Adamstown Rosebud 2 (Chelsea Lucas, Belle Hewitt) def. by New Lambton 9 (Tara Andrews x4, Emmeline Pepper x3, Lauren Allan, Sophie Jones)
Sunday 24 March, 2.30pm, Adamstown No.1 Oval
The warm Sunday sun may have been beating down on Adamstown No.1 Oval, but it was Tara Andrews who brought the heat to the clash between Adamstown Rosebud and New Lambton.
The Newcastle Jets striker scored four in the first half against the Buds, including an unstoppable looping header that soared over Adamstown goalkeeper Olivia Sneddon, and wreaked constant havoc as she led the Eagles’ attack.
It was Emmeline Pepper who kicked off the nine-goal landslide for the away team however, as she tapped in a back-post chance just five minutes into the contest, in what would prove to be a shining game from the Jets Academy product.
Adamstown grabbed one back minutes later when dangerwoman Chelsea Lucas found space on the right flank and broke away from the pack, sending a dangerous ball past Imogene Tomasone’s head and into the far corner of the net.
While a glimmer of hope appeared for the home fans, it didn’t last long – New Lambton found their rhythm in the sun-soaked game, and a 15 minute onslaught from the Eagles saw Andrews bag all four of her goals. Former Buds star Lauren Allan also joined the attack and scored one, while Sophie Jones popped up to round out a massive 45 minutes of football.
Although Allan scored just one against her old club, it was the new Eagles recruit that ran much of the action in the centre of the park, recording nearly half of the team’s assists as she fed Andrews and Pepper chance after chance.
Off the back of those opportunities from Allan and the midfield Pepper completed her hat-trick in the second half, netting two either side of the 60th minute. Adamstown replacement Belle Hewitt was able to drag one back for the hosts, but the Eagles won out in the second stanza 2-1 to claim three points with their 9-2 victory.
Although New Lambton coach Keelan Hamilton believed it was a “great team performance”, he praised Jones and Allan for their ability to create the abundance of goals, as well as young hat-trick hero Pepper.
“It’s a pretty good contribution overall from the team if you score nine goals, but Sophie [Jones] and Lauren [Allan] both had great matches,” Hamilton said.
“Allan especially was fantastic, I think she ended up with four or five assists in the end, including one pretty unselfish one near the beginning of the first half, so that was great to see. It was also really special to see young Emmeline Pepper get her first senior hat-trick with us as well, that was just great to see.”
The Eagles coach also knows that the 20 goals the team has already scored – including 10 for Andrews – has “put a bit of a target” on the squad’s back, but said he relishes the position they’ve found themselves in.
“It’s nice to be talked about, and it’s a lot better to be talked about for this than to be talked about for potentially finishing at the other end of the table,” he said.
“I definitely think these results make other teams take notice now.
“We flew under the radar a bit last season and I don’t think we can do that anymore. We have a bit of a target on our back now, but that doesn’t change anything inside the club. You don’t win any trophies in March, and we have Wallsend next weekend, and then Warners Bay soon. Nothing’s changed for us internally, and it’s very early stages now.”
Hamilton’s humble approach to New Lambton’s flying start to the 2019 season also translates to his search for “further perfection”, as he pinpointed a few elements he was hoping to tinker with ahead of key clashes in the next few weeks.
“We could have passed the ball better, had a few less turnovers, and we need to avoid switching off defensive in stints,” he said.
“Our goal at the moment is just to improve on what we were achieving on the pitch last year, and I feel like we’ve recruited well to do that. If we keep improving every week on the training pitch with this team, the rest will look after itself.”
Football Mid North Coast 1 (Jenna Doyle) def. by Merewether United 5 (Alison Logue x2, Rhali Dobson, Nick Jones, Tamara Nash)
Sunday 24 March, 2.30pm, Taree Zone Field
Merewether have secured a successful journey northward, returning home on the back of a 5-1 victory over Football Mid North Coast that had the most unlikely of goalscorers for United.
Although scoring regulars like Rhali Dobson found their way onto the sheet in the four-goal win, it was a brace for the team’s goalkeeper Alison Logue that gave the travelling squad the biggest reason to cheer.
With an absentee list nearly as long as her arm, Merewether coach Cass Koppen made the daring call to put ‘keeper Logue up front in their clash at the Taree Zone Field, and it paid off big time as she banged two heavily-celebrated goals home from her outfield position.
It was the first appearance Logue has ever made away from the sticks in the Women’s Premier League, and likely will be the only one made in the coming seasons, but with a number of women missing for their journey north Koppen said it was “a bet that paid off”.
“We had around seven players out for this game, which left us with eight of our first grade team heading into the match,” Koppen revealed.
“It meant we didn’t really have a choice but to bring Alison out onto the field and play our under 17s goalkeeper Taylah Gray, who did really well.
“We just did that to help out our ressies team because they were down on numbers too. We were running out of options between injuries and absences, so we turned to this.”
Koppen said she was happy the girls were able to head out into the “35 degree plus conditions” and pull out a strong performance, as well as put aside all the outside factors that had played into the selection of the squad.
“We had a five goal lead at half time so we put a pretty complete performance together, and before the game we spoke about making sure we had no excuses despite missing players,” she said.
“If you want to be a top team in this competition you have to deal with all the adversity that gets thrown your way, and I think everyone really stepped up and played really well. Very happy to get the win.”
Nicki Jones and Tamara Nash also scored for Merewether as they combined with Dobson and Logue’s double to take a strong 5-nil lead into the sheds at half time. Football Mid North Coast were able to grab one back in the second half, with Jenna Doyle scoring the lone goal of the second half in Taree.