Match of the Round
Merewether United vs. Adamstown Rosebud
Sunday 24th June, 2:30 pm, Myamblah Oval
Last start: Merewether drew with Warners Bay 2-2, Adamstown lost 5-3 to New Lambton.
Position on ladder: Merewether 2nd, 21 pts; Adamstown Rosebud 6th, 4 pts
For Merewether, Leah Giuffre will be missing and Rhali Dobson is potentially out as well. Adamstown winger Chelsea Lucas is out with a knee injury but the team will be at full strength besides that.
What the coaches say:
Adamstown coach Paul Devitis said he’s expecting a fast-paced match and that his team would be up for the challenge that Merewether will bring.
“Adamstown-Merewether is always a usually a bit of a local derby game so in that regard, it’s usually a pretty high intense game and the girls usually like that kind of game,” Devitis said.
“After having two weeks off, we’re itching to get back into it and I’m assuming they’ll be the same.
“They’ve got a very strong midfield, so the midfield battle is always the key to this game. We’ll need to stop their supply to their forwards.
“We’ve done a lot of work on the 1v1’s because they’re quite strong on the ball so our ability to apply pressure on the ball early will be key – which also goes for any player on the field in any position.”
With his team sitting in last place, Devitis admitted that both he and his team were well aware how crucial collecting three points is if they wish to be in the finals.
“We’ve talked about it as a group and everyone knows that every single game we play here on out, is incredibly important.
“It’s gotten to the point where we need to pick up as many wins as possible regardless of if we’re playing a top team like Warners Bay or Merewether, or one of the teams battling for the four – they’re all important.”
Merewether coach Cass Koppen said she expects her team to potentially be a little slow to get going considering that they’ve had the bye two weeks in a row, but that they’ll need to match Adamstown’s intensity if they want to win.
“We’re just looking forward to getting on the field and actually playing some soccer,” said Koppen.
“I think we might struggle because of the two weeks of with bye and we also have a couple out as well which isn’t ideal timing for us.
“We’ll definitely need to be on our toes, we’re going to be a little rusty and it’s definitely important for us to get the win.”
Koppen labelled the Rosebuds’ desire and fighting spirit as aspects of their game that they’ll need to be aware of.
“They’re a team that always keep fighting and with Lauren Allen up front, she’ll make a big difference for them in terms of pushing forward and scoring goals.
“I think Adamstown’s biggest asset is their tenacity. If you have a bit of a lapse in concentration, they can really come back and bite you.
“They’re very dangerous off their set pieces and free-kicks as well.
“For us, we need to make sure we’re switched on for the full 90 minutes and also maintaining our discipline in defence, so we don’t dive in on defence and give away those free-kicks.”
Bottom line: Despite losing the first two times these two faced off, Adamstown come into this rivalry game with everything to play for, and nothing to lose. The Rosebuds sit just three points out of a top-four spot and possess some goalscoring form as well, having grabbed seven goals in their past three outings. Merewether’s defence has been shaky in recent week as they’ve conceded six goals in their past three matches but have won five of the past six matches against Adamstown and will be needing to pick up the victory if they wish to add pressure to Warners Bay and give themselves a chance of winning the Premiership.
Warners Bay vs. New Lambton
Sunday 24th June, 2:30 pm, John St Oval
Last start: Warners Bay beat South Wallsend 3-2, New Lambton beat Wallsend 6-0
Position on ladder: Warners Bay 1st, 26 pts; New Lambton 3rd, 21 pts
Warners Bay right back Airlie Davis is still out with injury, while New Lambton is at full strength.
What the coaches say:
Warners Bay’s player-coach Cass Davis admitted that her team were expecting another tough match-up against the Eagles.
“What they did last time against us obviously worked for them, so I expect to probably come out with the same game-plan,” said Davis.
“I’m expecting them to pile numbers into midfield and battle in there. Keelan is doing well with them and they play a very good passing game, so we’re expecting a tough one.
“Our past couple of games have been pretty tight with Southy and Merewether, but I’ve been encouraging the girls to move the ball quickly which was something we needed to work on from the Southy game.
“We need to just stick with what we can do and not get frustrated. I think, because we have such an attacking team, sometimes we force it and we need try and keep the ball as much as we can.
“New Lambton have some strong players, and when they put the numbers in midfield, it makes for a battle.”
Davis suggested that she and her team would be fixing their focus on their own game each week, despite the challenges arising from the teams close behind them.
“We try to focus on game-by-game. The girls will be aware of how close Merewether and New Lambton are to us and where we are.
“We know we can’t take any game lightly.”
New Lambton coach Keelan Hamilton said he was extremely pleased with how far the squad has come in just their first season and they’re hoping to continue pushing onwards with a win this weekend.
“At the start of the season we didn’t set any targets for ourselves and we were just going to take it as it comes and see how we develop as a squad,” said Hamilton.
“But to be where we are on the table, and knocking off Warners Bay in the last round, we’re really looking forward to Sunday to have another opportunity of testing ourselves against the best side in the competition over the last few years.”
Hamilton confessed that their defence will have to be tight to stop Warners Bay’s threatening attack, but will also need to be equally as focused when attempting to keep the ball as well.
“Warners Bay have quality right across the park. They’re really athletic and mobile and are very dangerous on the counter attack so we’re going to have to be disciplined in those moments where we lose possession to not allow ourselves to be too strung out and allow them too much space.
“On the flip side of that though, when we win the ball we must make sure that we retain it otherwise if we turn it over in poor areas, they have the quality to punish us.”
Bottom line: New Lambton pulled off an incredible victory last time these two met and have begun to create a bit of steam as the league heads into the business end. The Eagles have quickly started flexing their attacking muscle, but they come up against the team on the top of the table and the attacking record in the competition. It’ll once again be an enthralling battle between offensive combinations of Tara Andrews and Georgia Amess for New Lambton, and Cass Davis and Jenna Kingsley for Warners Bay, but the deciding factor may instead be which defence can hold strong and contain their opposition.