Warners Bay has drawn level with Women’s Premier League leaders Newcastle Olympics after a 2–1 bounce-back victory over New Lambton on Saturday afternoon, following a cagey mid-week loss to Magic for the “tired” Panthers.
The Premier League’s new equal-table toppers had a hefty slog in the last seven days, after beating Thornton (3–1), falling to Broadmeadow (1–2) in a first-round catchup match, and then bouncing back against the Eagles, all away from home.
To come out of the three-game away tour with six points and a spot atop the WPL totem pole is nothing short of “fantastic,” Panthers coach Craig Atkins told the Chronicle.
“The girls dug deep this week and got us some pretty important points, which is great to see,” the Panthers helmsman said. “The Wednesday against Magic went right down to the wire too, so we could have even got seven or nine points out of the games.”
The three-game run ended at Arthur Edden Oval, where Annika D’Amico iced the game with a 52nd-minute winner. The two contenders had been locked at 1–1 for much of the second half — which eventually went for nearly fifteen minutes longer than expected — after Emmaline Pepper drew the Eagles level just after the break.
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Former NWSL player Jen Hoy was also on the scoresheet for the winners, after beating the champions’ new keeper Ruby Jones in the 10th minute to add her second in two games for the Panthers. Atkins said he had been mightily impressed with Warners Bay’s star signing, especially considering she “keeps saying she’s still a bit off the trot.”
“It was great to have Jen there for the Wednesday night game, and she scored in both games so she should she’s got that spark,” Atkins said. “It was great for her to play a few games in short succession to get on the pace, she’s only going to get better.”
That’s the feeling Atkins said the whole camp has. The Panthers may have just drawn level with seemingly-runaway leaders Newcastle Olympic, albeit with Olympic boasting a game in hand, but there’s still plenty to come from the perennial finalists.
“We haven’t hit that level we want to yet, so we’re really confident that we can keep going on with how we have been and do very well,” he said. “We’ve got a nice little challenge in the form of Merewether next weekend, so we’ll just keep pushing on.”
The Panthers’ win was the only fifth-round match to go ahead. Adamstown, Broadmeadow, Thornton, Newcastle Olympic, Mid Coast, and Merewether will all have to play rescheduled games later in the shortened 2020 season.
STANDINGS: Newcastle Olympic, Warners Bay (9), Merewether (8), Adamstown (7), Broadmeadow, Mid Coast (6), New Lambton (1), Thornton (0).