Kalista Hunter will be watching the weather more closely than most this week with the Broadmeadow skipper set to play her first Herald Women's Premier League game in almost 11 months on Friday night.
The Magic centre-back has not played a competition game since being sent off for two yellow card offences in an epic second leg of last year's semi-final against New Lambton when playing for South Wallsend.
Hunter was set to serve her one-match suspension back in March but Broadmeadow's season-opener was washed out. Their round-two clash was postponed due to a coronavirus scare then the rescheduled first-round game was abandoned at the last minute as all grassroots football was put on hold due to the COVID-19 crisis.
The 21-year-old was a nervous spectator as her side came from behind to beat defending champions New Lambton 2-1 with a last-minute winner on Sunday.
Hunter told the Newcastle Herald on Monday she was itching to take the field when Magic play Merewether at Arthur Edden Oval this Friday night and was hoping the rain did not interfere with her plans.
"It's been the longest wait ever," Hunter said. "It has honestly felt like the longest pre-season of my life. It's hard to watch when you can't play but I was super proud of how the girls performed."
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Merewether have been successful in securing Arthur Edden Oval for six of their seven home games in a move coach Scott Ellis hopes can become a permanent arrangement between United and Lambton Jaffas.
Their other home game will be at Myamblah Oval, a ground unlikely to meet the criteria as Northern NSW Football eye National Premier League status for their women's competition by 2022.
"It's really the only issue we have and we need a commitment from council that it can happen, otherwise we won't get a licence," Ellis said.
Arthur Edden Oval has also been confirmed as the venue for four of New Lambton's six home games with the other two at Alder Park.
Young talent continued to shine as WPL returned to action. At Magic Park, 16-year-old goalkeeper Ruby Jones made a number of crucial saves for New Lambton, including denying former W-League striker Adriana Jones.
In round one, 15-year-old midfielder Ellen Hughes showed her attacking prowess by scoring a brace of goals for Adamstown. On Sunday, she turned defender and earned the praise of coach Ryan Campbell for the assignment she was given against W-League striker Rhali Dobson.
"Ellen's never played right-back before and she got in a lot of situations where she had to try to defend Rhali and did a really good job of it," Campbell said.
Newcastle Olympic's Jemma House staked early claims on the leading scorer title with her second hat-trick of the season on Sunday against Warners Bay.
In Taree, Courtney Anderson put four past Thornton.
Adamstown 7, Olympic 6, Merewether 5, Broadmeadow 3, Warners Bay 3, Mid Coast 3, New Lambton 1, Thornton 0.
Round 4 fixtures:
Friday, July 17, 8pm: Merewether v Broadmeadow at Arthur Edden Oval
Sunday, July 19, 3pm: New Lambton v Mid Coast at Alder Park; Newcastle Olympic v Adamstown at Darling Street Oval; Thornton v Warners Bay at Thornton Park.
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