Thornton v Warners Bay
At Thornton Park
Saturday, April 9, 2.15pm
Last start: Thornton lost 3-0 to Adamstown; Warners Bay drew 1-1 with Wallsend.
Warners Bay coach Leon Davis will tell his charges to take no notice of Thornton’s past two results as they prepare to do battle this weekend.
The Redbacks opened the season with a 3-1 win over Mid North Coast before having the bye in round two then going down 7-0 to Merewether and 3-0 to Adamstown in succession.
But Davis warned against a lackadaisical approach towards Thornton and said having one could prove perilous.
“Most often when you do that you go in underprepared,” Davis said.
“We need to be switched on every week, irrespective of who we’re playing.”
The match will be Thornton’s first for the season at Thornton Park and playing at home should be a motivating factor for the hosts as they look to get back in the winners’ circle.
Warners Bay will be without goalkeeper Nicki Deiter due to unavailability for the next two weeks, giving 18s shot-stopper Olivia Sneddon a chance to step up.
Sneddon has plenty of WPL experience – she was the goalkeeper for grand final side Valentine last season.
Warners Bay are also still without Taylor Smith through injury.
Mid North Coast v Merewether
At Taree Zone Field
Sunday, April 10, 2.15pm
Last start: Mid North Coast lost 6-0 to Wallsend in round 3 and had the bye last weekend; Merewether beat South Wallsend 5-0.
This shapes as a David versus Goliath account with a young and eager Mid North Coast side hosting competition big guns Merewether.
Merewether have scored 12 goals in their past two outings, beating Thornton 7-0 then South Wallsend 5-0, but visiting coach Cassie Koppen was full of respect for a tireless Mid North Coast side.
“We always quite enjoy playing Mid North Coast because they play a similar style of football to us,” Koppen said.
“They like to play it out from the back and they like lots of touches on the ball and quick passes. They are full of spirit and they put in 100 per cent.”
Mid North Coast coach Matt Baker said playing the defending champions was an opportunity for his young side to test themselves.
“We realise the teams we are playing against have got some wonderful players in them,” Baker said.
“The bottom line is we need to use these experiences to challenge ourselves.
“No doubt we’re coming up against some strong squads but if we stick together anything can happen.”
Mid North Coast have had a disrupted training week with limited numbers due several players with HSC commitments but Baker was hopeful of having his full squad available for the weekend.
Merewether players Bronte Walters (hamstring) and Ellie Withers (calf) are in doubt through injury but Carolina Cacic and Hannah Sunasky are expected to get some game time in Taree after being sidelined for the past few weeks with injuries of their own.
South Wallsend v Adamstown
At Walker Fields
Sunday, April 10, 2.15pm
Last start: South Wallsend lost 5-0 to Merewether; Adamstown beat Thornton 3-0.
Opposing coaches have highlighted execution as their biggest concern in the lead-up to this match.
South Wallsend created plenty of scoring opportunities in their 5-0 loss to Merewether last weekend but player-coach Elyce Bates said they suffered from a lack of experience in the final third.
Adamstown beat Thornton 3-0 but all three goals came from set pieces, two off corners and the third a penalty and several scoring opportunities in front of goal went begging.
Bates will make some subtle positional changes in an attempt to spark some goals while Herron may be forced to make changes of his own up front due to injury.
“We’re a bit of the walking wounded this week,” Herron said.
Adamstown’s leading scorer Jasmin Courtenay has a back injury, Emily Frost a neck complaint and Rhali Dobson was sporting several bumps and bruises.
“Jasmin and Emily are 50-50 as to whether they will be in at this stage,” Herron said yesterday.
“Having two or three forwards injured is not ideal.”
Adamstown are unbeaten after four rounds and sit atop the league ladder with a one-point advantage over defending champions Merewether.
Herron had not seen South Wallsend play but acknowledged they had some quality players to their side but, “like last week, we just need to make sure we’ve got ourselves organised”.
Faith Lewis will be back in goals for South Wallsend after missing last week’s match with a wrist injury.
Bates said 18s midfielder Paige Kingston-Hogg will come into the mix and that Kirralee Gardner pulled up well after her first game of the season last weekend.
Wallsend have the bye
Points table: Adamstown 10, Merewether 9, Wallsend 8, Thornton 3, South Wallsend 1, Warners Bay 1, Mid North Coast 1.