By Isaac McIntyre
Match of the Round
Newcastle Olympic FC 1 (Georgia Little) def. by Merewether United FC 2 (Eleanor Butler, Lori Depczynski)
3pm Sunday, March 15 – Darling Street Oval
Merewether have reminded the rest of the Herald Women’s Premier League that it may be one of the most open competitions in years as last-season’s finalists stunned early favourites Newcastle Olympic with a scrappy 2-1 victory at Darling Street Oval on Sunday afternoon.
After a statement 8–0 demolition of Mid Coast at Taree in the opening round, Olympic were tipped by many to be the season’s pacesetters. Just one week later, United spoiled their big day at Darling Street to put that early-season moniker in doubt.
Merewether coach Scott Ellis said it was an especially pleasing victory considering his girls were able to learn from their own performance last week, a 3–3 draw with New Lambton, to net three points.
The home side had a handful of early chances as Merewether looked to shut up shop away from Myamblah Oval. Jemma House came closest twice, denied only by Alison Logue, who had returned to the starting line-up this week.
United’s goalkeeper also played an offensive role too. She lofted a kick to Katy Gray, who knocked it on for Lori Depczynski to double Merewether’s lead.
A similar moment had come earlier in the half too, as Ellie Butler opened the scoring in the 30th minute with a counter-attack.
Georgia Little was able to claw one back for Olympic in the 55th minute but Newcastle could not find their way through the red and white defensive wall for the equaliser.
The score ended 2-1 as United left Darling Street with all three points.
“It was a really scrappy game. I don’t think we’re happy with how we kept the ball but we defended really, really well and Newcastle were only able to get three or four good chances in the game,” Ellis said.
“What was pleasing was we were able to identify the issues that we had last week, mainly defensive things, and come out with them fixed in round two. The whole team had to work defensively and it was a gutsy win for sure.
“I think we’re probably pretty far from where we want to be but getting the points is great. I think neither of our results so far have been particularly pretty but we’re getting to where we want to be. Alison [Logue] back was huge, and Sarah Bergin slotted right in.”
In the other dugout, Harmonie Atwill may have seen her side’s first home match spoiled by Merewether’s smash-and-grab but said she wasn’t panicking yet.
Considering the season is two weeks in, it was about “lessons” rather than defeats.
“Merewether took their chances and we didn’t,” Atwill said.
“Honestly, this is probably a good time to lose games because it gives us time to rectify things. We can go and work on the fundamentals, figure out what we missed.”
Atwill added it was “awesome” to get out onto Darling Street Oval for the first time in the WPL. She said the whole team looked forward to clinching their first win of the season in front of their home fans.
“We had a great crowd from both sides. Merewether always brings a great crowd and lots of supporters. So it was a great vibe,” Atwill said.
“We have another home game next weekend so it’s nice to be back again and we’ll gun for the win.”
New Lambton FC 1 (Stacey Day) def. by Adamstown Rosebud JFC 2 (Kimberly Trappett, own goal)
2.30pm Sunday, March 15 – No.2 Sportsground
Self-belief has been set alight in Adamstown Rosebud’s young squad, coach Ryan Campbell said, after they delivered defending champions New Lambton a blow to their title defence with a 2-1 victory at No.2 Sportsground.
Campbell said his side didn’t play overly well in the grand scheme of things but to bowl over “a team tipped to do well” had proven something to Adamstown, that their own pre-season hype was far from mis-placed.
“Everyone believes they’re the best team in the comp and I was saying to the girls we’ll be successful this season. But I think before beating New Lambton they weren’t exactly 100 per cent sold. Now they’re starting to believe,” Campbell said.
Adamstown’s one-goal victory launched them into top spot two weeks in. They sit alone atop the Women’s Premier League after the rest of the round two results.
“That’s what we needed. With the win, the girls are starting to buy in,” Campbell said.
The away side jumped into the lead 10 minutes in as the Eagles’ Kate Heaps accidentally turned a Brianna Trappett cross into the back of the net.
Brianna’s sister Kimmy doubled the lead with a long-range effort in the 70th minute.
New Lambton’s Stacey Day was able to get one back for the champions, slotting home a chance from a corner. The Eagles captain’s strike ended up being a consolation goal though, as Adamstown held firm to net three points.
While Campbell and the Buds walked away from No.2 brimming with confidence, the Eagles were forced to lick their wounds after Adamstown executed their plan better according to New Lambton coach Brad Jones.
“They probably deserved the three points. They out enthused us. Ryan told them what to do and they did a good job of following every call he made,” Jones said.
“We’re gelling as a unit. To only lose 2-1 is pleasing and we did have chances. Their keeper made a fantastic couple of saves. We’ve just got to keep working and time will tell for us, I think.
“We’ll bounce back from this for sure.”
Mid Coast FC 1 (Chelsea Hall) def. by Warners Bay FC 2 (Sophia Lauren, Ellie Brown)
3pm Sunday, March 15 – Taree Zone Field
2-1 away win for Merewether at Darling Street? Check.
2-1 away win for Adamstown at No.2? Check.
The last Women’s Premier League second-round game, hosted at Taree Zone Field?
You guessed it: a 2-1 away win for Warners Bay.
It wasn’t a simple three-pointer up north for the Panthers, however. Sophia Lauren and Ellie Brown both netted just before heading into the sheds to give the away side a two-goal buffer but it was a different Mid Coast side that emerged in the second half.
Chelsea Hall soon got one back for the home side to halve the deficit. Hall’s goal may have been the last scored in the match but according to both coaches Mid Coast could have had even more but for less-than clinical final passes.
“We switched off for just too long at the end of the first half and that hurt us,” Middies coach Mick Grass said.
“In my opinion we dominated the second half and the girls did well to get it back to 2-1 after conceding two.”
Grass said there were “buckets of positives” from the defeat regardless. To turn around from an 8-0 thrashing last round and lose because of “five poor minutes” was “absolutely a positive.”
“We were down 2-0 at half-time and I think after that big loss [against Olympic] it could have gone either way. Just those two goals that cost us but with our second half if we had got a few more final passes, we could have won by three or four.”
Warners Bay coach Craig Atkins agreed Mid Coast came out “completely different” in the second half. After coasting to a 2–0 lead after the first 45 minutes, the Panthers boss said his team had to “battle to the last” to get the points in the end.
“We’ll definitely take the three well-earned points on the road trip, that’s for sure,” Atkins said.
“The girls battled hard and fought for each other. The Middies made it a very tough game in the end and getting three points in Taree is always fantastic.”
Atkins also said it was key to pick up three points whenever they are on offer especially considering how the WPL season had shaped up so far.
“Looking at the results across the round it looks like the 2020 season could be about that theme, battling hard and grinding out results,” Atkins said.
“The Mid Coast game proved we have that in us, so that’s fantastic to see. We’ll take a lot out of this win.”
Broadmeadow Magic FC vs Warners Bay FC was postponed on Friday night due to a Broadmeadow player awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test.
The player tested negative after results were returned Sunday night.