PHOTO: Valentine Sports Photography
Warners Bay v Merewether
Saturday, August 13, 2.30pm
At John St Oval
Last three starts: Merewether: drew 1-1 with Warners Bay, lost 5-2 to Wallsend (a), beat Mid North Coast 5-1 (a). Warners Bay: drew 1-1 with Merewether, beat Mid North Coast 4-2 (a), lost 4-2 to South Wallsend (h).
Head to head: Played three times. Merewether won 3-0 in round two, 3-3 draw in round nine, Warners Bay won 2-1 in round 16, drew 1-1 on Tuesday night.
Final standings: Merewether third (35 points), Warners Bay second (38)
Neither coach plans to change much heading into what promises to be an entertaining and spirited second leg of this semi-final if the first leg is anything to go by.
The score remains locked at one-all entering the second leg after two sides could not be separated in a high-tempo and at times heated battle at Adamstown Oval on Tuesday night.
Merewether looked the sleeker of the two in the first half, displaying some sublime passing and movement and a strong desire to win the ball.
But a draw was probably a fair result for a game which turned scrappy towards the latter stages as the pace of the game appeared to take its toll on players.
Merewether took the lead on the 25-minute mark when Sophie Jones put a perfectly weighted ball over the Warners Bay back line and fleet-footed Sarah Halvorsen swooped on it to score from outside the 18-yard box.
Warners Bay had the chance to equalise shortly after with a free kick from around 25 metres out. Nadja Squires’s hurtling shot was on target but United goalkeeper Imogene Tomasone showed amazing athleticism to leap high into the air and tip the ball over the bar.
It was around the 40-minute mark that the equaliser came when Jets player Cassidy Davis scored off a Warners Bay corner. Tomasone parried the ball but Davis finished the rebound from close range.
Both sides had clear chances to win the match in the second half but could not put them away.
Warners Bay coach Leon Davis described the match as a “hard, physical battle”.
There were six yellow cards handed out in the match, several for dangerous tackles, and Davis was expecting more of the same on Saturday.
“We can’t let them win the physical battle,” he said.
“What I came away with from that game was I thought it was a fair result. I think if we take our chances this weekend we can win it but we’ve got to match them with their intensity.”
Davis said striker Kally Lewis was the only player under an injury cloud with a shoulder injury from Tuesday night.
Merewether coach Cassie Koppen was “pretty happy” with her side’s effort in the first leg.
“It would obviously have been nice to hold the lead and I was disappointed their goal came off a corner; dead ball situations have hurt us a lot this year,” Koppen said.
“As far I know everyone got through the game OK and we won’t change too much.
“I might have to look to the bench a bit more this game because it will be tough to back up with that intensity.
“I think we’ve got to play a bit smarter football and we’ve got to capitalise on our chances.”
Warners Bay have all four sides, 14s, 16s, 18s and first grade, playing in semi-finals.
Adamstown v Wallsend (1 v 4)
Saturday, August 13, 3.30pm
At Adamstown Oval
Last three starts: Wallsend: beat Adamstown 3-2 (h), beat Merewether 5-2 (h), lost 3-1 to Warners Bay (h). Adamstown: lost 3-2 to Wallsend (a), beat Mid North Coast 4-1 (h), beat South Wallsend 4-1 (a)
Head to head: Played four times. Drew 1-1 in round two, Adamstown won 6-2 in round nine and 4-0 in round 16, Wallsend won 3-2 last weekend.
Final standings: Adamstown first (46), Wallsend fourth (30)
Wallsend hold the upper hand going into the second leg of this duel but coach Marc Hingston said they were treating the match as a grand final.
The Red Devils were not able to beat the minor premiers in three encounters in the season proper.
But they looked the stronger team from the outset last weekend and came away with a deserved 3-2 victory.
If the scores are drawn on aggregate at full-time of then the outcome will be decided by who has scored the most away goals.
“We will be appreciating the value of an away goal and we want to go out strong in that first 30 minutes and get a goal and keep a clean sheet in the first half,” Hingston said.
The Wallsend coach indicated he would not change anything and said the players “had a spring in their step at training” this week.
“We’ve been playing that way for the whole season but it has taken 21 weeks for it all to click,” Hingston said.
“The win over Merewether before the semi-final really gave us a confidence boost.
“We’ll be going into this as though it is a grand final and not even thinking past this week.”
Adamstown have lost attacking weapon Lauren Allan, who has returned to play college football in the United States.
Coach Ben Herron will adjust the line-up accordingly but said if anything they would revert to a system they were playing and dominating with earlier in the season before Allan joined them.
“We had a chat at training last night,” Herron said yesterday. “All of the girls were pretty open and obviously agreed we didn’t play well.
“But they understand it only takes a win to go through tot the grand final.
“We are not panicked; we had a bad day and copped a bad result but we’ve got this weekend to fix it up.”