Match of the Round
Mid North Coast v Adamstown
Sunday 2pm at Taree Zone Fields
Meetings this season: Adamstown won 3-1 on April 5; Mid North Coast won 2-0 on July 5
Last start: Adamstown lost 2-0 to Valentine last night; Mid North Coast beat Wallsend 2-0 last weekend
Position on ladder: Mid North Coast fourth (20 points); Adamstown second (35 points)
The match will be the second of a tough weekend double-header against the league’s two top teams for Mid North Coast. They host Merewether on Saturday in a rescheduled fixture before taking on Adamstown on Sunday.
But this weekend’s hosts have hit a streak of form recently to surge into contention for their first semi-finals appearance and they upset a depleted Rosebud the weekend before last.
Adamstown could be well understrength again this weekend after sustaining a heavy injury toll in last night’s 2-0 loss to Valentine in a rescheduled fixture.
Mid North Coast coach Matt Baker admitted it was going to be “a massive ask” this weekend but was looking forward to the challenge.
“When we switch on, we are capable of playing some really good football,” Baker said.
“But I am not putting any expectations on the weekend … I just hope the girls turn up, enjoy themselves and play the best football they can.
“If we could come away with one or two points from the weekend then it would really put us in a strong position.”
Adamstown were already without Mikaela Howell, Kate Lindsay and goalkeeper Bec Miller and last night had Lucy Hewson stretchered off and Taylor Kelly sustained a bad mouth injury.
Rosebud coach John Jiggins was not sure of the extent of the injury toll on his team but expected to be light on numbers heading to Taree.
Courtney Fullbrook will be unavailable for Mid North Coast on Saturday but the hosts are expected to be at full strength on Sunday.
Warners Bay v Merewether
Sunday 2pm at John Street Oval
Meetings this season: Merewether won 8-1 on April 29; 0-0 draw on July 8
Last start: Warners Bay lost 4-1 to Adamstown last weekend; Merewether defeated South Wallsend 3-1 last night
Position on ladder: Warners Bay last (12 points), Merewether first (39 points)
The match will be the second leg of a weekend double-header for Merewether, who travel to Taree on Saturday to play Mid North Coast, and this game will be United’s fifth game in 12 days.
Merewether appear unaffected by the heavy schedule so far and continued their push for the Premiership with a 3-1 win over South Wallsend in a rescheduled fixture last night.
But United coach Cassie Koppen said they should have won by more and will be asking her players to find “a killer instinct in front of goals” before they reach the finals series.
“We are keeping teams in the game and that’s our fault – we have got to stop doing that before the finals because better sides won’t let us back into the game,” Koppen said.
Warners Bay may be on the bottom of the table but they surprised Merewether two weeks ago when they pressed hard and held the competition leaders to a scoreless draw.
But coach Leon Davis said they were in the midst of an injury crisis and was not expecting to have enough first-grade players available to play a similar tactic and was working on a different game plan for the competition front-runners.
He expected key midfielder Taylor Smith to be out with a hamstring injury and has several other players in doubt.
Koppen said she was “struggling for numbers” for the match on Saturday due to unavailability but was expecting more on board for Sunday.
Valentine v Wallsend
Sunday 2pm at CB Complex
Meetings this season: Valentine won 6-2 on May 28; won 5-4 on June 3
Last start: Valentine beat 2-0 Adamstown last night; Wallsend drew 2-2 with Thornton last night
Position on ladder: Valentine third (34 points); Wallsend sixth (13 points)
Valentine moved to within a point of second-placed Adamstown with a 2-0 win at Adamstown No.1 Oval last night and will be looking to keep their momentum going as they head towards the Herald WPL finals.
But Wallsend are playing with nothing to lose at the moment and came close to defeating Phoenix when the two sides last met.
“In the last game we played them there was only one goal in it, hopefully we can go out and stick it to them,” Gawthrop said. “We want to finish these last couple of the game of the season strongly.”
Wallsend drew 2-2 with Thornton last night. Wallsend led 1-0 before trailing 2-1 at the break and captain-coach Keely Gawthrop was particularly pleased with the character of her team to fight back to level the score.
“We came out firing in the second half and we fought right until the whistle,” Gawthrop said.
Wallsend were without attacking weapon Brooke Langford last night and will welcome her back on Sunday.
South Wallsend v Thornton
Sunday 2pm at Walker Fields
Meetings this season: South Wallsend won 3-2 on April 5; Thornton won 2-1 on June 10
Last start: South Wallsend lost 3-1 to Merewether last night; Thornton drew 2-2 with Wallsend last night
Position on ladder: South Wallsend fifth (16 points); Thornton seventh (13 points)
Just one goal has separated these teams on both occasions so far this season and this weekend is expected to be another tight tussle.
Both sides have been in the mix for the semi-finals all season and South Wallsend held fourth place for several weeks.
Unavailability and injuries have been South Wallsend’s downfall and coach Marc Hingston has been this week lamenting the fact he will again be without a number of key players on Sunday.
Hingston said he had five fit first-grade players to start in their 3-1 loss to competition leaders Merewether last night.
South Wallsend led the rescheduled match 1-0 before conceding three goals.
“That was actually the proudest I have been all year,” Hingston said after the game.
“We had five fresh players to start with and finished with four. We adopted some ugly tactics because we had to and it worked for an hour or so but then we ran out of legs.”
Thornton will be missing Sophie Milton, who scored in their 2-2 draw with Wallsend last night, due to unavailability.
Points table: Merewether 39, Adamstown 35, Valentine 34, Mid North Coast 20, South Wallsend 16, Wallsend 13, Thornton 13, Warners Bay 12.