Valentine v Thornton
At CB Complex, Sunday 2pm
Last time they met: Thornton won 4-3
Last start: Valentine defeated 5-4 Wallsend last night; Thornton drew 1-1 with Merewether in Round 10 (May 16)
Position on ladder: Valentine third (22 points); Thornton sixth (nine points)
Thornton have will not have played in three weeks while this game will be Valentine’s fourth game in 11 days.
Since losing 3-1 to league leaders Adamstown on May 20, Valentine have taken maximum points in three outings and have well and truly consolidated third place by surging to 22 points on the ladder.
Thornton, one of five teams vying for fourth place, emerged victorious last time these two sides met and should still be buoyed by their draw with competition heavyweights Merewether in their last outing.
But Coach Alan Primmer was “not sure about having two weekends off, we won’t really know until the weekend” and was hopeful the forced break would mean “we come back fresh”.
The game has been moved to CB Complex and Primmer suggested the team who adapted best to the surface there could have an advantage.
Phoenix staged another stunning comeback to beat Wallsend 5-4 last night in a rescheduled match but women’s football manager Terry Campbell was concerned by the amount of goals Valentine were leaking.
Valentine have scored a league-high 42 goals but have now conceded 34 goals for the third worst defensive record and trailed Wallsend 3-1 at half-time last night before finding four second-half goals.
Campbell was full of praise for Maddy Searl, who has returned this season from a year off for a knee reconstruction.
Searl scored two spectacular goals for Valentine last night, including the matchwinner with less than five minutes remaining. Cassidy Davis was also impressive on the way to scoring a hat-trick.
Redbacks attacking player and captain Sophie Milton is in doubt for the clash due to work commitments while Valentine should be close to full strength.
Mid North Coast v Warners Bay
At Fairmont Gardens, Sunday 2pm
Last time they met: Warners Bay won 4-1
Last start: Mid North Coast beat South Wallsend 4-0 last Sunday; Warners Bay lost 3-1 to South Wallsend last night
Position on ladder: Mid North Coast seventh (eight points); Warners Bay eighth (eight points)
Mid North Coast broke through for their first win of the season last weekend and this weekend Coach Matt Baker is hoping his charges can take their first victory on their own territory.
“It would be great to get our first win at home for the season but we will need to be at our best,” Baker said.
“We need to be really structurally strong in attack and defence in the middle of the park.
“This was one game where we did create a lot of chances but didn’t even look like scoring … we need to stay structurally strong and take our chances.”
The two sides are locked on the bottom of the table on eight points and will both be desperate for three points to stay in the mix for the fourth semi-finals spot.
The three-goal win against Mid North Coast in Round 6 was Warners Bay’s last victory and they lost 3-1 to South Wallsend last night.
Baker was not expecting to make many changes to his side but said striker Bianca Mason was likely to be promoted into the starting line-up.
South Wallsend v Adamstown
At Walker Fields, Sunday 2pm
Last time they met: Adamstown won 2-0
Last start: Adamstown beat Valentine 3-1 on May 20; South Wallsend defeated Warners Bay 3-1 last night
Position on ladder: Adamstown first (25 points), South Wallsend fourth (13 points)
South Wallsend bounced back from their worst loss of the season to down Warners Bay 3-1 in a rescheduled match at Walker Fields last night.
The win gave South Wallsend a four-point buffer over nearest rivals Wallsend and Thornton and consolidated fourth place.
Coach Marc Hingston was pleased with the way his side responded after their 4-0 loss to Mid North Coast last Sunday.
“It is amazing what a difference a few days makes,” Hingston said.
“We played probably some of the best football we have played this year … we just played a much more simple game.”
But they face a tough test this weekend against the competition pace-setters and will be without key players Laura Hall, Amy Waterhouse, Gabby Deacon, Taylor O’Neill and Lily Skeet.
Adamstown coach John Jiggins, who rates his squad as “one of the best sides” in 15-20 years of coaching women’s football “not just because we are winning but the work ethic and commitment”, was looking forward to the match.
But he expected South Wallsend and the other teams vying for the final semi-finals spot to play some desperation football as the competition heads towards the business end of the season.
“All of the clubs have really improved and that’s a credit to the coaches I think … the competition is starting to get a little bit interesting,” Jiggins said.
Rosebud will be without Emma Bouwlins (unavailable) but welcome back Olivia Trinka (injury) and will be close to full strength.
Wallsend v Merewether
At Wallsend Oval, Sunday 2pm
Last time they met: Merewether won 3-1
Last start: Wallsend were beaten 5-4 by Valentine last night; Merewether drew 1-1 with Thornton in Round 10 (May 16)
Position on ladder: Wallsend fifth (nine points); Merewether second (25 points)
Merewether will have not played in three weeks when they take the field this weekend and Coach Cassie Koppen was concerned fitness might be lacking and was frustrated the continual washouts meant “we haven’t really been able to get any momentum going”.
Merewether have three catch-up matches to play in the next five or six weeks – against Warners Bay, Adamstown and Mid North Coast – and Koppen said “it’s going to be difficult to play continual catch-up” but was confident they had a competent squad which would “hopefully get us over the line”.
Koppen acknowledged Wallsend have “a few experienced players who know the tricks of the trade” and they were outmuscled at times despite the win last time they met.
This time around she will instruct her players to keep the pace of the game fast.
“We need to keep the ball moving as fast as we can and not get into physical contests,” Koppen said.
Merewether will be without attacking midfielder Jane McDonald (unavailability) and Kylie Rush (injury) while their counterparts will have a new coach after Rob Botham stood down from the position during the week.
Wallsend forfeited a 3-1 half-time lead to go down 5-4 to Valentine in a nail-biting affair at Wallsend Park last night and would be buoyed by their strong attacking effort.