Match of the Round
Adamstown v South Wallsend
Saturday, May 28, 2.15pm
At Adamstown Oval
Last start: Adamstown beat Thornton 3-1; South Wallsend lost to Merewether 2-1.
Last time they met: Adamstown won 2-0.
Position on ladder: Adamstown first with 28 points, South Wallsend sixth (5).
Adamstown coach Ben Herron believes his side is still only playing at 70 per cent and feels they can go up another level, especially with the acquisition this week of proven goalscorer Lauren Allan.
Allan was leading the Rosebud charge last year and was in the race for the league’s golden boot accolade after scoring 25 goals before departing prior to the semi-finals to take up a football scholarship in the United States.
She returned this week on summer break and is expected to play the remainder of the season proper.
But whether she makes her first start for Rosebud this weekend is still to be decided as she was getting wisdom teeth out yesterday.
“She gives us another edge in attack,” Adamstown coach Ben Herron said of Allan.
“With her, Jasmin Courtenay and Rhali Dobson up front we’ve got speed to burn.”
“She has gone over there and from all reports has gone up another level.”
Rosebud remain unbeaten this season and holds a 10-point lead over the field but Herron issued a stern warning to his players this week that they cannot rest on their laurels and that every spot was under threat.
“I let my girls know my thoughts and I think they all got it,” Herron said.
“I told them that not a single spot in the team is safe.”
“It’s going to be a bit of a battle now. I don’t want the girls to look at the points and think we’ve got a bit of a buffer. They are all on notice. They can’t settle for where we are, they have to strive to keep going.”
Herron said he had been working on getting his players to value the ball.
“Last time we played South Wallsend we were pretty scrappy and we didn’t respect the ball,” he said.
“We gave it away a lot and that is something we’ve been working on. We need to make use of the talent we have across the field and I have been driving that point into them.”
“But it is exciting for me knowing at this point in time we are only running at about 70 per cent.”
South Wallsend player-coach Elyce Bates was again going into a match short on numbers.
Gabbie Deacon has broken her collarbone for the second time this year and Bates did not expect to see her back on the field this season.
Erin Wilson is also in doubt with a shoulder injury and Lauren Austin is carrying a hip complaint but Bates will give both players until the warm-up on Saturday to prove their fitness.
“If they are both out then we are going to be down to our bare minimum again,” Bates said.
“Otherwise we’ll go with the same formation and keep the same shape because that worked last weekend against Merewether.”
“I know they’ve got some quick girls up front, so we’ll probably start the game a bit defensively.”
“I don’t think we played bad last week, we just made a few critical areas at the back.”
Bates felt her side were improving each week and said a strong 90-minute commitment was needed to start turning effort into results.
Warners Bay v Thornton
Sunday, May 29, 2.15pm
At John St Oval
Last start: Warners Bay beat Wallsend 3-2; Thornton lost 3-1 to Adamstown.
Last time they met: Warners Bay won 5-0.
Position on ladder: Warners Bay fourth (14), Thornton fifth (9).
Thornton coach Alan Primmer said the battle this week would be a mental one as the Redbacks prepare for another intense outing against a top-four side.
Thornton beat defending champions Merewether 1-0 in round nine then were leading runaway competition leaders Adamstown 1-0 at half-time last week before succumbing 3-1.
This week they face an in-form Warners Bay, who downed second-placed Wallsend 3-2 in an entertaining exchange last weekend.
Primmer said training had been light this week as several players were carrying niggles after two hard hit-outs.
“Playing teams like Merewether and Adamstown back-to-back the way we did has taken its toll a little bit but I think come the weekend everyone should be fine,” Primmer said.
“But probably my biggest concern coming into this weekend is that we’ve really battled two weeks in a row against two big teams and it’s the mental challenge of getting up for a third week.”
Primmer acknowledged Warners Bay had plenty of danger players in the likes of Cassidy Davis, Adriana Jones, Sass Seaborn and Tulia Palozzi but felt Thornton’s defence had improved dramatically since the first round, in which they conceded 25 goals.
“Hopefully we’ve turned a corner defensively,” Primmer said. “We went five halves of football without conceding a goal, which is a big improvement from round one.
“It’s about not being soft around the 18 and our defensive structure is better, which it will need to be this weekend because they’ve got a few keys who can unlock doors.”
Jones is expected back in action for Warners Bay this weekend after missing the past two games through unavailability. Smith sisters, Taylah and Maddie, are both out due to work commitments but coach Leon Davis felt they would be otherwise at full strength.
Davis was wary of Thornton, saying “they have obviously improved since we played them last and are pushing all teams now”.
Merewether v Mid North Coast
Sunday, May 29, 2.15pm
At Myamblah Oval
Last start: Merewether beat South Wallsend 2-1; Mid North Coast lost 9-0 to Wallsend.
Last time they met: Merewether won 1-0.
Position on ladder: Merewether third (17), Mid North last (2).
Merewether coach Cassie Koppen was expecting another tough encounter with Mid North Coast, who are sitting on the bottom of the table but who she believed were capable of troubling any side.
“They really gave it to us last time,” Koppen said.
“They’ve got a lot of speed and are fit, and they play the ball around well, and they’ve definitely got a couple of players up front who can score if given the room.”
“Something we have been speaking about is not allowing players as much time on the ball when we are in defence.”
United go into the match without Sophie Jones, who was forced from the field in her return match for Merewether last weekend. It was first thought Jones may have broken her ankle but Koppen said it looks more like she has done soft tissue damage and could be out for a couple of weeks.
Attacking players Sarah Halvorsen and Bronte Walters are both out through unavailability and defender Sarah Hartree is in doubt with a hip flexor injury.
Defender Claire Mansfield made a brief return to the field last weekend after several weeks on the sideline with an ankle injury and is expected to have more game time against the Middies.
Mid North Coast are coming off the bye and coach Matt Baker said his side were ready to get back into it this weekend.
Senior player Jannah Gillet returns after missing their last outing, a 9-0 defeat at the hands of Wallsend, through injury.
“We’re looking forward to it,” Baker said. “The last time we played them they only won 1-0 and I’m sure they’ll be keen to improve on that, so we are expecting a tough game.”
Baker said they had added some players to the 18s roster in recent weeks which he hoped would give them a bit more depth through the squad.
Herald WPL points table: Adamstown 28, Wallsend 18, Merewether 17, Warners Bay 14, Thornton 9, South Wallsend 5, Mid North Coast 2.