Match of the Round
Warners Bay v Wallsend
At John St Oval
Sunday, May 22, 2.15pm
Last start: Warners Bay lost 1-0 to Adamstown; Wallsend beat Mid North Coast 9-0
Last time they met: 1-1 draw
Position on the ladder: Wallsend second with 18 points, Warners Bay fourth (11)
Warners Bay coach Leon Davis believes Wallsend are the form team of the competition but said his side’s biggest challenge was “themselves”.
Warners Bay are yet to beat a team ahead of them on the table – they have drawn with Merewether and Wallsend and pushed unbeaten ladder leaders Adamstown despite a 1-0 loss last weekend.
They have looked good against all of those sides and have created plenty of chances but finishing continues to be their bugbear.
“Last time we played them we should’ve had them wrapped up early but again couldn’t score the goals from the chances we created,” Davis said.
“I believe they’re in the best form of their competition, so it will be interesting.
“But our challenge will again be ourselves, our mental approach and also the availability of players.”
The hosts are still without Jets striker Adriana Jones through unavailability, Davis was unsure whether twins Maddy and Taylah Smith would be available and Kally Lewis and Nadja Squires are in doubt with injury.
They do however welcome into the squad former Emerging Jets player Gemma House, who has been playing football in the United States.
She returned to Australia this week and Davis expected her to have her first training run this evening.
Wallsend lost fleet-footed attacking weapon Sophie Jones this week. Jones helped Merewether to the minor and major premiership last year and returned to her former club during the week.
But Wallsend coach Marc Hingston said he expected to field a full-strength side for the match and said confidence would be high after back-to-back strong performances in which they scored 13 goals.
“We are two teams who like to play attractive football, with a lot of creativity and attacking spark,” Hingston said.
“We are also two teams in form and both sides score plenty of goals. It will come down to us individually man-marking and making sure we keep players like Cassidy Davis and Tulia Palozzi quiet.
“We have every reason to go in with confidence after scoring 13 goals in two games and we have a bit of belief now which is something we were missing at the start of the season against the top-four sides.
“But this is a big game for us, if we can win three in a row going into the bye, it will give us some momentum to finish the round against Merewether and Thornton,” Hingston concluded.
Merewether v South Wallsend
At Myamblah Oval
Sunday, May 22, 2.15pm
Last start: Merewether lost 1-0 to Thornton; South Wallsend lost 4-1 to Wallsend
Last time they met: Merewether won 5-0
Position on the ladder: Merewether third (14); South Wallsend sixth (5)
Merewether coach Cassie Koppen said the defending champions were “our own worst enemy” but felt they could put a horror week behind them with a strong showing this weekend.
The defending minor premiers and champions face South Wallsend after registering just one point in their past three games and sustaining back-to-back losses, including a shock defeat at the hands of Thornton last weekend.
United will however be buoyed by the return of championship-winning midfielder and their leading scorer last year, Sophie Jones, who rejoined Merewether this week from Wallsend.
“Obviously it was a shocking result for us last weekend,” Koppen said.
“We had a bit of a light session on Tuesday to loosen the legs up a bit then we watched part of the Adamstown game and analysed some individual things. We came out of it quite positive and the girls are pumped to turn things around.
“Sophie will have to start from the bench and work her back into the starting side but having her back in the squad will give us a bit of confidence.
“A lot of the girls have played with her before, so they know her game and having someone back in the squad with that level of experience coming off the bench, where we have been lacking a little bit in recent weeks, should give us a bit of an extra edge.”
The last time these sides met Merewether won with a five-goal margin but South Wallsend player-coach Elyce Bates believed it would be “a completely different game” this weekend and hoped to take advantage of a wounded Merewether side.
“We will probably change our formation a little to make us more attacking and to take it to them,” Bates said.
“It’s probably a big thing for us that they’re in a bit of a low point and hopefully we can take advantage of that.”
“Scoring is our biggest issue and that’s from a lack of experience but we were a little bit underdone in that first round and I expect this to be a completely different game.”
Bates was expecting to have a full squad at her disposal. Kirralee Gardner was the only player in doubt with a knee injury.
Bates also expected new recruit Erin Wilson on the right and Gabbie Deacon, who will been returning from a shoulder injury, on the left, would add some pace and punch up front.
Thornton v Adamstown
At Thornton Park
Sunday, May 22, 2.15pm
Last start: Thornton beat Merewether 1-0; Adamstown beat Warners Bay 1-0
Last time they met: Adamstown won 3-0
Position on the ladder: Adamstown first (25), Thornton fifth (9)
Adamstown coach Ben Herron described his side as “the hunted” as they prepared to extend their unbeaten start the season.
Rosebud remain the only undefeated side as the competition reaches the halfway point and they hold a strong seven-point lead atop the league ladder.
But Thornton proved they could match it with the top sides by taking points off defending champions Merewether last weekend.
“I’m a bit unsure of what to expect from them, but they got a good result last week and I would think they might try to go for as long as they can without letting us score,” Herron said.
“But we’ve been working on a few things so we’ll be ready for that.”
Herron said defender Serena Carter would return from an ankle injury but they found out during the week that forward Olivia Trinka looked likely to be out for another six weeks with a knee injury.
Thornton coach Alan Primmer said his side were buoyed by their performance last week and needed to show the same 90-minute commitment to this game.
“When you play against Adamstown it’s just 90 minutes non-stop, they’re relentless,” Primmer said.
“They’ve got girls coming off the bench who would start in any other team in the competition and we can’t afford to drop our guard or they will punish us.
“Last week we stayed switched on for 90 minutes and that’s probably been the first time we’ve done that.”
Mid North Coast – bye
Herald WPL Points table: Adamstown 25, Wallsend 18, Merewether 14, Warners Bay 11, Thornton 9, South Wallsend 5, Mid North Coast 2.