Match of the Round
Thornton Redbacks (8th) vs Football Mid North Coast (6th)
Sunday 19 May, 2.30 pm, Thornton Park
Thornton welcomes their ladder rivals Football Mid North Coast (FMNC) to their home ground this weekend in the Herald Women’s Premier League Match of the Round, as both teams eye three critical points to bolster their 2019 season.
After both sides left Round 10 on the wrong end of lopsided losses, the name of the game is a bounce-back for both sides this Sunday. Thornton has yet to score a win in 2019, and their coach Alan Primmer knows if they knock over the Middies they can begin to fight for a place away from the cellar through the rest of the season.
“Middies, ourselves, and Adamstown are all quite even when we play each other, we’re on the lower end of the spectrum for the league but we’re all pretty close in that space,” Primmer said.
“If we turn up the way we have been the last few games I’m quietly confident we should get some sort of result from this game.”
Primmer believes the battle against Middies will be decided by experience, and the guidance of his senior players, including stars like Sophie Milton, Jennifer Jongbloed, and Luci Maddison, all of whom have a wealth of talent and leadership for the Redbacks.
“I want to see our senior players step up for the game, and take a leaf out of young Ainsley [Child]’s book. She plays with an air of confidence, and we’re aiming to get the whole team to that level to kick onward. If the girls bring the effort and attitude of the last few weeks to this game, we’ll do that,” he said.
Mid North Coast coach Mick Grass would be keen to deny Thornton their first competitive points of the year, however, as his side travels south for the Match of the Round clash.
After an 8-nil landslide against them last weekend at Myamblah Oval, Grass believes this weekend will be a big moment in his squad’s season. If they respond positively to the loss, they can begin to climb. If not, there may be stormy seas ahead.
“We had a bit of a chat about the game last weekend, and it’s up to us now to get our heads together and respond in that positive manner,” he said.
“I think the girls can definitely bounce back, none of them seem that down on what happened which is good.
“I believe they’ll come back and put on a strong performance on the park. We need that belief in how we play, especially against Thornton because they’ve been working hard so it’s not going to be easy at all. No one wants to finish at the tail end of the field, so getting points this weekend is key to making sure we don’t end up on the bottom ourselves.”
Adamstown Rosebud (7th) vs Merewether United (4th)
Sunday 19 May, 2.30 pm, Adamstown No.1 Oval
While there is an element of respect from Adamstown for their inner-city rivals Merewether for the club’s achievements, their opponent’s history just makes it “that much more of a challenge in the derby” when the two sides meet at No.1 Oval this round.
“Being our home game, we don’t want to lose,” Buds boss Paul Devitis said as he braces for the derby battle on Sunday afternoon.
“They’re in really good form and it sounds like they’ve unearthed a couple of really good players recently, so it’s going to be a really tough game.”
Devitis revealed Adamstown’s focus, while defensively-minded in the first few months of the competition, has now turned to putting the ball into the back of the net on a regular basis. With most games decided by multiple goals, teams that can score get the points, he said.
“We’ve been working on our ability to score because we’ve been creating a lot of chances and we need to finish those now,” he said.
“The team has had a lot of variety in who has played up top in our side because we have a lot of wingers and strikers that are keen to play in that position, so now it comes down to whoever gets chosen there has to prove they deserve by scoring and getting results.”
The Rosebuds have a handful of choices for their attack’s leading lady, including the club’s top goalscorers in 2019 – Anika D’Amico and Chelsea Lucas. Both have netted seven goals between them in 10 games, and make up a group of options that also includes young stars Josie Rae and Jess Terry.
“Josie got off the mark against Southy recently and that put her right in the mix,” Devitis said.
“Jess [Terry] has also been playing really well up from in the last few games, and will just looking to be scoring soon too I’m sure. That’s added to Anika and Chelsea both doing really well in regards to finishing those chances we’ve created.”
Warners Bay (2nd) vs South Wallsend (3rd)
Sunday 19 May, 2.30 pm, John Street Oval
After weeks of clocking up major scorelines and watching each other from afar, Warners Bay and South Wallsend are set to finally meet face to face at John Street Oval this weekend in the ongoing battle for second place.
With just three points splitting the two sides on the ladder, the clash on Sunday afternoon is a chance for the Wolves to level the race, or for the Panthers to pull a win ahead again. Both sides know how key the game can be, and home side captain Cassidy Davis is preaching “focus” in the high-stakes match.
“We’re feeling good, we have the same squad as last week and keeping our game plan and focus is our main aim,” she said.
“It’s going to be a hard game against Southy, and definitely not like last time we played them at all.
“The whole team has to be mentally prepared and very focused on the game. It can go either way between us in terms of lots of goals scored or none, it will just come down to who takes their chances when they come. We’ve been very strong in that aspect so we believe we can get a result.”
With Southy kicking off a three-game slog for Warners Bay, who will face New Lambton and Merewether in the next rounds, Davis and her side know three points is key if they want to come out the other side in a strong position.
“We’ve spoken about this three-game run, and we know we just have to get past a strong Southy side with three points,” she said.
“The team has to keep improving, and if we get the win to start these three matches we’ll be in a good place.”
For away coach Cas Wright, Sunday’s game comes down to squad management. With Gemma Harrison, Gabby Deacon, Maddie Thornton, and recently named Matilda star Gema Simon all unavailable for the second-vs-third clash, Wright will look to call on her squad’s strong depth for the fixture.
“Sunday we will be missing a few key players, and whilst those players are not available I feel we certainly have enough depth to make a good challenge to our opponents as we seek to secure a top two position,” she said.
“We are collectively working well, and will continue to build competencies in effective possession, and combination play.”
Wright confirmed Sassiska Seaborn would be returning to the starting lineup for the Wolves this weekend, while the other replacements for her four key absences would be settled on in the lead up to the game at John Street Oval.
Wallsend (5th) vs New Lambton (1st)
Sunday 19 May, 2.45 pm, The Gardens
In the final game of the round, Wallsend and New Lambton meet at The Gardens to celebrate the inaugural Life Without Barriers Cup between the two clubs.
The home side’s community partnership agreement with Life Without Barriers will now see them host a massive event day this Sunday afternoon, with both sides looking to raise money to support the foundation.
Red Devils coach Brad Jones said his whole side is looking forward to the day and believes the squad can “spring a major upset” when they host the ladder leaders at home.
“We’ve like to think we can knock them over, the event day has been created by the girls through our player workshop, so it’s got a bit of special meaning for them and I think that will carry through to the football on the field,” he said ahead of the big day.
“Considering where New Lambton are at, it will come down to our senior players keeping everything steady on the park, especially our captain Sophie O’Brien, as well as Elisha Clifford and Holly Ayton. They’re going to be very important for us this weekend.”
Keelan Hamilton, who has led his New Lambton side to ten straight victories so far in 2019, is in agreement that the event day may lift the teams on the park. For the Eagles boss, considering where Wallsend are at in their season, and what they’re celebrating on Sunday, the Round 11 fixture is one to be “wary of” for his side.
“We have a huge deal of respect for Wallsend, and Brad Jones has done a fantastic job with the group of girls that he’s got, they’re a really motivated outfit,” Hamilton said.
“They’re going to be a little desperate on Sunday considering their recent losses, and the fact they want to keep in touch with that top four groups, so we’re going to be really wary of that so we can get an important result for ourselves.”