Competitions

Herald WPL Round 18 Review

July 22nd, 2019

 VALENTINE SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY

 ISAAC MCINTYRE

 

Match of the Round

Thornton Redbacks 3 (Nikita Bestwick, Jasmyn Hughes, Taleah Mountford) drew Football Mid North Coast 3 (Layni Fens 2, Natasha Ruge)

Sunday 21 July, 2.30pm, Thornton Park

After 90 minutes at Thornton Park, there is still no clear image on the race to avoid the wooden spoon, with Thornton and Football Mid North Coast playing to a 3-3 standstill in Sunday’s Round 18 clash.

Mid North Coast and the Redbacks traded goals through Layni Fens and Nikita Bestwick early on and were all locked up heading into the final stretch of the second half.

Fens struck again, and Natasha Ruge added to the haul to push the Middies out to a 3-1 lead on the road. With the two-goal margin safe in their pockets, it seemed like Mid North Coast were set to spring off the bottom of the table.

Alan Primmer loaded up his forward line in the last half hour of the clash, however. Jasmyn Hughes was the first to benefit, firing a shot in from outside the box to get Thornton off the mark in the second half. Taleah Mountford continued her recent streak of scoring with the equaliser late on, splitting points between the two clubs.

Thornton – who had also raised more than $2,000 for their Pink Day for Hunter Breast Cancer – were ecstatic after Mountford’s effort notched them another point in their campaign. Primmer was a little more of two minds about the 3-3 draw.

“I could say that I was disappointed in the result because I felt like we deserved three points, but where we ended up after Middies took their chances meant that we had to knuckle down from the 3-1 deficit and get back in it. Everyone’s happy, it feels good,” he said.

“Once we fell behind we knew we had to retain our shape and not give away any freebies. A strange thing happened at 1-1 though, because we equalised and then just all momentum drained away. We had to get over that and to the girl’s credit they did that very well.”

Mick Grass’ response to the six-goal draw was more clear cut than the Redbacks boss: to capitulate a 3-1 lead and drop from three points to one in the final minutes was a disappointing loss for the Mid North Coast side vying to avoid the spoon.

“The result doesn’t put the wooden spoon beyond doubt yet, we let this one slip,” he said. “We just let it get away from us at the end of the second half. Credit to Thornton for getting what they were after, we just need to go away and work on some of our things now.

“Despite the bad feeling on the dropped points, the game itself was good. It was exciting and tough, there was a lot of talent, and it was everything a football match should be. We have things we can take out of it, we just have to work on things that will help us avoid the spoon.”

 

New Lambton 4 (Tara Andrews 2, Lauren Allan, Stacey Day) def. Wallsend 1 (Olivia Kennedy)

Sunday 21 July, 2.30pm, Arthur Edden Oval

New Lambton have claimed the Herald Women’s Premier League title in 2019, with a 4-1 win over Wallsend at Arthur Edden Oval clinching the top spot for the Eagles three rounds out from finals.

The result wasn’t confirmed until late on for New Lambton, however, as Wallsend charged out of the gates against the soon-to-be premiers in the Round 18 meeting. The Eagles were first off the mark through Lauren Allan early. The advantage was cancelled out by Olivia Kennedy in the first half.

Keelan Hamilton knew he was facing a team armed with nervous legs considering the momentous occasion they were barrelling towards. He sat his team down at half time and delivered them a message: Let’s take a couple of deep breaths.

“We were playing with a lot of nerves in the first half, Wallsend applied a lot of pressure which kept us on the backfoot and a lot of the girls were weighed down by the weight of expectation,” Hamilton said.

“We sat down in the first half break and I let them know ‘Yep, it hasn’t gone perfect so far, but there’s plenty of time for us to get on top in the game, and if it doesn’t go perfectly there’s nothing to stress about either.’ We just had to take those deep breaths.”

New Lambton found their opening after a scramble in front of Wallsend’s goals opened up a chance for Stacey Day. The Eagles veteran pinged the chance home, and two goals late for Tara Andrews sealed the deal for the league leaders on Sunday afternoon.

“For us, it’s been an excellent season, and to the girls I say: you’ve won the hardest one to win, the premiership. We’ve won the hardest one, and we can’t let our standard drop off that level know heading into the semifinals. Anything can happen in a knockout game so we want to get there in good form and give ourselves the best chance at a grand final.”

Brad Jones, who had to watch his side’s precious competitive point slip away to the 2019 premiers, admitted New Lambton were “worthy” champions for the season they’ve run so far.

The Red Devils boss also revealed he was fully prepared to “lose one match in the third round,” and had an inkling it would be the Arthur Edden Oval contest.

“We thought we could slip up just once if we want to make finals, and if you were going to ask me which one it was going to be I would have said this one, of course. We caused them a lot of problems, but they showed how clinical they can be.

“They’re deserving champions, I do congratulate them for that. I’m proud of my girls for their efforts against them, we’ve been on really good steps for the last three games and we won’t die wondering about the finals now.”

 

Merewether United 1 (Rhali Dobson) def. Adamstown Rosebuds 0

Sunday 21 July, 2.30pm, Myamblah Oval

Merewether have claimed the spoils against inner-city rivals Adamstown for the third time this season after a late winner from Rhali Dobson broke open the clash at Myamblah Oval.

The Rosebuds, who sat just a single point outside the Thornton vs Mid North Coast relegations scrap, were nearly successful in bagging themselves vital points in Round 18. For the second time this season, the Llamas denied the Rosebuds with a late-on goal that delivered the home side the victory.

Cass Koppen said she was disappointed with how few chances Merewether were able to create on Sunday afternoon but said she was impressed with the patience of her girls against their Buds rivals.

“The result was probably deserved, we had a lot of possession but just lacked those threats on their goals for the amount of control we had,” she said.

“It was good for us to keep our composure, and remain patient. The goal finally came for us after that.”

The win opens distance between Merewether and the defeated Wallsend outfit in the race for fourth. It may not seal the deal, but Koppen believes the three points her squad notched at Myamblah has all but turned the run-in into a battle between second, third, and fourth.

“There are only three weeks and four games left for us, and we’re looking to refine ourselves for the finals now, as well as get those results we need to sit in the top four,” she said.

“Results this week really open up the battle for second through fourth, so I think there’s going to be a tight tussle between the three of us in the final weeks. Everything is going to be hard for us now, there will be no easy games. We just keep refining from here.”

 

South Wallsend 1 (Gabrielle Brodie) drew Warners Bay 1 (Jenna Kingsley)

Sunday 21 July, 2.30pm, Walker Fields

Just as Merewether edged out a close 1-0 win on Sunday, the battle for second has continued to heat up as South Wallsend and Warners Bay finished all tied up at 1-1 at Walker Fields on Sunday afternoon.

South Wallsend opened the scoring in front of their home crowd early in the Round 18 meeting through Gabrielle Brodie, before Tara Pender squared a ball through to Jenna Kingsley. The Panthers leading scorer wasted no time on the chance, levelling the score and confirming a drawn game.

While Pender and Kingsley were the usual suspects in regards to chances created and taken, Warners Bay coach Craig Atkins praised two of his Round 18 reinforcements for their efforts in the match – Sophia Laurie and Lilly Coombs.

“Yes we walked away with a key point, and that’s great, but a big focus for us this weekend was bedding in some of our strong young talents, and I was especially impressed by Sophie and Lilly,” Atkins said.

“Lilly had to mark Gema Simon, which is a big ask in and of itself, and she did very well with what we asked her to do. They were both absolutely brilliant, and have been for a while in recent weeks.”

Another replacement hero was Panthers goalkeeper Ally Boertje, who has covered Maddison Latter’s place between the recent sticks. A series of key saves from Boertje kept the score locked at Walker Fields. Atkins believes she may have won the point with her efforts.

“Ally had a couple of great saves, she kept us right in the game. It was a tight affair overall, but very promising considering the young talent we had playing for us,” he said.

“Very important result too, we looked at the table and we knew what a win or points could do there for us. First half I thought we were dominant, and definitely outplayed them. It was just us going into our shells out of the shed in the second half, but we recovered from that.

“Credit to us for fighting back, I thought maybe we’re even in a spot to pinch it at the end and could have won it. We’ll take that point for now, and keep our eyes on the goal.”

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