PHOTO: Valentine Sports Photography
Match of the Round
Wallsend v Merewether
Sunday, July 31, 3.45pm
At Wallsend Oval
Last start: Wallsend beat Thornton 6-0, Merewether beat Mid North Coast 5-1.
Head to head: They drew 0-0 in round seven, Merewether won 4-1 in round 14.
Position on ladder: Merewether second (35), Wallsend fourth (27)
This match will be the third in a week for Wallsend, who host third-placed Warners Bay tonight.
The fourth-placed Red Devils have drawn with all of the sides above them but are yet to beat any.
Coach Marc Hingston said wins against Warners Bay tonight then third-placed Merewether on Sunday would be a huge confidence boost ahead of the semi-finals.
“The girls trained well on Tuesday night and were on a bit of a high from [beating Thornton 6-0] last weekend,” Hingston said.
“It was a good performance against Thornton but we have two big games this week and it will put us in a good place if we get two wins from those two games leading into Adamstown.”
Wallsend cannot finish any higher than fourth and will play Rosebud in the two-legged semi-finals, starting August 6-7.
Co-captain Keely Gawthrop is expected to return for Wallsend tonight after she missed last round’s match through unavailability.
Kalista Hunter is still out through injury and Sophie O’Brien remains under an injury cloud with hamstring and knee issues.
Merewether had the bye last weekend and coach Cassie Koppen was hoping to rebuild some momentum for their semi-finals showdown with Warners Bay.
“The main thing is I will be just trying to give all of our players a pretty decent hit-out,” Koppen said.
“It wasn’t good timing with the bye leading into the semis, so we need to make sure we head into the semis with 14/15 players fit and confident.”
“We obviously want a win for our confidence but they are a quality side and no doubt their attacking quality is up there with the best in the league, so it will be a good test.”
The test will be made even tougher if steely central defender Jaimee Ellis missed the match through injury.
Ellis rolled her ankle at training last weekend and is likely to sit this match out. Merewether are also without striker Hannah Sunasky, who is away with work commitments.
Mid North Coast v Warners Bay
Sunday, July 31, 2.15pm
At Fairmont Gardens
Last start: Mid North Coast lost 4-1 to Adamstown, Warners Bay lost 4-2 to South Wallsend.
Head to head: Warners Bay won 6-0 in round seven and 8-0 in round 14.
Position on ladder: Mid North Coast last with two points, Warners Bay third (32)
Warners Bay coach Leon Davis was unsure of the squad he would be taking north.
He said it would depend on how his “bare 11” get through tonight’s rescheduled fixture with Wallsend.
Davis said he would be scraping the bottom of the barrel tonight due to unavailability, suspension, and injuries.
But Warners Bay will, however, get a boost on the weekend with departing midfielder Jemma House hanging around for one last appearance.
House’s last appearance was meant to be tonight but she was red-carded post-match on Sunday for dissent.
Warners Bay forfeited a 2-0 lead to lose 4-2 to South Wallsend last weekend. It was their first defeat since House joined them in May after returning from her first year of a college scholarship in the United States.
“Tomorrow night is going to be very tough against a team that obviously hasn’t beaten us yet and will want to beat us,” Davis said yesterday.
“Hopefully, we can rebound from the weekend’s loss. We allowed them to play and we can’t allow teams to do that.”
Mid North Coast welcome back Ashleigh Chambers, Jess Sanderson and Brooke Summers from injury for their last hit-out of the season.
Coach Matt Baker said all three would start on the bench and he would be sending his charges out “to just enjoy ourselves”.
Mid North Coast as yet have not registered a win this season.
South Wallsend v Thornton
Sunday, July 31, 2.15pm
At Walker Fields
Last start: South Wallsend beat Warners Bay 4-2, Thornton lost 6-0 to Wallsend.
Head to head: South Wallsend won 2-1 in round seven and 2-0 in round 14.
Position on ladder: South Wallsend fifth (17), Thornton sixth (12)
After claiming another top-four scalp last weekend, South Wallsend player-coach Elyce Bates wants to finish the season on a high by beating Thornton again this weekend.
They have beaten the Redbacks twice already this season.
Midfielder-cum-striker Tori Farley is under an injury cloud after succumbing again to a troublesome ankle but Bates said they would otherwise field the same line-up from last weekend’s upset win over third-placed Warners Bay.
“Obviously, we will be going out to finish our season on a high after last weekend’s game, and being at home as well,” Bates said.
“We’re going to be in pretty good spirits and will have some confidence. But they are never easy-beats either; both times it has been close and we won’t take them lightly.”
Adding spice to the match will be the fact it is Naomi Abbott’s first appearance against her former club.
Abbott, who helped orchestrate the win over Warners Bay by scoring a hat-trick last week, left Thornton midway through the season then joined forces with South Wallsend.
Southy also have former Thornton goalkeeper Darcie Bell in their ranks.
Adamstown – bye
Herald WPL Points: Adamstown 46, Merewether 35, Warners Bay 32, Wallsend 27, South Wallsend 17, Thornton 12, Mid North Coast 2