By Renee Valentine
This is the first of two ‘A Goal for Sophie’ Herald Women’s Premier League (WPL) rounds, in support of Sophie Stapleford. Read more here.
Match of the Round
South Wallsend v Thornton Redbacks
Sunday 2pm at Walker Field
Last time they met: South Wallsend won 3-2
Last start: South Wallsend beat Wallsend 2-1 on Wednesday night, Thornton drew 1-1 with Merewether last Saturday
Position on ladder: South Wallsend fourth (10 points), Thornton sixth (nine points)
This promises to be a battle of endurance, both mentally and physically.
Both teams have showed great potential in patches but have suffered at times from lapses in concentration and intensity.
But South Wallsend coach Marc Hingston was buoyed by his side’s performance in a vital 2-1 win over Wallsend on Wednesday night that propelled them back into fourth place on the ladder.
Hingston was pleased to see a strong 90-minute effort from his side after last week forfeiting a 3-0 lead against Valentine to lose 5-3.
“We were probably both a bit flat in the first half [against Wallsend] and at half-time I made the point that whoever was the most desperate will win,” Hingston said.
“The effort was there for 90 minutes, which got us over the line. They probably played better but we took our chances.”
Redbacks coach Alan Primmer has been pleased with his team’s steely resolve in the past two matches, in which they have conceded just one goal.
The visitors became the first team to take points off competition heavyweights Merewether this season when they drew 1-1 last weekend and Primmer was hoping for another strong effort.
“Like us they [South Wallsend] have patches where they put it together but like us can switch off as well,” Primmer said.
“We just have to try to capitalise if they switch off … We have got to keep concentrating.”
South Wallsend welcome back Georgia Amess, Meg Hewitt and Amy Waterhouse, who missed the midweek clash, while Primmer was not expecting many changes to his side.
Adamstown v Mid North Coast
Sunday 2pm at Adamstown No.1 Oval
Last time the met: Adamstown won 3-1
Last start: Adamstown beat Valentine 3-1 on Wednesday night, Mid North Coast drew 1-1 with Wallsend last Sunday
Position on ladder: Adamstown first (25 points), Mid North Coast last (five points)
Adamstown rejoined Merewether atop the league ladder with a 3-1 win over Valentine on Wednesday night and coach John Jiggins was full of praise for his squad.
“It was a hard-fought battle … My girls were terrific and I can’t speak highly enough of them,” the usually reserved Jiggins said after the midweek win.
“The work ethic was great and to bounce back from that fiasco against Warners Bay [a 2-2 draw last weekend] was pleasing.
“From there to tonight, the girls just went up 150 per cent, and that is very pleasing as a coach.”
Jiggins was hoping his side went on with a dominant performance against Mid North Coast, who are desperate for points and struggling to put together a strong 90 minutes.
Mid North Coast football manager Larry Budgen was expecting “a hard battle”.
Adamstown will be without Mikaela Howell but welcome back Lauren Allen from injury.
Merewether v Warners Bay
Sunday 2pm at Myamblah Oval
Last time they met: Merewether won 8-1
Last start: Merewether drew 1-1 with Thornton last Saturday, Warners Bay drew 2-2 with Adamstown last Sunday
Position on ladder: Merewether second (25 points), Warners Bay sixth (eight points)
Merewether coach Cass Koppen wants to see more desire from her charges after being “a bit too relaxed” for their 1-1 draw with Thornton last round.
Thornton were the first team to take points off Merewether this year and Coppen conceded the result would not only buoy the Redbacks but also other teams coming up against United as the league starts heading towards the business end of the season.
“Other teams will take a lot of confidence out of that,” Coppen said.
“We’ll try to forget about that [performance] and move on, we’ve got to get our desire back.”
Merewether were convincing 8-1 winners over Warners Bay when they met a few weeks back but Coppen remained wary of their counterparts, who held high fliers Adamstown to a 2-2 draw last weekend.
“Last time they provided a handful for us,” Coppen said.
“They’ve got the potential to score goals … we can’t be complacent.”
Warners Bay coach Jason Daniluck was expecting to field an unchanged side and said if they repeated their form against Adamstown they would give a much stronger account of themselves this time.
“The girls should be buoyed by what they did on the weekend,” he said.
“We are slowly getting the best side on the field now and starting to understand we’ve got to compete at this level … hopefully we don’t go backwards.”
Warners Bay are caught in a five-way dogfight with South Wallsend, Wallsend, Thornton and Valentine for third and fourth spots and Daniluck said it was imperative they kept picking up competition points.
“We will be concentrating on defending as a team and using the ball better,” Daniluck said.
“The next few results, I think, will determine where we finish so we need to be strong.
“If we’re in the game until half-time then I think we are in with a good show.”
Merewether without be without injured striker Kylie Rush for the clash.
Valentine v Wallsend
Sunday 2pm at Baxter Field
Last time they met: They are yet to play their round 4 match
Last start: Valentine beat South Wallsend 5-3 last Sunday, Wallsend lost 2-1 to South Wallsend on Wednesday night
Position on ladder: Valentine third (13 points), Wallsend fifth (nine points)
Wallsend coach Rob Botham was ruing the fact dominant performances in their past two outings had not translated to maximum points as they prepared to take on fellow semi-final contenders Valentine.
Wallsend were held to a 1-1 draw with last-placed Mid North Coast last weekend then forfeited a 1-0 lead to be beaten 2-1 by South Wallsend on Wednesday night.
“We dominated from start to finish and hit the crossbar and the post,” Botham said of the midweek match.
“We should be hitting Valentine with six points from our past two games and in third place.”
Valentine also suffered a midweek loss, going down to Adamstown 3-1 despite playing some quality football, according to women’s football manager Terry Campbell.
Adamstown’s first goal was a penalty then Campbell said defensive errors contributed to Rosebud’s other goals and Valentine were caught out on the counterattack on numerous occasions.
Both Campbell and Botham said they would see how players pulled up after their midweek clashes but were not expecting many changes to their sides for the weekend.