PHOTO: Valentine Sports Photography
Match of the Round
Mid North Coast v Merewether
At Wayne Richards Park
Last start: Merewether beat Warners Bay 2-1; Mid North Coast drew 2-2 with Wallsend.
Position on ladder: Merewether first, nine points; Mid North Coast fifth, four points.
Squad news: Mid North Coast welcome the return of midfielder Britt Hargreaves and coach Mick Day has his full complement at his disposal for the first time since the opening round while Merewether will take the bare bones north. They are without goalkeeper Alison Logue, who is suspended, as well as Westfield W-League striker Rhali Dobson and key midfielder Jane McDonald. Both Dobson and McDonald are overseas. Under-18 goalkeeper Taylah Naismith steps up to the first-grade shot-stopping role.
What the coaches say: Merewether coach Cass Koppen said the match will be a good test to see how her charges account for the loss of holding midfielder Jane McDonald.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve played without Jane and I think it will be a good test for our team,” Koppen said.
“She is a solid midfielder and controls things for us, so if will be interesting to see if we can maintain our composure and discipline without Jane. I still think we have a quality enough side.”
Koppen remained wary of what she described as a tough road trip to Port Macquarie and acknowledged Mid North Coast had been a bit of a bogey side for United in recent seasons.
“Mid North Coast have always been a very athletic and very coachable side and they’ve always been one of our harder rivals,” she said.
“Then add in the experience of those Sophie Jones, Shannon Day and Imogene Tomasone this year and we are definitely expecting a tough game.”
Mid North Coast coach Mick Day was looking forward to a tough battle.
“The girls are playing great football and we are learning and gaining strength every game,” Day said.
“We know coach Cass and the Merewether United girls well and they have come out strong this season, so we look forward to giving them a good game.”
Bottom line: Three of Merewether’s 2015 championship-winning players, in Shannon Day, Sophie Jones and Imogene Tomasone, are in the Mid North Coast side. Mid North Coast have proven to be a bit of a bogey team for Merewether in the past and this weekend could be United’s biggest test for a while. The travelling side are without three key players in goalkeeper Alison Logue, midfielder Jane McDonald and striker Rhali Dobson, and heading north without them will be a big test. This one looks to be evenly matched and could go either way.
Wallsend v South Wallsend
At The Gardens
Last start: Wallsend drew 2-2 with Mid North Coast; South Wallsend beat Thornton 5-0.
Position on ladder: Wallsend sixth, one point; South Wallsend fourth, four points.
Squad news: Wallsend will be without captain Keely Gawthrop, who is unavailable, but welcome Britney Duff and Sophie O’Brien back in. South Wallsend coach Gary Wilson has his full complement available and Stacey Day is expected to have more game time after a strong 20-minute return to the field last weekend.
What the coaches say: Wallsend assistant coach Strat Kapalos said the Red Devils were aiming for some consistency.
“It’s a new-look Southy with a new coach and players and they have had some mixed results, so it’s difficult to gauge their side,” Kapalos said.
“We are looking forward to playing consecutive weeks after a disrupted start to the season with the bye and washouts.”
South Wallsend coach Gary Wilson expected “a typical local derby” between two sides hungry for competition points.
“Obviously we will respect them. They’ve started a bit slowly like us and I would expect two teams both going for the win, so it should be a decent match,” Wilson said.
“It was a really disciplined display by us on the weekend and and I think as long as we perform how I know we can we’ll be hard to beat.”
Bottom line: Both sides will be keen for competition points before they fall too far behind the leaders, which should make for a tight match. The game is the first of two in four days for South Wallsend, who back up against Warners Bay on Wednesday night, and a win would set them up nicely to challenge the defending champions. Stacey Day’s 20-minute cameo last weekend buoyed South Wallsend and she is expected to have even more impact if she spends more time on the field this week. The absence of Keely Gawthrop will be felt by the home side but they have plenty of quality still available. Wouldn’t expect much to separate these two sides.
Thornton v Adamstown
At Thornton Park
Last start: Thornton lost 5-0 to South Wallsend; Adamstown beat Mid North Coast 5-1.
Position on ladder: Thornton last, nil points; Adamstown third, four points.
Squad news: Ash Vickery could come back into the starting side for Thornton in the only change from last weekend while Adamstown will be at full strength.
What the coaches say: Thornton coach Al Primmer said the focus this week was “about working hard for each other”.
“We showed against Warners Bay our football is OK but if we do not have the right attitude then good teams will punish you,” he said.
Adamstown coach Ben Herron said patience would be key to their success and was wary of the Redbacks, who defend well then can catch teams out with their pace in transition on the counter attack.
“I’m not entirely sure what to expect; they’ve had a big loss in round one then it sounds like they pushed Warners Bay fairly well, so they seem inconsistent,” Herron said.
“We travelled up there last year and they showed a fair bit of energy and were leading at half-time.
“Our focus will on being patient in what we do. We can’t go gung-ho and rush into everything, so I will be making sure they are all aware and understand that patience is probably going to win it on the weekend and that we need to be making wise decisions rather than forcing it.”
Bottom line: Thornton are coming off another big loss but have shown plenty of times that they can turn that around and deliver a much stronger performance a week later. This is Adamstown’s first game in a fortnight but they should still be favoured to win this one.
Points table: Merewether 9, Warners Bay 9, Adamstown 4, South Wallsend 4, Mid North Coast 4, Wallsend 1, Thornton 0.