By Renee Valentine
Match of the Round
Thornton Redbacks v Warners Bay
Saturday 2pm at Thornton Park
Warners Bay will aim to rebound quickly from an 8-1 drubbing at the hands of Merewether midweek when they take on Thornton.
When the two sides met in Round 1 Warners Bay went on a goal-scoring spree to walk away convincing 6-2 winners.
But on Wednesday night it was their goal being penetrated time and time again as Merewether asserted their dominance on the competition with a second-half flurry of goals.
“We capitulated,” Warners Bay coach Jason Daniluck said of the seven-goal loss.
“It was 2-1 at half-time and we had been holding our own but I think we just ran out of legs.
“We’ve got to learn from that and just move forward.”
Valuable points are up for offer in this game with Thornton in seventh place on five points and Warners Bay (seven) just two points ahead in fourth spot.
Thornton coach Alan Primmer reflected that four goals came in a “poor 15 minutes” in their last encounter but believed his side had shown in recent weeks that they had improved a lot since.
Thornton are still sweating on the availability of goalkeeper Darcy Bell, who missed a 2-all draw with Mid North Coast due to illness last weekend.
Adamstown v Valentine
Saturday 2pm at Adamstown No.1 Oval
Valentine meet Adamstown in the first match of what could be a testing couple of weeks for Phoenix.
Valentine, Warners Bay and South Wallsend all have seven points to be caught in a three-way tussle for third place as the competition enters the second round.
Phoenix, who suffered a 4-3 loss to Thornton in their last outing, play high-fliers Adamstown this weekend before backing up against Wallsend midweek. They host Mid North Coast in Round 9 then are likely to play midweek again in another rescheduled fixture against league leaders Merewether.
In the wake of the loss to Thornton, Valentine coach Cassandra Wright said Phoenix needed to give a strong 90-minute performance after making slow starts and trailing at half-time in four of their five outings.
“The girls have been very positive but how the girls respond having two weeks off is anyone’s call.”
When the teams met in the first round Adamstown won 4-0.
Jiggins said Phoenix had some very good players but “a team of champions doesn’t beat a champion team” and believed the game could come down to attitudes.
Mid North Coast v Merewether United
Sunday 2pm at Taree Zone Field
Merewether moved three points clear at the top of the table with a resounding 8-1 win over Warners Bay midweek but coach Cassie Koppen remained wary heading to Taree to take on last-placed Mid North Coast.
United defeated Mid North Coast 2-0 when the two sides met in Round 1 but Koppen said “we never really felt comfortable playing against them” and she conceded the two hours travel could prove a disadvantage.
“It is always a concern when you’ve got to travel up there and it sounds like they have improved a bit since we played them last,” Koppen said.
Mid North Coast product Sophie Jones scored a hat-trick for Merewether on Wednesday night and is one of four players who hail from that region in the Merewether side.
Mid North Coast will field an unchanged line-up and Coach Matt Baker was well aware of the task ahead of his charges in trying to topple the league heavyweights.
“Merewether are a really tall order to try to get over the top of,” Baker said.
“But we’ve had the same team for the past three or four games and the more we play together the more chances I think we’ve got.
“We still need to be fully committed and work on staying in the game for 90 minutes.”
South Wallsend v Wallsend
Sunday 2pm at Walker Fields
South Wallsend coach Marc Hingston has identified the second round as a vital period in which he wants to see his side take as many points as possible.
Hingston has been without several key players for the past few weeks and will lose a couple again towards the latter stages of the season and wanted to make the most of having his strongest squad to choose from.
“We’ve got everyone bar one back now, so there will be some selection headaches, which is good for a change,” he said.
“We’ve got our full squad now for the next round, so over the next seven weeks we’ve got to do as much damage as we can so we can set ourselves up.”
Among those back for the hosts is attacking midfielder Georgia Amess from injury plus Hingston gets back his whole backline of Taylor O’Neill (injured), Danielle Nicol (unavailable) and Amy Waterhouse (injured).
When the teams met in Round 1 Wallsend were 4-2 victors but Wallsend coach Rob Botham was expecting a closer scoreline this weekend.
“After the last game I said, ‘don’t count South Wallsend out, they’re a team on the way up,” Botham said.
Wallsend have a couple of big weeks ahead of them with two washed-out fixtures against Valentine and Adamstown to make up.
Wallsend slipped out of the top four after a 3-1 loss to Merewether in their last match but could propel themselves back into the four with a win this weekend.