New Lambton have confirmed their place in the Women’s Premier League decider at Rockwell Automation Park next Sunday afternoon, after surviving a late scare from South Wallsend to claim a 7-5 aggregate victory over the Wolves.
The Eagles sprung to a 3-0 lead at Lisle Carr Oval in the second leg of the semi-finals, with the team’s lethal attack of Tara Andrews, Georgia Amess, and Lauren Allan each chipping in a goal. Trailing 6-1 on aggregate, the Wolves knew it was all or nothing in the second half.
They answered appropriately. Four separate players found the back of the net, with Ash Brodigan and Gab Brodie opening the flurry before Erin Wilson and Gemma Harrison put the Wolves into the lead in the second leg. The Eagles were suddenly behind.
There was still a gap to close for South Wallsend, however. They were leading 4-3 at Lisle Carr Oval, but trailing overall. A single goal would level the total, and put the Wolves through on away goals.
It wasn’t to be though. Andrews had one final goal to give for her premiership winning side, levelling the matchday result to 4-4 and firing New Lambton through to the grand final decider in just a weeks time. It was close, but the Eagles had survived.
“We almost threw it all away,” New Lambton coach Keelan Hamilton said.
“The team was absolutely cruising, and I think we nearly stopped playing at half time. The penalty, and some poor play from ourselves, let the nerves in, and the tide turned massively. Luckily Tara was able to score and get us through.”
Although the Eagles have reason to celebrate as they move within just a single match of the premiership and championship double, Hamilton said there was a slight “bitter taste” after the second-half struggle the Wolves put them through.
“It was a bit unfortunate really, we did really well to qualify for the final, but the game left a bit of a sour note for us,” said the Eagles coach.
“It’s not something that we’ll dwell on though, the whole team will sit down early this week and have a talk about it. It won’t have bearing on the grand final at all.”
Read more recent news
- Merewether save best yet for crunch-time against finals rivals Warners Bay
- Defending champions West Leagues storm into third straight grand final
- Kowald: ‘I want to play Premier League. I want to test myself against the best’
For Wolves boss Cas Wright, ending on a “high note” despite the rollercoaster season the first-grade team had been run through was a great positive for the team. They may not have clinched a spot in the final, but they came nearly as close as they could in the end.
“We finished on a high note, which is a good end to the season considering we had a disaster overall,” Wright said. “Our whole year has gone against us, and we feel like we’ve been a bit cursed. Got a Southy curse this time around.
“Despite that, we took it to them. With ten against eleven, we just didn’t have the momentum to get there. A few things went wrong, and we found it difficult to find a spark, but the second half showed our quality. To put four goals on any team in the second half of a semi is great.
“We tried our hardest to overcome our curse – we made formation changes and subs, and honestly put in such a great showing despite some things going against us – but we just couldn’t get there in the end. To the girl’s credit, their second half was simply amazing.”
New Lambton will now contest the Women’s Premier League grand final at Rockwell Automation Oval next Sunday, September 1.