Match of the Round
Wallsend (4th) vs South Wallsend (3rd)
Sunday 12 May, 2.30pm, The Gardens
Ten weeks into the Herald Women’s Premier League (WPL), Wallsend and South Wallsend are set to face off in a fiery local derby for the Match of the Round, live on BarTV Sports.
The match is sure to be a tight affair as the two local rivals lock horns for the first time in 2019, but Red Devils coach Brad Jones believes his side – and the Wolves – must go out and “play their own game” if they want to get results from the ensuing battle.
“I think it’s important both teams want to ensure the type of football they play is what they’re getting onto the park, and not let things get carried away at all,” he said ahead of the Wallsend clash.
“We’re running onto The Gardens with a gameplan to take three points with our style of football, and I’m sure Cas [Wright] will want to do the same on her side.”
Jones knows his young Wallsend squad should be wary as they welcome their rivals to The Gardens on Sunday afternoon. The Red Devils coach knows how strong South Wallsend have been in recent weeks and said he is well aware that silencing the Wolves deadly goalscorers is just step one in collecting three points at home.
“From everything that’s been said, and everything that’s been read, South Wallsend is one of the top two teams that everyone is talking about,” he said.
“Between them and New Lambton, they’re the two big sides according to a lot of people at the moment, and Southy have been proving that on the park at the moment. They’re scoring so many goals, and creative ones at that.
“They’re in magnificent form, and while we do traditionally do quite well at The Gardens, home advantage gets thrown out the window if you can’t stop them scoring at the rate they have been scoring in the past few weeks.”
The last time the two rivals met on the field was in the closing round of 2018. South Wallsend hosted the Red Devils in the Round 21 fixture, and the travelling Wallsend side departed with shared points after a gruelling 3-3 conflict.
This time around, the Wolves are barrelling into the battle with scoring form tucked tightly under their belts. Cas Wright’s side has netted 30 goals in their past six fixtures, and they’ll be looking to do the same against their rivals in red.
“There is no doubt defensively everyone on our side is going to have to step up massively,” Jones said of his side’s impending challenge.
“We need to face what’s coming, and they need to put their bodies on the line to stop these guys.
“That’s what we’ve been speaking about in training all week, and that’s what we’re prepared to do. It’s going to be a collective effort. I’m looking forward to the game, it’s going to be a red-hot contest and that’s what we play for. Bring it on, I say.”
Adamstown Rosebud (7th) vs New Lambton (1st)
Sunday 12 May, 2.30pm, Adamstown No.2 Oval
Fresh off the back of a 3-2 victory over Thornton in their mid-week game, Adamstown welcomes league leaders New Lambton to the Adamstown No.2 Oval on Sunday afternoon.
The one-goal win against a close ladder rival in Thornton on Wednesday has given the Rosebuds squad a world of “extra confidence”, coach Paul Devitis said after the catch-up clash, and they’d be looking to harness that against the league’s best.
“We know New Lambton are a super talented squad, with a lot of great individual players,” Devitis said of his upcoming opponents.
“They are extremely ruthless in the top third, and we will need to be on our game to limit the front line getting on the ball. We are pretty battle wounded after the Southy and Thornton games, but whoever we field on the weekend know they will give their all for the team.
“New Lambton has a big advantage physically considering they haven’t played in two weeks, and this is our third game in seven days. Despite that, we will look to play football. We want to build on the attacking play that we have been working on these past few weeks.”
Opposition boss Keelan Hamilton brings his Eagles into the No.2 Oval having missed last week’s game due to washout, and now faces the test of keeping up momentum for the side that has chalked up eight straight wins in the Premier League.
“We’re looking forward to getting back out on the pitch on Sunday, and want to put forward a good performance despite the time off,” he said.
“Every time you have a week off there’s a little bit of an element of losing that rhythm and momentum you had, but we’ve had a good training run this week and I think we’ve prepared well for Sunday.
“This game will depend so much on how both teams approach the game. If either of us doesn’t turn up with the right mentality and desire any team can beat anyone on the day. Adamstown are capable, have a good team, and a good coach, and it’s going to be difficult if we don’t match them with that desire right off the first whistle.”
Warners Bay (2nd) vs Thornton Redbacks (8th)
Sunday 12 May, 2.30pm, John Street Oval
While New Lambton and South Wallsend have had chins wagging in recent weeks in the Herald WPL, Warners Bay has quietly kept pace with both. Now, a dangerous challenge awaits the defending premiers as they welcome Thornton to John Street Oval on Sunday afternoon.
For the Panthers, collecting three points in every single game from here to the end of the season is key if they want to collect the minor premiership again. While the Redbacks have yet to score a point in 2019, Warners Bay captain Cassidy Davis knows “anything could happen” if her side lets down their guard against the travelling team.
“We know that Thornton are close to the bottom of the table, and so they’ve got nothing to lose against us,” she said.
“Last time we played them it took us a long time to break them down, and they’ve just been improving a lot this season. We have to stick to what Antonio has got planned and if we can do that it’ll be a big tick for us.”
While Warners Bay’s table rivals in the Eagles and the Wolves have been clocking up goal hauls and headlines, Davis reveals her second-placed team has been looking at “consistency” after trialling a number of different formations early in the year.
“What we’re aiming to do is just keep building on our performances from the past couple of weeks,” she said.
“The whole team spoke during the week about formations, because we’ve been tinkering with what works from the start of the season, and I think now we’ve figured it all out.
“Knowing exactly what positions everyone is going to be playing going forward is going to help us a lot with our combinations. That can lead to scoring goals, and we can go on from there.
“Antonio has said we have to concentrate on ourselves. We’re aware of the teams around us, but if we can get three points in as many games as we can from now until the end of the season we can go close to the minor premiership and that’s what we want now.”
Merewether United (5th) vs Football Mid North Coast (6th)
Sunday 12 May, 2.30pm, Myamblah Oval
At the start of the season, not many would have tipped Merewether’s home side match against Football Mid North Coast in the second round to be a clash between fifth and sixth. Yet, here both teams stand after nine rounds, with three points key to both side’s success heading deeper into the 2019 season.
After a rocky patch of form, Merewether has begun to right their ship with a 5-1 win over Thornton last weekend. In even more positive news for United boss Cass Koppen, her defensive trio of Jaime Ellis, Nikki Jones, and Sarah Hartree are finally set to play full back-to-back games together this season.
“That’s the most important thing for us right now, that we have Jaime, Nikki, and Sarah all together again,” Koppen said.
“It makes a big difference to how we play, and how we can shut down opportunities that arise in defence. Last weekend was the first time in a long time that we had our usual back three there for the full 90 minutes and it gives us a lot of confidence and stability moving forward.”
While the Merewether trio are back at full strength, Koppen knows the defending champions still have a lot of work to do if they want to begin challenging for a top-four spot by the end of the second round of fixtures.
“If we want to be in those top four spots, we have to get three points this weekend. Having that relatively consistent starting eleven – there will be just one change from last weekend – is a massive boost. For the girls individually too I think it will help our confidence a lot.”
Positives reign ahead of Myamblah Oval, as travelling Mid North Coast boss Mick Grass sings a similar song about his squad.
For the northern side, results in 2019 have been a mixed bag. While most weeks Grass has praised his side for their performances, their eight outings have coughed up just two wins and six points thus far.
“We have to approach every game with positivity. Despite the scoreline last week I think it was a good run out for us, and we need to build on that now,” Grass said.
“Overall we have not been performing badly at all, we just need to get to that next level to get points.
“If we keep on working hard, and if we stick to it every weekend the results will come for us in the end. We’re expecting a good game on the weekend, and we’ll see how it all goes.”