Match of the Round
Merewether United FC 3 (Lori Depczynski, Katy Gray, Nicki Jones) drew. New Lambton FC 3 (Kaitlin Radstaak, Georgia Amess, Ellie Jones)
2.30pm Sunday, March 8 — No.2 Sportsground
Merewether and New Lambton walked away with a point in their Women’s Premier League season opener but Eagles coach Brad Jones was left frustrated as the defending champions let two points slip in their grand final rematch on Sunday.
The Eagles shone early and created several big chances but it was Merewether’s Lori Depczynski who scored the first goal of the season as United stung New Lambton in the 10th minute.
New Lambton cancelled out Depczynski’s long-range strike just before the half hour mark as Kaitlin Radstaak fired in the Eagles’ first goal of the season from the edge of the penalty area.
The score remained locked at 1–1 until half-time before United broke the deadlock after the break. Katy Gray headed home a free-kick that had rattled the bar to send Merewether in front.
Georgia Amess and Ellie Jones were next to put their names on the scoresheets. Amess popped in a back-post finish in the 77th minute before delivering the key pass two minutes later for Jones as New Lambton took the lead.
The match had one final twist as Merewether defender Nicki Jones stepped up with nine minutes to play. The 31-year-old struck her free-kick sweetly from 30 metres out from New Lambton’s goal to score the leveller.
Jones declared his team would have had “better luck playing rugby league” after watching a number of the Eagles’ chances soar over Merewether’s goal.
“We would have converted a fair few if we were playing in the NRL for sure,” Jones said before suggesting it felt like “two points lost” rather than one point won.
“I think we created enough chances to win two games today but we just didn’t get the job done.”
But New Lambton’s new coach said he was happy overall, walking away from No.2 Sportsground with a number of positives for the season ahead.
“At the end of the day we’re off the mark but I did think if someone was going to win it would have been us with how we controlled patches of the game,” Jones said.
“To Merewether’s credit but they were clinical and finished when they needed to.”
While Jones felt the Eagles may have been hard done by to leave the inner-city battle with a single point, Merewether coach Scott Ellis said he was proud to see his side step up especially considering how short they were in the season opener.
Veteran goalkeeper Alison Logue and Melbourne City star Rhali Dobson were missing for round one, while midfield signing Sarah Bergin is still awaiting an international clearance before she can pull on the red and white.
“We did really well considering we were still settling in and missing several key players… especially, Alison Logue, she’s massive at the back,” the new United boss said of his starting 11.
“Having said that Liv [Olivia Odorico] who stepped in was fantastic too.”
After their first 90 minutes in the campaign, Ellis added his side would be a “work in progress” but said he thought they had what it took to compete.
“There’s no doubt about it, we’ll be a work in progress early on this season,” Ellis said.
“But to get a point off New Lambton early, they were unbeaten all last year even if they have changed a little, is a good starting point. We’ll build from here.”
Mid Coast FC 0 def. by Newcastle Olympic FC 8 (Jemma House 3, Alesha Clifford 2, Jess Evans, Sophie Phillips, own goal)
3pm Sunday, March 8 — Taree Zone Field
Newcastle Olympic kick-started their debut Women’s Premier League season in style with an 8–0 victory over Football Mid Coast but head coach Harmonie Atwill said her side’s win in Taree did not come easy.
Jemma House led the way for Olympic in the season opener as the 24-year-old scored the first hat-trick of the campaign. Alesha Clifford added a double while Jess Evans and Sophie Phillips also scored for Olympic, with Middies also conceding an own goal.
“It may read that way but the game wasn’t easy,” Atwill said of her side’s eight-goal rout.
“We had to step up or Middies would have absolutely punished us. Our defence was solid and we moved the ball confidently. It was good to watch it all come together.”
Atwill added she was impressed to see the girls click so quickly on the pitch, especially in the league’s longest away day straight off the bat.
“We won it in the midfield and everyone worked together as a unit well,” Atwill said.
“The girls did really well in Taree. We’ve shown that we can take what we’ve learned on the training pitch into games and now we just have to adapt to each battle every weekend. The girls are looking forward to it all I think.”
Newcastle may have found their groove at Taree Zone Field but Mid Coast was left scratching their head about where it slipped away.
Coach Mick Grass said a key area his team had to improve after their 8–0 loss was their fitness. After competing well early, two goals turned into six through set pieces and the team were unable to recover from the onslaught.
“It’s not the way we wanted to start the season, no. We had a nervy five-minute patch, then we got into the game well. Those four goals from set-pieces really took us down a notch and we’ll have to work on that going forward,” Grass said.
“There is a lot, a lot to learn from this game though, not least of all fitness. The players need to understand the demands of the Premier League and I think this match showed them. We need to hit another level after coming back from the break.
“We’ll get there though. Olympic played pretty well and they’ve been tipped as frontrunners so it’s no surprise. Our younger players got some lessons and we’ll go away and focus on what we have to work on now to get into shape.”
Adamstown Rosebud JFC 4 (Ellen Hughes 2, Jorjia Hogg, Rachel Duffin) def. Thornton Redbacks FC 1 (Susan Randall)
7pm Sunday, March 8 — Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility
Adamstown got their 2020 season off to a great start with a 4–1 win over Thornton at the Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility. The first-round game was moved from No.1 Sportsground due to wet weather over the weekend.
Rosebud took the lead early and marched to a 2–0 lead at half-time. Thornton was able to pull one back through Susan Randall in the second half but two more goals for Adamstown sealed the three points for the ladies in red and green.
Ellen Hughes was a standout in attack for the victors notching a brace, while Jorjia Hogg and Rachel Duffin sealed the win.
The 4–1 win pushed Rosebud into second place after the opening round behind fast-starters Olympic with their +8 goal difference.
Hughes also joined the race to be 2020’s top scorer early on, though she sits behind Newcastle’s Jemma House who notched three. Hughes is also level with former Wallsend defender Alesha Clifford, who scored twice in Taree.
There is still a long way to go in the season but as Campbell said ahead of the season opener, Adamstown wanted to “get off to a great start” and “earn nine points from the first three games.” With one down, there’s only two to go.
Adamstown next face 2019 champions New Lambton at the highly-lauded No.2 Sportsground, while the Redbacks will continue their search for their first win of the new season against returning club Broadmeadow Magic on Friday night.
Broadmeadow Magic FC vs Warners Bay FC was postponed due to inclement weather.