Match of the Round
South Wallsend 1 (Maryjane Mason) def. by Merewether United 4 (Rhali Dobson 2, Tamara Nash, Leah Giuffre)
Sunday 11 August, 2.30pm, Walker Fields
The Herald Women’s Premier League’s top four makeup has been settled after Merewether secured a 4-1 win over South Wallsend at Walker Fields in the closing round of the regular season.
United climbed to an early advantage away from home, as Rhali Dobson, Tamara Nash, and Leah Giuffre all found the back of the net. Maryjane Mason was able to convert a kick from the spot to send the teams into the sheds at 3-1.
The defending champions slowed their goalscoring efforts in the second half, but Dobson notched her brace with a second to seal the deal. The three-goal win locks Merewether into the third-seed for finals. They will now face Warners Bay in the two-legged semi-finals.
For Merewether coach Cass Koppen, the squad’s goals were to “prepare well” considering they had already clinched a finals place in weeks passed. For the most part, the Llamas did just that at Walker Fields.
“The team played relatively well in tough conditions, it was cold and wet and the poor field gets pretty congested for the most part too,” Koppen said.
“Everyone’s relieved to get the season proper out of the way. The last two games we already had that top-four spot confirmed, so we’ve just been getting ready for the finals. We have a good record there, so we’re looking to continue that as we build.”
Considering South Wallsend were shorthanded coming into the closing game, with big-name players like leading scorer Ash Brodigan locked away in the reserves, Koppen said she wouldn’t be drawing “too much” from their strong win.
Instead, she plans to look at how Merewether played together. There was more to learn there, she said, as the finals loom next weekend.
“We can’t take too much away from that game because of Southy’s play situation with a few key stars out,” she said.
“For us, it’s going to be more about learning from our mistakes that we’ve had in the last few weeks. We need to find a level of consistency for our performances because it’s finals now.
“We still have a bit of work to do, we’re very much that work in progress. Warners Bay have such a brutal attack, so we wanted to make sure we could tighten up our backline considering they were a likely opponent. I think we did well with that, and we’re ready.”
New Lambton 3 (Lauren Allan, Georgia Amess, Tara Andrews) def. Thornton Redbacks 1 (Sophie Milton)
Sunday 11 August, 2.30pm, Alder Park
The reigning 2019 premiers New Lambton rounded out their title campaign with one last victory on Sunday afternoon, pipping seventh-placed Thornton 3-1 at Alder Park in torrid conditions.
Scoring regulars Lauren Allan, Georgia Amess, and Tara Andrews all put their names on the scoresheet in front of their home fans, rounding out strong seasons for the New Lambton front three.
Andrews finished as the equal-leading goalscorer for the league with a hefty 42 in just 18 outings, while Amess (12 goals in 20 games) and Allan (31 goals in 21 games) were also in the top ten of the race for the golden boot.
While the first grade ticked off a 3-1 win – their 18th of the campaign – the club was celebrating collecting the overall championship as well. New Lambton’s reserve grade clinched the premiership in the final round and kept the Eagles in the lead.
“We’re really, really proud of the whole group, to win the club championship with the first grade and the reserve grade as premiers made it such a fantastic day for us,” he said.
“I’m really proud of the girls for how they’ve committed themselves right across the grades, and it was great for us to secure that championship in just our second year in the competition. All the teams did a great job in finishing off the season.”
While the result may have gone against his side, Thornton coach Alan Primmer also said he was proud of his side as they wrapped up their 2019 season. One moment, in particular, showed the Redbacks boss the progress his side had made in their campaign.
“In the 46th minute one of our girls chased one of theirs right to the sideline, and then caught the ball in a great tackle, and she just didn’t give up,” Primmer said. “I turned to the others on my touchline and said: “That’s great, that epitomises our season”.
“Overall our final result was probably expected, but it was closer than everyone may have though. Keelan may have had his eyes on a few other things considering finals, but they still had the ‘big three’ upfront and we kept them mostly quiet so that means a lot.
“The season overall has been a good start for us, we’ll hopefully keep the core of this team going into next season, which is pleasing. We’ve set a good foundation for continuing forward as a club from here.”
Warners Bay 9 (Jenna Kingsley 6, Cassidy Davis 3) def. Football Mid North Coast 1 (Layni Fens)
Sunday 11 August, 2.30pm, John Street Oval
Warners Bay finished their regular season on a high with a raft of goals against last-placed Football Mid North Coast on Sunday afternoon.
Jenna Kingsley ran rampant for the Panthers as they marched to a 9-1 victory, as she slotted six to take her season tally to finish with 42 as the league’s equal-top scorer. She was joined in the major haul at John Street Oval by club captain Cassidy Davis, who scored a hat-trick.
Mid North Coast weren’t to finish Round 21 without a consolation goal, however, with the team’s top scorer Layni Fens putting one more away before the end of the season. Despite Fens’ goal, however, the northern side finished last on goal difference.
It’s not often a team coach comes away from a 9-1 barrage with a host of critiques, but with finals football just around the corner Panthers boss Craig Atkins knew his side has to be at their best. After a “fantastic” twenty minutes, the team’s coach said his side fell away.
“It was good to see the girls putting away a lot of goals, especially for Cass who plays a big role in our assists, it was nice for her to get a few on top of that,” Atkins said.
“After the first twenty minutes of quality football, however, we dropped away from there. We were 5-0 up, of course, but our plan has always been to keep up the intensity of our game for the full ninety minutes and that’s what we have to focus on in finals.
“The girls realise that of course, and we’re going to look to take that first 20 minutes that we shone into the game against Merewether next week. We’ve collected a lot of momentum ahead of the game against them, and it should be great. We’re looking forward to it.”
Wallsend 2 (Alesha Clifford, Keea Parish) def. Adamstown Rosebud 0
Sunday 11 August, 2.30pm, The Gardens
Their season may not be continuing into finals football, but Wallsend rounded out their season on a high as the first grade’s 2-0 victory over Adamstown secured the club the Friendship Cup for the first time in four years.
Alesha Clifford and Keea Parish were the difference at The Gardens on Sunday afternoon, and Brad Jones said he could not be more pleased with where the team had gone from last year. From nine points in 2018 to 35 points and three of finals is “huge,” he said.
“This team has come in leaps and bounds over the year, to finish with eleven wins compared to less than that on points is massive,” he said.
“We took a look at it as well, and we had a draw against Adamstown and a draw against Warners Bay. If you look at those, we hit the woodwork half a dozen times against the Buds and conceded the leveller against Warners Bay with five to go.
“It’s a philosophical look at it, but you could even say we were just one goal, or even just five minutes, away from playing finals footy this year. Between that, and the TAFE NSW Women’s State Cup, Life Without Barriers Cup, and Friendship Cup, it was a good year.”
Jones also took the time to praise his opposite number Paul Devitis, who helmed Adamstown’s first grade squad for the last time at The Gardens in the league’s twenty-first round.
“I want to wish Paul all the best, he’s finishing up and I think he’s been fantastic for them, and a really nice opposition coach to go up against,” Jones said.
“It’s nice when you go to a field you can play the game hard and then have a good chat afterwards and talk football for as long as you want. I really do want to wish him all the best, he’s been great.”