By Renee Valentine
Match of the Round
Wallsend v Warners Bay
Sunday 2pm at Wallsend Oval
The last time these two sides met, the match ended in a one-all stalemate and tempers flared with three players being sent off.
Both coaches agreed it was bound to be another tight tussle this weekend but were not expecting another fiery encounter.
Wallsend are still without central defender Mel Botham, who has one game to serve of a four-week suspension, but will otherwise be at full strength and Warners Bay coach Jason Daniluck will also have a full complement.
Both sides are desperate for points – Wallsend are sixth with five points while Warners Bay are fourth on seven. They are both coming off losses to league leaders Merewether. Wallsend have not played since losing 3-1 to United on April 19 and Warners Bay lost 8-1 to the high fliers in a midweek clash last week.
“Obviously they’ll be smarting after the 8-1 loss to Merewether and we will need to be switched on,” Wallsend coach Rob Botham said.
Botham identified speed up front as a major threat for Wallsend but was confident his side’s dominance in the middle of the park could prove key for the hosts.
Daniluck rated Wallsend as a good side who “don’t give any quarter” but believed “if we play to our strengths I think we’ll beat them”.
“We really want to get back on the winners’ list and hopefully that will happen this weekend,” Daniluck said.
Valentine v Mid North Coast
Sunday 2pm at CB Complex
Opposing coaches Matt Baker (Mid North Coast) and Cas Wright (Valentine) will ask their charges for the same thing this weekend – a committed 90-minute performance.
It was a game of two very different halves when the two sides last met – Mid North Coast led 3-0 at the break before conceding five goals in the second period to lose 5-3.
Baker described his side as “shell-shocked” as Valentine went on a second-half goalscoring blitz and will be reiterating the importance of staying switched on as they prepare to take on Phoenix again.
But he believed the home side were “definitely beatable” and rated the game as a big one as Mid North Coast can propel themselves off the bottom of the table and onto level terms with Valentine (third on seven points) with a win.
Phoenix have trailed at half-time in four of their five matches this season and women’s football manager Terry Campbell suggested a strong 90-minute performance would go a long way to engineering some confidence in the squad.
Mid North Coast had a two-all draw with Thornton in their last hit-out and field an unchanged line-up this weekend.
Valentine will also be at full strength but have not played since being shock 4-3 losers to Thornton nearly three weeks ago.
The game has been moved from its original location of Baxter Field to CB Complex at Valentine.
Merewether v South Wallsend
Sunday 2pm at Myamblah Oval
Merewether United coach Cass Koppen admitted her high-flying side would have a target on their backs as the competition entered its second of three rounds this weekend.
In Round 1 Adamstown were the team everyone wanted to beat but undefeated Merewether seized the league lead with a resounding 8-1 victory over Warners Bay last week.
“Merewether have never been in this position before, so it is very new territory … it will be interesting to see how we cope in the next round, if we happen to lose any points how we bounce back from that,” Koppen said.
Koppen has her full complement of players at her disposal and expected a good match against a team with “ a lot of talent and enthusiasm” and “nothing to lose”.
South Wallsend coach Marc Hingston was dealt a devastating blow two days out from the match when he lost creative midfielder and captain Laura Hall due to unavailability.
Hingston was expecting to have a full squad to choose from for the clash against his former club but will be forced to make some last-minute changes to his line-up.
“With Laura and Lilly Skeet out we will have to experiment with a new midfield,” Hingston said.
“It does give Taylor O’Neill the chance to captain the team for the first time. She just turned 16, is our central defender who plays with a level of maturity beyond her years and her work ethic on the field is enormous.”
Merewether, who were 2-1 winners the last time they met South Wallsend, will back-up to play Valentine midweek in a rescheduled match.
Thornton v Adamstown
Sunday 2pm at Thornton Park
Rosebud downed the Redbacks 9-2 in the first round but Adamstown coach John Jiggins was not reading much into that result seven weeks on.
“We beat them 9-2 last time but, really, the score really didn’t reflect the game,” Jiggins said.
“I don’t think they’ve been beaten by that much since and that’s a credit to their coach and to their players.
“I am quietly confident but at the same time we treat our opponents with respect.”
Rosebud will unveil import player Taylor Gerstenfield against Thornton.
Adamstown have signed Gerstenfield and compatriot Stephanie Tuccio for a 10-week stint and the club have been eagerly awaiting clearances for them to play.
Tuccio is unavailable this weekend but Jiggins expected Gerstenfield to have an impact in her first match for Adamstown.
Rosebud are also without Emily Bouwlins due to unavailability while Thornton will be near full strength – they are only missing goalkeeper Nat Wiseman, who is out for six weeks with a wrist injury.
Thornton coach Alan Primmer believed his side were “in a lot better place” now and were looking forward to testing themselves against one of the competition heavyweights.
“I had a quick talk with my captain this week and we think we’re in a lot better place but we know we’ve got to go above and beyond,” Primmer said.
“When we switched off [against them last time] we really switched off. The scoreline in some respects was probably good because it really woke the girls up.”