Match of the Round
Wallsend 6 (Libby Copus-Brown 3, Georgia Little, Danielle Nicol, Kayla Pisani) def. Adamstown 1 (Annika D’Amico) – Match of the Round
Sunday 21 April, 2.30pm, Wallsend Park
As the first round of the Herald Women’s Premier League draws to a close, Wallsend have earned themselves a lopsided 6-1 win and kept hold of fourth place seven games into the 2019 season.
It “wasn’t champagne football” according to Wallsend’s Brad Jones, but the team confirmed three points as Westfield W-League midfielder Libby Copus-Brown guided the Red Devils to their five-goal win with a blistering hat-trick.
Adamstown’s forward Annika D’Amico was the first off the mark at Wallsend Park on Easter Sunday, putting the Rosebuds into the lead away from home. Copus-Brown answered back immediately, scoring off the kickoff with a rampaging run before prodding it into the back of Adamstown’s net. A second followed minutes later, and the floodgates opened.
Alongside Copus-Brown’s hat-trick, Georgia Little, Danielle Nicol, and Kayla Pisani all got on the scoresheet for fourth-placed Wallsend. In the physical battle, the Red Devils’ W-League midfielder stood tall, and inspired the rest of the team to the win, Jones said.
“Libby was sensational, we’ve been looking to get her into a leading role this year, and we put that to her as a challenge,” Jones said.
“She’s loving it, and pushed us on completely today, which was especially important considering I don’t think it was our best performance”
“I’m really happy to see we were able to put six into the back of the net despite not being at our best, there’s not a single team that’s successful that plays perfect footy all year round. It’s good to see that we have that in us.”
Jones also laid praise on the Adamstown team that his side had warded away at Wallsend Park, and believes the Rosebuds – as well as Thornton and Mid North Coast – will all have the capacity to play queenmaker roles throughout 2019.
“There’s a bit of a gap between the top five and the bottom three at the moment, but I think the games against Adamstown, Middies, and Thornton will be season defining,” the Red Devils boss said. “You can’t underestimate those teams or you’ll slip for sure.
“The top five teams are going to take points off each other throughout the season, and it’ll be how the teams respond to playing those three strong teams at the other end that will decide the end-shape of finals.”
Despite tumbling to the loss with a five-goal deficit, Rosebuds coach Paul Devitis said he took a lot of positives out of the defeat. A few “softer goals” changed the shape of the game, and saw a possible result slip out of their grasp, the Buds boss believes.
“We were 1-nil up and then they scored off the kickoff, then got another softish goal and it just changed everything for us,” Devitis said.
“We keep conceding these very soft goals that are easily avoidable, and that puts us under so much unnecessary pressure.
“It’s a bit strange to say, but overall I think there were a lot of positives for us, and just getting frustrated kind of set the tempo. I think maybe on another day, considering the chances we created early, we win that game.”
Warners Bay 5 (Nadja Squires 2, Jenna Kingsley 2, Cassidy Davis) def. Football Mid North Coast 2 (Jenna Doyle, Layni Fens)
Sunday 21 April, 2.30pm, John Street Oval
Warners Bay have locked clear second heading into the next round of the WPL off the back of a 5-2 win over Football Mid North Coast at John Street Oval.
The Panthers were slow out of the gates on Sunday afternoon, as Mid North Coast restricted their chances and kept the score level at nil-all heading into the half-time break.
The home side exploded out of the blocks in the second half, grabbing five goals in a twenty-minute spree that shocked the travelling Middies. Braces for Nadja Squires and Jenna Kingsley, as well as one more chipped in by player-coach Cassidy Davis, put the result beyond doubt for 2018’s minor premiers.
Mid North Coast were able to grab two back in the game, however, scoring one in the midst of the Warners Bay onslaught, before claiming a second late. Jenna Doyle and Layni Fens were the travelling side’s scorers.
“It was a slow game from us, we conceded some silly goals as well, but credit to Middies because they came to us to get a result and made sure it took us a while to get going,” midfielder Cassidy Davis said.
“We’ve had some good games so far, and some poor games and those poor ones have put us where we deserve to be in the standings. Hopefully, after this win, we can sit down and go over what we need to do to be better, and come out winning the next round.”
While Davis admitted she was disappointed with how her side came out in the first half, Middies boss Mick Grass said his side played “fantastically”. To keep a heavy-hitting Panthers side scoreless in 45 minutes was a great showing, according to the team coach.
“It was after the break that we lost concentration, and that’s been a problematic trend for us,” he said.
“We need to keep that focus up for 90 minutes like in the first half because we switched off for 20 minutes and they put five past us.
“We have a young group of girls, and consistency will come with experience. The quicker we can fix that the better of course, but as a group we’re still learning how to concentrate from the first whistle to the last.”
Thornton Redbacks 2 (Susan Randall, Nikita Bestwick) def. by New Lambton 3 (Georgia Amess 2, Stacey Day)
Sunday 21 April, 2.30pm, Thornton Park
The shock of the round on Easter Sunday nearly came at Thornton Park, as the cellar-dwelling Redbacks inched within a single goal of scoring a massive result against an undefeated New Lambton team.
Although the final scoreline favoured the Eagles, Thornton boss Alan Primmer is sure the narrow 3-2 win may have left New Lambton coach Keelan Hamilton “sweating a little” as he and his team returned home.
Stacey Day opened the scoring for the Eagles before Georgia Amess doubled the advantage in what looked like another possible routine win for the high-flying league leaders. Thornton wasn’t to lie down without a fight, however, as Susan Randall struck back. The Redbacks headed into the sheds just 2-1 down in front of their home fans.
Amess grabbed her second of the day to give Hamilton’s squad breathing room before Nikita Bestwick netted Thornton’s second late and halved the difference again. A series of half-chances for the home side nearly cracked the leaders, but the Eagles held on to retain their short advantage and finish the first round undefeated from seven outings.
“After the game, the girls were a bit disappointed in themselves because they knew it was too close, but we said to them “Hey, you’re seven from seven, that’s an achievement”,” New Lambton’s Hamilton said.
“The last game was definitely not our best day in the office at all though, I think we had a bit of a comedown from the last three tough games in a row and didn’t come out with the intensity we require to be super successful.”
The Redbacks nearly pounced on that chance, keeping New Lambton quiet for much of the opening stanza through ‘keeper Hannah Callary and her key one-on-one saves. The two first-half goals for the Eagles were tough to come back from, Primmer said, but “sharp confidence” kept the Redbacks fighting to the last.
“We came close, we played to our plan and it nearly paid off,” he said.
“We knuckled down after the first two goals, and kept in it, which was really, really good to see.
“The scoreline I think reflects the game overall, but their coach was probably a lot more worried at the end than I was, considering we nearly could have nicked the win away at the end of the game there.
“It was good for the girls to play our plan and come close to a result against the leaders. We know where we’re at, and I think New Lambton maybe took us a little light on Sunday. I’m happy the girls put in, and the girls in blue realised they were in a game this weekend.”
South Wallsend 9 (Ashlee Brodigan 3, Gemma Harrison 2, Gema Simon 2, Eliza Tupper, Erin Wilson) def. Merewether United 0
Sunday 21 April, 2.30pm, Walker Fields
In the final game played out on Easter Sunday, an injured Merewether outfit fell to a landslide of goals from an ever-improving South Wallsend side.
With “nearly the whole starting eleven” sidelined for the seventh-week meeting between two of the competition’s heavyweights, it was a tough assignment at Walker Fields for Cass Koppen as she searched for a way to get a result from the fixture.
A hat-trick for Ashlee Brodigan made the match that much harder. Doubles for Gemma Harrison and Matildas regular Gema Simon, as well as two more from Eliza Tupper and Erin Wilson, put the game beyond doubt.
The United coach said her team will “look beyond” the 9-nil loss, however, for the champion coach, the main positive was to see her young replacements step up despite the ever-mounting margin away from home.
“Our entire backline and goalkeeper were under 18 years old, so they all did really well considering the class of South Wallsend,” Koppen said after the defeat.
“My biggest thing was that the team kept pushing and playing despite the blowout. It’s a game we have to write off, and we’ll aim to reconnect when we have most of our players back in the next few weeks.”
Koppen turned her attention to two standout stars in the loss – defender Isabel Ramzan-Levy, and 15-year-old goalkeeper Taylah Gray, both of whom have played themselves into starting contention for the Llamas.
“Isabella played ninety last week and again this week, and this time we moved her to centre back when Sarah [Hartree] came off with an injury,” Koppen explained.
“She did a spectacular job and has really stepped up.
“She tried her guts out and didn’t make too many errors. She’s earned a spot in first grade for the next few weeks. Taylah Gray has too, she made some really good saves, and had some great individual moments.”
On the other side of the dugout, Wolves coach Cas Wright knows the 9-nil win for her side is a key victory, even as she sympathised for her opposite number and the rival team’s lengthy absence list.
Three points and a chance to deliver Merewether their biggest defeat in the Herald WPL still gives South Wallsend a major boost moving forward. Wright said she was particularly happy with the manner of the goals scored on Sunday afternoon.
“I was pretty happy with our goals, a few were different to how we’ve been practising so that’s always good to see,” she said.
“We need to consolidate our shooting for close games because we even missed a few today, but that’s just a focus for the coming weeks.
“I know Merewether was in a bad position with players out, and I know what that’s like. Regardless, the girls have to put that one away to make certain we get the points. We achieved that, and now have to look towards a top two spot after cementing top four.”