Match of the Round
Broadmeadow Magic v Newcastle Olympic
Magic Park – Sunday 3pm
Locked at the top of the Herald Women’s Premier League table, the result of Sunday’s clash between competition heavyweights Broadmeadow Magic and Newcastle Olympic will likely decide who wins this year’s premiership.
It is not just the premiership on the line either with the losing side a chance of falling to third, where they would forfeit a second chance in the finals series. In week one of the finals, first will play second in a non-elimination semi-final while third will play fourth in an elimination clash.
“It’s probably the same preparation for us every week. We just do our own stuff and just see what happens on the weekend,” Magic coach Jake Curley said.
Curley identified maintaining possession, playing in behind and creating opportunity as critical to his side’s hopes of claiming the three points.
“We also need a good defensive performance against Olympic. We’ve been working on that for the past two nights,” Curley said.
“I’m just happy for the girls. Generally they do all the work. At the moment they’re sort of coaching themselves because they know what I want them to do.”
There is no love lost between the two sides, with the rivalry between Olympic and Magic well engrained in Newcastle football. A large, vocal crowd is expected for the match after the first battle between the pair in the Herald Women’s Premier League resulted in a 2-2 draw earlier in the season.
Georgia Amess, Georgia Little and Sophie O’Brien all return for Olympic, with coach Harmonie Attwill determined not to get caught up in the premiership hype.
“We’ve done the hard work throughout the season and it’s just a matter of putting it together on the day. I have every faith in each player that they can do the job,” Attwill said.
“I said to the girls this week at training this isn’t a game for the minor premiership, this is just a game. You’ve got to be conscious of not putting too much pressure on the players either. It’s just another round game.”
Olympic’s second half form has been an impressive feature of its campaign but Attwill knows her side will need to deliver for all 90 minutes if they are to secure three points.
“We need to play well in the first half. We know they can score goals against us. We can also score goals against them so it is a pretty even playing field.
“There can’t be any lapses of concentration.”
Merewether United v Warners Bay
Arthur Edden Oval – Sunday 3pm
Merewether United find themselves in the unenviable position of needing other results to fall in their favour if they are to secure the premiership.
Heading into their double header with Mid Coast FC last weekend, the Llamas remained favorites to win the title but were left reeling after a loss and a draw to fifth-placed Middies.
Merewether will now need to not only win both of their remaining fixtures but need the winner of Sunday’s clash between Broadmeadow Magic and Newcastle Olympic to be defeated in the final round if they are to claim the silverware. Magic face Mid Coast while Olympic play New Lambton.
“We just need to get the job done against Warners Bay and hope that things go our way,” Merewether coach Scott Ellis said.
Ellis remained tight lipped on the final makeup of his side, with the weekend’s physical encounter taking its toll on his side.
Ellie Withers and Isabella Ramzan-Levy are expected to return for the clash with Warners Bay, while proven goal scorer Jamee Ellis is again unavailable for selection.
“They’re a very experienced group. The senior players have all been down this path before. It’s really just a case of making sure everyone is good for the finals,” Ellis said.
“We’ve just got to be aware of Warners Bay’s attack and the way their attack catches some teams out. I think we won’t have too many problems scoring, we just need to keep them quiet.”
At the other end, Warners Bay will look to secure its spot in the final four with two rounds remaining. A win for the Panthers would see them hold onto fourth spot heading into the final round, while a loss could see the side drop into fifth, one-point behind Mid Coast.
According to coach Craig Atkins, his side will need to execute the simple things if they are to score points against the Llamas.
“We’ve been playing some really good football. Some of those lapses we’ve had, we seemed to have worked away from them,” Atkins said.
“Against a team like Merewether you’ve got to do the simple things right. It has to be one massive effort from everyone.”
It’s a similar state of affairs to the last time these two sides met, with the Llamas and Panthers third and fourth on the table. In round seven it was Merewether who walked away 2-0 winners.
“I’ve been really impressed with the way the new girls have come in, gelled with the current group that is there. I’ve just felt that they’ve improved individually and as a team,” Atkins said.
“I think we’ve come a long way but we’ve still got a fair way to go which is exciting.”
Thornton Redbacks v New Lambton
Thornton Park – Sunday 3pm
Thornton will look to farewell Thornton Park in style when they host New Lambton on Sunday in what will be the last Herald Women’s Premier League game played at the ground.
Thornton will transition its WPL program to Maitland FC next year.
It is a historic moment for the club who, despite disappointing results in first grade, have pushed hard to develop the next generation of footballers in the Hunter Valley.
Sunday’s clash will also be the last home game for a number of key volunteers who have been instrumental at the Redbacks, including an individual coach Al Primmer described as “the best manager in the business.”
“Desiree Edwards has been the glue that has kept the club [and] girls together from before WPL,” Primmer said.
It is also a special day for Luci Maddison and Celeste Ortega Edwards, who have been with the club from the outset. As for the 90 minutes on Sunday, Primmer said it would need to be a complete performance at both ends if they were to walk away with a win.
“Madi Gallegos at the front with her work rate and Danielle Redding at the back, if both find what they produced last weekend [against Olympic], it will go a long way for us to get some points,” Primmer said.
New Lambton will look to spoil the party when they travel to Thornton on Sunday. The Eagles last win came against the Redbacks in round six.
“They’re going to go out all guns blazing knowing it is there last game at Thornton. We don’t expect to take them lightly in any grade,” New Lambton interim coach Cas Wright said.
“If we are going to go down, we’re going to go down scoring goals. I want to see a flamboyant attacking side not just one that parks the bus.”
Fielding a fresh team will again be a challenge for the Eagles who have been crippled by injury.
“The under-17s girls have been phenomenal in their support over these last five weeks,” Wright said.
“They’re playing a game and a half. The girls in reserve grade are backing up doing multiple games.
“For me the younger ones are carrying us at the moment.”
Adamstown Rosebud v Mid Coast FC
Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility – Sunday 4pm
Despite their finals hopes coming to an end at the weekend, Adamstown Rosebud will head into Sunday’s game full of confidence with the hope of knocking over fifth-placed Mid Coast FC.
“Hopefully the girls will approach the game with the same attitude they have all year as we are keen to finish on a high in an improved season,” Adamstown coach Ryan Campbell said.
Leia Puxty will miss the game through suspension, with Rachel Duffin under an injury cloud. A decision on Duffin’s inclusion in the side will be made closer to kick-off.
Campbell was full of praise for returning keeper Olivia Sneddon, who will face another big challenge against Mid Coast.
“Olivia Sneddon is really starting to hit her form since returning from her injury,” Campbell said.
“Speers Point will be great for our team. It suits our style of play and will allow us to play a more up-tempo style of football.”
Mid Coast head into the match full of confidence after claiming valuable points against highly-rated Merewether last weekend.
“I’ve told all the girls, it was probably one of the best first grade performances across a weekend that I’ve ever seen from our club,” Mid Coast coach Mick Grass said.
A win could see Middies climb to fourth with next weekend’s match against Broadmeadow likely their final chance to cement a spot in the finals, with Mid Coast’s first grade said last playing finals football in 2017.
Off the back of last weekend’s results Grass will call on more of the same against Adamstown, noting his side’s sublime effort in Sunday’s clash.
“We’ve got to improve our football on Sunday. We can’t improve the effort, the effort [against Merewether] was fantastic and the commitment was fantastic,” he said.
“I think the key will be for us to take our chances when they do come. Last time we played [Adamstown] it was a pretty high scoring affair.”
With Adamstown Oval set down for the Rosebuds’ NPL clash with Maitland, the match will take place on the synthetic surface at the Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility.
“I think it will suit how we want to play. We try and keep the ball on the ground as much as we can and I think the girls will enjoy it,” Grass said.