Match of the Round
New Lambton 6 (Lauren Allan 3, Tara Andrews 2, Georgia Amess) def. South Wallsend 1 (Erin Wilson)
Sunday 4 August, 2.30pm, Alder Park
New Lambton has waved away the cobwebs of their first loss of the season last round with a resounding 6-1 win over fourth-placed South Wallsend at Alder Park in front of the BarTV Sports cameras on Sunday afternoon.
The broadcasted clash started with a raft of goals, as Lauren Allan netted two in the opening six minutes. Erin Wilson answered back within ten to keep the Wolves in the contest at 2-1.
After the opening-period flurry, the game settled into a back-and-forth rhythm for much of the first half. Neither side was able to grab an advantage, and the Eagles took their one-goal lead into the sheds at half-time.
New Lambton took complete control in the second stanza of the Round 20 meeting as they returned to the field. Allan completed her hat-trick, while Tara Andrews slotted home a double and Georgia Amess rounded out the four-goal barrage at Alder Park.
After their narrow defeat last weekend, Eagles boss Keelan Hamilton said he was very pleased to see his side return to the winner’s circle in the league’s penultimate week.
“We started the game well, and then took complete control. It was a really good game from us,” said Hamilton.
“There was an importance for us to try and bounce back from last week with a better performance, last week we didn’t play anywhere near our potential and that made this game even more important to show that it was a one-off. We did that well.”
While New Lambton showed their premiership class in the 6-1 rout, South Wallsend coach Cas Wright said she won’t be taking too much away from the second half of the match. With their absence list nearly at arm-length, the Wolves are looking to “stabilise” ahead of the finals more than get points on the board.
“The first half we kept to 2-1 and it could have been two-all if [Ash] Brodigan’s shot in the second half went in instead of hitting the post. The girls need to credit themselves with how well we did considering the players that we have out,” Wright said.
With South Wallsend looking to bring back in as many players as possible ahead of the two-legged semi-finals on the horizon, the Wolves’ coach revealed she’ll be “taking positives from the first half,” rather than questioning the second.
“We’ve had nine players out. The girls are focusing on finding some belief, in themselves and the structure and formation. Until we get in that position that has to be our focus. I think this game is not an indication of what we can achieve, but it is something to learn from.
“We’ll just be taking the game as two halves and learning from there. We know we can take it to New Lambton in a tough semi-final, and that first half has shown that it’s not at all unachievable to beat them then.”
Merewether United 2 (Rhali Dobson, Tamara Nash) def. by Warners Bay 3 (Jenna Kingsley 3)
Sunday 4 August, 2.30pm, Myamblah Oval
The league may have been treated to a semi-final preview early, as Warners Bay edged Merewether 3-2 with a second-half comeback at Myamblah Oval in the competition’s penultimate weekend.
United took the early lead in front of their home fans and carried the 1-0 advantage into the break. The Panthers swung the advantage in the second half, however, with Jenna Kingsley poaching a hat-trick propped up by two penalty-kicks.
Warners Bay have locked in second place with the victory and now sit four points ahead of the defending champions. With South Wallsend trailing Merewether by two points, and the Llamas facing the Wolves next weekend, the five-goal epic on Sunday may be set to be replayed in just a fortnight for the league’s finals.
Craig Atkins has that possibility at the forefront of his mind. With the one-goal win over United this weekend, he believes his side has earned a “sharp mental edge” for the potential epic semi-final matchups on the horizon.
“It looks like Merewether could be our semi-final opponents, so to get the win this weekend gives us that advantage over them. It was even a 1-0 scoreline against us at half time so we showed a lot of character to fight back from there,” Atkins said.
“At half-time, I said that we needed to press higher, and shut down their midfield that was controlling the game. We had a few little adjustments and that fixed a lot. We’ve been shown what we need to do if we face Merewether in the finals.”
Merewether coach Cass Koppen has also taken some key teachings away from the fixture at Myamblah. The only disappointment, the Llamas touchline boss said, was that the one-goal defeat cut short their form line ahead of the post-season.
“We’re happy, we scored two really good goals again,” she said.
“We were a little unlucky to have two of their three goals be penalties, but we’ve been given a few things to improve on, our mental strength mainly.
“The team needs to make sure we’re doing our jobs going forward, there were times we didn’t play our roles particularly well. We did alright overall, and we’re just disappointed that we’ve lost our undefeated run. That makes next week even more important.”
Koppen also pointed to 16-year-old goalkeeper Taylah Gray as a “major positive” from the loss. Despite conceding three, Gray saved one of the two penalties Warners Bay scored from, only for the referees to have the spot-kick retaken.
Merewether’s coach has branded the youth star as a “future W-League player” and a potential leader for the Llamas from next season onwards.
“Taylah did exceptionally well, especially considering she’s only 16-year-old,” Koppen said.
“We wanted to have a bit of competition there, and Tay has been fantastic every time she’s played up. She even saved that penalty, but unfortunately for her, it had to get retaken. We wanted to blood her, and she’s getting that reward of confidence now.”
Football Mid North Coast 1 (Tash Ruge) def. by Wallsend 6 (Georgia Little 2, Laura Hall, Sophie O’Brien, Alesha Clifford, Kaylah Pisani)
Sunday 4 August, 2.30pm, Wayne Richards Park
Wallsend defeated Football Mid North Coast in a physical battle in the north at Wayne Richards Park after the Red Devils ballooned a 2-1 half-time lead late on.
Georgia Little led the way for the travelling side in Port Macquarie with her double in the six-goal haul, while Laura Hall, Sophie O’Brien, Alesha Clifford, and Kaylah Pisani all added their name to the ever-growing scoresheet.
Tash Ruge was the lone scorer for Mid North Coast, who find themselves still caught at the bottom of the table after the 6-1 loss. With Thornton falling in Round 20 the door is still open for Mick Grass’ women, but a negative goal difference has locked them in eighth – for now.
Jones, whose Red Devils outfit has already secured a fifth-place finish with their 32, possibly 35, point tally, said he was proud of his side “getting on with the job” despite wrapping up their campaign last weekend.
“We said at the end of last week that the only thing we could do now was to collect six points, that was the target, and we’re halfway there with this result,” Jones said.
“It was quite a physical match, it felt like with Middies being quite a young side they got caught up in what physicality means and that led to them conceding a number of free-kicks in good positions, as well as two penalties in the mix.
“We did a good job of capitalising on the possession we had today though, so it was probably a combination of those things that got us the win. The girls are nursing a few significant bumps and bruises, but they did a really good job in the end.”
Though the finals race is up for Wallsend, one last chance to double their silverware haul for 2019 alongside the TAFE NSW Women’s State Cup comes in the Friendship Cup duel with Adamstown next weekend. It’s a fixture Jones has circled as a final challenge.
“Next week we finish off the Friendship Cup against Adamstown, and it’s a very important game. We want to follow up on our lead in the series, and if we can lift that next Sunday afternoon with all grades then we’ll finish off the season on a high.”
Adamstown Rosebud 4 (Annika D’Amico 2, Chelsea Lucas, Jorjia Hogg) def. Thornton Redbacks 2 (Amber Robertson, own goal)
Sunday 4 August, 3pm, Adamstown No.1 Oval
Two halves of “delightful football” for Adamstown has confirmed they will finish the Women’s Premier League season in sixth place, after a 4-2 win at No.1 Oval against Thornton bumped the Rosebud six points clear of the bottom-table scrap.
The home side, who were celebrating the last run-out at their home ground for many players and backroom staff, “rose to the occasion,” said head coach Paul Devitis.
The Buds helmsman, who himself is moving on from the club come season-end, believes the team has finally clicked into the game plan that he has been aiming for all season. While it comes a little later than he’d like, he was nothing but “proud” of the efforts on Sunday.
“I’m delighted in the football the girls played, especially in the first half. It’s what I envisioned all season, it was everything I had asked of the girls,” he said.
“The quality that was on display was something else. It was a pretty emotional game because of a lot of people playing their last matches at No.1, and that made it a big occasion for us. The girls really stepped up because of that, and it was really good to see.”
Annika D’Amico led the scoring for the Buds with a brace in the win, while Chelsea Lucas and Jorja Hogg led Adamstown out to a 4-0 lead. Thornton struck back twice through Amber Roberston and an own goal, halving their goal difference taken from the match.
“Everyone performed their jobs perfectly off the big occasion, and showed how we wanted to play football in a great display,” Devitis said.
“Jorja had a great game too, to get a goal – cracked out from beyond the box – from centre back was great to see and she had a defensively strong game to add to that as well. The whole team played well and everyone came together.
“It was a great game overall, played in good spirits. Thornton never gave up, they have a really good attitude in regards to efforts. I have to give them a lot of credit for not letting their heads drop after the four, and it was great to see them keep coming on.”
The Redbacks remain equal on seven points with Mid North Coast after the 4-2 loss, but their two late strikes mean they hold a four goal advantage over the last-place northern squad heading into the final round of the season.