Match of the Round
South Wallsend 6 (Ashlee Brodigan 4, Gemma Harrison 2) def. Adamstown Rosebud 2 (Jorjia Hogg, Josie Rae)
Sunday 5 May, 2.30pm, Walker Fields
South Wallsend faced a tough struggle at Walker Fields for the Herald Women’s Premier League (WPL) Match of the Round, as Adamstown took it to the form team of the competition and nearly grabbed points after a first-half battle.
Gemma Harrison got the scoring off to an early start for the Wolves, who have been piling goals on their opponents in recent weeks. It looked like the Rosebuds had cracked the formula, however, as they kept the home side to just their solo effort from Harrison in the first half, and levelled proceedings through Josie Rae to make it 1-1.
For nearly ten minutes on the other side of the half break, the Buds kept their defensive efforts up. Then a second for Harrison cracked them open, and Ashlee Brodigan was unleashed on the travelling side.
After missing a penalty earlier in the affair, Brodigan came alight with a hat-trick between the 54th and 69th minute, before spicing a fourth into her game late in the match. Jorjia Hogg grabbed a late consolation goal for Adamstown, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Brodigan’s scoring spree to put the game beyond doubt for the Wolves.
Cas Wright said she was “proud” of how her side responded to Adamstown coming out “guns blazing” at Walker Fields. After the level score 45 minutes in, the Wolves boss posed a simple question to her girls – “Are we executing our gameplan?”
“Everyone decided we weren’t, so we looked into what we could tweak and how we could fix that,” she said.
“We overcame those issues in the second half and to my girl’s credit, they absolutely annihilated the objectives we’d set for the game.
“We are quite composed with the ball normally, but Adamstown overloaded the midfield and we just couldn’t get through. Credit to the girls for not letting their heads drop because of that, we kept in it and made sure we could get the result.
“The team needs to move forward together now, the girls are gelling really well and collectively we’re on track for our mission to top two. We need to execute every phase of our game to our high standard, and that will keep us moving forward.”
Adamstown’s eventual four-goal deficit was a tough pill to swallow for Buds boss Paul Devitis on the other side of the park, especially considering how well the girls battled in the first half, he said. For the travelling coach, a “cheap goal” then “odd circumstances” around the third goal killed off the game, and his side just couldn’t find their feet going forward.
“First half was a very good game of football, we tried to play some football even though they made it hard for us, and we scored a great goal from Josie Rae,” he said. “After the third goal, it was near impossible for the girls to play out the game because of everything around it.
“Overall, we let in some soft goals but managed to score a nice one towards the end.
“Credit to South Wallsend, they played some nice football and were very strong across the park. We were also happy with the quality of goals scored, especially Josie’s first top grade goal.”
Thornton Redbacks 1 (Ainsleigh Childs) def. by Merewether United 5 (Courtney Anderson 2, Emma Allen, Tayla Braithwaite, Tamara Nash)
Sunday 5 May, 2.30pm, Thornton Park
After two straight losses saw Merewether coach Cass Koppen call on her defending champions to bring out heroes, the first to answer the call was Courtney Anderson. The Llamas star netted two against Thornton away from home and led United to a vital 5-1 win.
“She was unlucky not to get the hat-trick I think, Courtney had a fantastic game and has been consistent for us all year,” Koppen said after the win at Thornton Park.
“She’s a really difficult player for defenders to handle because she’s so good going forward, and also defending.”
Overall, the team was “much improved”, Merewether’s coach said. It was the win that they needed, especially considering how the last fortnight had gone for the side.
“Our intensity was a lot higher, and players took it on themselves to get a better result after last week especially,” she said.
“Obviously the players are going to have to prove more long term, but we spoke about lifting the intensity and having higher expectations of ourselves and our teammates. It’s not acceptable if you want to be in the top couple of teams in this league.”
While Anderson scored two, Tayla Braithwaite, Tamara Nash, and 14-year-old junior star Emma Allen rounded out the five-goal haul for the champions. The result may have been entirely different however, Thornton mentor Alan Primmer said, if a shin pad hadn’t changed the course of the game.
Early in the second half, after Ainsleigh Childs had netted her first top grade goal for the club, Nikita Bestwick and Susan Randall combined for a major chance. The Redbacks duo hassled Jaime Ellis in defence to regain possession deep in Merewether’s half, and Bestwick found herself one-on-one in front of the net.
Alison Logue’s shin pad made all the difference. Bestwick’s shot pinged towards the corner, and Merewether’s keeper’s outstretched leg was all that denied the equaliser. It was a chance that may have switched the game on its head, Primmer believes.
“We were that half shin pad away from 2-all, and then it’s a completely different game,” he said.
“They were really rocky after 2-1, but we gave away that third goal after the chance and suddenly three became five like it often does this year.
“The whole team knew that Merewether was going to be up for it after their two big losses, so we were prepared for them to come out and play, and the girls really pushed themselves against the team.
“That’s all the club can ask for, we pushed a team at the top end of the table and it was close for a long time. One shin pad difference and everything changes.”
While Thornton again collected no points at home this round, Primmer also said the emergence of Childs as a genuine future star was a major win for the Redbacks.
“She’s one of those 16-year-olds that I’ve tipped for big things, she’ll slowly come up through the first grade because she’s got that massive talent, and a bright spark,” he said.
“She had a whale of a game today, and it’s great that she got her first goal in the first grade as well.”
Wallsend 1 (Jess Evans) def. by Warners Bay 4 (Jenna Kingsley 3, Nadja Squires)
Sunday 5 May, 2.30pm, Wallsend Park
In the last played game of the round, Warners Bay travelled to Wallsend Park and claimed all three points after being locked at one-apiece at half time against the Red Devils.
Jess Evans was the first onto the scoresheet in the Sunday afternoon contest, shooting a long-range effort for Wallsend to put them up 1-nil just after the first half hour. The lead was cancelled out moments before half time by the Panthers, with forward Jenna Kingsley levelling the game.
Kingsley went on to slot two more to claim her hat-trick. Her three goals at Wallsend Park also moves her a single goal clear of Tara Andrews in the race for the WPL’s golden boot. Nadja Squires added to the four-goal haul with a free-kick ten minutes out from time.
Antonio Ambrogetti praised his side for their response to a tough first half and believes a more disciplined approach in the second tipped the scales in the Panthers’ favour to grab their result away from home.
“The girls responded well to the first half, it was a very physical game, and we had five players on ice at the end of the game, but they are very good players so they copped it and responded well,” he said.
“Second half we got past that and in particular controlled the game a lot better than in the first period.
“I think the team is just about right now, so it will be interesting what we can do beyond this game. We can’t underestimate any team, Thornton almost beat Merewether as a perfect example, so we have to respect everyone.
“The girls know that we have to take this run very seriously and make sure we keep ready.”
Warners Bay and especially lethal striker Kingsley put away their chances when they came at Wallsend Park, and defeated coach Brad Jones believes that was the difference in the three-goal defeat.
The loss puts a stop to a winning streak for the Red Devils but still keeps them in the top four with a 5-3 record. If the team can begin to be “ruthless” with their possession, Jones said, they can keep their spark alive.
“I think everyone is a little despondent, to be honest, and I don’t believe the scoreline was a true reflection of the game, but they took their chances and we didn’t capitalise when we had control,” he said.
“The mood was disappointed, but it was pleasing to see everyone wasn’t hanging their heads after the loss. The idea that we are one of the top teams in the comp is still well within the playing team’s minds, we just have to finish it off and start to be ruthless.
“Big credit to Warners Bay, they counter quickly and do it really well. We worked on how to prepare for that, but with the number of stars they have, you can’t contain them all. Jenna especially showed her class.
Jones was happy there were positives to take away from the game despite the 4-1 scoreline. In particular, young midfield star Jess Evans netted her second in as many weeks for the club, and continued her “purple patch of form”.
“Jess was outstanding, she scored that brilliant long-range goal to kick off the match, and her effort and work rate in the midfield was just first class,” Jones said.
“We’d love to see her form continue, it’s important that we have players like that standing up as we continue to move forward in the next weeks.”
New Lambton vs Football Mid North Coast
Saturday 4 May, 2.30pm, Arthur Edden Oval
New Lambton’s ninth round match against Football Mid North Coast at Arthur Edden Oval was delayed due to wet weather.