Competitions

Herald WPL Round 20 Preview

August 1st, 2019

 HUNTER SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY

 ISAAC MCINTYRE

 

Match of the Round

New Lambton (1st) vs South Wallsend (4th)

Sunday 4 August, 2.30pm, Alder Park

South Wallsend have another chance to improve their standings in the top four as they travel to Alder Park to face the season’s newly crowned premiers New Lambton.

The Eagles went down in a narrow 3-2 loss to Warners Bay last weekend in their first pointless outing of the season. This time around they’re looking to make amends for the slip-up, and build momentum ahead of the finals.

Both sides will have a chance to show off their talents to WPL fans across the region as BarTV Sports turns the spotlight onto the Alder Park contest. For South Wallsend, it can be used as a warning to the rest of the clubs in the top four battle.

A shaky loss to Wallsend in mid-July rolled on to a 1-1 draw against second-placed Warners Bay. Last weekend, the Wolves pounced on three points for the since the second week of last month with a 4-2 win over Thornton. Now they eye three more key points.

New Lambton coach Keelan Hamilton knows his side has to brace for the clash, especially with South Wallsend still fighting for precious positions as the Eagles already turn their eyes towards the semi-finals.

“It’s an interesting position for us to be in because we know that we can’t change our position heading into the finals, but we still want to keep up that high level so that we can have a string of good results going into the games,” he said.

“There was a bit of a refresh for us after the Warners Bay game, and we don’t want to over-analyse the result. We were nowhere near what we wanted to be, or have been for the season, so we’re just going to look to get back to that standard for the rest of the year.

“What matters to us this week is getting back into the training routine, getting our heads down, and finding out what we can improve to get a good result on Sunday. That will put us in a good place as we get towards the finals at the end of the season.”

Watch the New Lambton vs South Wallsend match live and free on the Herald Women’s Premier League Facebook page, or on BarTV Sports’ YouTube channel.

 

Merewether United (3rd) vs Warners Bay (2nd)

Sunday 4 August, 2.30pm, Myamblah Oval

Merewether and Warners Bay meet at Myamblah Oval this weekend in another key tussle to determine where each of the top four clubs will finish in the season.

One-quarter of the equation – New Lambton’s top spot finish – has already been settled. Now the Llamas and the Panthers both have their eyes locked on the second-place prize behind the Eagles, and three points at Myamblah Oval on Sunday is the next step in that goal.

The defending champions now must be wary against Warners Bay after their stunning result last weekend.

Considering the ladder is pointing towards a Merewether-Warners Bay showdown in the semifinals too, coach Cass Koppen said she’s using this game as a way to earn the “mental edge” that so often decides elimination games.

“Warners Bay had a really good win on the weekend knocking off New Lambton. They’re pushing for that second place, and we may be playing each other in the semis so it’s important for us to earn that edge against them for the future,” Koppen said.

“Our two teams have been competing against each other for a couple of years now, they’re a quality side, and we know how they play. We’ll look to shut down their midfield, and then it can be business as usual for us overall.”

United are also looking to some backline changes for the final rounds of the season. Young fullback Isabella Ramzan-Levy has been tipped to step into the defensive outfit for Merewether, and Koppen believes she can be a key cog in the team’s wheelhouse.

“We’ll be readjusting to having Issy come in, and looking to get vital minutes under her belt,” she said. “It’s going to be a close game no matter what, I think we’ve shared results with Warners Bay this season, so we’ll look to use it as a grounding for Issy and the team.”

While Merewether may be wary of the surge Warners Bay have received from their streak-stopping performance against the Eagles last week, the travelling side is looking to tap into that shot in the arm.

Craig Atkins knows his side has a “swell” of confidence after their one-goal win over the premiers last weekend. He’s looking to channel that energy into another important victory on Sunday, and “get the ball rolling” on some finals form.

“We want to get that second place, and a win against Merewether will go a long way towards that for us,” he said.

“With what happened last weekend the girls are looking really great, I said over the last few rounds that we had been building towards performances like this and now the goal isn’t to get there, it’s to keep it going against Merewether and into the finals.”

 

Football Mid North Coast (8th) vs Wallsend (5th)

Sunday 4 August, 2.30pm, Wayne Richards Park

Football Mid North Coast have just two chances left to claw their way off the bottom of the Women’s Premier League table, and their first of the fortnight comes this weekend as they welcome fifth-placed Wallsend to Wayne Richards Park.

The Port Macquarie fixture presents the Mid North Coast squad with a rare opportunity: Wallsend’s season finished last weekend with their 3-1 loss to Merewether, and has left them drifting between the bottom scrap and the finals fight.

With the Red Devils effectively finished for the season, Middies boss Mick Grass knows his side could strike this week if they want to earn points. With Warners Bay on the horizon in Round 21, it’s “not exactly now or never” for the northern squad, but it’s close.

“I’m not going to rule out picking up points in the last game of the season at all, I think we have it in us to do it, but this weekend is maybe our best chance to get some points and get away from eighth,” Grass said of the impending Red Devils showdown.

Mid North Coast suffered a blow to their aspirations to avoid last-place with leading lady Sam Bestwick ruled out of the season with a medial collateral ligament injury. Grass believes in his side to rally in her absence, but knows it will be tough.

“We know we really need a result this weekend, and not having key roles is going to make it tougher,” said the Mid North Coast coach.

“For us this weekend it just comes to positivity, if we make sure everyone knows their roles and concentrates on their jobs then we should definitely be in with a shot. We’ve had people switching off across the park this season so we need to avoid that to do well.

“It just gets tougher from here with us, especially with how Warners Bay went against New Lambton last weekend, so this is a good place for us to get points and we’re 100 percent going out there with that aim on Sunday.”

 

Adamstown Rosebud (6th) def. Thornton Redbacks (7th)

Sunday 4 August, 3pm, Adamstown No.1 Oval

Thornton arrive at Adamstown No.1 Oval to face the Rosebud with one goal in their mind – collect points. With the battle at the bottom of the table heating up in the final rounds, the Redbacks are keenly aware what even a single point could mean in the race to avoid eighth.

As it stands, Thornton hold the advantage over Mid North Coast with goal difference, though the two clubs have found themselves standing on level points.

The Redbacks’ round rivals Adamstown have inched away from the spoon-battle, and now have a chance to further influence the outcome in their Round 20 meeting with Thornton.

For Adamstown, last week’s win has created a “fantastic” vibe around the camp as they prepare for their final fortnight of play for the season. Paul Devitis knows if his side can collect even just a single point they’ll mathematically be safe. He wants to go for three.

“We want to build on what we did against Middies last week, if we win this we can’t finish at the bottom of the table and so we want those three points,” he said.

“Sixth would be a positive for us considering the table, it’s further away than we wanted to be from the top four but the growth that I’ve seen in the team across the entire year has been a positive within itself.

“We’re looking to finish the season in the most positive way we can, we’ve not really had a win-streak so far this season so we’d love to get that under our belts. We’re aiming for that high note, and a win certainly achieves that.”

One catalyst that Devitis will look to during Sunday afternoon’s late kick-off will be the Buds’ fullback Taylor Kelly. The livewire defender has, according to Devitis, played a guiding role for the team as they, for the most part, kept teams from piling on the goals.

“Taylor has been in sensational form in the past month, she gives us a lot of energy and go-forward, and then gets back in defence and goes hard in tackles. She’s been a bit of a leader for us through that, and I’m backing her to continue,” he said.

“Chelsea Lucas has been great too, she causes a lot of problems when she gets behind players and you can look to her to get some attacks going. Between Chelsea and Taylor I think we’ll have some pretty great threats on the weekend.

“Our mentality is absolutely to go for the win, so that attack will help us. Thornton could be pretty desperate considering the table, so we’ll just look to play how we have been in recent weeks and that should build our entire game from there.”

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