Herald Women’s Premier League Round 7 Preview

May 13th, 2021

 Jack Antcliff

Match of the Round

Maitland FC v Mid Coast FC
Cooks Square Park, Sunday 3.40pm

Maitland will get its first sample of a Mid Coast team eager to bounce back from last weekend’s defeat when they host Middies at Cooks Square Park on Sunday.

The two sides sit just two points apart on the Herald Women’s Premier League table heading into round seven, with Maitland a chance to move into fourth with a win.

In a boost for the home side, Kaitlin Radstaak looks likely to return, while Sophie Stapleford could also be in the selection conversation come Sunday.

“They both trained Monday so we’re all fingers crossed it will be this week,” Maitland coach Keelan Hamilton said.

“A good performance would be another one where our concentration levels are high and our execution levels are high.

“The focus for us has been consistent with what we have been trying to do for the last couple of weeks. There are still improvements for us to make in regard to when we have got possession.

“We’re still guilty of turning the ball over too cheaply, particularly in that transition moment.”

Hamilton had strong praise for Tahlia Gossner and Bronte Peel, who he said had stepped up in the absence of the side’s two most senior players.

“In the absence of some of our more experienced girls they have been really good,” Hamilton said.

It has been a far quieter week on the Mid North Coast after rain disrupted Middies Tuesday night training session. The Mick Grass-coached side is coming off a 3-0 loss to Broadmeadow Magic.

“We just need to try and maintain a bit more possession. On the weekend we just turned the ball over too easily and we find ourselves having to win it back or defend the goals for long periods,” Grass said.

Jess Watts remains unavailable with an ankle injury. She will likely return midway through the season, with the focus this weekend on Middies’ own performance rather than that of their opposition.

“We just treat it like any other game,” Grass said.

“They’ve hit a bit of a purple patch with form at the moment, so I don’t expect an easy game.”

Grass believes composure and final third execution will be critical if his side is to return from Cooks Square Park with three points. Middies have only found the back of the net four times this season.

“A good performance will be one where we are a little bit more in control with possession, not always chasing the ball and not always trying to get it back,” he said.

“For us to win we just have to be polished in front of goal.

“Against New Lambton a couple of weeks ago we had plenty of chances and we just weren’t able to execute.”

Charlestown Azzurri v New Lambton FC
Lisle Carr Oval, Friday 8pm

Will the signing of former W-League player Jenna Kingsley be enough to turn around New Lambton’s season? Or will Charlestown’s strengthened attack prove too much for the Eagles?

While on paper this match may not look spectacular, the battle between seventh and eighth will be anything but boring, with finals hopes sinking further with each pending loss.

Announced during the week, Kingsley brings a wealth of experience to the Eagles, having featured in the W-League more than 90 times. She also made one appearance in green and gold during the 2007 Olympic qualifiers.

New Lambton remain bottom of the table, yet to record a win. They have only scored one goal, which came against Warners Bay in round two, though the signing of Kingsley will surely lead to higher conversion in front of goal.

At the other end, Charlestown Azzurri will again go in with a handful of changes after a tough affair against Newcastle Olympic last weekend. According to new coach Niko Papaspiropoulos, three points will come down to a “disciplined performance” where his side “stays mentally sharp.”

“We want to have more control of the ball. We should have a better opportunity to do it against an opposition that may not be as clean in possession,” he said.

“We need to be putting them under pressure early and take control of the game.

“If we can have the mental edge and can get under their skin early and take control, I think it will help set us well on our way to a win.”

Refining the side’s tactical approach has been key for Papaspiropoulos who was quick to point out the side on paper is far from a bottom of the table roster.

“We’ve got to make sure we can last the full 90 minutes while staying disciplined and focused. We need to try and limit errors so when you are playing a good team you can at least stay in the game longer,” Papaspiropoulos said.

“The more you stay in the game and frustrate the opposition the more chance you give yourself.”

Broadmeadow Magic v Warners Bay FC
Magic Park, Friday 8pm

Broadmeadow coach Jake Curley said the key to winning on Friday night is simple, convert chances when they arise.

“I think every game is won by the team who converts their chances and I don’t think this game will be any different,” he said.

Positive possession in good areas remains a focus for Curley, who believes defence will prove a crucial factor given both sides’ lethal final third.

“A good performance will be converting the chances that we create and maintaining possession,” he said.

“I think just keeping our defence tight and defending as a group will help us get a result. Our focus has been working on being tidy when we have the ball.”

Lucy Kell and Erin Wilson remain in the casualty ward. Both are expected to return inside six weeks though neither will be rushed back.

“Games against Warners Bay are always competitive and I expect this to be no different,” Curley said.

Magic has plenty of reason to be wary of Friday night’s opponents with the mid-season signing of Tara Pender providing a lethal boost for the Warners Bay attack, which already features strike-weapon Elodie Dagg.

Warners Bay’s challenge is made no easier by a five-day turnaround into the match. Last Sunday they left Adamstown to pick up the pieces after a 7-1 thumping.

“If they can replicate the second half against Adamstown, I believe we’re a good chance of winning the game. Some of the football was outstanding,” Panthers coach Craig Atkins said.

“The girls know what they are capable of. It is just about putting it all together.”

The Panthers will line up unchanged, with Sunday’s match a strong indicator for Atkins as to where his side is in the competition.

Warners Bay sit third on the table, six points behind Magic though with a game in hand after their round three match against Mid Coast was postponed. It will now be played on 31 July.

According to Atkins, his side will need to deliver a “90-minute performance” if they are to knock over Broadmeadow.

“Each player has to fulfill their individual and team role with intensity. This is the big test, this is going to put us in that position to go, where are we really at?” Atkins said.

“They are quite strong across the park, so it is going to have to be all areas effort for us. Defensively they are very strong, they have a very experienced midfield and then pace and talent up front.”

Adamstown Rosebud v Newcastle Olympic
Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility, Saturday 7pm

Adamstown Rosebud hope to turn around their opening round form when they host second-placed Newcastle Olympic on Saturday night.

The Buds sit fourth on the table, eight points shy of their weekend opponents. They have two wins, a draw and three losses to their name.

“We have been focusing on how we react to things going wrong or against us. We are all susceptible in these moments including myself,” Adamstown coach Ryan Campbell said.

According to the Rosebud mentor, the key to three points on Saturday will be his side’s intensity.

“This weekend a good performance will be an aggressive performance where Olympic don’t enjoy playing us,” he said.

“If we are able to get back to this, we will go a long way to being competitive.”

The challenge presented by Olympic isn’t lost on Campbell, who acknowledges his side has been performing below the standard many expected.

“Things are at an interesting point around the squad. We realise we have been performing under par for the majority of the season and need to improve,” he said.

“Olympic have a lot of great players and if we are to be competitive and go for a result, we need to be clinical if and when we get a chance in the game.”

Newcastle Olympic coach Harmonie Attwill will call on her side to play with “added maturity” on Saturday, with Adamstown proving a tough task for the competition heavyweights.

“We know that we will have to play a mature game plan. In the past against Adamstown, they tend to use physicality as their game plan,” she said.

“High intensity positive play is really important from the girls this weekend.”

Attwill’s side will look vastly different to the one that secured three points against Charlestown Azzurri last weekend. Jess Evans will miss the game with muscle soreness, while Brooke Summers, Emily Frost and Danielle Nicol are unavailable.

“The key to winning will be that maturity. It needs to be a good competition but it needs to be football,” Attwill said.

“If we turn up with an inch of negativity, we won’t win. We just need to focus on being the quality, mature team that we are with the experience we have.”

The Olympic mentor will look to her midfield to deliver, after last week in Attwill’s words playing “too direct.”

“We’ll be looking for a little bit more from our midfield in terms of switching plays. And as always, if we create the chances, we need to score them.”

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