Wallsend v Adamstown
At The Gardens
Last start: Adamstown beat South Wallsend 3-1; Wallsend beat Thornton 3-1.
This season: 1-1 draw in round two; Adamstown won 6-2 in round nine.
Position on ladder: Adamstown first with 32 points; Wallsend fourth (21)
Adamstown will not have played for four weeks when they take the field this weekend in what will be their first game of a horror two-week stretch in which they look set to play five matches.
Rosebud will now look to a rescheduled fixture with Merewether for next Wednesday night June 29. They play Warners Bay in round 17 then face a weekend double-header against Thornton and Mid North Coast on July 9 and 10.
Adamstown coach Ben Herron said his charges were “stinging” to play after the extended break and was planning a tough training hit-out tonight to “really turn the wheels over”.
Wallsend were 4-1 losers to Merewether in their last outing but Herron said the game was not a true reflection of their capabilities.
“I am not reading anything into that scoreline,” Herron said.
“Wallsend were missing two key midfielders against Merewether and I am expecting a completely different game.”
Wallsend’s form against Adamstown this year sums up their season.
They drew 1-1 in round two but when the two sides met in round nine Adamstown were convincing 6-2 victors.
Wallsend coach Marc Hingston continually describes his side’s form this season as “rocks or diamonds”.
“I think we’ll take confidence from the fact we are the only side to have taken points off them this year,” Hingston said.
“But last time we played them was probably on par with the Merewether game as one of our worst performances of the season.”
Wallsend back up against South Wallsend on Wednesday night before playing Mid North Coast in round 17 and Hingston will ask his charges for three consistent performances.
Warners Bay v Merewether
At John St Oval
Last start: Warners Bay beat South Wallsend 4-2; Merewether defeated Wallsend 4-1.
This season: Merewether won 3-0 in round two; 3-3 draw in round nine.
Position on ladder: Warners second (23), Merewether third (23)
Merewether go into this showdown for second place without key midfielder Jane McDonald but coach Cassie Koppen was confident Sophie Jones would be a more than adequate replacement.
McDonald and striker Sarah Halvorsen are both out through unavailability this weekend while Warners Bay will be at full strength. The hosts have however lost striker Tulia Palozzi for the remainder of the season through personal reasons.
“Sophie will come into that role for Jane and I’m pretty confident with that swap,” Koppen said.
“She was our player of the year last year and leading goal scorer playing that position.”
The last time these two sides met, Merewether led 3-1 with mere minutes remaining but Warners Bay scored two goals in as many minutes to secure a draw.
“They are a side that you can’t let your guard down against; they have a couple of players who can single-handedly hurt you,” Koppen said.
“But I’m confident with the players we’ve still got that we can get the job done, as long as we stay switched on until the final whistle is blown.”
The two sides are stuck in a two-way battle for second place. They both sit on 23 points with Warners Bay ahead on the table with a superior goal difference.
Warners Bay coach Leon Davis was expecting a physical battle.
“We need to match them physically and not be intimidated by their physicality and play our own game,” Davis said.
Mid North Coast v South Wallsend
At Taree Zone Fields
Last start: Mid North Coast lost 8-0 to Warners Bay; South Wallsend lost 4-2 to Warners Bay.
This season: 3-3 draw in round two; 1-1 draw in round nine.
Position on ladder: South Wallsend sixth (8); Mid North Coast last (2).
South Wallsend player-coach Elyce Bates feels they may have found the missing piece to their season’s puzzle with the controversial recruitment of lethal striker Naomi Abbott this month.
Abbott has joined South Wallsend after parting ways with Thornton. She opened the season with a hat-trick for the Redbacks but has struggled to score since.
She makes her first appearance in South Wallsend colours this weekend.
“It has taken us so long to get a striker and she definitely gives us something going forward,” Bates said.
“Hopefully she gives us that edge to finish out the season.”
South Wallsend will be without left-back Chloe Hepplewhite through unavailability but are otherwise at full strength. Mid North Coast are still missing Jess Sanderson and Brooke Summers through injury.
Bates was expecting a relentless, young Mid North Coast side.
“They don’t stop,” Bates said.
“They continually hound you and we have had trouble with them this season.
“But we are going into this game as a totally different team to the other two times we have played them.”
Mid North Coast coach Matt Baker has issued his squad the challenge of knuckling down and getting a win or two before the season is out.
“We are expecting them to come out firing and to want to put us away big time, but hopefully we can play the ball as quick as we can and get the chocolates,” Baker said.
“The girls are pumped. I said to them, we’ve got six weeks left, if we can get everyone to training, work hard we can get a couple of upsets and finish the season on a bit of a high.”
Thornton – bye
Herald WPL points table: Adamstown 31, Warners Bay 23, Merewether 23, Wallsend 21, Thornton 9, South Wallsend 8, Mid North Coast 2.