Herald Women’s Premier League Round 5 Preview

April 29th, 2021

 Jack Antcliff

Match of the Round

Maitland FC v Newcastle Olympic
Cooks Square Park, Friday 7.45pm

Recovery, reset and refocus has been the message from Maitland coach Keelan Hamilton as his side prepare to take on reigning premiers and champions Newcastle Olympic.

The Magpies head into Friday night’s clash as the underdogs, having recording one win from four starts to open the season.

“Olympic are an experienced, well-balanced side, so we will have to be at our absolute best to get something from the game,” Hamilton said.

“We have our plans in place. The key will be executing them consistently enough.”

Despite Maitland’s position in fifth on the table, the Magpies have the equal third highest goal scoring tally across the opening rounds. Eight of their 10 goals have come at home.

“A good performance will see us retain possession and use the ball much better than last week. I hope to see us stick to our process and principles more consistently,” Hamilton said.

“Cooks Square is in unbelievable condition, so we always look forward to playing there. We want to make it a tough place to visit for opposing sides and we plan on making it hard for Olympic on Friday.”

Sophie Stapleford remains unavailable with a quad strain. She is expected to return in coming weeks but won’t be rushed back into the squad.

Newcastle Olympic will be without Georgia Amess and Georgia Little for Friday night’s clash. The latter is awaiting clearance following a series of concussions, while Amess is out of town.

“Friday night’s performance will be a good one if the squad can continue to remain confident after last week’s win and try to generate some momentum from the training week,” Olympic coach Harmonie Attwill said.

Olympic are second on the Herald Women’s Premier League table on nine points but will be eager to remain in touch with leaders Broadmeadow Magic.

“Training has been positive and high in intensity after the weekend success. It has been high quality from all players in each session,” Attwill said.

The women in blue are yet to face Maitland since the Magpies joined the competition at season’s start, with the risk of the unknown always a challenge for a travelling side.

“We have to play our own game initially and be prepared to modify things if need be,” Attwill said.

“The girls have great football knowledge so will adapt if that is required.”

“As always, my message to the players will be to remain confident and focus on their job. We want to have as much possession in their half and shut down their opportunity to build up.”

“The squad is eager to perform and we are really looking forward to playing Maitland in a Friday night game, it will be a great spectacle.”

Charlestown Azzurri v Warners Bay FC
Lisle Carr Oval, Saturday 3.40pm

Charlestown Azzurri will head into Saturday’s game with what seems like more players unavailable than those who are passed fit to play.

Headlined by the absence of Lori Depcznyski, Azzurri’s absentee list includes Mischa Ball, Ellie Withers, May Bailey, and Shani Vazey. Mid-season recruit Jess Gentle is also unavailable due to rugby commitments in Sydney.

“Warners Bay is obviously a good team so key is not making simple mistakes as we’ve been doing a bit too frequently,” Charlestown coach Michael Lee said.

Lee’s focus since last round’s loss to Adamstown Rosebud has been around “maintaining possession,” with the Charlestown mentor expecting more intensity from his team on Saturday.

“A good performance would be a more solid defensive display. The rivalry should provide a reason to step up. We were a bit soft against Adamstown,” Lee said.

Warners Bay have used the past week to consolidate, with several players carrying niggling injuries. But Panthers coach Craig Atkins expects them to pass fit for the match against Azzurri.

“We have focussed a little bit on recovery this week with a few niggles around the group,” he said.

“We should have the same starting line up on Saturday pending that everyone gets through training on Thursday night.”

The Panthers overpowered Maitland in an entertaining affair at John Street Oval last week, with Atkins hopeful the visitors can maintain the same level against Charlestown.

“The intensity that we showed for the last 65 minutes of the game against Maitland. The ball movement, communication and passing was very effective,” he said.

We can expect no shortage of emotion on the park either, with the rivalry between Warners Bay and Charlestown, formally Merewether, a long lasting one.

“There has always been a big rivalry between these two teams and I would expect nothing but a tough and physical game on Saturday,” Atkins said.

“A strong team performance from the first whistle. It would be nice to be able to convert a few more chances that we have been creating in the final third as well.”

Adamstown Rosebud JFC v Broadmeadow Magic
Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility, Saturday 7pm

A focus on the individual battles has been a key consideration at training for Adamstown this week, as the Ryan Campbell-coached Rosebud prepare to take on table-toppers Broadmeadow Magic.

“This week we have focused individually on attacking and defending in one-on-one situations as I believe this will be a key area to do well in on Saturday night,” Campbell said.

It is a tough task for the home side, who are awaiting fitness clearance on several players.

“Broadmeadow are a side full of great players and we need all our players to match up individually against their direct opponent. We also need to take our chances when they come,” Campbell said.

“I will ask the girls to believe in our processes and the way we play to try and get a positive result out of the game.

“We are waiting to find out how a couple of players are after injuries they sustained in Saturday’s game. We will see how they go on Thursday and Friday training sessions.”

As for what it will take to edge out the competition heavyweights, Campbell believes it will be a matter of who makes the most of their chances close to goal.

“We are aiming to limit the chances Magic get on Sunday and create good positive chances ourselves,” he said.

At the other end, Magic will look to maintain the form which has seen them score 18 goals in four games. The memo from coach Jake Curley to his side is to “fill the expectation.”

“Training this week has been some conditioning and a little bit of tactical [work],” Curley said.

“We have a number of talented individual players and the expectation would be even if they sat in a yarn circle and sang kumbaya they would be expected to perform.”

Erin Wilson and Lucy Kell remain unavailable, with their return expected inside the next four weeks. Curley is expected to name a similar side to that which defeated New Lambton last weekend.

As for what it will take to edge out Adamstown, Curley believes the match will be won or lost in the ‘on-field energy’, though it is safe to say he’s not getting caught up in the occasion.

“I really enjoy playing Adamstown. There’s always a bit of spice between Ryan and I which makes the game more interesting,” he said.

“I think we need to be more energetic than the Adamstown players which is difficult because they are terrific competitors.

“The final words to the girls would probably be ‘Pickles, don’t forget your juice’.”

Mid Coast FC v New Lambton FC
Taree Zone Field, Sunday 3.40pm

Mid Coast FC will hope for better fortunes when they host New Lambton at Taree on Sunday.

Middies were compressively beaten by Newcastle Olympic last week with coach Mick Grass hopeful his side can be more polished in transition.

“Our focus this week has been on our transition moments, particularly transition to defence. We were far too lethargic in those moments on Sunday [against Olympic] and we paid the price,” he said.

Illness and injury will prove another hurdle for Grass’ side, who will be without Jess Watts due to an ankle injury and Ginger Harrison who is unavailable with illness.

“The key to victory for us will be to play a more up-tempo style, keep the ball moving and maintain possession for longer periods,” Grass said.

“A good performance on Sunday will see us playing with a lot more control and composure.”

Last week’s drubbing was a disappointing result for Mid Coast who, despite not yet claiming three points, have tested some of the competition’s stronger sides. According to Grass, his side needs to show some pride in the jersey.

“My final words to the players on Sunday will about restoring pride in our performance,” he said.

“We let our standards drop last week and we will need to rectify that if we are to come away with a positive result.”

It is a similar story from previous weeks for New Lambton, who go into Sunday’s match without a host of key players including Brooke Miller.

“[Miller] has been battling through injury for a few weeks now so she will sit this one out,” Eagles coach Maddy Searl said.

“Lisa Crane is 50-50 at this stage due to knee soreness. This will give some young girls a chance to step up for us.”

A 90-minute performance will be key for the Eagles, who have scored just one goal this season. Heading into the match they sit eighth on the table, just one point shy of their opponents Mid Coast.

“Key for us on Sunday will be to create goal scoring opportunities and working hard off the ball,” Searl said.

“The girls know what they have to do, now it is about self-belief. We are focusing on a positive start and being switched on for the full 90 minutes.”

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