Herald Women’s Premier League Round 9 Preview

May 27th, 2021

 Jack Antcliff

Match of the Round

Newcastle Olympic v Broadmeadow Magic
Darling Street Oval, Sunday 3.40pm

Kobie Ferguson will return for Broadmeadow as Magic travel to Darling Street to reignite one of Northern NSW Football’s best rivalries against Newcastle Olympic.

“A rivalry like we have between our clubs is an outstanding spectacle for the Herald Women’s Premier League and is a great opportunity for us all to stand up and showcase some of our talented players,” Olympic coach Harmonie Attwill said.

“I actually think the rivalry is really good for both the Magic and Olympic girls to be a part of. I think both teams lift whenever they are competing against each other,” Broadmeadow Magic coach Jake Curley said.

The match will also double up as the headline clash as part of Northern NSW Football’s inaugural Indigenous Round, something Curley was incredibly proud to have his side part of.

“Last week was a good result. A good performance for us this week will be one where we control the ball and tempo of the game and be clinical in the final third,” Curley said.

“I think that’s the great thing about this game, it brings different people together. Our club has Macedonian roots, with an Irish coach, an Italian assistant coach, Indigenous girls and even a girl from Remo.

“Not only that but we’re fortunate to have a number of Indigenous girls who are excited about the Indigenous Round this week.”

Returning for Broadmeadow is Ferguson, with Curley happy to see the star midfielder back on the park and not just hanging around at training.

As positive as Ferguson’s return is, Magic remain without Erin Wilson and Lucy Kell with the pair injured, though Kell is due back next week.

“Definitely, in my opinion [Ferguson] is the best player in the league. Her coming back will also help training,” Curley said.

“She’s been my assistant and it has been difficult to deal with her.”

This Newcastle Olympic side have had a tough run in recent weeks with injury, suspension and player unavailability making Attwill’s job a testing one.

After only losing one game so far in 2021, Olympic will look to climb to the top of the table with a win on Sunday.

And they will be keen to climb past bitter rivals Magic in the process.

“Knowing that we haven’t had an easy couple of weeks, [but] the character of [our] players is always determined and we are driven to perform,” Attwill said.

“This weekend we look forward to putting all our efforts together from the last two encounters where we had many players step up in adverse conditions.”

Sadly for Olympic it appears season over for their captain Sophie O’Brien who suffered an Achilles injury at training. She joins an extensive list watching from the behind the fence.

“Sophie had surgery on her ruptured Achilles on Wednesday so unfortunately she won’t take the field,” Attwill said.

“Keea Parrish is still out with a hamstring tear and Elise Mamanu-Gray is suspended for one match.”

Maitland FC v Charlestown Azzurri
Cooks Square Park, Saturday 3.40pm

Maitland will be sweating on the fitness of Emily Wicks and Thalia Gossner ahead of Saturday’s match against Charlestown.

Both have come down with illness in recent days, though coach Keelan Hamilton will give the pair up until kick-off to prove their fitness.

“It is just a wait and see process and we’re hopeful that they will be available. During the week we’ll just test a couple of other combinations that might be needed,” he said.

Charlestown scored a narrow win over the Magpies the last time the two sides met, with the game likely to again be won or lost in the middle of the park.

“The focus for us is having a bit more intent without the ball. With our own possession side of things, it is about working on the consistency of execution,” Hamilton said.

“Last week it was three execution errors that led to goals for Broadmeadow. I think we could have been a little more aggressive with our intent without the ball.”

The Magpies return to Cooks Square Park this weekend, with Hamilton hopeful of a performance full of intent from the home side.

“One where we stick to our process and that we play with good purpose and good intent and hopefully one where we can get three points,” he said.

Nearing the halfway mark of the season, Maitland sits sixth on the table with three wins and five losses.

Charlestown have the unenviable task of being without key players Tamara Nash and Ellie Withers for the match. Both are expected to be available for selection next weekend.

“We’re lucky in terms of fullback roles we have some players who are able to cover Ellie,” Azzurri coach Niko Papaspiropoulos said.

“Without Tamara we will have to do some readjusting and think about we approach it but the overall game plan won’t change.”

Papaspiropoulos believes if Azzurri can force errors from the well-drilled Maitland side, his team will have what it takes in possession to secure a result

“We’re just analysing Maitland’s threats and where their attacks will be coming from and making sure we are prepped to deal with that and then focusing on our structure and reinforcing the way we want to approach the game,” he said.

“We know their threats will be out wide. We just need to be making sure we limit the chances we get and make sure we take care of the ball when we have it.”

New Lambton FC v Warners Bay FC
Arthur Edden Oval, Sunday 3.40pm

Warners Bay will head to Arthur Edden Oval hoping to secure three points after a tough fortnight against the competition’s two best sides.

The Panthers were edged out 2-1 by second-placed Newcastle Olympic last weekend while the side recorded a 2-2 draw against Broadmeadow Magic the weekend prior.

“The girls are pretty disappointed with the result on the weekend which is a good sign. We’re looking forward to hopefully bouncing back pretty quick this weekend,” Warners Bay coach Craig Atkins said.

Simplifying the little things proved to be the theme of this week’s review session, with the Panthers at the risk of sliding to fourth on the table if they suffer a loss on Sunday. They still have one game in hand after their round three match against Mid Coast FC was postponed.

“All the girls have been asked to review the video and their own performances, along with the team performance so we’ve had some good discussions around that,” Atkins said.

“We just need to focus on ourselves. After watching back the video from last week, there’s a lot of things we just need to simplify and we need to play the way that we want to play.

“We just tend to rush things in certain areas of the field and we gave away two easy goals on the weekend. They’re simple things but we need to get them out of the game pretty quickly.”

Warners Bay are expected to line up unchanged, with the only cloud over Tara Pender who rolled her ankle in last week’s loss. Airlie Davis returns after taking a head knock against Olympic.

New Lambton have played with patches of promise in recent weeks though have been unable to convert those moments into results in what could only be described as a horror start to the season.

“We need to continue being positive and working hard for each other. Strategically we need to be a lot tighter in defence and more clinical in attack,” Eagles coach Maddy Searl said.

The Eagles remain winless in 2021 with Sunday’s match an opportunity to bed down the side’s first points of the season. The challenge however made tougher by an injury cloud which hangs over a number of crucial players.

“There is an injury cloud over Serena Carter, Maddi Thornton and Brooke Miller but we will give them every opportunity to play,” Searl said.

“A good performance will see us maintaining possession, compact in defence and creating chances.”

The match will be played Arthur Edden Oval, the home of NPL side Lambton Jaffas.

Mid Coast FC v Adamstown Rosebud JFC
Taree Zone Field, Sunday 3.40pm

Mid Coast FC will hope to bounce back from a disappointing weekend against Charlestown when they host Adamstown Rosebud on Sunday.

Middies were outclassed 3-1 on Saturday by Azzurri before they suffered a 2-0 loss on Sunday.

Coach Mick Grass is adamant his side needs to simply focus on executing basic skills after a series of performances that were far from making the season highlights video.

His side’s outfit on the weekend will look vastly different to that of previous weeks, with injuries and sickness running riot through the Mid Coast camp.

“We’ll probably have three 15-year-olds, a couple of 16-years-olds and at least two 17-year-olds in the side on Sunday,” Grass said.

Asked as to what a good performance will look like against the Buds, Grass put the emphasis back on the individuals.

“Every player really focusing on executing their part of the game. And if they can get their moments right then as a team we will start to look really good across the park,” Grass said.

“Adamstown are going to bring a high intensity game. They are not going to sit back and die wondering,” Grass said.

“They are going to come at us as hard as they can. We have got to match that somehow and then at the same time be executing the simple stuff as well.”

The last time these two sides met in round two, they were forced to share the points in a high scoring draw.

“It was a misguide of how we were performing when we played them earlier in the season,” Grass said.

“We got a result out of them and we were really competitive but that made us to feel that we were more prepared than we were after the poor preseason we had.”

At the other end, it has been a story of close but not close enough for Adamstown, who are three wins from eight games to start the season.

They sit fifth on the table, six points clear of seventh-placed Mid Coast.

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