PHOTO: Valentine Sports Photography
Warners Bay 2 (Adriana Jones 2) defeated Merewether 0 at John St Oval. Half-time: 0-0. Warners Bay win the two-legged tie 3-1 to advance to their first WPL Grand Final at Weston next Sunday.
Saturday, August 13, 2.30pm
Warners Bay completed a remarkable season turnaround by beating Merewether 2-0 at John St Oval on Saturday, four days after drawing one-all with the defending champions.
Merewether looked the more likely to go through to the decider after a dominant first-half performance but Warners Bay used their trademark speed and skill up front to score two second-half goals and book passage to the club’s first Herald WPL grand final appearance in the top grade.
Warners Bay collected the wooden spoon in their inaugural WPL season last year but coach Leon Davis said he always knew they were capable of reaching the Grand Final this year if they played to their strengths.
He admitted Merewether played the better football on Saturday but praised the resilience and character of his team.
“They dominated the first half and had us out on our feet but somehow we re-energised,” Davis said.
“I said to the girls we were not the best team out there today but all we needed to do was score off the counter-attack, and that is what we did.
“Somehow, I don’t know where they got the strength from, but they fought back. It was a battle.”
Merewether played the better football and dominated the first half but missed several one-on-one chances on goal and a penalty in the second half.
The score was nil-all at the break but Jets striker Adriana Jones broke the deadlock two minutes into the second half.
Sass Seaborn made a charging run towards the box on the counter attack then passed to Jones, who scored from close range. A diving Merewether goalkeeper Imogene Tomasone got her hand to the ball but it had already crossed the goal line then Jones tapped in the rebound for good measure.
The goal breathed life into the hosts.
Three minutes later Merewether had the chance to get back on level terms when they were awarded a spot kick after Nadja Squires handballed in the box.
United captain Lori Depczynski stepped up to take the kick and had the goalkeeper beaten but her shot glanced wide of the goals.
Jones added her second of the match in the final minute of regulation time.
Merewether coach Cassie Koppen rued their missed opportunities in the final third.
“You can’t miss a penalty and six one-on-ones and expect to win,” she said.
“I think we lost the game ourselves.
“It’s obviously disappointing but we had multiple chances to put them away and didn’t,” Koppen concluded.
Wallsend 4 (Jenna Kingsley 2, Keely Gawthrop, Libby Copus-Brown) defeated Adamstown 1 (Clare Cummings). Half-time: Adamstown led 1-0. Wallsend win the two-legged tie 7-3 to secure their first Grand Final appearance in WPL.
Saturday, August 13, 3.30pm
Wallsend are also through to their first Herald WPL Grand Final after they recovered a 1-0 deficit at half-time to beat Adamstown 4-1 in the second leg of their semi-final at Adamstown Oval, after a 3-2 win in the first leg the weekend before.
Adamstown went ahead early in the first half when captain Clare Cummings scored from a free kick.
But the second half was all Wallsend’s way.
Newcastle Jets W-League player Jenna Kingsley scored a brace and Libby Copus-Brown and Keely Gawthrop also got on the scoresheet.
Wallsend coach Marc Hingston knew from the start of the season his squad “was something special” but said it has taken all year to gel.
“People were writing us off at the start of the year… but all of a sudden we’ve peaked and are looking like a Grand Final side,” Hingston said.
“At half-time, I just said, ‘Composure’; we needed composure because in the first half we have them too much ball.
“We got some composure and our decision-making improved and we scored within the first 10 minutes of the second half.”
Wallsend did not look back and stormed into the Grand Final with a strong second-half performance.
Rosebud coach Ben Herron felt “over the two legs they played well and deserve to be in the Grand Final” but said there was a lot to be proud of from this season.
“It was a game of two halves. In the first half we were composed limited their chances and did well until half-time,” Herron said.
“In football, a half-time break can change things … They got two quick ones early in the second half. We threw extra numbers forward and they countered.
“But they played pretty well, they finished their chances and credit to them. They were spurred on a bit by the early goals and rode the momentum.
“But I can’t fault our girls. Obviously, they are upset today but they’ve definitely had a good season and should be happy with what they have achieved,” Herron concluded.