There is plenty of football still to be played in the Herald Women’s Premier League but as the competition nears its midpoint the next few rounds could prove crucial for the top-four aspirations of some teams.
South Wallsend are one of those sides. They are sixth with six points, seven adrift of Wallsend in fourth place.
Wolves coach Brad Parkes said a string of injuries and unavailability had meant for an inconsistent start to the season but hoped the return of former W-League player Gemma Pearce against second-placed New Lambton (16 points) at Alder Park on Saturday can add some steel to their back line and some experience on the park.
Parkes said it will be Pearce’s first game since South Wallsend, a side which looked among the strongest in the league on paper at the start of the year, beat Adamstown 3-1 in round six.
They have lost Maddy Searl to a season-ending knee injury and Alesha Clifford is out for an unknown period with a knee complaint of her own. Both have W-League experience.
The Wolves are coming off a 7-2 loss to ladder leaders Warners Bay (19 points) on Wednesday night and play third-placed Merewether (16) in round 11.
“We’ve got three tough games in a row and it will be a good test for us,” Parkes said.
“I thought we had good moments against Warners Bay despite the scoreline but New Lambton will be a tough game.
“They're beating the top teams, so they're obviously playing well.”
The Eagles are coming off a 4-2 win over Warners Bay which left New Lambton momentarily on top of the league ladder but they are without experienced duo Stacey Day and Joey Burgess this weekend through unavailability.
Wallsend coach Marc Hingston said the results from their next three games could be the difference between whether they will be pushing for a top-two spot or battling the pack for fourth.
They host Merewether at Wallsend Park on Sunday before taking on Adamstown, fifth with seven points, and Warners Bay in successive outings.
The Red Devils will be without defensive midfielder Jess Evans, who Hingston said has been among their best players this season.
Adamstown host Warners Bay at Adamstown Oval in the other round-nine game on Sunday before a crucial clash with Wallsend in round 10, which coach Paul Devitis rates as “a huge game to our top-four aspirations”.
All games kick off at 2.30pm.
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