PHOTO: Valentine Sports Photography
Match of the Round
Mid North Coast v Adamstown
Sunday, April 2, 2.15pm
At Wayne Richards Park
Last start: Mid North Coast beat Thornton 8-0 in round one; Adamstown drew 1-1 with South Wallsend on Sunday.
Position on ladder: Mid North Coast third, three points; Adamstown fourth, one point
Squad news: There are no changes to the Mid North Coast line-up from their emphatic eight-goal win over Thornton in the opening round and Adamstown should remain pretty much the same as well. Rosebud goalkeeper Bec Miller was a late inclusion last weekend but has cricket commitments in Sydney this weekend and is expected to miss the game. Midfielder Ryley Field is returning from injury and may play off the bench for the visitors.
What the coaches say: Mid North Coast coach Mick Day felt this season was “shaping up as one of the hardest contested” and said a lengthy break after their big first-up win had proved challenging.
“Coming off a two-week break, a rained out game and then followed with a bye, our main goal has been to keep our girls focused,” Day said.
“Double-headers will always be hard, but our girls are looking forward to the matches.”
Adamstown coach Ben Herron was wary of the road trip and expected a hostile reception.
“We played them in a trial game and they’ve got a pretty fresh, new-look team who were full of energy and keen to get going; obviously that transferred into an eight-nil result against Thornton in round one,” Herron said.
“We’ve started slowly in the past two games and have paid the price, so we need to be switched on and ready.”
Bottom line: Both sides are laden with youth, complemented by a handful of experienced players and this shapes as an even contest. Mid North Coast will have played South Wallsend in a catch-up game on Saturday and this result may be determined by how well they back up. But they have the benefit of being at home and Adamstown’s own test will be how quickly they can get going after the two-hour road trip on game day. If Mid North Coast pull up OK from Saturday they could probably be seen to have the edge on this one, given their confidence-boosting round-one performance.
Thornton v Wallsend
Saturday, April 1, 2.15pm
At Thornton Park
Last start: Thornton lost 3-1 to Warners Bay on Sunday; Wallsend lost 5-3 to Warners Bay last night.
Position on ladder: Thornton last, nil points; Wallsend sixth, nil points
Squad news: Wallsend is expected to field the same line-up as in last night’s match with Warners Bay pending any injuries out of the game. Thornton will be without experienced pair Kristy Martin and Ash Vickery as well as Jennifer Joengblood. Coach Al Primmer will call on his under-18 players to fill the void.
What the coaches say: Wallsend assistant coach Strat Kapalos said the performance against Warners Bay in a rescheduled round-two match last night was encouraging, despite forfeiting a 3-1 lead to lose 5-3.
“It was a good game of football, and we played good football compared to on the weekend against Merewether,” Kapalos said.
“The game could’ve gone either way and it was disappointing not get any points but the performance was improved and I think we’ve laid some good groundwork for the year.
“Thornton are a bit of an unknown and Al’s a good coach and he’ll have them well prepared.”
Thornton coach Al Primmer was looking forward to the challenge.
“I like playing and watching Wallsend play football,” Primmer said.
“We need to keep improving from last Sunday. We kept the ball well for small patches and I would like that to increase.”
Bottom line: Thornton bounced back from an eight-goal demoralisation in the opening round of the season to hold the defending champions at bay for the better part of their round-three encounter last weekend. The performance showed they are capable of dictating the terms of games and should have given them some confidence. Likewise, Wallsend will have walked away from last night’s match against Warners Bay disappointed not to at least get a point for their efforts. But they showed they would still be a force to be reckoned with this season despite the hefty player losses they suffered in the off-season.This game could go either way. Wallsend will probably try to hit Kally Lewis up front and she will cause some headaches for the Thornton defence while the Redbacks will almost certainly be doing their best to keep her out of the game. Both sides are dangerous on the counter-attack but at this stage Wallsend should have the edge on their rivals in the experience department and that could prove the difference.
South Wallsend v Warners Bay
Sunday, April 2, 2.15pm
At Walker Fields
Last start: South Wallsend drew 1-1 with Adamstown on Sunday; Warners Bay beat Wallsend 5-3 last night.
Position on ladder: South Wallsend fifth, one point; Warners Bay leading, nine points
Squad news: South Wallsend’s line-up will be determined by how they get through their rescheduled round-two match with Mid North Coast on Saturday. Former Westfield W-League player Stacey Day could be an inclusion for Sunday but is expected to only play a small role if she does get on the pitch, as she is returning from injury.
What the coaches say: The match is the second of a weekend double-header for South Wallsend and coach Gary Wilson said they were “under no illusions as to how hard it will be”.
He is hoping to see another improved performance after a one-all draw with Adamstown last weekend.
“We’re buoyed by the weekend’s result and we want to build on that and there’s no better test than a double-header,” Wilson said.
“If we could just to have two good performances and get whatever points we can, that would be good.
“If we come through unscathed from Saturday and are up for it on Sunday hopefully we can give Warners Bay a test.”
Warners Bay player-coach Cassidy Davis knows her side has a target on their back after winning the championship last year and expected every match to be a challenge as teams try to take down the reigning title-holders.
She was encouraged by the way Warners Bay turned around a 3-1 half-time deficit to Wallsend last night to win 5-3.
“I spoke to the girls about not going down so early in the season and to come back from 3-1 down showed a lot of fight,” she said.
“I’m expecting Southy to be similar to Wallsend; they are going to be physical and they get in your face and I’d expect another tough match.”
Bottom line: The match will be the third in eight days for both sides. Warners Bay have targeted maximum points in this tough period and have already gleaned six points from their two outings this week so far. They hold a three-point buffer over the field and are keen to keep building on their unbeaten start to the season. Player-coach Cassidy Davis believes they have not produced a good performance yet and have plenty more to give and the same could be said for South Wallsend, who meet Warners Bay after travelling to Taree on Saturday to take on Mid North Coast. Southy will have gained confidence from their improved effort against Adamstown last weekend but it is going to be a huge ask to back up against the defending champions and match their intensity after playing the day before. Warners Bay probably have the edge in this one, given they will be fresher, but expect a hard-fought battle.
Merewether have the bye
Rescheduled round-2 match
Mid North Coast v South Wallsend, Taree Zone Fields
Points table: Warners Bay 9, Merewether 6, Mid North Coast 3, Adamstown 1, South Wallsend 1, Wallsend 0, Thornton 0.