Warners Bay 2 (Shannon Day, Sophie Stapleford) def. by New Lambton 4 (Imogen Tusek, Lauren Allan, Jenna Kennedy, Georgia Amess) – Match of the Round
Sunday 7 April, 2.30pm, John Street Oval
New Lambton has taken sole control of first place in the Herald Women’s Premier League (WPL) with a 4-2 win over Warners Bay away from home, as the Eagles “dug in” to grind out the victory.
The Match of the Round clash at John Street Oval lived up to the pre-game hype of the table-topping affair, with the action kicking off early as the travelling side took an early 2-0 lead under the scorching Sunday afternoon sun.
Imogen Tusek opened the scoring with a lofted shot over Warners Bay’s defence, with the ball drifting into the top of the goalmouth. Lauren Allan doubled the Eagles’ lead just past the twenty-minute mark, with New Lambton’s dangerous winger slotting in a crossed chance from the flank.
Warners Bay showed their quality as they rose to the lofty occasion, with Shannon Day claiming one back for the home side minutes later with a curling a long shot that found the top corner. Sophie Stapleford scored a second for the Panthers to equalise just past the half-hour mark.
The away side returned to the fore in the second half, however, with Jenna Kennedy sending a drifted ball in from the right wing that found itself way into Warners Bay’s net. Georgia Amess rounded out the win with a fourth for the Eagles 55 minutes in.
The massive away win at John Street Oval puts New Lambton three points clear at the top, but coach Keelan Hamilton said he was happier with the fact his side was able to “grind out a win” on a day when they weren’t playing their best football.
“I thought it was a scrappy match from both teams, the heat made it pretty difficult to get into a rhythm,” Hamilton said.
“It was good to see we could dig in and find another way to win, especially when we weren’t clicking for our best footy of the year.”
Despite now being the only undefeated club in the top grade, Hamilton tempered expectations for his high-flying Eagles. It’s a long road to the finals, New Lambton’s boss said, and one they have to stay stable on for the weeks to come.
“There’s a lot of football to be played, it’s good for us to know we can beat the top teams without one of our top players [in Tara Andrews], but we have some things to still learn too,” he said.
“In the first half, we didn’t deal with the periods that Warners Bay put us under pressure. I think we dealt with those periods much better in the second half, and that took a lot of the sting out of the game. We’ve shown we’re here to stay, but a week is a long time in football and we have another tough match next weekend.”
Warners Bay coach Cassidy Davis, who also played the match in the Panthers’ midfield, praised her side for their determination and grit “in patches”, but said it was a big mountain to climb in the heat considering the side had missed trainings and played so many games in the past two weeks.
“So many games in 12 days has killed us, we had the game Wednesday and then didn’t get to train Friday either,” player-coach Davis said.
“All the girls felt flat because of that, but no excuse because we still need to be better.
“We fought hard in patches, and everyone was good in that aspect, but it wasn’t for the full 90 minutes and that made it hard. To her credit, Shannon tried very hard up top and chased everything down. She’s doing well.
“Every time I saw her starting to charge forward and pressure people it gave me a boost Everyone tried really hard, but we just couldn’t keep it up for the full 90 unfortunately.”
Adamstown Rosebud 0 def. by Football Mid North Coast 2 (Jessica James, Layni Fens)
Sunday 7 April, 2.30pm, Adamstown No.1 Oval
Football Mid North Coast (FMNC) are celebrating a second victory in a row after the northern club claimed all three points at Adamstown No.1 Oval with a paced 2-0 performance in Round 5.
Jessica James scored for the away side in their second three-point collection of the year, while Layni Fens’ goal made it two and confirmed the back-to-back success for the club that recently returned to the WPL in 2019.
It was a slow and measured control of the game that saw Middies secure the victory over the Rosebuds, and one that FMNC coach Mick Grass has been looking to implement.
Grass said he was proud of the girls for securing the result, at the same time as showing improved play on the park after a less than ideal opening three weeks of the league.
“We’re always looking to get those results of course, but we’re focused on how we play first and if the points come out of that then we’re definitely all the happier,” Grass said.
“The football wasn’t as good as we would have liked, but we got the win.
“The whole team will keep pushing forward now, and see what we can do in the coming weeks. We have a few interesting games coming up, so we’ll see how it all goes.”
While Grass believes his side could have had some improvements at No.1 Oval, Buds boss Paul Devitis laid praise on the away team, and revealed he believes they may have been “the best football team [Adamstown] has played so far this season”.
“I was very impressed with how they play, they moved the ball with calmness and style, and their pass quality was fantastic,” he added.
“We are very disappointed with our overall performance and have much to improve on if we want to compete with teams on a weekly basis. Full credit to Mid North Coast, I thought they were fantastic, and deserved the victory.”
Wallsend 3 (Laura Hall, Libby Copus-Brown, Olivia Kennedy) def. Merewether United 1 (Rhali Dobson)
Sunday 7 April, 2.30pm, Wallsend Park
After pulling back a victory from the jaws of defeat last round, defending champions Merewether have seen themselves fall in the second half as Wallsend recovered from a 1-0 deficit at half time to secure a major upset at Wallsend Park.
The Red Devils, who were celebrating Purple Day for Epilepsy Awareness at their home match against United, crowned the event day with a 3-1 comeback win in the Herald WPL first grade.
Merewether looked set to keep control in the second half, as a goal from Rhali Dobson in the first period put the Llamas into the lead by a single goal on Sunday afternoon.
A half-time team talk in the Wallsend sheds, including a rallying cry from Laura Hall ahead of the second 45-minute spell, changed the entire tempo of the match, with Hall’s equaliser solidifying the switch of control.
Hall, who made the swap from midfield to striker in the second half, ahead of her key goal, inspired her side off and on the field, and Libby Copus-Brown was the next to net a major blow against Merewether. The young Westfield W-League Jets midfielder put Wallsend into the lead before Olivia Kennedy iced the victory for the Red Devils.
“The girls were outstanding, they were down by a goal at half time, because we’d got away from doing the things we’ve been really successful at in the last couple of weeks,” Wallsend coach Brad Jones said of the team’s comeback recovery.
“To the girl’s credit, they refocused completely and came back to playing an effective passing game. I’m really proud of the girls.
“It’s fair to say this result has been coming for a couple of weeks, I’m really happy for the girls because they got the points on the board, and got their deserved rewards for being open to playing a brand of football that’s strong and exciting to watch.
“Getting the win against the current champions is no easy feat, and I’m really happy for them. It’s a three points we’re going to cherish going forward.”
The win in the second half was a whole team effort, Jones said, but in particular, Hall’s contributions in the half-time team talk, and then on the field as well, was “absolutely outstanding”.
“Laura said to the girls at half time “We need to dig in, we can do this”, and then she went out and absolutely led from the front.
“Her overall contribution and positive view on where we were was absolutely outstanding.
“She was brilliant in midfield, and then brilliant again when she moved to striker in the second half, and Laura just showed her class as the game went on. She’s showed just how intelligent she can be, and that’s always amazing to see.”
Thornton Redbacks 0 def. by South Wallsend 5 (Ash Brodigan 2, Eliza Tupper, Gaby Brodie, Kobie Ferguson)
Sunday 7 April, 2.30pm, Thornton Park
South Wallsend were the final team to score a win in the fifth round of the Herald WPL, knocking over the Redbacks 5-0 at Thornton Park off the back of a new-look match strategy for the Wolves.
Cas Wright pointed to the resurgent Wolves’ defensive outfit as key to the five-goal victory, with the clean sheet that coupled the goal haul proving “great” overall for the club that has moved to a 3-1 record in 2019.
“Thornton played a tough game, they always do, so we changed a few things for our match to see how it went, and that wasn’t too bad,” Wright said.
“The change was slow in the first half, and we were only two up heading into the second. For us, it was about consolidation, and we did that really well.
“That was only our first game in the new system, and it was a really good effort for everyone across the park.”
Thornton helmsman Alan Primmer said he was disappointed to be on the receiving end of the lopsided scoreline, and looked at the early goals the squad conceded in the first and second halves as “typical” of recent weeks.
Mainly, however, the Redbacks coach said he felt they had “shot ourselves in the foot a little” with the second goal conceded right before the half time whistle as a factor in the loss.
“I said to the girls on Wednesday night after Warners Bay that we conceded a few soft goals off corners, and the last goal of the half – right on the 45th minute – was from a girl from Southy being the only one of the end of a corner,” he said.
“We have to get the little things right because once we sort that we can stay in games.
“Southy definitely deserved the win, they may be even missed a few that could have made it even longer of a scoreline than it was in the end.
“We’re just focusing on those small things for now, and go from there.”