PHOTO: Valentine Sports Photography
Merewether 2 (Grace Macintyre (pen), Jaimee Ellis (pen)) defeated Warners Bay 1 (Nadja Squires (pen)) at Myamblah Oval. Half-time: 1-1.
Merewether sent a strong message to their Herald Women’s Premier League rivals when they came from behind with just 10 players to down defending champions Warners Bay 2-1 in a controversial top-of-the-table clash at Myamblah Oval.
The match was an arm-wrestle from the outset both sides had chances on goal before the hosts were reduced to 10 after goalkeeper Alison Logue was sent from the field after felling Jenna Kingsley in the box as they both challenged for the ball.
The Merewether sideline erupted as Logue was red-carded for alleged violent conduct and the visitors handed a penalty.
Field player Tayla Braithwaite took Logue’s place in goal as United’s 18s shot-stopper had already left but could not stop Nadja Squires’ spot kick.
Warners Bay remained 1-0 up at the break but United got the chance to level the scores when the were awarded a penalty of their own in the 60th minute after Grace Macintyre was taken down in the box.
Macintyre converted and then around 10 minutes later the home side were gifted another spot kick for a similar infringement and this time Jamee Ellis scored.
Warners Bay threw everything back at Merewether but could not find another goal.
United coach Cass Koppen described the match as “character-building” and felt it showed the full power of the 2015 champions.
“At half-time, I said the expectation was still three points, nothing has changed and we’ve still got the team to do it,” Koppen said.
“I said if we could pull it off with 10 players and 1-0 down, then the season would be ours to lose.
“Last year we were bitterly disappointed to have lost to them in the semi-finals and there were also some other games where we didn’t get the results we were capable of. This year we have set some targets for ourselves and I think this result shows what we are capable of.”
Warners Bay player-coach Cassidy Davis felt her side “didn’t always play as a team” and also felt the game deteriorated after the send-off.
“They had a few negative things to say on the field, which was disappointing and probably took away from what started as a tough battle between the top two teams. That was a shame,” Davis said.
Merewether and Warners Bay both have nine points at the top of the table but United have a superior goal difference. They can extend their lead with a win over Adamstown in a rescheduled fixture at Myamblah Oval on Wednesday night.
They will be without Logue, who misses the match through suspension, as well as striker Rhali Dobson and midfielder Jane McDonald, who will both be overseas.
South Wallsend 5 (Erin Wilson 2, Maddy Searl, Paige Kingston-Hogg, Laynee Field) defeated Thornton 0 at Walker Fields. Half-time: South Wallsend led 3-0.
South Wallsend coach Gary Wilson said a 5-0 win over Thornton on Sunday was “reward for our overall effort”.
The win was the Wolves’ first of the season and Wilson said showed their continued improvement in the league.
“I thought we were very good today,” Wilson said after the match.
“For me, it’s been about improving with each game and I’m expecting we’ll just keep improving; I was never worried.”
The hosts held a 3-0 lead at the break after Erin Wilson scored a brace in the first half and Maddy Searl also got on the scoresheet.
Thornton rallied in the second half and looked stronger than in the first and made it hard for the Wolves to get through their last line of defence.
But 16-year-old Paige Kingston-Hogg showed experience beyond her years when she spotted Redbacks goalkeeper Danielle Redding slightly off her line and scored from 30 metres out with a long-range screamer.
That took the score to 4-0 in favour of the hosts with still 15 minutes remaining. Laynee Fields added the final goal a few minutes later when she buried the rebound off a Stacey Day free kick, which hit the post.
Day’s cameo in the final 20 minutes of the match was a confidence-boost for South Wallsend. She has barely played football in the past two-and-a-half seasons due to two knee reconstructions.
“Stacey definitely had a bit of an aura out there,” Wilson said.
Redbacks coach Alan Primmer felt his side panicked a lot in the first half, which cost them at crucial times.
“Before we went out I said to the girls, ‘Don’t be deceived by the surface, it will be bouncy’, and two of the three goals we just didn’t react to that,” Primmer said.
“That was disappointing because we allowed that to happen.
“In the second half I thought we were two or three yards quicker than in the first but we needed to be switched on the whole time and we weren’t.”
Wallsend 2 (MJ Mason, Libby Copus-Brown (pen)) drew Mid North Coast 2 (Bianca Mason, Shannon Day. Half-time: Mid North Coast led 2-1.
Mid North Coast and Wallsend shared the points at The Gardens in a two-all draw.
Mid North Coast opened the scoring through Bianca Mason in the 20th minute but MJ Mason levelled the score for the home side shortly after.
Shannon Day, in her first appearance against her former club, put the visitors up 2-1 going into the break.
Libby Copus-Brown scored from the penalty spot 10 minutes into the second half to put the game back into a deadlock after Casey Smith was felled in the box.
Mid North Coast coach Mick Day was full of praise for his charges, who only arrived at the match minutes before kick-off after their bus broke down en route to Newcastle.
“The girls played great football,” Day said after the game.
“Running off the bus onto the pitch wasn’t ideal but our girls are training and presenting as professionals and I believe that showed in their performance today.
“Wallsend are an amazing team with smart coaches who we consider finals contenders, so we were happy to be competitive against them.”
Wallsend assistant coach Strat Kapalos said the Red Devils needed to be more clinical in the final third.
“We held possession quite well but just couldn’t finish our chances,” he said
Points table: Merewether 9, Warners Bay 9, Adamstown 4, South Wallsend 4, Mid North Coast 4, Wallsend 1, Thornton 0.