Match of the Round
Warners Bay vs Wallsend
Sunday 30 June, 2.30 pm, John Street Oval
Wallsend’s last result – a 3-2 victory over local rivals South Wallsend in a mid-week catchup game – have “buoyed” the side with confidence. According to Red Devils boss Brad Jones, there’s a belief running through the camp now. Wallsend believes they’re a top-four side.
This weekend they get the perfect chance to prove it. Warners Bay has bounced back from a two-game slide to chalk wins over Merewether and Mid North Coast, and are now looking to capitalise on the Wolves’ defeat nearly two weeks ago.
While the Panthers are looking to consolidate power in their finals position, Wallsend wants to smash down the door to the playoffs and stake their own claim.
“The result [against South Wallsend] reinforced to us all that we are genuine top four contenders,” Jones said.
“That said, we’ve come up against the quality of teams like New Lambton and Warners Bay before and didn’t get a result even though we’ve led them all at different points. We had the thought that we could challenge, but we weren’t finishing the jobs.
“Now the Southy game has proved we can take points off these top guys, and that’s a nice position to be in. The mood in the camp is really good, and we’re still buoyed by the win, so we want to take that into this week. We’re ready to press our finals claims.”
Wallsend may be ready to make a third-round charge for the top four, but Warners Bay also know they can lock at least top two if they continue to tick off the wins. Incoming coach Craig Atkins knows this too and is looking for his side to overcome “a few forced changes” and keep up the tempo of their back-to-back wins.
Nadja Squires has been ruled out long term due to travel, while Kaitlin Radstaak will be absent this weekend. There are changes on the way for those players, Atkins said: “We’re monitoring three or four pretty closely in training this week, and we’ll see which ones eventually get the nod to step up into that final starting eleven.”
“When you’ve got players of this quality out, you need your star players to put in a shift in their absence, and not just the stars in the team but everyone on the park,” he said.
“I’ll be looking to see the team lift into another gear this week so we don’t lose the momentum we’ve collected from the last few weeks. We’re just looking forward to the weekend.”
New Lambton vs Football Mid North Coast
Sunday 30 June, 2.30 pm, Alder Park
New Lambton head into their home game against Football Mid North Coast with a nine-point buffer in the Herald Women’s Premier League standings, and a game in hand.
When South Wallsend fell to Wallsend mid-week, the gap to the Eagles ballooned out. Warners Bay sit ten points behind with the same games played as the leaders, but with New Lambton undefeated in 14 outings it’s looking unlikely they’d drop points in four of their last six.
Eagles coach Keelan Hamilton isn’t counting his chickens before they hatch, however. There’s no value in ticking down the points towards the 2019 premiership, the league-leading helmsman said, even if the thought has appeared in the back of the team’s minds.
“Results have gone our way in the last few weeks, yes, which has been good for us, but we’ve maintained all season that it’s what we do, not what other teams do, that will get us over the line in the end,” Hamilton said.
“To win a premiership you have to win a lot of games, and that’s our focus as we head into the game against Middies this week.
“We have to keep improving and show the right desire and attitude to deserve the premiership. It’s not something we’re focused on massively, but it’s something that all the girls have been aware of.”
The Eagles head into a busy period in the Premier League’s third round, as do most first-grade clubs. After the washout last weekend, mid-week games have sprung up on the schedule after their Round 16 outings, then the TAFE NSW Women’s State Cup arrives next weekend.
“Last week didn’t come at the worst time for us, because it gave us some time to refresh our bodies and our minds ahead of this busy-period for the run-in,” Hamilton admitted.
“We have this busy week ahead against Mid North Coast, then the catchup game, then the Cup games so it’ll all be pretty fast-paced, but myself and the girls are looking forward to it.
“We’ve been pretty disrupted with the weather, so it will be nice to head home and just play.”
Thornton Redbacks vs Merewether United
Sunday 30 June, 2.30pm, Thornton Park
Thornton welcome Merewether to Thornton Park on Sunday afternoon, after both teams look to settle back into the rhythm of the league following the major washout round last weekend.
Last time out, the Redbacks were shattered by a second-half onslaught against the undefeated Eagles. Thornton were defeated 12-2 at home, with their defence struggling to hold out red-hot New Lambton stars Tara Andrews and Lauren Allan.
There won’t be a repeat of that lopsided scoreline, Redbacks coach Alan Primmer said. With the return of commanding defenders Anais Moore (slotting into the centreback role) and Jennifer Jongbloed (set to start on the defensive flank), Thornton is expecting to “solidify” at the back as they face the defending champions.
“Anais and Jen coming back into the side will tidy our defence up nicely,” Primmer said ahead of the clash at Thornton Park.
“They’ll bring a lot of strength into our backline that should stop as many goals being scored this time around.
“Jen especially will bring a good motor to the side of our defence, she’s a bit of an outlet for us to transition from defensive efforts into attacking opportunities. We had that a bit against New Lambton, but once we’d hit them we sat a bit deep I think.”
Primmer plans on bringing out a similar strategy against Merewether. With the Llamas armed to the teeth with attacking talents, the Redbacks mentor knows it will be key to find a “perfect balance” between a deep line and a high line.
“We’re going to play our normal game against Merewether, sit in and try and frustrate them,” he explained.
“That can be a dangerous game of course, because they have Jane MacDonald and Jaime Ellis who can ping them in from thirty yards out.
“We just have to make sure we get the juggling act just right because sit too high to stop the long-range efforts and you let Rhali Dobson get in behind you, and sit too deep and crowd the box and Jane and Jaime can just get right into their shooting element.
“It’s going to be an interesting battle. We want to catch them on the break, and if we can solidify that defence with Anais, Jen, and everyone involved, I think we can get a result.”
South Wallsend vs Adamstown Rosebud
Sunday 30 June, 2.30 pm, Walker Fields
Adamstown travels to “one of the most intimidating grounds” in the Herald Women’s Premier League this weekend, as the Rosebuds prepare to face South Wallsend on the road.
The Wolves bounced back from a 3-2 defeat at the hands of their local rivals mid-week with a victory over Football Mid North Coast in the only game to go ahead last weekend. Their 4-0 win gives them a shot of confidence after the loss at Wallsend Park and sets them up nicely for another chance at three points against the Buds.
South Wallsend coach Cas Wright has been up against another factor in the squad, however, her first-grade players are disappearing in front of her. Maryjane Mason, Gema Simon, Maddy Thornton, and Kalista Hunter have all been confirmed out this round.
“We will continue to rebuild, we’ve called on the new recruits Katie [Oliveira] and Georgia [Minors] and they have been an uplift to the team,” Wright said.
“We have a great senior squad, and it definitely has been amazing to see all the girls step in and fill roles as required. We haven’t lost sight of the finals series, and will set specific goals and structures for each game to ensure we maintain our position.”
While the Wolves want to keep hold of their top three spot despite the absences, Buds boss Paul Devitis wants to strike while the iron is hot. If his midfield stars Elodie Dagg and Ryley Field can “play major roles” in the battle, Devitis believes Adamstown can score a result.
“Our midfield has a big role to play in the game I think, Southy have a very ‘busy’ midfield that looks to play box-to-box very quickly, so if Elodie and Ryley can have a hand in that and follow their runs with pressure then I think we can keep their creation down,” Devitis said.
“The big point for our girls will be can we battle with South Wallsend for 90 minutes. We’ve been working hard to make sure we can avoid conceding those two or three in five minutes, and now we have another test against a strong offensive team.
“That said, I don’t see why we can’t compete, we cut out those basic errors and we can get a result.”