NPL Women's NNSW Finals Week Two Review: Olympic defeat the Magpies, booking a ticket to the grand final

Preliminary Final 
Newcastle Olympic FC 3-1 Maitland FC  

Newcastle Olympic booked their ticket for the grand final after defeating Maitland 3-1 in a thrilling preliminary final at Darling Street Oval on Saturday afternoon.  

Olympic dominated throughout the full 90 minutes, bouncing back in a big way from their defeat last weekend to end Maitland’s season.  

But Maitland believes that some key moments affected the match and potentially the outcome of the game.  

Olympic came out of the gates on top controlling play from the first whistle.  

Maitland thought they would be awarded a penalty in the 10th minute when captain Sophie Stapleford was taken down inside the box but the referee allowed play to continue.  

Olympic were able to capitalise on a defensive error in the 17th minute to take the lead.  

Marion Dunbabin received a long ball from defender Zoe Horgan and cut around Magpies defender, allowing her to be free in front of the goal. Dunbabin made no mistake striking the ball through the legs of goalkeeper Imogene Tomasone.  

The Magpie's call for handball of Alesha Clifford inside the penalty area was also not ruled in the 18th minute by the referee.  

Just two minutes later, Olympic had cries of their own, with a suspected handball from Maitland’s Amy Parkinson inside the penalty area, but the referee allowed play to continue. 

The home team were able to take their slim lead into the sheds at half-time before the game opened up in the second 45 minutes.  

Maitland’s luck continued to go against them after Olympic were rewarded a penalty in the 67th minute. The referee believed Madison Gallegos handballed inside the box.  

Elodie Dagg stepped up to take the penalty and as she did last week, calmly converted the kick to put her side 2-0 up. 

Georgia Amess was rewarded for her attacking efforts throughout the match, scoring in the 84th minute to secure the win for Olympic.  

Stapleford was able to get one back for the Magpies in the 86th minute, but it was all too late for the visitors, finishing up their 2023 season to defeat.  

After having a controversial penalty awarded against them in last week’s qualifying final, Olympic’s coach Neil Owens understands Maitland’s frustrations with moments in the match.  

“Some you win, some you lose. Last week we were at the other end,” Owens said.  

“You want to expect decisions to go your way and sometimes they do but sometimes they don’t. 

“Maybe they were penalties, maybe both of us should have received one in the first half.” 

But Olympic’s gaffer thought that his side deserved the victory and was thrilled with how they were able to respond from their loss last week to put on a top finals performance and make it into the grand final.  

“We are feeling good. I was feeling pretty confident all week,” Owens said.  

“It was a good performance, we did well. We created a lot of chances and didn’t give Maitland many chances really. 

“They all played really well. I’m really happy.” 

“That’s what I coach and the girls play for, to get to the grand final. This is what we play for.” 

Owen’s changed up his starting side from last week’s match, which is something that he has done throughout the season. The coach was happy with how his changes worked and how his players responded.  

“We changed things up again with Brooke (Summers) in the back line, I brought Georgia Amess back in for Elodie at the nine,” Owens said.  

“You have to know a couple of roles and they all did really well.” 

Star striker Jemma House was noticeably missing from Saturday’s fixture for Olympic, sitting on the bench for the duration of the match still dealing with a niggling ankle injury.  

Owens was thrilled that his side were able to get the job done without House and give her another week’s rest before the big dance this weekend.  

“She (Jemma) still wasn’t 100% so there’s no point,” Owens said.  

“I was going to put her on and then we scored our third goal and I thought what’s the point? 

“It’s great to get that result without her.”  

Despite Olympic’s dominating performance, Magpies coach Keelan Hamilton believes his team were the better of the two sides.  

“Overall, really happy with our performance,” Hamilton said.  

“I thought we were quite good actually. I was quite pleased and thought we played with a lot of composure in the first half. In the first couple of minutes, they (Olympic) started quite fast but I thought we dealt with it quite well defensively and we grew into it. 

“I think even in the second half, we had most of the territorial advantage it was only that we opened up to chase it after the penalty that they started to have some counterattack moments. On the balance of play, for me I think we were the better team today and I think we’ve been very unlucky with a few very poor decisions.” 

Hamilton was unhappy with some of the refereeing decisions and thought that they heavily impacted the game.  

“I think we’ve been denied two clear penalties. I think the first one after nine minutes at 0-0, which is a massive moment in a prelim final when you are away from home. I think you go 1-0 up it changes the whole game and then a couple of minutes later we make a defensive mistake and they capitalise on that. That moment was a massive shift. We then got back into the game and started to create some chances,” Hamilton said.  

“I think the killer is giving a penalty for handball when the ball went nowhere near her (Gallegos) arm. 

“Those moments are just unlucky, they are purely out of your control.”  

But Hamilton was very pleased with how his side continued to rally until the final whistle.  

“I was so proud of them. I think we were really good. I thought our composure even in the face of some pretty tough circumstances was pleasing. We kept pushing, we got a goal back and we have had moments at 2-0 down and we never stopped trying,”  

“Super proud of our players, we have had a great season, it’s just a bitter taste when I think we played well enough to get something today and we have been denied.”  

Maitland have now bowed out of the competition, Olympic will now go head-to-head with Broadmeadow Magic once again to see who will be crowned the champions.