Match of the Round
Thornton v Merewether United
Thornton Park – Sunday 3pm
Expect the unexpected this weekend when Merewether head to Thornton Park to take on the Redbacks.
On paper it would seem a tough task for the home side, who were beaten 6-2 by Newcastle Olympic in a mid-week catch up game on Wednesday.
Despite their successes over the last few years, the trip to Thornton Park has never been an easy one for the Llamas, who head into the clash within reach of top spot on the table.
“This is an important one for us… we’re very much a work in progress. The game against Warners Bay, I said to our team that the way that we played was actually a major step forward for us in our evolution,” Merewether coach Scott Ellis said.
“I was really happy with the changes I’m starting to see… for us, the focus will be trying to embed those some more and tweak some of what I started to see to get it to the end goal.”
On the field Ellis believes his midfield holds the key to success for the Llamas.
“Our midfield this year is completely different to last year… so, our big focus is getting them to understand their roles and their interactions,” Ellis said.
And while the result will be determined on the field, there is a unique storyline that will play out on the sidelines. Merewether coach Ellis and Thornton mentor Alan Primmer have more in common than most would expect.
“We coached against each other about 10 years ago… I’ve actually based a lot of my coaching philosophy on what I observed him doing,” Ellis said.
“It could almost be the master and apprentice in some ways.”
Warners Bay v Adamstown Rosebud
John Street Oval – Sunday 3pm
Warners Bay will look to bounce back after a disappointing loss to Merewether last weekend.
The Panthers sit fourth on the Herald Women’s Premier League table but, pending other results, a loss could see them slip out of the top four.
“We definitely need the three points. So we need to be starting hard and finishing hard after that 90-minutes,” Warners Bay coach Craig Atkins said.
Jen Hoy returns for the clash with Adamstown having missed last weekend’s match due to illness. Her inclusion will add significant strike power to a side who struggled to convert opportunities last weekend.
“Everyone should be on deck for the weekend. Jen has recovered, she trained well last night, so we’re hoping to have her back on deck,” Atkins said.
“The final third is crucial. We obviously worked a lot on that on Tuesday night and we’ll work on that on Thursday night on the training ground.
“We just need to score goals and be more aggressive in and around the opposition’s 18-yard box.”
It is a busy weekend for Adamstown, who play Broadmeadow Magic in a round five catch-up game on Thursday evening, before they meet the Panthers on Sunday afternoon.
“The girls are feeling okay… a bit disappointed with the previous results but hoping to get a good result on Thursday,” Adamstown coach Ryan Campbell said.
“We have just focused on our finishing as well as how we attack and defend on set pieces as that has been a weak spot for us.”
Rosebud are expected to be unchanged for both games, excluding Olivia Sneddon, who remains sidelined due to injury.
When asked who holds the key to success across the weekend, Campbell said his forward line would be crucial in ensuring the side comes away with points.
“I think our attacking players are key in stepping up and taking some chances so we can get a lead and then be able to play with a bit more confidence,” Campbell said.
Broadmeadow Magic v Mid Coast
Magic Park – Sunday 3pm
Broadmeadow’s rapid fire run of mid-week catch-up games continues on Thursday when they play the Rosebuds at Adamstown Oval. It is a short turnaround for the women in red, who this weekend face a Mid Coast side strong on form.
Broadmeadow sit fifth on the table but are within striking distance of fourth-placed Warners Bay and still have two games in hand over the Panthers.
Mid Coast head into the clash hoping to make it four from four in first grade, having not yet dropped a point since the competition returned from its COVID-19 suspension.
“Everyone’s pretty happy. It’s always good when you’re winning,” Mid Coast coach Mick Grass said.
Last weekend’s win over Adamstown was the latest in a string of strong performances that saw the young Mid Coast side play with a high level of composure and skill. That is something Grass wants to further develop.
“Just sharpening up on the ball… I think under pressure on Sunday we turned the ball over too much,” Grass said.
“We got away with the result but I’d like to see us hold on to the ball a bit longer.”
With opponents Magic not lacking strike power in attack, it is the backline Grass believes will decide whether his side continues its strong run of form.
“I think this weekend our backline is going to have to stand up… I think they’re going to come up against a bigger test this weekend,” Grass said.
“I think they’ll do a job for us… I’ll expect them to stand up to keep us in the game at times.”
New Lambton v Newcastle Olympic
Alder Park – Sunday 4:40pm
Confidence is high at Alder Park as the Eagles prepare to take on high-flying Newcastle Olympic in a Sunday afternoon twilight fixture.
New Lambton recorded its first win of the campaign against Thornton last week with coach Brad Jones excited to take on the highly-rated Olympic.
“As far as I’m concerned, the pressure’s all on them… [Newcastle Olympic] are the ones that everyone said were going to win the comp,” Jones said.
“I’m looking forward to it… it is a great opportunity for our girls to just stand up and show them what we’ve been working towards.”
The Eagles are expected to be unchanged for the clash, which kicks off at 4:40pm at Alder Park on Sunday afternoon.
“The competition for spots in both grades is sensational… the way the girls are approaching it is fantastic,” Jones said.
“I think our defensive pairing is going to be up for a big job… Jemma [House] has set the world on fire with the number of goals she scored… we can contain her and our back two do a good job.
“I think with our game plan, it should see us in a good frame to capitilise.”
Newcastle Olympic will head into the clash once again atop of the Herald Women’s Premier League table after a 6-2 win over Thornton on Wednesday night.
“Our midfield was strong on Wednesday… Thornton have a crowded defensive structure, so we had to strategically draw their defence out to play in behind,” Olympic coach Harmonie Attwill said.
Imogen Tusek is the only player under an injury cloud ahead of Sunday’s game, which will be a further opportunity for the women from Darling Street to cement their position as the team to beat in 2020.
“It will be another challenging game… we will need to be better defensively against New Lambton if we are to come away with three points,” Attwill said.
Olympic’s only loss of the campaign so far came against Merewether in round-two, with the side scoring 17 goals in the four games since that loss. During that same period, they’ve conceded just four.