Match of the Round
Merewether v Adamstown
Arthur Edden Oval – Sunday 3pm
For Merewether coach Scott Ellis Sunday’s clash with traditional cross-town rivals Adamstown is simply a game his side cannot afford to lose if they are the claim the minor premiership, a battle expected to be fought between Merewether, Newcastle Olympic and Broadmeadow.
“None of the three of us can afford to drop a game, so it’s pretty important,” Ellis said.
“I’ve been through the first half of our game [against Newcastle Olympic]. We’re still playing below what we’re capable off.”
Tamara Nash could miss the crucial clash for the Llamas. The experienced midfielder sat out part of Tuesday night’s training session with a decision on her inclusion in Sunday’s squad expected closer to kick-off.
“We’re an incredibly dangerous team in the final third and we’ve just got to make sure we get there in a composed fashion more often,” Ellis said.
Rewind seven weeks and the two sides played out a scoreless draw at Adamstown Oval. At the time, Rosebud and United shared the two top spots on the table.
Adamstown have since struggled for form, now fifth on the table, but in recent weeks have shown they are not yet a side to be discounted. A win on Sunday would be three in a row for the Buds.
“The girls are confident and looking forward to the weekend. These are the types of games that you want to play in,” Adamstown coach Ryan Campbell said.
“I am hoping that you can expect a positive performance in possession where we control the pace and tempo of the game.”
Ella Spicer and Charli O’Connor led the charge for the Buds last week, with Campbell hopeful his side can again deliver against the competition heavyweights.
“Hopefully we have a good team performance and don’t need to rely on any particular players,” Campbell said.
The left boot of Merewether stalwart Jamee Ellis proved the difference for the Llamas last weekend, with opposition coaches aware of the risk associated with giving away free kicks inside the defensive half.
“We will do the majority of our preparation with the focus on us but we will touch on the basics of limiting Merewether from creating changed from set pieces,” Campbell said.
New Lambton v Broadmeadow Magic
Arthur Edden Oval – Saturday 3pm
New Lambton’s slim hopes of finals qualification came to an end last week at the hands of Adamstown, with coach Brad Jones still positive about his side’s capabilities.
The Eagles are expected to be unchanged for Saturday’s clash with top of the table Broadmeadow Magic, despite a physical battle with Adamstown last weekend.
“There’s a couple of bruised and battered bodies but I think on the whole everyone should be okay,” Jones said.
“The players identified a few things they think we can work on [after Sunday]. The overriding thing was that we are playing good football, we’re creating good chances.”
Adriana Jones and Taylah Bryde both looked impressive in the loss to Rosebud but will need to step up further if they are any chance of knocking over the high-flying Broadmeadow Magic.
“I think if you look back at the last time we played them, we dominated them for 75 minutes. We should not have been at 1-1, which allowed an 89th minute winner for Magic,” Jones said.
“The position on the ladder is irrelevant as far as I’m concerned.
“I’m pretty confident we’ve got a style of play that will frustrate and cause Magic concern. The pressure in on them.”
Broadmeadow Magic are top of the Herald Women’s Premier League table with seven wins from nine starts. The women in red moved six points clear of second placed Merewether on Wednesday when they defeated Thornton 5-1.
“I thought Thornton with their young players did really well. I thought our decision making was poor in the first half and we kept playing passes into areas that weren’t on,” Curley said.
Magic now turn their attention to Sunday’s clash with New Lambton.
“At this stage of the season every point is critical. New Lambton have some quality players, particularly Sophie Stapleford, so we will have to be on top of our game to get the points.”
Thornton v Mid Coast FC
Cooks Square Park – Saturday 3pm
Cooks Square Park makes its debut as a host venue for the Herald Women’s Premier League when it hosts Thornton’s home game against Mid Coast FC on Saturday afternoon.
As announced on Wednesday, the Maitland Magpies will take on Thornton’s WPL license next year, with Cooks Square Park to become a regular venue in the region’s top flight women’s competition.
“The place was buzzing on Tuesday night after the meet and greet with Maitland. Playing at Cooks Square has got the girls talking,” Thornton coach Al Primmer said.
Languishing at the bottom of the table, the Redbacks were unlucky not to walk away with a win against the high-flying Magic on Wednesday. But a new ground this weekend is likely to present its own challenges.
“[Cooks Square Park] is a wider field than Thornton Park. We will have to be careful of Middies around the outside of us, they like to take the game from one side to the other so if we’re not switched on they can hurt us,” Primmer said.
Chelsea Gay will miss Sunday’s game after she was sent off during Wednesday’s catch-up game against Magic. Riley Smith is also unavailable for selection.
“If I continue to get the effort and attitude, the will and the want that I got last night [against Broadmeadow] points will come,” Primmer said.
Saturday’s clash is a danger game for Mid Coast, who were thoroughly outplayed by a composed Warners Bay side on Sunday.
“It doesn’t seem to matter what year we play Thornton, or where they’re coming on the table, every time we go to wherever their home ground is, they put a lot of pressure on us and they make us really difficulty for us to play,” Mid Coast coach Mick Grass said.
Grass was of the opinion if his side were to walk away with the three points it must be a complete team performance.
“It’s got to be across the park. There’s no one specific I’m looking for to change anything,” Grass said.
“We just need to go back to what we’ve been doing well. Start believing in what we’ve been training to do. We know that it can work.”
Newcastle Olympic v Warners Bay
Darling Street Oval – Sunday 3pm
Newcastle Olympic coach Harmonie Attwill believes her side will again lift for this weekend’s all-important clash with Warners Bay, with the race for the minor premiership yet to be decided.
Olympic were edged out by Merewether last weekend with Attwill confident her side can return to the winner’s circle when they host Warners Bay on Sunday.
“Everyone is available and we are focused on the job of winning this weekend,” Attwill said.
“The squad will lift. In reality we have lost two games this year and they happen to be against the same team, so we need to brush it off and move on.”
It is the first time the women from Darling Street have faced Warners Bay since American striker Jen Hoy joined the Panthers but the Olympic coach was adamant her inclusion would not change their preparation.
“Preparation against Warners Bay will be the same. The addition of Jen won’t change anything for us. If anything, our players should see it as an opportunity to be challenged by a quality player,” Attwill said.
“All players in the WPL should want to play against quality opposition, not only for their personal improvement but for the development of the league.”
A loss for Olympic could see them drop to fourth on the table, although the women from Darling Street still retain a game in hand against New Lambton. That game is scheduled to be played next Wednesday.
“We need to continue to play our game and work to our strengths,” Attwill said.
“We do need to improve our discipline in our defensive third and be clinical when we work so hard to create chances.”
Warners Bay are expected to be full strength for the battle between third and fourth on the table, with coach Craig Atkins tipping an “expansive” style of football from his side.
Midfielder Sophia Laurie and defensive maestro Sian Keating have both critical to the recent success of the Panthers, although Atkins believed his side would need to step up across the park if they were to edge out their star-studded opposition.
“In a game like this against Olympic, we will be needing all of our players to be stepping up for the whole game,” Atkins said.
“All players have a vital role to play this weekend. The key for achieving three points this weekend is execution.”