Merewether v Newcastle Olympic
Arthur Edden Oval – Friday 8pm
Merewether can move into top spot on the table with a win when they meet Newcastle Olympic on Friday.
The Llamas are yet to lose a game this season, with their only blemishes coming in the form of a draw against New Lambton in round one and Adamstown in round four.
It is a similar story for Newcastle Olympic who sit top of the table having lost just one match at the hands of Merewether in round two. The Llamas also edged out the women from Darling Street in a trial prior to football’s return from its COVID-19 suspension.
“[Newcastle Olympic are] a good team. They’re well coached, they’ve been scoring a lot of goals so that’s going to be interesting,” Merewether coach Scott Ellis said.
“I think the girls are looking forward to it and ready for the challenge.”
Friday night’s fixture will likely have implications on the race for the minor premiership for both sides with just four points separating first and fourth on the table.
“If we can win this game then we’re probably a pretty good chance at the minor premiership. If we don’t it’ll probably be Olympic which are favourites,” Ellis said.
Merewether will take the same starting side which beat New Lambton last weekend into the clash. Katy Gray, Tamara Nash, Nicki Jones and Rhali Dobson all impressed against the Eagles, with Ellis hopeful the combinations will again gel under lights.
“It looks like we’ll be starting the same team that we did on Sunday. I’m really looking forward to this game,” Ellis said.
“We’ve got to focus on everyone just doing their job and playing to their potential and I think we’re good enough, if we do that, to beat them.”
Newcastle Olympic are expected to be full strength for the clash, which on paper appears as one of the more anticipated matches of the season.
“The girls love to be pushed and we have proven this year we are mentally and physically strong,” Olympic coach Harmonie Attwill said.
“This is a big game but at the same time it’s just another game of football that all players and club officials are grateful we get to play.
“The squad is looking fresh. We had a positive session on Tuesday night and then went to our men’s game so there is a bit of excitement about the club.”
According to Attwill, previous form against Merewether would count for little, with her side confident they can come away with all three points. “We don’t read into any previous matches against Merewether,” she said.
“We respect them as we do every opponent and know that when we turn up, our ability to fulfil the game plan will determine the outcome. We will draw from recent performances and know we can win.”
Adamstown v New Lambton
Adamstown Oval – Sunday 3pm
New Lambton coach Brad Jones will be looking for creativity and out of the box thinking when his side travel to Adamstown Oval to take on Rosebud on Sunday.
The Eagles have only recorded one win in 2020 but with an attacking side that includes Sophie Stapleford, Taylah Bryde and Adriana Jones they hold no shortage of strike power.
“We just need to believe in the style of play. We know how Adamstown play, we know how they defend, you need to execute very well to capitalise because they’re very structured,” Jones said.
“The focus this week is how to adapt a bit of an X-factor against a structured defence.”
The Eagles coach was full of praise for a number of young players within the squad, with the side a vastly different New Lambton outfit to the one that won last year’s title.
“I think there’s a couple of unsung heroes in the side that have been doing a tremendous job all season,” Jones said.
“Tahlia Gossner is unsung, she doesn’t get many accolades. She’s young, she’s strong and she plays brilliantly and she does a lot of work for us that goes unnoticed by others.”
New Lambton will head into the clash unchanged, with the side keen to bounce back from last week’s disappointing loss to Merewether.
“[The girls] just want to get back on the pitch and write the wrongs from last week and put some goals away,” Jones said.
A loss for Adamstown would be a crucial blow to their slim hopes of finals qualification. The Buds are fifth, two points behind Warners Bay but pending other results could find themselves quickly becoming merely a mathematical chance of playing finals football.
“New Lambton are a team in a similar position to us and play a similar style to us, so I am hoping this might suit us for the weekend,” Adamstown coach Ryan Campbell said.
Olivia Sneddon is likely to return for Adamstown in a major boost for the side. Sneddon was injured in a challenge during the Buds loss to Olympic in round four.
“She will do a full session [on Thursday night] and see how she pulls up tomorrow before making a decision on Sunday’s game,” Campbell said.
“Alex [Tagaroulias] has done well in goals for her start in first grade but Olivia is one of the best goalkeepers in the league and will bring a lot of confidence and enthusiasm to the group when she finally returns.”
Thornton Redbacks v Broadmeadow Magic
Thornton Park – Sunday 3pm
Thornton will look to bounce back from a disappointing loss to Adamstown when they face a rampant Broadmeadow Magic side on Sunday.
Magic’s last loss came against Merewether in round four, with the women in red equal top of the table with 16 points.
“The girls are looking forward to the game. We just want to keep improving as a squad,” Broadmeadow coach Jake Curley said.
“The line-up should be similar as our previous game. We want to focus on [Gemma Harrison] and [Erin Wilson] getting used to our system.”
These two sides were set to meet twice this week, with Wednesday night’s round two catch-up game postponed due to coronavirus concerns.
The race for top spot on the Herald Women’s Premier League has become a tantalising battle in recent weeks. Newcastle Olympic and Magic have a game in hand, with goal difference a chance to determine the eventual premiership winner.
Merewether can not be discounted from the debate either. The Llamas have two games in hand and could move into outright first with a pair of wins.
“I’m a little bit of a traditionalist so the minor premiership is the pinnacle in my opinion,” Curley said.
Injuries and player unavailability are set to make a tough task even more difficult for Thornton.
Celeste Ortega Edwards remains in doubt with a hamstring strain, while Luci Maddison will also miss the game.
According to coach Alan Primmer, the Redbacks will need to be well-balanced in both attack and defence if they are to cause an upset.
“It’s a balance. We do not want them to get in behind with quick players but we can’t sit on the 18-yard box and expect to hold them out,” Primmer said.
“Our defence will have to work hard as a unit.
“We created far too many chances last week [against Adamstown] to only come away with two goals which hurt us. We need to be clinical in front of goal.”