Herald Women’s Premier League – Round 14 Preview

September 24th, 2020

Jack Antcliff

Valentine Sports Photography

Match of the Round

Adamstown Rosebud v Warners Bay
Adamstown Oval – Sunday 3pm

Leia Puxty returns for Adamstown this weekend as Rosebud look to end the season with a win.

Sixth on the table, Adamstown are well out of finals calculations but can make it two wins in a row with a victory on Sunday.

“The girls are really happy with their performance last weekend [against Mid Coast FC]. At this stage we are injury free and will get a couple of players back as well. There is lots of competition for spots leading into the last game which is great,” Adamstown coach Ryan Campbell said.

The Rosebuds will need to be polished in defence if they are to walk away with all three points against Warners Bay, who have scored 19 goals in their last three starts.

“We are approaching the game the same as every other weekend. We want to control the game with the ball and use our high pressing game to create chances for ourselves and to limit Warners Bay from getting Jen Hoy into scoring positions,” Campbell said.

Warners Bay are expected to be unchanged from the side who defeated Merewether United last weekend, with three points on Sunday important for momentum heading into what is likely to be a grueling finals campaign. This season will be the latest finish for the competition in its history, with warm spring conditions to add another test to an already tough season.

“We want to win the game. It’s pretty simple, we have just got to go in and keep raising the bar each week now,” Panthers coach Craig Atkins said.

The outcome of Sunday’s game wont impact Warners Bay’s grip on fourth spot, with the Panthers seemingly destined to face Merewether in week one of the finals.

“This Sunday is an opportunity to work on a few things. There’s still a few areas we need to tighten up, so we’ll be looking to focus on them for this weekend.”

Despite recording back-to-back wins in recent weeks, defence has been a point of concern for the Panthers who have conceded seven goals in the last fortnight. Their opponents on Sunday, Adamstown, have conceded just three.

“You want to be solid in defence across the park because it has to get past all players. We just want to make sure that is strong and our transitions are really quick,” Atkins said.

Merewether United v Thornton Redbacks
Arthur Edden Oval – Sunday 3pm

Merewether United will look to make amends for last weekend’s loss to Warners Bay when they host Thornton in their final regular season match of the year.

Sunday’s clash presents an opportunity for the Llamas to test out some variances to their regular formation, with the result of the match likely to have no impact on the final order of the table.

Merewether look set to play Warners Bay in week one of the finals the following weekend.

“We’ll probably go with a formation which we’ll go with against Warners Bay in the semi-finals, or at least something similar,” Merewether coach Scott Ellis said.

A number of reserve grade players are likely to find time on the park, while Ellis identified midfielder Isabella Sofianos as a player to watch come Sunday.

The Llamas will be without Jamee Ellis for the clash, while goalkeeper Alison Logue remains under an injury cloud. Logue missed last weekend’s loss and will be given until later in the week before a final decision on her fitness is made.

“We need to work on our finishing a little bit. Last time we played Thornton we did a good job in that department but since then we haven’t been as clinical,” Ellis said.

As one of two formation clubs who have remained constant during the history of the Herald Women’s Premier League, Merewether will use the final home game of the season to host an Old Girls’ Day to celebrate the club’s last 11 seasons.

“It’s a chance for us to get all the people that have contributed to getting us to where we are today together and share a few stories,” Ellis said.

Former players and coaches are encouraged to join in the festivities, with a photo opportunity scheduled for 2.30pm.

Thornton will look to cause a memorable upset in their last ever game in the Herald Women’s Premier League. The Redbacks were well in the contest last weekend against New Lambton but were unable to convert possession into goals.

“The message to the girls will be the same as most of the year, keep the ball, create more than two options of how you can help and enjoy your football,” Thornton coach Al Primmer said.

“We cannot win in in first 15 minutes but we could lose the game then.”

Primmer believes his side will need to be ultra-composed and not overcommit against the Llamas if they are to be a chance of scoring an upset.

“Arthur Edden Oval is a big park, so we’ll need to watch the switch in play closely,” Primmer said.

Newcastle Olympic v New Lambton
Darling Street Oval – Sunday 3pm

Newcastle Olympic have been dealt a blow on the eve of the final round with Emily Frost ruled out for the remainder of the season with a knee injury.

With more than 100 first grade appearances in the Herald Women’s Premier League, Frost joined the club at the start of the year after returning from overseas.

“She’s been one of our strongest defenders all year. She did play a critical role throughout the season but we should be okay. But it is disappointing for Frosty,” Olympic coach Harmonie Attwill said.

Olympic appear destined to win the premiership on Sunday, with a win or a draw enough to ensure the club name is engraved on the silverware for the first time. A loss would leave Broadmeadow Magic needing to overcome a goal difference in excess of 20 goals to secure the title.

“I think minor premiership or not, it has never been our focus. We just need to continue to try to dominate and play the style of football that’s allowed us to be at the top of the table,” Attwill said.

“I think our style is dynamic. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing. We don’t play exactly the same way against every opposition. What we’ve really worked on this year is our ability to adapt.

“We really want to keep a clean sheet on Sunday. We’ll be disappointed if we don’t.”

Newcastle Olympic’s reserve grade side also won their respective premiership title in what has been a successful year for Olympic, who took over the Wallsend FC license at the end of 2019.

Sunday’s clash marks the end of a tough season for New Lambton, who this time last year were celebrating an inaugural Herald Women’s Premier League title.

The Eagles parted ways with now former coach Brad Jones midway through the season, while injuries have decimated the side’s depth.

Leading into the final round, New Lambton sit seventh on the table with just two wins, both of which came against Thornton. The Eagles also won a single point against Merewether prior to the COVID-19 suspension.

Mid Coast FC v Broadmeadow Magic
Taree Zone Field – Sunday 3pm

Herald Women’s Premier League football makes one final trip to Taree Zone Field for 2020 as Mid Coast FC host second-placed Broadmeadow Magic on Sunday.

“I’d love us to just acquit ourselves really well and prove that some of the results we’ve had this year haven’t just been flukes,” Mid Coast coach Mick Grass said.

According to Grass, he has given the side creative freedom given a win would not be enough to move the club into finals calculations.

“We’ll still play with the same structure we have all year but you might see a little bit more creative freedom, particularly in the final third,” Grass said.

“We have spent the week having a bit of fun. This is the end of the season for us this weekend.

“We haven’t taken this week too serious at training and hopefully that fun turns to enjoyment on the weekend. With enjoyment who knows what kind of positive result you could get.”

It has been a strong year for Mid Coast who despite not finishing in the competition’s top four have matched it with some of the best on a regular basis. The most recent example was a stellar set of performances against Merewether a fortnight ago that cost the Llamas the premiership.

Mid Coast’s reserve grade and under-14s sides have already booked places in the finals.

Having regularly featured in reserve grade in 2019, Josie Mays and Nicki Learoyd both drew praise from Grass with the pair now regulars in first grade.

“I look at the big improvers, the players who have done extras, have worked harder than anyone else to make sure they’re in the best shape they can be,” Grass said.

A loss for Magic could see them drop to third on the table, with a likely match-up against Warners Bay in the first week of elimination football. Three points to the women in red would set up a tantalising battle against Newcastle Olympic in the qualifying final.

Last time Broadmeadow faced Mid Coast it was Magic who walked away 3-1 winners.

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