Match of the Round
Charlestown Azzurri v Broadmeadow Magic
Lisle Carr Oval, Sunday 3.40pm
Charlestown Azzurri face their toughest challenge yet on Sunday when they welcome Broadmeadow Magic to Lisle Carr Oval.
There is no shortage of storylines on both sides, although the defection of Alison Logue to Magic, having played for Merewether United last year, will be sure to stir up an entertaining battle.
Charlestown coach Michael Lee will go into the weekend again unsure on who will make up his match day squad. Azzurri have been dealt a horror card on the injury front with Lori Depczynski headlining an extensive casualty ward.
“We won’t have any extras but we probably will have that same bunch of girls that we started with last week,” Lee said.
Jess Gentle remains in the wings awaiting her international clearance, while Imogen Tusek will feature off the bench as she recovers from injury.
“She has been coming to training and trying to get this knee better and she is still probably three weeks away from a full game,” Lee said.
Charlestown sit fifth on the table having played just one game after Azzurri’s first round match against Mid Coast FC was postponed.
“I’d like us to defend a little bit better on Sunday. We made some basic errors and didn’t start well so we need to fix the basic areas,” Lee said.
“We can’t change a lot because we don’t have the personnel. We’ve got to watch them because they are such a good side, they have so many good strikers.”
A win on Sunday would see Magic move to nine points on the table. Broadmeadow sit two points clear of their closest competitor Adamstown Rosebud.
“I think generally across the board the players are competitive. There’s a drive inside the team already. The expectation for the girls in that they should win every week,” Magic coach Jake Curley said.
Erin Wilson remains unavailable through injury, with Curley expected to make changes to his side’s defensive structure.
“I think everyone is pretty confident. We’ve assembled a pretty good team,” he said.
“Defensively we are going to hopefully have Kalista [Hunter] back central and not have a backline that is made up of players that generally don’t play in those positions.”
The focus for the women in red is to retain possession while, according to Curley, “making better decisions when we have the ball,” could prove the key to three points.
“We need to retain possession a little bit better than they did against Olympic. I think it is going to be a different game against Charlestown than it was against Olympic,” he said.
Despite Charlestown’s injury list, both sides carry goal scoring ability into Sunday’s match with the difference likely to be the goalkeepers at each end.
If you only plan on getting to a few games this year, make this one of them.
New Lambton v Newcastle Olympic
Alder Park, Friday 7.45pm
Some might say football coach is one of the toughest job titles in the country. And there is no denying the weight on the shoulders of New Lambton coach Greg Lowe as he hopes to restart the Eagles’ campaign after a disappointing start.
New Lambton were left to pick up the pieces after Warners Bay found the back of the net on eight occasions last week, while it was Adamstown Rosebud who took points from the Eagles in round one.
They now face an even tougher challenge on Friday evening up against last year’s champions Newcastle Olympic, who will look to bounce back from a loss to Broadmeadow Magic.
“We’ve had a good week training. It is a short week for us,” Olympic coach Harmonie Attwill said.
“We sort of went back to the drawing board Tuesday night and really worked on our front third, creating and scoring goals. Hopefully we can put that into practice.”
Olympic head into the clash on the back of their first loss since round nine of last year, with the defeat a reminder that there will be no easy points in 2021.
“I don’t know if it is necessarily a wake-up call, it is only the second game of the season,” Attwill said.
“It is just a reminder that regardless of your opposition you have to be clinical and you have to take those chances. If you don’t, what happened to us on the weekend could happen again.
“You still have to approach each game in the same way. You can’t be complacent against any opposition.”
Jemma House is unavailable for the clash, while Keely Gawthrop is out with injury. Georgia Little remains under an injury cloud.
“Georgia is under a bit of an injury cloud. She will get to the point where she will do the warm-up and we will see how she is,” Attwill said.
Friday’s clash with the struggling Eagles is an opportunity for Olympic to return to its goal scoring best while writing the wrongs of last weekend.
“Last week I was disappointed with our inability to convert those chances. I was also unhappy with how we were not really purposeful with our set plays,” she said.
“Our focus is on responding positively to what we have identified as our football problem from the weekend.
“We want to continue to create combinations in the attacking third but we also just can’t create them, we need to score goals.
“I think we have a really good culture around players working hard and knowing their role. It is always good to check back and check how resilient the players are.”
Maitland FC v Adamstown Rosebud JFC
Cooks Square Park, Saturday 3.40pm
Herald Women’s Premier League football returns to Cooks Square Park this weekend as Maitland play host to Adamstown Rosebud. The home side will hope to secure its first points in 2021, having suffered back-to-back, albeit competitive, losses to start the season.
At the other end, Adamstown will hope to continue its early season form, which has so far yielded a 2-0 win over New Lambton and 3-3 draw with Mid Coast.
According to Magpies coach Keelan Hamilton his side’s focus will be on controlling the match with and without possession.
“Similar aim to last week, I hope to see us look to control the match both with and without for long periods. If we can get that control it will give us the best chance of getting three points,” he said.
“The squad is in good shape and the week has been good. Shorter turnaround so we’ve managed a couple of niggles from Sunday’s match but everyone should be available for selection.
“We are focusing on areas we need to improve in our game and will also touch on a couple of things which Adamstown might throw at us.”
Despite Maitland only making their Herald Women’s Premier League debut at the start of this season, Hamilton remains impressed with the side’s early phase development.
“The girls have been excellent in taking on the style of football we want to play,” he said.
“We’re still only very early in our progress but they have improved so much since our first session. We have plenty to still work on but the girls have been really willing to learn.”
Rosebud coach Ryan Campbell will hope for more from his side on Saturday. The Adamstown mentor was far from impressed with the Buds’ performance against Mid Coast FC last weekend.
The Buds remain without Ellen Hughes and Rachel Duffin through injury, with crisper attacking combinations a focus for Campbell.
“The girls are looking forward to getting back on the field on Saturday. I think we are all disappointed with last weekend and keen to put it right this week,” he said.
A fresh-faced Maitland side pose new challenges for the Buds, who opened the season against New Lambton, before meeting Middies last week.
“While we like to focus on ourselves, we will do some basic work around what Maitland did well in their game last weekend,” Campbell said.
“Given Maitland was the BarTV match last weekend, it helps us to analyse.
“Our major focus this weekend is playing at our level for more consistent amounts of time.
“So far in our two games I believe we have only had very limited amounts of time where we have performed to our required level.”
Mid Coast FC v Warners Bay FC
Taree Zone Field, Sunday 3:40pm
Mid Coast FC coach Mick Grass was impressed with his side’s composure last week despite a disrupted pre-season, with Warners Bay another significant hurdle for Middies if they’re to prove they can match it with the best this season.
Grass is expected to name the same starting side that drew 3-3 with Adamstown, with Sunday’s match the first home game of the year at Taree.
“Our girls love playing at Taree Zone Field. It has had a fair bit of work the last few years and it is now in really good condition. The size of the field suits how we want to play.”
Both sides posses significant attacking strike power with fitness likely to play a huge part in the result. Grass believes the game will be “won or lost in the legs.”
“Hopefully, we can just run the game out a little bit longer. We probably ran out of legs with 15 minutes to go on Saturday, so if we can get another five minutes that would be even better,” he said.
“If we can run with them and probably run a little bit better than them I think we’ll be able to stay in the game if not get on top.”
An additional focus is the continued improvement of the side’s concentration. Middies developed a strong reputation for stealing points at the death last season.
“I want to see concentration for the whole game this week. I thought our mindset to start the game was really good but we just have to maintain that throughout,” Grass said.
“When we do something well, we’ve just got to back that up with something else that’s good.
“Just maintain the ball a little bit longer than we did. Show a little more patience than we did. I thought we were pretty good last week first start back.”
Warners Bay left New Lambton reeling last week after they ran riot, 8-1, against the Eagles, although remain wary of a Mid Coast team capable of delivering an upset.
“It is a tough road trip to Taree this weekend. Middies are coming off a good first up performance after a long period of time, so it is going to be tough,” Panthers coach Craig Atkins said.
“They have got the most difficult travel agenda of all teams. When they are at home, they want to make it their fortress. I believe they step up to the next level there.”
Atkins is expected to name a similar side to that which defeated New Lambton, with a tough run ahead for the Panthers including newcomers Maitland and Charlestown.
“It is a big three points early in the season. We looked at the draw and there’s a string of really tough games coming up for us. I think if you can put a few good wins on the board early then it does put you in good stead,” he said.
“We know now what we need to do. The feedback from the girls was that the communication on the field had improved considerably. For me, as a coach that is a real strong positive.
“Sunday has got to be another 90-minute performance but at another level to what we did against New Lambton.”