PHOTO: VALENTINE SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
Merewether 3 (Sarah Halvorsen, Jamee Ellis (pen), Rhali Dobson) defeated Warners Bay 2 (Jenna Kingsley, Cassidy Davis) at Myamblah Oval, Half-time: Merewether led 3-1.
The Premiership remains a two-horse race after Merewether downed Warners Bay 3-2 in a game which had all the drama of a Hollywood blockbuster.
Merewether scored two goals in the space of six minutes through Sarah Halvorsen and Jamee Ellis to lead 2-0 after 25 minutes.
Halvorsen opened the scoring when she used her pace and physical presence to win a long ball into the box then stepped around Warners Bay goalkeeper Rhiannon Hines before tapping into an open net.
Ellis’s goal was from the penalty spot after Grace Macintyre was brought down in the box by Warners Bay defender Brooke Miller.
A diving Hines got her hand to the Merewether defender’s shot but she could not stop the goal.
United then looked to go 3-0 up before Halvorsen’s well-timed header off a sublime Rhali Dobson cross in the 32nd minute was disallowed due to an offside ruling.
Moments later the visitors had the chance to get on the score sheet when they were awarded a spot kick after Ellis was ruled to have pushed Warners Bay player-coach Cassidy Davis in the box.
But Warners Bay captain Nadja Squires skied her attempt from the penalty spot over the bar.
Dobson then did put United 3-0 in front in the 37th minute with a curling shot from the right which bounced on the goal line before Lori Depczynski stomached the ball into the net.
Warners Bay closed the gap to two goals heading to half-time when Jenna Kingsley scored at the back post from close range after good build-up work by Sophie Stapleford and Sass Seaborn.
The home side were on top early but the visitors came out stronger from the break and were rewarded when Davis was left unmarked at the back post and was free to head home a cross from Kingsley.
Warners Bay threatened late in the game but could not find an equaliser.
A win would have given the defending champions an unassailable 10-point lead over second-placed United in the race for the minor premiership but the loss meant Merewether are now only four points behind with three games still in hand compared to Warners Bay’s one remaining in the season proper.
United coach Cassie Koppen felt composure was the key to their success.
“Considering the pressures on both teams and the speed of the game, I thought we played quite well and stay composed,” Koppen said.
“We started strongly and it just takes moments in time that can determine if you win or lose.
“That off-side turned into a penalty for them and suddenly the game can go against you.
“But I thought we defended well and maintained our composure.”
Davis was disappointed not to at least take a point from the game.
“In the first half we just let them win everything in the air, and they’re strong in the air,” Davis said.
“I felt that was the main thing and sometimes the gaps were too big and Jenna was isolated up front.
“We moved Sass a bit closer which helped Jenna and I thought we were stronger in the second half.”
Mid North Coast 3 (Sophie Jones, Shannon Day, Courtney Anderson) defeated Wallsend 2 (Casey Smith 2) at The Gardens. Half-time: Mid North Coast led 2-0.
Mid North Coast ended Wallsend’s slim hopes of a finals spot with a gutsy 3-2 win at The Gardens.
Sophie Jones opened the scoring for Mid North Coast before Shannon Day extended the lead to have the visitors up 2-0 at the break.
Casey Smith gave the hosts a sniff of success when she scored the first of her match double midway through the second half but Courtney Anderson re-established the two-goal buffer with for Mid North Coast.
Smith added her second late in the match but the Red Devils could not find another and assistant coach Strat Kapalos conceded the result “probably eliminates our finals chances now”.
Mid North Coast coach Mick Day was “very proud of our girls and coaching staff with our win” but knew there was plenty of hard work to be done with Merewether and Warners Bay looming in their final two matches of the season proper.
“We knew playing Wallsend at their home ground was going to be a close game and it was great to see our training for this game transitioned to the game,” Day said.
“The next two games will be tough but we are up for it.”
Thornton 1 (Kristy Martin) defeated South Wallsend at Walker Fields. Half-time: Thornton led 1-0.
South Wallsend captain Laura Byrnes described it as “a tough day for the club” as last-placed Thornton recorded just their second win of the year with a 1-0 victory over the Wolves on a day where the Redbacks won every grade.
“We were without six first-grade players,” Byrnes said.
“A highlight, however, was that a few of our 16s made their first-grade debut and a few 18s backed up again. They all did a great job.”
The Wolves took the field without key players Stacey Day, Gemma Pearce, Laynee Field, Eliza Tupper, Erin Wilson and Emma Stevenson and were on the back foot early.
Thornton took the lead around the 20-minute mark when Kristy Martin ghosted into the box and shot low and hard to score into the bottom left corner.
Both sides had their chances but opposing goalkeepers Darcie Bell (South Wallsend) and Danielle Redding (Thornton) showed some solid form at either end.
Thornton coach Robbie Richardson was full of praise for his charges, who stuck to the game plan and came up with the result.
“They pushed hard and we knew they would because they had a bit riding on the game,” Richardson said.
“We changed things a bit to suit that and we caught them on the counter, and could’ve had more goals.
“I’m just really happy for the girls – they all worked very hard and I have nothing but admiration.”
The Wolves host Merewether in a rescheduled match at Walker Fields on Wednesday night and can mathematically still finish in fourth place but need to win both of their remaining matches and rely on other results going in their favour.
Adamstown – bye.
Points table: Warners Bay 43, Merewether 39, Adamstown 26, Mid North Coast 20, South Wallsend 16, Wallsend 11, Thornton 6.