Match of the Round
Merewether United 3 (Jamee Ellis, Rhali Dobson, Courtney Anderson) def. Wallsend 1 (Sophie Phillips)
Sunday 28 July, 2.30pm, Myamblah Oval
Merewether’s 3-1 win over fifth-placed Wallsend at Myamblah Oval has sealed the Women’s Premier League’s playoff picture, leaving the Red Devils caught nine points adrift of the postseason with just two games left in the season.
The defending champions outlasted their finals rivals on Sunday afternoon. The clash, played with “intensity and desire” from both sides, was Wallsend’s final match against a top four side in their 2019 campaign. In the end, Merewether coach Cass Koppen believes her side’s quality shone through.
Jamee Ellis was the first to open the scoring from a free-kick before lead striker Rhali Dobson latched on to a narrow through ball that allowed her to round the keeper and ping the second into the back of the net. Courtney Anderson scored Merewether’s third.
Sophie Phillips was the only scorer for Wallsend, who have seen their season come to a competitive end. It’s not the end of the world, coach Brad Jones said. They may not have clinched semi-finals, but they’ve shown the league a new challenger has arrived.
“Obviously we’re disappointed, but at the end of last season, the club’s first-grade side had earned nine points for the year. This year we’ve got as many wins as that, so when you put it in that context it shows how far the squad has come,” Jones said.
“The platform of how the club wants to play has been set, and whilst it’s disappointing overall, there are a lot of positives to take from the season overall. We’ve shown the league that it’s not about the top two, or the top four. There are other teams that can take them on now.”
While Wallsend’s campaign winds to an end, Merewether’s focus turns to finals.
The Llamas now sit just a single point behind Warners Bay in second after the 3-1 win, and Koppen knows they’re in striking distance of that high-seed finish. If Merewether could clinch that lofty spot, it would be “nice,” but not vital Koppen says.
“We’re looking forward to finals time now, we had that goal to get a top-four spot and we’re here. We have a lot of quality teams to play between now and finals,” she said.
“The ladder is looking a lot more positive after this win, but we’re mainly aiming to build confidence for us. It doesn’t bother us who we play when we get to the finals, we just need to start instilling a bit of fear in the rest of the top four.”
Adamstown Rosebuds 1 (Annika D’Amico) def. Football Mid North Coast 0
Sunday 28 July, 2.30pm, Adamstown No.1 Oval
Adamstown have inched away from the battle to avoid last-place with a narrow 1-0 victory over Football Mid North Coast this round.
The three-way swirl at the bottom of the table wasn’t exactly on top of the Buds’ minds – Paul Devitis revealed he let his players check the standings on their own time rather than hammer into them any positional situations. Instead, they were just focused on the win.
“We didn’t speak much about what’s going on with the spoon in the lead-up, we just know that we want to be winning every game that we’re in,” Devitis said.
“It was a close game and one that was very good to watch. The first 25 minutes just flew by without any stoppages, it was a really high-intensity game. In the end, we took the one clear-cut chance after a lot of goalmouth scrambles.”
Annika D’Amico found the breakthrough for the home side late on in the second half. The Rosebud striker, who has notched five in her seventeen appearances so far this season, ended up proving the difference at Adamstown Oval.
“Week after week if you are losing it can be demoralising, so the confidence that we’ll get from this win will be great. It can really push the girls to potentially end the season on a win-streak,” Adamstown’s coach said.
“If the girls can do that it’s a small win for us.”
While the Buds are eyeing a short win-streak as they move off to face Thornton next weekend, Mid North Coast has been left “gutted” after failing to move out of eighth place on Sunday afternoon.
“We played really well so it’s a shame we couldn’t get a result. We should have put the game to bed in the first half with the chances we had. If we do that, Adamstown never comes back into it,” Middies boss Mick Grass said.
“That said, the energy the girls put out there was great, it was some of the best football we’ve played in the last six weeks. It’s always disappointing when you put that out on the park and can’t get a result, and we should have got one, but we’ll just take it into next week.”
Warners Bay 3 (Jenna Kingsley 2, Tara Pender) def. New Lambton 2 (Georgia Amess, Jenna Kennedy)
Sunday 28 July, 2.30pm, John Street Oval
For the first time in 19 games this season New Lambton have fallen to defeat after Warners Bay held on to a 3-2 lead at John Street Oval to bowl over the premiers.
Panthers striker Jenna Kingsley opened the scoring in the first-vs-second clash from the spot in the 42nd minute, before Georgia Amess looked to have locked the scores ahead of half time. Tara Pender struck back off the kick-off to regain Warners Bay the lead.
Kingsley notched her double two-thirds into the contest to give the Panthers a strong lead. Jenna Kennedy scored New Lambton’s second late off a corner, but the league leaders weren’t able to find the equaliser and left John Street Oval empty-handed.
“This performance has been coming for a few weeks now, the girls worked really hard for each other and got the job done. The girls were enormous, they worked really well as a unit, and I thought the result was thoroughly deserved,” an ecstatic Craig Atkins said of his side’s one-goal win over the pacesetters.
“The performance today means the girls are going to be buzzing heading into the final rounds. I know I’m looking forward to getting back to the training ground. We have Merewether next week so to get this gives us a lot of momentum.”
The loss may not have shaken New Lambton off their already-confirmed first place, but Eagles coach Keelan Hamilton couldn’t help but feel “disappointed” – not with the loss itself, but with the manner in which his side dropped out of the game.
“The loss is frustrating yes, but we didn’t perform anywhere near what our capabilities are and that’s really disappointing,” he said.
“We knew it was going to be a tricky fixture managing the comedown from winning the premiership last week, but we didn’t manage it well enough.
“I’m annoyed with how we played, but we’re not at panic stations by any means. This weekend just wasn’t at the standard we’ve set to be successful. We know we have to lift ahead of the finals, we only really played well at the start of the first half.
“Hopefully this is a marker for us. It shows we can’t let our performances get away from us if we want to keep winning. We’ll look to learn from this.”
South Wallsend (Ashlee Brodigan 3, Gabrielle Brodie) 4 def. Thornton Redbacks 2 (Lauren Faulkner, Kirstie Power-Walford)
Sunday 28 July, 2.30pm, Walker Fields
Two late goals for Thornton wasn’t enough for the travelling side to overcome a 4-0 deficit against South Wallsend at Walker Fields, as the Redbacks continue to battle to avoid last-place in 2019.
Ashlee Brodigan ran rampant at Walker Fields as she notched a hat-trick, including one in the 43rd minute to give the Wolves momentum heading into the break. Gabrielle Brodie added the fourth for South Wallsend.
The result may not have changed, but pace swapped to Thornton for the final 20 minutes. Both Lauren Faulkner and Kirstie Power-Walford slotted goals home for the Redbacks, dragging the result back to a closer 4-2 finish.
Considering Georgia Minors, Katie Oliviera, Maryjane Mason, and Kalista Hunter were all still missing from the matchday squad through injuries and absences, Wolves coach Cas Wright said she was quite pleased with the final result.
“We held out for most of the game, until the final 20 minutes. The game was quite good considering how many we have out,” she said. “We’re very ecstatic about securing a finals place after this weekend.”
Redbacks coach Alan Primmer said he was also pleased with his side’s performance, and suggested the travelling team could have been closer in the first half but for the quality of Brodigan in front of goals.
“We played quite well, I even said to my girls at 2-0 down ‘We’re only one goal out of this,’ and I don’t even think we deserved to be that far down with our performance. The difference was just Brodigan going ‘bang’ any chance she got,” he said.
“The squad is back to where we were a few weeks ago which is great to see, we dipped off in regards to attitude in the past few weeks where we competed in every game until we fell behind. We kept going today which is very pleasing to see.”
South Wallsend’s 38 points keeps them fourth and confirms they will play finals football in 2019. Thornton are still level with last place Mid North Coast, but ahead on goal difference.