Thornton are yet to win a game this Herald Women's Premier League season but coach Al Primmer expects the experience his young cohort are gaining will put them in good stead for the future.
Attacking players Ainsley Childs, 17, and Taleah Mountford, 16, were described by Primmer at the start of the year as "the future" of the Redbacks. Both scored as Thornton took a 2-0 lead over Adamstown at Thornton Park on Sunday before they were over-run 3-2 in the final 20 minutes.
The pair are unavailable on Wednesday night when last-placed Thornton play joint league leaders Broadmeadow in a rescheduled round-two fixture at Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility, forcing Primmer to call on some even younger talent at the club.
"I'm bringing the 17s off the bench," Primmer said on Sunday. "Players like Sarah Whitley, who is 16, and Emily Moore, 15. They've got a passion for the game and they want to play the game, so I'll reward that and give them a bit of a taste now. They're doing a job for us.
"Sarah has been playing at the back and has pretty much started all of our midweek games. She'll start again Wednesday night. Emily plays a bit of midfield, a bit up front and is very tidy on the ball. She's comfortable with the ball and happy to have it at her feet. Watch this space."
Magic and Newcastle Olympic sit atop the table with 16 points but Broadmeadow can seize the outright lead with a win on Wednesday night.
Mid Coast ruled out
Mid Coast's season could be over after Northern NSW Football advised clubs on Tuesday that all age groups would be removed from the Herald WPL for a six-week period on the advice of NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant, who has asked community sporting groups to stop playing teams from different regions.
The WPL enters the ninth round of 14 rounds this weekend, meaning unless the advice changed before the six-week period was up, Mid Coast will not play again.
Adamstown's come-from-behind effort against the Redbacks has kept them in the hunt for a finals position and coach Ryan Campbell was hopeful of having first-grade goalkeeper Olivia Sneddon back when they host New Lambton in another important match Sunday.
Sneddon has been sidelined with an ankle injury sustained in round four.
Charli O'Connor, 16, was described by Campbell as "by far the best player on the field" as she made her first-grade starting debut against Thornton. Ella Spicer, 14, also made her starting debut in the top grade after a handful of games off the bench this season.
Newcastle Olympic will be breathing a sigh of relief after their round-seven clash with New Lambton set for Wednesday night was taken off the table.
They face third-placed Merewether, the only unbeaten team in the competition, in round nine on Friday night which would have had them backing up two days after playing the Eagles.
Olympic coach Harmonie Attwill was happy to take another three points and stay on top of the league in a 4-0 win over Mid Coast last weekend, but even more pleased to give some of the club's reserve-grade players a taste of the top grade. Rosie Copus, younger sister of Jets midfielder Libby Copus-Brown, and Sophie Walmsley made their first-grade debuts off the bench on Sunday.
"There's some great players in our reserve-grade team and it's just giving that exposure to first grade early on," Attwill said. "Then, if it is next year or the year after, when they're ready physically and mentally, it's not a sudden jump up for them. They've been playing really well in reserve grade and it's important to give them a chance."
Herald WPL pointscore: Olympic 16, Broadmeadow 16, Merewether 14, Warners Bay 12, Adamstown 10, Mid Coast 9, New Lambton 4, Thornton 0.
Round 9 fixtures:
Friday, 8pm: Merewether v Olympic, Arthur Edden Oval.
Sunday, 3pm: Warners Bay v Mid Coast, John Street Oval; Thornton v Magic, Thornton Park; Adamstown v New Lambton, Adamstown Oval.
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