Match of the Round
Warners Bay FC v Maitland FC
John Street Oval, Saturday 7pm
Warners Bay will be out to deliver Maitland’s first loss of 2022 when they host the high-flying Magpies on Saturday night.
Maitland is yet to suffer defeat this season while Warners Bay continues to build having been bolstered by the return of Cass Davis, Tara Andrews and Lauren Allan.
According to coach Warners Bay Craig Atkins, his focus remains on building on performances and improvement.
“In terms of ladders, we all have a sneak peak at the ladders though in the end, it is all about working hard through the week at training and putting on good performances on the weekend,” Atkins said.
The Panthers head into the match close to full strength with the only exception defender Amy Gosling who is sidelined.
“The whole senior squad is very happy with the performances from the weekend but this is a fresh game. It is going to be a fantastic challenge and to see where we are really at,” Atkins said.
“[Maitland] haven’t been beaten by anyone at this point in time. And they seem to be quite solid across the park.”
Scoring goals is unlikely to be an issue for either side with the match likely won or lost by the team who controls the play without the ball.
“I think defence is going to be the key. Both teams can score goals. Defence starts at the front anyway,” Atkins said.
Warners Bay are third on the table, three points behind second-placed Maitland. Both sides have a match in hand, with the Panthers’ only loss coming at the hands of Broadmeadow in round three.
“We reflect on the previous week’s performance. I always say to the girls it is a fresh week, it is a new week and another challenge,” Atkins said.
“We look at our opposition and see how they are travelling. For us it was a bit of a slow start there on the weekend and we’re out to complete a 90-minute performance.”
Mid Coast FC v Broadmeadow Magic
Taree Zone Field, Saturday 7pm
You could be forgiven for questioning the sport which Mid Coast FC play given the creative ways coach Mick Grass has had to condition his team for match day.
“This week we have trained on a tennis court and on Wednesday night we trained on a basketball court. That is the extent of the preparation we have been able to do for the weekend,” Grass said.
“I would just love to feel like we are actually playing in the competition and part of the season.”
The lack of game day preparation has transitioned to match day with the Middies struggling to convert when presented opportunities.
“I talk about scoring goals but it is very difficult because we haven’t been in front of goals at training to practice those things,” Grass said.
“We have got to take chances when they come. You look back to Warners Bay and we had two one-on-ones with the keeper and we couldn’t put them away.”
Control with the ball remains high on Grass’ list, with the key to winning against heavyweights Broadmeadow on Saturday down to holding possession for long and sustained periods.
“There is lots of things I would love to see us put on the park. I would love to see us just be able to maintain possession for longer periods,” Grass said.
“My job is to make them believe in themselves and believe that they can get results against these teams like Broadmeadow.”
Broadmeadow Magic have already scored 21 goals in four games with coach Jake Curley hopeful his side can continue its dominant form.
The women in red are top of the table with a superior goal difference putting ahead of second-placed Maitland.
“I think the squad is gradually getting better with each game. We’re probably looking for 90-minute performances now,” Curley said.
Maggie Quinn will miss the game for the visitors, who will be in somewhat unfamiliar territory when they take on Mid Coast at Taree under lights. The 7pm kick-off is of little concern to Curley, who insists his side has what it takes to roll over Middies.
“Our match day will be the same. I will get the girls to get to the ground earlier so they can have a good stretch and roll,” he said.
New Lambton FC v Charlestown Azzurri
Arthur Edden Oval, Sunday 3.40pm
If there was ever a time for the Eagles to lift, it has to be now.
Five weeks into the competition and New Lambton are yet to record a victory and have conceded a horror 40 goals in four starts.
“Looking ahead we try to set goals, working on outcomes we can control such as defending corners helps measure the players’ improvements,” Eagles coach MacKenzie Davis said.
“This is keeping heads up as we grow.”
Davis remains steadfast that her side has the potential to deliver, though was not rushing progress at Alder Park.
“At training we are still settling into our own shape and style, working with the players we have got and finding a formation best fit for them is important,” she said.
One highlight for the Eagles in 2022 has been the discovery and debut of their next generation, with Davis excited to build an environment that fosters future talent.
“We frequently have young players debut so it’s about making sure they’re supported but also proud and excited to be making such a big step,” Davis said.
“Last thing they’ll normally hear from me is to play for each other. With such a new team, having them really commit to protecting each other on the field is a big ask but they’re taking the challenge in their stride every fixture.”
At the other end Charlestown coach Niko Papaspiropoulos will call his side to execute the basics with performance in front of goal of high note.
“It is always easy to talk about errors in defence because sometimes they hurt you more but at the same time if we do our job in the front third then we take a bit of pressure of our backline,” he said.
“We want to get back to winning terms. We have had two disappointing games the last two weeks.”
Jess Gentle is unavailable for selection for Azzurri though in better news Mia McLachlan could return in goal. The four-day work week has also done wonders at Lisle Carr Oval.
“A shorter week can potentially do some good. It gives us a little bit of extra time to assess some things ourselves for the upcoming game,” Papaspiropoulos said.
Newcastle Olympic v Adamstown Rosebud JFC
Darling Street Oval, Sunday 3.40pm
Newcastle Olympic will need to perform minus the services of a host of key players if they are to score a result against a fired-up Adamstown Rosebud on Sunday.
The home side head into the match without Jemma House, Keely Gawthrop and Danielle Nicol due to injury, with captain Sophie O’Brien also unavailable.
“A good performance will be one in which we limit our basic errors, especially in the defensive third,” Olympic coach Paul Devitis said.
“We need to be able to focus on playing our own game and take advantage of the periods in the game where we have momentum and periods of dominance in possession.”
Olympic have played just three games so far this season with the weather proving treacherous in the quest for consistency.
“Having only played three games, we are nowhere near what we are capable of,” DeVitis said.
“We have improved significantly over the last few weeks and confidence is high even though we haven’t been able to play as many games as we’d like to have by this point in the season.”
DeVitis expects a lightning start to the match at Darling Street, with Adamstown out to score points after a frustrating loss to Maitland last weekend.
“Focus this week has been on our intensity of game play,” he said.
“We know it will be a fast-paced start to the game so we need to be focused and performing the basics well in relation to the execution of everything.”
Rosebud are fourth on the table, two points clear of Newcastle Olympic and are one of two sides to complete all five scheduled fixtures. Last weekend they fell to Maitland in a battle for the ages at Cooks Square Park with 12 goals recorded.