Match of the Round
Valentine v Merewether
Sunday 2pm at CB Complex
Last time they met: Merewether won 3-2
Last start: Valentine beat Thornton 4-0 last weekend; Merewether defeated Wallsend 6-3 last Sunday
Position on the ladder: Valentine third (25 points); Merewether second (28 points)
Merewether are unbeaten in ten outings this season while Valentine have hit their straps in recent weeks, winning four in a row since consecutive losses to Thornton (4-3), Merewether (3-2) and Adamstown (3-1).
United have only played twice in the past month – a 1-1 draw with Thornton and 6-3 win over Wallsend last weekend – and both games had periods where the joint league leaders were not at their best.
Merewether coach Cass Koppen knows any lapses this weekend could prove fatal against the in-form Phoenix.
“I probably rate them just as high as Adamstown,” Koppen said.
“They have a lot of classy players with a lot of experience who have the ability to turn the game and win the game.
“We’re going to have to shut them down as soon as they get the ball.”
Koppen said it was important Merewether turned up ready to give a strong 90-minute performance.
“We spoke after the game last weekend about holding the win,” Koppen said.
“We seem to get a few goals then switch off a bit then come good again … it’s not going to be good enough against better quality sides.”
Valentine women’s football manager Terry Campbell was expecting “a very tough clash” and felt the game would be determined by “whoever finishes and takes their chances”.
Phoenix should be at full strength for the match.
Koppen was expecting to have several players out for the national futsal championships in Brisbane this weekend but will welcome back Jane McDonald and Sarah Halvorsen into the squad.
Valentine will be raising money for pancreatic cancer throughout the day and all players will wear purple socks.
Adamstown v Wallsend
Saturday 2pm at Adamstown No.1 Oval
Last time they met: Adamstown won 5-0
Last start: Adamstown beat South Wallsend 8-0 last Sunday; Wallsend lost 6-3 to Merewether last Sunday
Position on the ladder: Adamstown first (28 points); Wallsend seventh (nine points)
Interim coach Hayden Botham expects Wallsend to play “with nothing to lose” when they challenge competition front-runners Adamstown this weekend.
Adamstown put five goals past newcomers Wallsend last time they met and confirmed their competition dominance by firing eight goals past South Wallsend last weekend.
Wallsend are caught in a five-way tussle for fourth spot and showed some fighting spirit to come back from a 4-0 half-time deficit against Merewether last round and score three unanswered goals before United regained control of the match.
“We’ll take some confidence out of that second half against Merewether,” Botham said.
“We’ll play with nothing to lose and we’ve just got to get into that top four as quick as we can.”
Adamstown coach John Jiggins said his players remained grounded despite last week’s big win and would be treating Wallsend with respect.
“We don’t take anything for granted,” Jiggins said.
“I think Wallsend are a lot like the other new teams … it was a bit of a shock to the system at the start but I think they’re improving and they just keep on keeping at you.
“I think we’ll give them a good run for their money and I think they will give us a good run for our money and hopefully we will come out on top.”
Wallsend will be without key defender Ashleigh Vickery through injury while Adamstown should be at full strength.
Wallsend secretary Strat Kapalos said the club were looking for interested parties to apply for the first-grade coaching role for the remainder of the season.
Thornton v Mid North Coast
Sunday 2pm at Thornton Park
Last time they met: They drew 2-2
Last start: Thornton beat South Wallsend 2-1 last night; Mid North Coast defeated Warners Bay 4-2 last weekend
Position on the ladder: Thornton fifth (12 Points); Mid North Coast sixth (11 points)
Mid North Coast coach Matt Baker will urge his players to “take the game by the scruff of the neck instead of letting the game come to you” as they continue their push for a semi-finals berth.
Mid North Coast have surged from last to sixth with back-to-back wins and Baker said “this is a really important game for us”.
“Thornton are playing some great football and it is going to be a hell of a challenge,” Baker said.
“We’re looking forward to it. If we can get three wins in a row it will give us a lot of confidence coming up to a double header with the two top teams.”
Thornton bounced back from a 4-0 loss to Valentine on the weekend to beat South Wallsend 2-1 last night and gain some valuable competition points.
The win elevated the Redbacks into fifth position, one point ahead of Mid North Coast.
“For us it was like a mini final,” Thornton coach Alan Primmer said. “Getting the three points to keep us in the race, if we didn’t get them then we’d be chasing hard.”
Thornton were without experienced player Sophie Milton for their clash with Valentine last weekend but her return last night proved pivotal for the Redbacks and Primmer was reasonably confident of another good outcome this weekend if his side take their chances.
Baker said he will promote Courtney Anderson back into the starting line-up after a strong performance against Warners Bay last round.
“Courtney has played herself back into the starting side, now it is a matter of working out who is sitting out and on the bench,” Baker said.
Warners Bay v South Wallsend
Sunday 2pm at John St Oval
Last time they met: South Wallsend won 3-1
Last start: Warners Bay lost 4-2 to Mid North Coast last weekend; South Wallsend lost 2-1 to Thornton last night
Position on the ladder: Warners Bay last (eight points); South Wallsend fourth (13 Points)
Warners Bay enter this match with a new coach after the club stood down Jason Daniluck from the position during the week.
Club president Darren Sylvester will take the reigns as interim coach while the club look to appoint a replacement for the rest of the season.
Warners Bay have several players out injured for this clash, including key attacking weapons Taylah and Maddy Smith plus Sass Seaborn, who has scored in past two outings, and defender Corinne Gale.
South Wallsend take on Warners Bay desperate for points too after losing 8-0 to Adamstown last weekend then 2-1 to Thornton last night.
South Wallsend coach Marc Hingston was disappointed not to get the three points last night but was encouraged by the way his charges played.
“We played some really nice football but just couldn’t find the back of the net,” Hingston said.
Hingston was wary of Warners Bay’s pace up front but believed if his side “play our natural game” results will come.
Points table: Adamstown 28, Merewether 28, Valentine 25, South Wallsend 13, Thornton 12, Mid North Coast 11, Wallsend 9, Warners Bay 8.