NPL Women’s NNSW Round One Review: Azzurri make statement to down heavyweights Olympic

March 21st, 2022

Jack Antcliff

Sproule Sports Focus

Match of the Round
Newcastle Olympic 1-4 Charlestown Azzurri

Charlestown Azzurri made a statement to the rest of the competition on Saturday afternoon with a gritty 4-1 win over heavyweights Newcastle Olympic.

Off-season signing Jenna Kingsley led the way for the visitors at Darling Street with two goals after a tough start which saw Olympic take the lead thanks to Jade McAtamney.

Courtney Anderson also found the back of the net while, in a positive sign for the future for Azzurri, 15-year-old Cassie Corder scored on debut.

“[Corder] has been part of the Merewether and Charlestown program since she could first play Women’s Premier League, so this is her fourth or fifth year with the program,” Azzurri coach Niko Papaspiropoulos said.

“She scored a hat-trick in reserve grade then came on to score the equaliser. That really gave us the energy and a second wind to go over the top in the end.”

Constant improvement remains at the forefront for Papaspiropoulos who said his side was “a little bit flat to start the game,” and needed to reduce turnovers as they head into next week’s match up with Broadmeadow Magic.

“It was not our best game. Having played them once before in a trial, now knowing what both teams can do probably makes a bit of difference,” he said.

“We had two nervy moments in the second half from a few defensive lapses where we had to scramble and clear off the line.”

Olympic coach Paul Devitis was disappointed his side could not capitalise when opportunities became apparent.

“We started well and played a really organised first half and took the lead and we felt defensively we were doing a great job against their attack,” he said.

“Early second half we didn’t capitalise on two clear cut chances that could have seen us control the game after that.”

Known for their match day control, Olympic seemingly allowed Charlestown to manage momentum as the match progressed, with the flurry of goals drawing out a score that many unexpected.

“Charlestown scored their first goal and then gained a lot of momentum and from there we had a period where we sat too deep defensively,” DeVitis said.

“They took control and finished off the game in the last 10 minutes.”

Broadmeadow Magic 5-2 Adamstown Rosebud JFC

Broadmeadow Magic started its title defence in emphatic fashion with a four-goal win over the visiting Adamstown Rosebud at Magic Park on Friday night.

It was a historic night for women’s football in northern NSW, with the match the first NPL Women’s NNSW fixture following the transition from the Women’s Premier League.

Lucy Jerram led the way for the home side who held the advantage 2-1 at the break. Jerram’s brace, alongside two goals to Chelsea Lucas and a season opener for Nadja Squires ensured the women in red started 2022 on a high.

“I am overall happy with the performance. Adamstown are a difficult team to play first up,” Magic coach Jake Curley said.

“The squad has a way to go. That was the first game we have actually had everyone available and playing in a game.”

Adamstown did their best to disrupt the form of the defending premiers though could not match the pace of Magic early in the season.

“I thought Adamstown were good at creating high pressure. We had a plan on how to beat that pressure which I thought in patches we did well,” Curley said.

Magic play Charlestown Azzurri next week, while Adamstown host New Lambton under lights at Speers Point.

Warners Bay FC 6-2 New Lambton FC

Tara Pender led the way for Warners Bay as the Panthers put forward a comprehensive display to outclass New Lambton at John Street Oval on Saturday.

Pender scored a hat-trick to open her account for the year, while Adriana Jones showed why she could well be one of the season’s leading scorers with a brace. Elodie Dagg also found the back of the net.

“You always want to get three points in the first round so off to a pretty good start,” Warners Bay coach Craig Atkins said.

“In terms of the performance, it was quite mixed. There were some good patches and some patches that we weren’t really happy with.

“We would probably rate that as an okay performance. Though plenty to work on when we head back to the training paddock.”

Pender drew strong praise from Atkins, who also noted the impressive performances of Airlie Davis and Kristy Martin in defence.

“I thought Tara Pender was enormous. She got herself on the scoresheet three times but it wasn’t just her attacking. The defensive work covering in the midfield was outstanding,” Atkins said.

Saturday night marked the beginning of a new era for New Lambton, who have been left to pick up the pieces in recent years. Just two players were retained for season 2022 with the result, while not the one coach Mackenzie Davis wanted, a platform to grow from.

“I was impressed to see us spend portions of the game in control against a side as strong as Warners Bay,” Davis said.

In a positive sign for the club, Jessica Dominello and Tahlor Thackray managed to break down the Warners Bay defence to find the back of the net.

“In the off season we focused on recruiting the right players with an emphasis on young and hungry players with great attitudes who could make a big difference on and off the pitch,” Davis said.

The Eagles travel to Speers Point to play Adamstown next week, while Warners Bay are at home to Mid Coast on Sunday.

Mid Coast FC 0-4 Maitland FC

It will be back to the drawing board for Mid Coast this week after a disappointing start to 2022 at Taree Zone Field on Sunday.

The home side looked in contention early with chances proving few and far between, though lapses in concentration cost Middies momentum as Maitland when on with the job late in the first half.

“I thought we dug in, played some pretty strong football to hold on in the first 15 minutes,” Mid Coast FC coach Mick Grass said.

“We gifted them a goal for the first one, then the penalty, and at 2-0 down the girls just gave up on themselves. If we are going to compete at this level we just have to be stronger mentally.”

At a critical level, Grass put down the lapses in concentration to a mix of maturity and habitual pattern by a side that have struggled for form for several seasons. He said those standards would change when the side welcomes A-League Women’s goalkeeper Claire Coelho.

“To have senior players like Claire that are coming into the squad, they will have expectation on the younger players to lift their level of play as well,” Grass said.

“I thought our resolve to hang in the game in the second half was a lot better and probably, if we had managed to keep it nil-all at half-time, the fourth goal does not go in.”

It was the perfect start for Maitland, who were well in contention for finals football last year when the season was abandoned due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“The result is the start we wanted. I think the girls took control of the game in the first half with the game plan to be exactly that, dominate early,” Magpies coach Dave Walker said.

“In some respects, it is almost your perfect round one. To have the girls pushed harder in that second half in those conditions will help.”

There has been very little change in personnel at Cooks Square Park this season, with the consistency already bearing fruit.

“Those existing combinations across the park, and with that, the mix of senior and younger players, is just something that was built by former coach Keelan Hamilton and we’re just continuing with that,” he said.

“The focus now is really just keeping the momentum. Our sessions and tasks will remain the same though the focus for us is ticking each week and building over the season,” Walker said.

Maitland play Newcastle Olympic next week, while Middies travel to John Street Oval to Warners Bay.

Related Topics:
NPL Women's NNSW Round One Review

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