A frustrated Craig Atkins rued Warners Bay's lack of ruthlessness as they held off a desperate, determined and depleted Mid Coast in a 1-0 win at John Street Oval on Sunday.
The hosts took a 1-0 lead within the first 15 minutes of the round 10 Newcastle Herald Women's Premier League match when Lilly-Jane Babic slotted into the bottom right corner from close range.
It was not the only time the lightning-quick striker got in behind the Mid Coast defence. A number of times she got into a one-on-one situation with stand-in shot-stopper Caitlin Horgood.
But Horgood, who is reserve-grade centre-back for Mid Coast but played back-to-back matches in goals on Sunday due to injuries, had an outstanding game to deny Babic and a host of her teammates on several other occasions.
The young Mid Coast side, who are seventh with just four points and have been hit hard by injuries, grew in confidence as the game wore on and finished looking the stronger of the two sides.
Third-placed Warners Bay improved to 19 points with the win but Atkins said the Panthers will need to be better when they meet Maitland next round.
The Magpies moved into fourth place on 15 points with a last-minute 2-1 win against Adamstown at Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility on Saturday night.
"You've got to take your chances," Atkins said. "We had enough sitters to put them away but we kept them in it. We've got to be smarter than that. We've got to finish off games better than that.
"We were probably a bit lucky to get away with that one. The girls are pretty down. They felt like it's a loss. That's probably a good thing because Maitland next week is not going to be easy."
Mid Coast assistant coach Jane Lynch, who is standing in for suspended coach Michael Grass, praised her team's effort in testing times.
"We had 19 players for both squads today due to injuries," Lynch said post-match. "It's tough. It's tough when you travel too. In the second half I thought we really came over the top of them and we can definitely do better.
"I was really impressed with Caitlin. She definitely stepped up to the occasion. And with 10 minutes to go I brought on two 14-year-olds, Jorja Holborow and Sarah King. We had a lot of young girls out there."
Sophie Stapleford gave Maitland a 1-0 half-time lead on Saturday night. The match looked set to end in a draw when Kiarra Lewis scored from the penalty spot in the 89th minute after Madison Gallegos felled a player in the 18-yard box. But Gallegos buried the ball into the net after a corner in injury time to seal the win.
Jemma House scored her fourth hat-trick of the season as league leaders Newcastle Olympic (27) overpowered last-placed New Lambton (0) 7-2 at Darling Street Oval on Sunday after leading 3-2 at half-time.
Laura Hall, Georgia Amess, Jorjia Hogg and Imogen McInnes also scored for Olympic while Adriana Jones bagged a brace for the Eagles.
On Friday night, second-placed Broadmeadow (25) were 4-1 winners over Charlestown (12).
Round 10 results:
Newcastle Olympic 7 (Jemma House 3, Laura Hall, Georgia Amess, Jorjia Hogg, Imogen McInnes) beat New Lambton 2 (Adriana Jones 2) at Darling Street Oval on Sunday. Half-time: Olympic led 3-2.
Warners Bay 1 (Lilly-Jane Babic ) beat Mid Coast 0 at John Street Oval on Sunday. Half-time: Warners Bay led 1-0.
Maitland 2 (Sophie Stapleford, Madison Gallegos) beat Adamstown 1 (Kiarra Lewis) at Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility on Saturday night. Half-time: Maitland led 1-0.
Broadmeadow 4 (Lucy Jerram 2, Ash Brodigan, Chelsea Lucas) beat Charlestown 1 (Freya Clifton) at Magic Park on Friday night. Half-time: Magic led 4-0.
Points: Olympic 27, Broadmeadow 25, Warners Bay 19, Maitland 15, Adamstown 13, Azzurri 12, Mid Coast 4, New Lambton 0.
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