Match of the Round
Newcastle Olympic v Mid Coast FC
Darling Street Oval – Sunday 3pm
The race for top spot on the Herald Women’s Premier League table continues when Newcastle Olympic host Mid Coast at Darling Street Oval on Sunday.
The home side sit locked with Broadmeadow on 13-points at the top of the table. Both sides still have a game to play, with Olympic’s clash with New Lambton at the weekend postponed due to coronavirus concerns.
“I think having that weekend off was disappointing but also creates that fire in the belly again to get back on the park,” Olympic coach Harmonie Attwill said.
“There’s a few niggles after a couple of the games so I think it probably did them quite good to have a bit of a rest.”
Olympic are expected to be unchanged, with the exception of Imogen Tusek who remains in doubt with a back injury. Attwill is well aware of the threat posed by the visiting Middies, despite their position of fifth on the table.
“Looking at their recent performances, they’ve definitely come out really strong since the restart. It is going to be a very different game,” Attwill said.
Mid Coast will look to return to the winner’s circle when they make the trip south.
Middies recorded its first loss since the return of football last weekend, going down to a strong Broadmeadow side in blustery conditions at Magic Park.
“The girls are confident heading into the weekend. They know that last week was a lot closer than the score reflected and they’re looking forward to the challenge this week,” Mid Coast coach Mick Grass said.
“This week we’ve focussed on trying to maintain possession for longer periods, especially under pressure. Olympic are a high-quality team but I feel if we can maintain pressure across the park, we’ll be able to stay with them.”
Grass is yet to lock down his starting 11 with a number of players under an injury cloud.
“Chelsea Hall has a niggling hamstring strain but I don’t expect it to keep her out. Nicki Learoyd had her wisdom teeth out on Wednesday, so we’ll see how she pulls up as to whether she takes her place in the side,” Grass said.
The Mid Coast coach was quick to identify the need to convert in the final third on Sunday, with chances against the quality Olympic defence likely to be few and far between.
“Our front line will have to fire this weekend. Scoring chances will be at a premium so we’ll have to capitalise on anything that comes our way,” Grass said.
New Lambton Eagles v Merewether United
Arthur Edden Oval – Sunday 3pm
The completion of round seven marked the official halfway mark in this year’s Herald Women’s Premier League. From here on in every game has ramifications on finals calculations, something New Lambton coach Brad Jones is well aware of.
“The focus is that if we can get ourselves on a run, the good thing is that is with the way the competition is so nice and tight, if you can string together a few results, you’ll go rocketing up that table,” Jones said.
New Lambton sit seventh on the table with just one win from six starts. The thought of games against the competition’s top sides is something their coach is looking forward too.
“The reality is [Merewether] have been the yard stick for the last five years in the competition and with the quality of players they’ve got you just know that you’re going to be in for a top game,” Jones said.
“It’s a good thing for our young squad to see where we are at.”
When it comes to goalkeepers it will be a battle of youth versus experience on Sunday. For the Eagles, Ruby Jones has looked strong in a losing side, while Llamas shot stopper Alison Logue remains arguably the best in the competition.
“I think Alison has been the metric for so many years in the competition. I think Ruby has been doing a good job over the past few weeks. It’ll be nice to see a young, up and coming keeper have a crack at the competition’s best,” Jones said.
Merewether also find themselves in a precarious position, perched in fourth position on the table but at risk of losing ground on front-runners Newcastle Olympic, Broadmeadow Magic and Warners Bay.
“We’ve got two games in hand. I’d like to think they’re both going to be wins but you never know. If they’re both wins, we’re top of the table,” Merewether coach Scott Ellis said.
“We’ve just got to go out and play the way we know we can and continue to build on the development we’re doing.”
Sarah Bergin is unavailable for the clash, while Ellis expects the remainder of the squad to be available for selection.
“I think all the teams are developing and I think the team that comes out on top in the end is the one that is going to be able to continue developing,” Ellis said.
Set down for Arthur Edden Oval, Sunday’s clash will be the second time the sides have met this season. The first was a 3-3 draw at No.2 Sportsground in March.
“When we played them the first time, they were the favourites. Now I think it’s the other way around,” Ellis said.
Warners Bay v Broadmeadow Magic
John Street Oval – Sunday 3pm
Expect end-to-end action when Warners Bay host Broadmeadow Magic on Sunday afternoon, with both sides heading into the clash off the back of strong wins at the weekend.
Broadmeadow were scheduled to play Thornton on Wednesday evening but the game was abandoned due to wet weather.
“It is minimal disruption for Sunday. But the cancellation impacts the schedule for the week after until we replay the game,” Magic coach Jake Curley said.
Broadmeadow have added Gemma Harrison and Erin Wilson to its squad in recent weeks, a move designed to add further depth to an already strong line-up.
“Bringing Gem and Erin in has strengthened the squad. We just need to work on a few things at training, so they understand the system,” Curley said.
Warners Bay head into the clash fresh off a thumping win over Adamstown last weekend. The 5-0 drubbing was another step forward for the side, which has notably improved in recent weeks.
“It’s a good confidence booster for us. We felt that that win was coming for a while, so the girls are definitely keen to improve on that again this weekend,” Warners Bay coach Craig Atkins said.
Jen Hoy was instrumental in the win, which also saw Annika Damico bag a double.
“It was great for [Hoy] to get another full game after missing the week previous with illness. [We’re] definitely looking forward to her getting out on to the pitch again and getting through another 90 minutes. Hopefully [she] can get another couple of goals away.”
Defence will again be critical for the hosts. Magic’s star-studded attack has found the back of the net 18-times this season, including eight goals alone to Lucy Jerram.
“We’ve just got to be tight across the park and keep some of Magic’s key players in check,” Atkins said.
Thornton Redbacks v Adamstown Rosebud
Thornton Park – Sunday 3pm
The Redbacks will be looking to push aside a disrupted preparation when they host Adamstown at Thornton Park on Sunday afternoon.
Thornton are yet to record a win this season, with Wednesday evening’s catch-up game against Broadmeadow Magic abandoned due to wet weather.
“We’ll probably have about six changes to what I had planned against Magic,” Thornton coach Alan Primmer said.
Chelsea Gay and Jasmyn Hughes both drew strong praise from Primmer, with the pair likely to hold significant bearing over the result on Sunday.
The last time these two sides met it was played on a synthetic surface at the Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility in early March.
“The surface at Speers Point is a little bit different to what they’ll get at Thornton Park, so we’ll probably look to put a lot more pressure on the ball,” Primmer said.
“There’s just a real buzz around at training. The girls are enjoying training, they’re getting stuff out of it. The girls are still loving football.
“We’ll upset someone along the line.”
Adamstown also head into the match searching for form. At the completion of round three, the Buds sat clear at the top of the Herald Women’s Premier League table but have since suffered four straight defeats.
“The girls have had a short week this week as I gave them a few days to freshen up. For this weekend we will keep working hard to improve our ability to take chances when they come,” Adamstown coach Ryan Campbell said.
Polish in the final third remains a focus for the Buds, who have struggled to break through opposition defences. Since the competition returned from suspension, Adamstown have conceded 21 goals but only found the back of the net on three occasions.
“Kimmy Trappett and Leia Puxty will be key on Sunday with their attacking from wing back positions to create chances for the team,” Campbell said.