Match of the Round
New Lambton FC v Mid Coast FC
Arthur Edden Oval, Sunday 3:40pm
Match of the Round action heads to Arthur Edden Oval where New Lambton host the travelling Mid Coast on Sunday.
While on paper the result will not have an immediate impact on the top four race, both coaches are well aware of the importance of the battle between seventh and eighth.
“Our approach will be the same as every week. We need to take confidence from our last two games against the top two teams into this weekend,” New Lambton coach Maddy Searl said.
Brooke Miller is a crucial loss for the Eagles, unavailable due to work commitments, while Tomika Fuller will be given until kick-off to prove her fitness.
Nina Collins also returns for the home side.
“We will look to keep things simple and take our chances in front of goal,” Searl said.
Injuries have so far hamstrung Mid Coast’s season, with the return of Josie Mays to first grade welcome news for coach Mick Grass.
“It looks like we have probably got a couple back this week which will make things a bit easier,” he said.
According to Grass, a good performance on Sunday will be one where the side “maintains the ball for long periods of time” and “uses all the areas of the field that we want to exploit.”
“We just try and work on a few things that we have been a little bit relaxed on over the last few weeks and try and get those right,” he said.
“If we stick to the process of what we have been trying to achieve, hopefully we will be okay.
“I think it could come down to silly errors. The team that makes the most basic errors in dangerous areas of the field may be the one who gets punished.”
Broadcast live on BarTV Sports, Sunday afternoon’s clash will be the first time Middies have featured on screen this season.
“It is good for the girls, good experience to get that exposure and adds that little bit of something to the game,” Grass said.
As for the side’s focus for the next few weeks, Grass noted a theme of continual improvement.
“The goals are just to improve our football, just to make sure that our football is of a higher standard consistently for longer periods during every game,” he said.
“We tend to play some really good football at times. But just trying to make that more consistent.”
Broadmeadow Magic v Adamstown Rosebud JFC
Magic Park, Friday 8pm
Broadmeadow Magic will look to close the gap on competition leaders Newcastle Olympic when they host a young Adamstown Rosebud side on Friday.
The women in red sit second on the table with 28 points, two shy of Olympic. Magic did hold top spot on the table until round nine when they were edged out 1-0 by the women from Darling Street.
Speaking during the week, Magic coach Jake Curley said the focus for his side would be on the final third, with the need to execute when opportunities arise a crucial element against the top sides.
Adamstown head into the match off the back of an important three points against Charlestown Azzurri. The result moved the Buds four points clear of Charlestown into fifth on the table.
According to coach Ryan Campbell, the focus for his young squad has been around eliminating opposition opportunities close to goal.
“If we can avoid giving away goals this will help a lot with giving us a chance to get a much-needed result,” Campbell said.
“We are just going to focus on us and try and eliminate errors to be competitive.”
As for how the Buds will line up on Friday, Campbell will be eagerly awaiting news on the fitness of a number of key players.
“We have a few players carrying niggly injuries which we are waiting on including Charli O’Connor and Olivia Sneddon,” he said.
“We also have Leia Puxty away with the Young Matildas, so we are waiting to see how she comes back as well as Brianna Trappett who is unavailable.”
Newcastle Olympic v Maitland FC
Darling Street Oval, Saturday 3.40pm
Newcastle Olympic will be eyeing off their 10th straight win when they welcome in-form Maitland to Darling Street Oval on Saturday.
“It’s been a positive week after the weekend away against Mid Coast. We came away from that game feeling satisfied with the effort, clean sheet and goals we created,” Olympic coach Harmonie Attwill said.
Keea Parrish remains sidelined, though Attwill otherwise expects to name a near full-strength side.
“This week we continue to focus on dictating when in possession as well as being purposeful defensively,” Attwill said.
“All players executing their role will be critical to our success against Maitland. It could go either way but we hope to come out on top.”
Despite their position at the top of the Herald Women’s Premier League table, Attwill is no stranger to the threats posed by the Magpies.
“This weekend will be a welcomed challenged and as a squad, we are aware of Maitland’s ability to score goals and play some quality football,” she said.
“We need to ensure we don’t turn over possession easily and transition quickly to win the ball back if necessary.”
The Magpies have recorded three straight wins leading into the match, including against the third-placed Warners Bay last weekend.
“Morale is good around the squad however we are having a run of injury and illness which is frustrating,” Maitland coach Keelan Hamilton said.
Airlie Gray will miss the remainder of the regular season for the visitors after she sustained a foot injury. Goalkeeper Imogene Tomasone is also unavailable for the clash against Olympic.
“A good performance will be one where we stick to our process and football,” Hamilton said.
“I think the game will be won by whichever team controls and wins second balls in midfield and if we can keep [Jemma] House quiet.”
Hamilton, a former championship-winning coach, is well aware of the threat posed by the competition front runners, though is confident his side has what it takes to knock over the favorites.
“We expect Olympic to play as they usually do which is quite direct and mostly focused towards Jemma House,” he said.
“Our approach will be similar to most weeks however we obviously will have some plans to hopefully counter what Olympic will throw at us.”
Warners Bay FC v Charlestown Azzurri
John Street Oval, Sunday 3.40pm
At the conclusion of round seven, Warners Bay sat just six points behind the top-of-the-table Broadmeadow Magic and four points clear of their nearest competition, Maitland.
After 11 rounds, the margin to the top has increased to 11 points, while the Magpies have closed the gap to just one point. Warners Bay still have a game in hand against Mid Coast.
“It is pretty simple. We just need to bounce back from last week’s loss. We didn’t play our best football and we had a couple coming back from injuries,” Panthers coach Craig Atkins said.
“After our result last week [2-0 loss to Maitland], we need to be getting back in the winner’s circle. Let’s hope our little flat spot has happened now and we can regroup and push on for the final half of the season.”
The road ahead is not an easy one for the Panthers who next week face Adamstown before they meet heavyweights Broadmeadow Magic and Newcastle Olympic.
“[Charlestown] are going to be very competitive, quite tough as they always are,” Atkins said.
“That’s why you play football. You are going to be playing some physical games then you’re playing the top two.”
The Panthers remain an outsider for the premiership at the halfway mark of the competition, though as last year’s grand finalists proved in 2020, no match is ever a guaranteed result.
“We have got to focus on us. We’re in the top four and we want to stay there and we just need to get back to what we do and try and go out and work really hard for each other,” Atkins said.
Zoe Horgan remains sidelined with an ankle injury, while Lilly-Jane Babic is under an injury cloud. Tara Pender will play, though according to Atkins is still working at 75 to 80 per cent.
“We need hopefully all our key personnel back on deck. It is just about getting back to playing consistently for 90 minutes, getting that fight back and working really hard for each other,” he said.
In a similar boat to the Panthers, Charlestown will be out to bounce back from a disappointing loss. Azzurri were edged out deep in injury time by a physical Adamstown last week.
“You don’t dwell on that too much. We have got to move on and try and get the win this week,” Charlestown coach Niko Papaspiropoulos said.
“Similar to last week the determination the girls showed for the full 90 will be required again.
“Staying disciplined and a little bit more composure and game management in key moments through the game will be our focus this weekend.”
The visitors will likely be without Lori Depczynski and Carolina Cacic with the pair to remain sidelined with injury.