anyway,” Atkins said.
“Elodie Dagg has been getting on the ball a lot more which is brilliant for us, that obviously supports Jen [Hoy]. Ryley Field as well, when she gets on the ball she controls a lot of our play.
“I’m definitely looking for those two again to keep the ball moving for us.”
New Lambton will look to see out the last three rounds of the Herald Women’s Premier League season by snatching points from some of the competition’s highflyers. The Eagles run home includes matches against fourth-placed Warners Bay on Sunday, Thornton the following week and Newcastle Olympic in the final round.
Despite being winless in their past five starts, interim head coach Cas Wright said team cohesion was working well despite a raft of serious injuries to key players including Sophie Stapleford and Lisa Cochrane.
“[We] just keep looking forward and take the positivity from last game that we had good creative play and more opportunity than the Olympic game,” Wright said.
“[I’m] very proud of all the squads stepping up and allowing us to be competitive each week, from under-14s, 17s and the seniors.”
Warners Bay will present a tough challenge for the young New Lambton side, with striker Hoy proving a handful for opposition defences in recent weeks. The mid-season signing scored five goals against Thornton last weekend.
“Warners Bay have a few key players we need to be aware of. They won’t be taken lightly, they are currently in good form,” Wright said.
Newcastle Olympic v Thornton Redbacks
Darling Street Oval – Sunday 3pm
Newcastle Olympic will hope for a more complete performance when they host Thornton on Sunday afternoon.
Olympic were lucky to escape with the three points against Adamstown last weekend, with their round 12 clash with the Redbacks an opportunity to reset after a busy fortnight of football.
“We had a bit of a regroup on Tuesday night at training and just had some time to talk through a couple of things that as a squad we weren’t quite happy with from the Adamstown match,” Olympic coach Harmonie Attwill said.
“It was a really good time to sit back and reset and get everyone’s opinion on our progress and think about where we’ve come.
“Other people tipped us to win the competition but we never came in thinking that was what we were going to do.”
Having been rested against Adamstown, Sophie O’Brien will again miss this weekend’s match with hamstring tightness, while Georgia Little remains sidelined with a groin muscle strain.
Little has scored three goals in two weeks for Olympic but came from the field nursing muscle tightness midway through the side’s win over Rosebud.
Second on the table, Olympic are equal on points with Broadmeadow Magic. The all-important battle for second place is likely to be decided next week when the sides meet at Magic Park.
The two teams who finish first and second on the table will play off in a non-elimination semi-final in week one of the finals series. The loser of that game will then play the winner of third versus fourth.
Sunday’s clash is a daunting one for Thornton, who have conceded 29 goals in their last four games. The Redbacks also have a growing injury list with Tuesday’s training session a gathering of the walking wounded, though as far as coach Al Primmer was concerned his side can still pull off an upset.
“Like when we played them in round one we need to try to limit them getting in behind us but can’t fall into the trap of sitting too deep so we leave our front girls isolated,” Primmer said.
“Olympic like getting numbers forward, so if we can maybe hit them on the counter, similar to round one.”
Primmer will hope to see Anais Moore, Madi Galligos and Jaz Hughes return for the Redbacks, while Celeste Edwards, Kirstie Power and Ainsley Childs remain in doubt.
Broadmeadow Magic v Adamstown
Magic Park – Sunday 3pm
Broadmeadow Magic will look to bounce back from last weekend’s loss to top-of-the-table Merewether United when they host Adamstown Rosebud at Magic Park.
“The squad is looking good. The session was good on Wednesday and the girls are positive,” Magic coach Jake Curley said.
Magic struggled to find the back of the net against the Llamas, with Curley of the opinion his side will need to limit Adamstown’s time with the ball.
“Adamstown are a good side to watch who try and play football. Our emphasis this week is on how we play knowing they will try and control possession,” Curley said.
At the other end, Adamstown coach Ryan Campbell believes his side has what it takes to knock over the third-placed Magic but will need to be at their best if they are to walk away with the three points.
“Overall, I believe limiting chances for their front three to get in behind our defence will be key. I am hoping that we can keep a clean sheet in order to make it easier to win the game,” Campbell said.
Sixth on the table, Rosebud remain in contention for finals football but will need to claim points this weekend if they are to remain in the hunt.
“All games at this stage are must win and we are focusing on getting results as we know we will not get there if we don’t win every match until the season is finished,” Campbell said.
Adamstown are expected to be unchanged for the clash, with Ella Spicer cleared of any injury. Spicer came from the field during the side’s narrow loss to Olympic last weekend.
Following the clash with Magic, Adamstown face Mid Coast FC before they meet Warners Bay in the final round of the regular season.
Magic round out the season with matches against Newcastle Olympic and Mid Coast.
Merewether United v Mid Coast FC
Myamblah Crescent Oval – Sunday 3pm
Merewether United can move four points clear at the top of the table if they edge out Mid Coast FC in a gruelling double header this weekend.
The two sides will meet at Taree Zone Field in their rescheduled round five fixture on Saturday. Just 24-hours later the sides again face off in their round 12 clash.
“The girls have just got to be a little more aware about their bodies and recovery. We’ll try and shuffle some people around but we don’t really have excess players,” Merewether coach Scott Ellis said.
The Llamas’ win over Magic last weekend sent them clear at the top-of-the-table, with the minor premiership now Merewether’s to lose.
“Rhali [Dobson] and I talked about that [minor premiership] at training on Tuesday night. Her point was she did not want anyone to slack off. We have come this far, we need to make sure we finish it,” Ellis said.
“I re-watched the game [against Magic]. The way we play often tends to leave the other team with more possession than we have but I’m not particularly worried about that as well as it doesn’t get into dangerous areas too often.”
Merewether will be without strike-weapon Jamee Ellis for the weekend, with Lori Depczynski likely to shift into the midfield. Sunday’s game also sees the return of Herald Women’s Premier League football to Myamblah Crescent Oval, a ground the Llamas have turned into a fortress in recent years.
Mid Coast will need to be at their best if they are to claim points from the highly rated Merewether, with Saturday’s clash their best opportunity in the mind of coach Mick Grass.
“As I have always said, it is one game at a time. I know we’ve got two games this weekend but the first will be all important. That is when we are going to be fresh,” Grass said.
“We’ll go into Saturday and give it our best shot and whatever happens after that will probably be up to fate.”
Courtney Anderson is expected to return for the clash having missed last weekend’s win over New Lambton, while Rosie Newman will likely miss the remainder of the season after she suffered a broken collarbone against the Eagles.
“We had a really good session on Tuesday night, a heavy session. Thinking about it this morning, I actually called tonight’s session [Wednesday] off,” Grass said.
“We’ve got a little bit of stiffness and a few niggling injuries in the squad.”
Middies remain a mathematical chance of finals qualification but will need to win at least one, if not both, games against the Llamas.