PHOTO: Valentine Sports Photography
Match of The Round
Wallsend v Warners Bay
At Wallsend Oval
Sunday, July 10, 2.15pm
Last start: Wallsend beat Mid North Coast 3-0; Warners Bay beat Adamstown 2-1.
Head to head: Played twice this season. They drew 1-1 in round four and Warners Bay won 3-2 in round 11.
Position on ladder: Wallsend fourth (24); Warners Bay second (29)
Wallsend coach Marc Hingston believes his side “owe it to ourselves to have a good performance and get a result” when they host fellow top-four side Warners Bay on Sunday.
The Red Devils are yet to beat second-placed Warners Bay this season. They drew in their first encounter then Warners Bay edged out Wallsend 3-2 when they traded blows for the second time this season.
Hingston felt the game could have gone either way last time but they could not put away their chances.
Wallsend have in fact not beaten any of the sides above them on the table yet this season. They have drawn with all three – Adamstown, Warners Bay and Merewether – and will gain plenty of confidence if they topple the form team of the competition this weekend.
The hosts welcome back Shannon Day and Briony Halcombe this week after they were unavailable last week but are without Sophie O’Brien and goalkeeper Bek Saunders through injury.
Hingston will call on 16-year-old Rheeni Harrison in goals and said playing the form side would be “a good test for her”
“It’s exciting for her,” Hingston said. “She had a couple of games early in the season for Wallsend last year but nothing like this, against a team like Warners Bay.”
“She’s got all the physical attributes to be a good keeper, she just needs experience now and she will get that this weekend.”
Warners Bay are proving to be the form side as the league heads towards finals time.
They beat Merewether and Adamstown in recent weeks but coach Leon Davis said his players “were taking it in their stride and no one is getting carried away”.
Warners Bay will be missing steely central defender Laura Rapley and Taylah Smith through unavailability.
Adamstown v Thornton
At Adamstown Oval
Saturday, July 9, 2.15pm
Last start: Adamstown lost 2-1 to Warners Bay; Thornton lost 3-0 to Merewether.
Head to head: Played twice this season. Adamstown won 3-0 in round four and 3-1 in round 11.
Position on ladder: Adamstown first with 34 points; Thornton sixth (9).
This match is the first of a weekend double-header for Adamstown and by tomorrow afternoon Rosebud will have played five games in a fortnight.
Adamstown are coming off back-to-back losses to Merewether and Warners Bay and will be desperate to get their season back on track with some strong performances.
But Thornton, despite their positioning on the ladder, are becoming more and more renowned for dogged determination and have caused plenty of headaches and frustration for the top sides this season.
The Redbacks led Rosebud early in their last encounter before the ladder leaders pulled away with a win towards the end of the match.
Thornton coach Alan Primmer was expecting “their coach to have them fired up” and will be urging his charges to finish the season strongly despite not being able to make the finals.
“It’s about having pride in the shirt,” Primmer said. “Our season is over as far as points go but we want to continue to frustrate other sides like we have been.”
Thornton welcome back key defenders Jennifer Jongbloed, Emily Blanch and Tayla Grant, who were unavailable last week. Experienced player Sophie Milton will only play the first half.
Both sides have several players representing Newcastle at the Eastern University Games in Wollongong this week and Adamstown coach Ben Herron was hoping his charges got through unscathed.
“With six girls down there, that is almost half of the squad, hopefully they can come back injury-free otherwise we’ll be pushing for numbers,” Herron said.
Herron was not expecting to have to motivate his side too much after back-to-back losses last week threatened to derail their season.
“We always knew it was going to be a tough stretch and we were expecting some hard-fought battles, and that is what we got,” Herron said.
“The girls were a bit down about what happened on Sunday and that gives me the impression they want to come out and take six points from this weekend.”
“That is our main aim this weekend – to get six points and have two clean sheets.”
Adamstown back up on Sunday against Mid North Coast in Wauchope in a rescheduled fixture.
Merewether v South Wallsend
At Myamblah Oval
Sunday, July 10, 2.15pm
Last start: Merewether beat Thornton 3-0; South Wallsend beat Wallsend 3-1.
Head to head: Played twice this season. Merewether won 5-0 in round four and 2-1 in round 11.
Position on ladder: Merewether third (29), South Wallsend fifth (14).
Merewether celebrate their inaugural Foundation Day on Sunday and will be primed for a strong showing in front of many people who have helped the club rise to prominence in the WPL.
United are one of just two foundation clubs still playing in the women’s top-flight competition and last year made history by becoming the first club to capture the minor premiership-championship double in WPL.
They are inviting all past and present players, coaches, committee members and supporters along to the match to honour their involvement in the club’s success in the eight years since the league’s inception.
On the park, both sides will be keen for a strong showing.
Merewether want to keep building confidence as they eye the finals series next month.
South Wallsend can mathematically still make the finals but it would take a big effort and they would need to rely on other results going their way.
They will be without striker Laynee Field (injured) and defender Lauren Austin (unavailable) and flanker Kiarra Lewis is in doubt after having wisdom teeth removed this week.
South Wallsend player-coach Elyce Bates said a basic 4-4-2 formation had been working for them lately and they would not change anything this weekend.
“The formation is not ideal but it is working for us and is giving the girls confidence,” Bates said.
“This round we are two from two, it’s our last round and we want to cause some upsets.”
South Wallsend led Merewether last time these sides met before United finished strong to win 2-1.
But the visitors showed plenty of improvement since a 5-0 defeat in round four and proved they can match it with the top sides by downing fourth-placed Wallsend last week.
“We beat them comfortably in the first round but they picked up a couple of players and that made a huge difference to them the second time we played them,” Merewether coach Cassie Koppen said.
“Amber Neilson was one of those players and she controlled the game last time, and they have strengthened again since then and they beat Wallsend, which is not an easy thing to do.”
Merewether welcome back several players missing from last weekend’s 3-0 win over Thornton but are still without Sarah Halvorsen and Bronte Walters.
Herald WPL points: Adamstown 34, Warners Bay 29, Merewether 29, Wallsend 24, South Wallsend 14, Thornton 9, Mid North Coast 2.