Match of the Round
Sunday, June 12, 2.15pm
Merewether v Wallsend
At Myamblah Oval
Last start: Merewether beat Mid North Coast 1-0; Wallsend lost 3-2 to Warners Bay.
Last time they met: 0-0 draw.
Position on ladder: Merewether second (20); Wallsend third (18)
Wallsend coach Marc Hingston rates this weekend’s clash with defending champions Merewether as “our biggest game of the season”.
“We have spoken about this game in the context of our season and it’s probably the biggest game of the year for us because if we win we can start to put a bit of a gap on Merewether and Warners Bay,” Hingston said.
“First spot is probably gone now but to finish second would be a big confidence boost ahead of the finals.”
Last time these two sides met the match was a dour 0-0 draw. Neither side had many clear shots on goal and both teams turned over a lot of ball.
Wallsend will be missing co-captains and central midfielders Laura Hall and Keely Gawthrop but Hingston was confident Kristy Houghton, who has been playing 18s this season and coming off the bench for first grade, would prove a strong replacement.
Hingston will push usual central defender Lisa Cochrane into the middle with Houghton for Sunday’s encounter.
“She’s been stuck behind Laura and Keely but she’s definitely a first-grade player and I think her and Lisa Cochrane with add strength in the middle of the park for us, which might prove the difference this time.”
Merewether coach Cassie Koppen felt the game would be won in the midfield and said a win would prove a boost in confidence as they prepared to take on competition leaders Adamstown then fourth-placed Warners Bay in their ensuing two matches.
“We are going to take confidence from two wins in our past two games and we are going to try to keep building confidence now,” Koppen said.
“We need to win the midfield battle, stay tight defensively and take our chances.”
Since the sides last met, Merewether have welcomed back Sophie Jones from their opposition. Merewether were also missing key midfielder Tayla Braithwaite for the last clash with Wallsend.
Jones hurt her ankle in her first appearance for Merewether close to three weeks ago and Koppen said she would only play in parts if she is fit to play.
Merewether are without Sarah Halvorsen due to rugby union commitments and Sarah Hartree is in doubt with a hamstring injury.
Saturday, June 11, 2.15pm
Thornton v South Wallsend
At Thornton Park
Last start: Thornton lost 4-1 to Warners Bay; South Wallsend lost 3-1 to Adamstown.
Last time they met: South Wallsend won 2-1.
Position on ladder: Thornton fifth (nine points); South Wallsend sixth (five).
Thornton coach Alan Primmer believes if they take the same attitude into this clash as they have their past three matches they will win this match.
South Wallsend were 2-1 winners when these sides last met but Thornton have shown plenty of improvement since.
They beat defending champions Merewether 1-0 then backed up the effort with strong showings against runaway league leaders Adamstown and fourth-placed Warners Bay.
Primmer believes this game will show them how far they have come since the first round.
“It will be interesting to see where we are at,” Primmer said.
“We are coming off a good run; we beat Merewether and led both Adamstown and Warners Bay before succumbing, which shows we’ve improved.”
“If we have the attitude as we had for those big games that will get us across the line.”
The match is the first of three in a week for both sides. Thornton back up against Wallsend on Wednesday night before hosting Mid North Coast in round 15.
The win over Thornton was South Wallsend’s only win this season and player-coach Elyce Bates said another victory would be the confidence boost they need ahead of a tough week, in which they back up against high-flying Warners Bay on Wednesday night then are at home to Wallsend.
“It is tough to keep motivated this time of the season, especially when finals hopes for us are dwindling,” Bates said.
“But we are looking forward to Saturday. We have a big week ahead so it would be good to get a nice start with a win on Saturday.”
Both coaches expected to have close to their full complements available for the clash.
Sophie Milton will be back in action for the hosts. Milton, who captained the Redbacks last year, left the club to play in Sydney this season but has returned to Thornton for more game time.
Warners Bay v Mid North Coast
At John St Oval
Last start: Warners Bay defeated Thornton 4-1; Mid North Coast lost 1-0 to Merewether.
Last time they met: Warners Bay won 6-0.
Position on ladder: Warners Bay fourth (17), Mid North Coast last (2).
Warners Bay coach Leon Davis will warn his players not to be complacent against a young and enthusiastic Mid North Coast side on Sunday.
Warners Bay were convincing 6-0 winners when these two sides last met, but Davis expected a stronger and improved side.
“It’s going to be a tough weekend,” Baker said.
“Leon has got them firing, and they’ll be tough, especially at their home ground.”
“The main thing this week is our sliding defence has to be a lot better, and our support play. We have got to support each other because the longer we keep the ball the better chance we have of scoring.”
Mid North Coast are without in-form goalkeeper Jess Sanderson due to a recurrent back injury.
Abbey Watson will also miss the match as she will be in Canberra on representative duty.
“They are two quality players to be losing,” Mid North Coast Matt Baker said.
“Jess has been in sensational form for us in goals; she’s possibly going to be out two-three weeks now.”
Davis expected “they will definitely be a stronger outfit than last time we met, so I am expecting it to be far tighter challenge”.
Adamstown – bye
Herald WPL points table: Adamstown 31, Merewether 20, Wallsend 18, Warners Bay 17, Thornton 9, South Wallsend 5, Mid North Coast 2.