NPL Women's NNSW Finals Week Two Preview: Olympic host Magpies in must-win clash for a spot in the grand final

Preliminary Final
Newcastle Olympic FC v Maitland FC 
Darling Street Oval, Saturday 4:45pm 

A place in the grand final will be up for grabs when Newcastle Olympic hosts Maitland FC in a do-or-die preliminary final clash at Darling Street Oval on Saturday afternoon.  

Olympic had their chance to go straight through to the big dance last week but went down 3-1 against Broadmeadow Magic, while Maitland defeated Charlestown Azzurri for their shot to make the big dance. 

These two teams have recent finals experience against each other after going head-to-head in the Women’s League Cup final in August. 

Olympic’s coach Neil Owens believes his squad can bounce back and get the job done against a strong Maitland side.  

“We are all pretty positive,” Owens said.  

“I think we should be right. 

“We need to stay focused, what happened on Friday night happened so let's move on and focus on this weekend. 

“The Maitland games have always been close. 

“Between Maitland, Magic and us there is not much in it. Any one of those three teams could win the grand final.” 

Georgia Amess will return to Olympic to help boost in attack but it is uncertain whether Jemma House will also come back into the squad.  

House suffered an ankle knock in Round 21 before missing last week’s final as she was overseas. Owens said that she is returning to the country on Thursday and they will assess her ankle at training to see if she will be fit to play. 

Goalkeeper Claire Coehlo is likely to play after suffering an arm injury in the qualifying final against Broadmeadow Magic last Friday night.  

“She (Claire) is very bruised up, but she will definitely play this weekend,” Owens said.  

The Magpies have also had their fair share of squad changes in recent weeks, with injuries running rampant.  

Goalkeeper Imogene Tomasone returned last weekend after being sidelined for weeks with a back injury. Tahlia Gossner has also recently returned, scoring two goals against Charlestown Azzurri last week to help secure her team a place in this weekend’s clash.  

But as players return, others have fallen, with Madison Gallegos and Chelsea Greguric collecting injuries against Azzurri. It is uncertain whether either will return but coach Keelan Hamiton has belief in the depth of his squad.  

“Ideally, we would love to have everyone fit at the moment. We still have enough in us,” Hamilton said.  

“We feel prepared. We are not a group that wants to make excuses or worry about the ifs or buts.”  

Hamilton wants his side to improve on areas that let his side down against Olympic in the Women’s League Cup Final and put on a high-level performance that they have done many times throughout the season.  

“One of the things we want to do better is to be composed and implement our football to a good level,” Hamilton said.  

“Olympic will put on the pressure. We are in a good space now but we know it will be difficult. 

“The confidence is high within the group. We are confident and looking forward to being involved in the finals. 

“On our day we can beat anyone. We definitely have belief in ourselves.” 

No matter who will feature in the starting lineup for each side, this must-win clash will be one not to miss.