Match of the Round
Adamstown Rosebuds (6th) vs Thornton Redbacks (8th)
Sunday 9 June, 2.30pm, Adamstown No.1 Oval
After a weekend off, the Herald Women’s Premier League (WPL) is returning in full force. Across the board, Round 13 holds a number of fixtures key to each team’s seasons, and one of the most critical will come at Adamstown No.1 Oval on Sunday afternoon.
Adamstown, who recently picked up their first two wins of the year, now have a new target: “get in touch with Wallsend in fifth.”
It’s a lofty ambition after the Rosebuds struggled to claw their way off the bottom of the table, but one coach Paul Devitis believes is fully achievable.
“There’s a lot of teams really close on the ladder, and now that we’ve put at least a small bit of distance between us and the bottom we need to capitalise that and get away from it properly as best we can,” Devitis said ahead of the televised BarTV Sports fixture.
“If we can get in touch with Wallsend above us we’ll be doing really well.”
Conversely, Thornton has had a mixed bag of results in recent weeks. Their first victory came in Round 11, as they said goodbye to one of their young stars. Now, they face another “must-win” match up if they want to avoid the wooden spoon in 2019.
Devitis knows this as his side barrels towards the league’s Match of the Round. The two teams have picked up just nine points between them in twenty-four combined matches, and both sides know three more are of the utmost importance.
“Considering where we both are on the ladder this is a very important game for us because we both need to pick up points,” the Buds boss said.
“It could be a very tense game because of that, but hopefully it also leads to a more free-flowing game overall.
“Honestly, I think myself and the girls are just looking forward to getting back into the run of things, so we’re hoping the weather holds off for the game. After not playing last weekend, and then missing training sessions because of it, we just want to play.
“It feels like ages since we last got out of the pitch, and the break is good but it definitely feels like a long time. Everyone at Adamstown is mainly just hoping we can avoid a wash-out. The last thing we need at the end of the season is a logjam of fixtures to grind through.”
Adamstown vs Thornton will be streamed live courtesy of BarTV Sports on Sunday afternoon. You can tune in to the battle at No.1 Oval here.
Warners Bay (3rd) vs Merewether United (4th)
Sunday 9 June, 2.30pm, John Street Oval
After two straight defeats, Warners Bay now have a chance to hold Merewether off their bid for top three. It’s not the be-all or end-all of the race for finals positions, but it’s certainly going to be key to where the Panthers and the Llamas can go next in the 2019 season.
Last time the two teams clashed, Merewether came away with a tight 4-3 victory. Now the defending champions come into the second grand final rematch of the year on a four-game winning streak, level on points in the standings with Warners Bay.
It’s not something that’s played on the Panthers’ minds at all though, captain Cassidy Davis said ahead of the game at John Street Oval. With two defeats in a row hanging over the defending premiers’ heads, a look internally is much more important than “worrying about what others are doing,” Davis said.
“We’ve taken the break to look at the two losses that we’ve had, and think about what we need to do better individually, and as a group,” Warners Bay’s midfielder said.
“We’re hoping we can get back to our normal runs, come out, and grab three points.
“If all eleven players on the field, and our bench players, can do their jobs then the rest of the team performance will come naturally for us. Looking at what happened last time we played them, we need to counter what they’ll bring in terms of strength. We’ll work for the full 90.”
Interim coach Peter Withers, who has replaced Cass Koppen in the dugout over the past fortnight, said he’s expecting another “gruelling” battle against the Panthers after the 4-3 result two months ago came down to the wire.
With Warners Bay coming into the clash with a handful of Westfield W-League stars, Withers said he believes the match is going to be “of the highest class,” with the key moments to come from the Panthers stars.
“The main thing will be the concern with their W-League stars, they have Jenna [Kingsley] up top and Cassidy [Davis] running the midfield at the very least, and that’s not their only avenues,” Withers said.
“We’re expecting a very hard game, they’ve made the last four grand finals for a reason and they always make sure they’re the toughest games in any run.
As the last round of the season begins to appear on the horizon, the Merewether assistant coach said he knows every game is important. While New Lambton appears to have streaked ahead, a three-way battle between South Wallsend, Warners Bay, and Merewether have developed in the standings. If the Llamas want to defend their title, they have to win it.
“It’s no secret we’re battling it out for second place with Southy and Warners Bay, yes, because it’s going to be very tough to catch New Lambton at the moment,” he said.
“We’re treating every game that we have now as semi-finals because the finals spots are going to be determined by who loses one or two games that they could have won.”
Wallsend (5th) vs Football Mid North Coast (7th)
Sunday 9 June, 2.30pm, The Gardens
Wallsend and Football Mid North Coast meet at The Gardens this weekend on the back of rocky periods in their Herald WPL season. A solace for both sides is that with three points on offer, their Round 13 meeting could hold the key to righting the rocking ship.
Mid North Coast has had an “average” run of form over the past two months, losing seven games straight since their back-to-back victories over Adamstown and Thornton eight rounds ago. On the other side, Wallsend has lost four straight against the WPL’s top four.
Despite that, northern boss Mick Grass believes form lines won’t have too much impact on the eventual outcome of the game. Instead, the lack of training and matches because of the weather may play a far larger role in who collects the key three points on Sunday afternoon.
“We’ve got a few injuries to the squad, and our training has been really disrupted by the weather so we haven’t been able to see exactly how we’re going to replace those that are missing,” Grass revealed.
“I’m going to try my best to settle the team in the next few days.
“Despite that, I think we can get points. The last time we played Wallsend it was a lot closer on the park than the scoreline [4-0 to Wallsend at Fairmont Gardens] showed. We’re going to try and take the game to them again and get a result to snap our run.
“Last weekend we tried to play defensively and nullify New Lambton’s main attackers, and we were shown that doesn’t always work, or as well as we wanted. Instead, we’re going to try and attack, and score some goals against Wallsend at The Gardens.”
South Wallsend (2nd) vs New Lambton (1st)
Sunday 9 June, 2.30pm, Walker Fields
If every fixture this weekend is key for team’s in varying fashions, the first-vs-second battle at Walker Fields may be the loftiest in terms of ramifications. South Wallsend now sits just nine points behind New Lambton, but with a game in hand.
The Eagles have so far claimed twelve wins from their twelve outings. Behind them, the Wolves have a 9-2 record. Those two losses came in the first round, however, and South Wallsend enter the table-topping clash on a six-game winning streak after finding form off the back of their 4-3 loss to New Lambton last time out.
Wolves coach Cas Wright has narrowed down the battle for first at this point in the season – if South Wallsend can bump the Eagles over twice, there’s a chance the entire race could come down to goal difference. Right now New Lambton leads that margin, 49 to 32.
“No one has been able to take them yet, and we’d love to be the first to do that this season,” Wright said.
“If we can knock them over in our two opportunities, and then each of us win the rest of our fixtures, that should put us on the same record right at the end.
“It makes it an interesting game this weekend, but unfortunately we missed our game last weekend while they played. We were looking to implement our plan last weekend ahead of this game, but that didn’t happen and we’ve been lucky to get onto the training pitch so that makes it even harder to practice what we want to do on Sunday.
“Because of that, it’s going to come down to trust on the day. I know that we can rely on our previous performances because we’re going to have to. It’s not going to make it easy.”
The Wolves will be further hampered by their absence list, which is teetering on the edge of problematic. Maddie Thornton (calf) is still out, as is Gabby Deacon (fractured foot), while Maryjane Mason and Sassiska Seaborn are both in doubt for the weekend. International star Gema Simon is also away, representing Australia in the Women’s World Cup.
South Wallsend’s absence list hasn’t reduced their potential to deliver an upset though, New Lambton coach Keelan Hamilton believes. With the Eagles clear with their 12-0 record, Hamilton knows the performances have to continue, and the Wolves present another “tricky fixture” for the leaders chasing a potential undefeated year.
“All of South Wallsend, Warners Bay, and Merewether have been very tough so far this season, and we’re expecting another really difficult match this weekend,” he said.
“We’re confident we can compete with them and make it a really good fixture. The whole team is excited, confident, and looking forward to the game because we know it’s going to be tough and challenging.”
While both teams each boast one of the top three goalscorers in 2019 – Tara Andrews with 23 against Ashlee Brodigan with 19 – Hamilton believes it should be a low-scoring affair at Walker Fields come Sunday afternoon.
“It won’t be high scoring, there’s a lot riding on the game for both teams so it will become a tight match with not much in it,” he said.
“We’re going to look to our collective again this weekend, that’s been our strength. If we just rely on someone like Tara to get the job done we will not be successful, so the whole team needs to lift for this match.”