NPL Women’s NNSW Round Four Preview: Jets trio to bolster Warners Bay in heavyweight Magic clash

April 7th, 2022

 Jack Antcliff

 Sproule Sports Focus

Match of the Round
Warners Bay FC v Broadmeadow Magic
John Street Oval, Saturday 7pm

Warners Bay will welcome Newcastle Jets trio Tara Andrews, Lauren Allen and Cass Davis into their side for the first time when they host fellow heavyweights Broadmeadow Magic on Saturday night.

There will be anticipation aplenty at John Street Oval with Andrews, Allan and Davis previously unavailable for the Panthers due to restrictions placed upon players returning from the A-League Women’s competition.

Warners Bay coach Craig Atkins is excited to see the trio in action.

“They are three quality players, so it is something that I have been planning for a while now with bringing the girls in,” Atkins said.

“First and foremost, we have got to make sure all three of the girls are fully fit.”

The trio’s return presents Atkins with a pleasant selection headache with players tussling to fill spots alongside the experienced stars. Andrews may yet start from the bench as she recovers from a nigging injury.

“It is tough. We have a quality senior squad we believe and with the other three girls back in calculations now for selection we have to be very strategic,” Atkins said.

“We did a little bit of work on that on Tuesday night at training. We will have a look and finalise the final squad on Thursday.”

The chance for Warners Bay’s next generation to play alongside three elite players is not lost on Atkins, who believes the impact will be immense.

“The intensity lifts straight away. They played in the A-League Women’s and have done for a number of years. It will be great to watch the other players around them,” he said.

“It is a fantastic challenge for the younger girls and that is the environment we want to create.”

Broadmeadow coach Jake Curley expects his side to be unchanged as they look to knock over the explosive Panthers.

“Warners Bay have quality players and it will be a good challenge for our girls,” Curley said.

“If we stick to our game plan we will be competitive and I think the team that finishes their chances will win the game.”

The impact of a weekend of rain was not lost on Curley who was hopeful the lack of match day football does not prove detrimental for last year’s champions.

“It would have been good to play the game on the weekend to try and get some more consistency. We will just play some 11v11s to work on areas we need to be better at,” Curley said.

Broadmeadow’s postponed round three match against Maitland has been rescheduled for Monday 13 June at Magic Park. Warners Bay will play their postponed round three fixture against Newcastle Olympic on 12 June.

New Lambton FC v Newcastle Olympic
Alder Park, Sunday 3.40pm

New Lambton will be hopeful of its first win of the season when they host 2020 champions Newcastle Olympic at Alder Park on Sunday.

Newcastle Olympic coach Paul DeVitis will call on his side to be more determined when it comes to possession after a difficult start to the campaign.

“We need to be making sure we are a bit more aggressive in our approach to wanting to win the ball quicker and not letting the opposition dictate the game,” DeVitis said.

New Lambton’s previous form is out of focus for DeVitis who has told his side to prepare to play irrespective of the weather.

“This week at training we have talked about having the attitudes that we are not going to worry about the weather, we are just going to worry about the game that is on,” he said.

“I have watched the New Lambton squad and they are a new squad developing. They have a lot of good players in that team.

“We don’t want to have the approach that we should win this game.  It is not like that at all.”

Olympic have scored just one goal after three rounds, with the focus at training switched forwards in an attempt to convert chances into goals.

“The last few weeks at training we have had a major shift towards attack. We obviously need goals to win games so have been working pretty hard on our combinations at the top,” DeVitis said.

“We have created a lot of chances in the first few games but we have not scored.”

The Eagles are winless to start season 2022, though have shown signs of strength under the leadership of head coach MacKenzie Davis.

Maitland FC v Charlestown Azzurri
Cooks Square Park, Sunday 3.40pm

Maitland find themselves at the top of the NPL Women’s NNSW table after three rounds with coach Dave Walker hopeful his side can hold its place for an extended period.

The challenge now for Walker is to ensure his side does not lose the competitive urge despite the weather interrupted preparation.

“As coaches and as players you spend your weeks working on getting better and fixing your football problem so when you miss that opportunity to go out it does disrupt things,” he said.

“It is hard to replicate a game momentum at training. As coaches we all try and strive for intensity and replicating game intensity but that competitive urge is hard to replicate.”

Charlestown present another difficult challenge for Maitland, who will focus on containing Azzurri’s lethal edge.

“This is a very different game because of Charlestown’s ability to counterattack or attack wide and high quickly. Defending that will be high on our target list,” Walker said.

“I see Charlestown as being a young, fast athletic squad so I think it will be won more on the wider edges. For us it is still very much about what we do and how we are building.”

Jenna Kingsley looks likely to return for Charlestown Azzurri, with coach Niko Papaspiropoulos hopeful her return can further bolster an already impressive outfit.

“I think much like with most games this year we have to be focused on what we do well and try and control the game through the middle of the park where we can control the ball and dictate the game,” he said.

“When we are focused and zoned in and in the right head space, I think that is what makes us tough to beat and keeps us in games.”

Azzurri’s midfield has been hard to outclass in the opening three rounds with a raft of experienced players keeping control on the pace of play.

“One of the key things is obviously being compact and close to the opposition midfield and making it tough for them to play,” Papaspiropoulos said.

“When we are in possession obviously get the ball to the key players in the middle of the park who can dictate the traffic and speed of play to get it to our forward third.”

The warning from Papaspiropoulos was that their best was still a long way away.

“I still think we have got plenty to give and still plenty of room for improvement. I don’t think we have played our best football by any means,” he said.

“We still have some work ahead of us. You want to improve as the season goes.”

Adamstown Rosebud JFC v Mid Coast FC
Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility, Sunday 5.40pm

Adamstown will be out to bounce back from a disappointing loss to Charlestown Azzurri when they welcome Mid Coast to their home away from home at Speers Point.

Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility has proved a happy hunting ground for Rosebud who in their last start at the venue hammered a luckless New Lambton 8-0.

Adamstown coach Ryan Campbell will hope that trend continues on Sunday.

“We want to dictate the tempo of the game and be much better in possession this weekend,” Campbell said.

Rosebud are sixth on the table after three rounds, with Campbell confident his side can deliver better than their opening form.

“We are definitely disappointed with how we have played so far this season. We are not playing at the level we know we can,” he said.

Josie Morley returns for the Buds with the coach also drawing strong praise for Brianna Trappett ahead of the round four clash.

“Brianna Trappett is looking good and we definitely missed her last week when she had to be substituted due to work,” he said.

“We just need to focus on us and be much better in possession.”

With heavy rainfall again expected to close out the week, both coaches will be grateful for the match to be played on a synthetic surface. For Middies coach Mick Grass he will be happy to avoid a build-up of games to be made up early in the season.

The disjointed preparation has thus far created no shortage of challenges.

“It tough. We got a session in on Tuesday night on a tennis court, “Grass said.

“We know who we are playing, we know what they are going to bring, which is basically all or nothing. We have got an idea on what we want to do against them though it is just the fact that we haven’t been able to practice what we want to do against them.”

Middies will head into the match minus Newcastle Jets goalkeeper Claire Coelho who is nursing a foot injury, with Grass of the belief the match will be won or lost in the early stages.

“If we can match their intensity in the first 20 minutes, they bring an onslaught of energy in the first 20 minutes,” Grass said.

“Once that first stint is over, they continue to try and play the same way but the intensity goes out of the game a little bit.

“If we can match them energy wise in the first 20 minutes and we are still in the game at that stage then we can move forward and try and inflict a bit of pain ourselves.”

Related Topics:
NPL Women's NNSW Round Four Preview

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