The Tamworth Women’s Premier League Round 14 fixtures will be contested this afternoon, with North Companions taking on Tamworth FC at Johnson Field and Kootingal District FC challenging Oxley Vale Attunga FC at Riverside.
Tamworth FC have the chance to wrap up the minor premiership with a game to go. The Will Priest-coached team are ranked first on the competition ladder with 32 points following 10 wins, two draws and a loss so far, while OVA are four points back with 28 points, having won nine games, drawn one and lost three.
Those two sides are scheduled to play against one another in the 15th and final round of the campaign on Saturday, August 25, which would become a minor premiership battle if Tamworth FC drops points today and OVA manages to get the job done.
Regardless of which of those two teams does finish first, they are guaranteed to meet in the Major Semi-Final on Saturday, September 9, following a weekend off at the conclusion of the regular season.
The Minor Semi-Final will be contested by North Companions and Kootingal who will be playing to advance to the Preliminary Final and hopefully cause an upset and progress through to the decider.
North Companions are currently third with seven points following two wins, a draw and nine losses across 12 games. Kootingal have also played 12 games and have accumulated five points following one win, two draws and nine losses.
Tamworth FC have been exceptional all over the park in 2023, but especially in defence. They have only conceded nine goals all year in the 13 games they have played and have kept seven clean sheets along the way.
Priest said that spirits were high within the playing group, and he was pleased with the way they have been performing in 2023.
“I’m really happy with how the girls are going this year. We are on top of the table at the moment, and with a win this weekend we’ll get the minor premiership,” he said.
“They’ve gone about it really well this year.
“The majority of the girls have been together for a while, and there are a few who had gone and now come back for this season, and we’ve picked up a few new ones too.
“The new girls have been excellent and have been a big part of why we’ve improved this year.
“I’ve worked really hard with the girls on setting up a structure, especially defensively, and that’s where the big games are won or lost. If you can keep a clean sheet, you’re obviously going to go a long way towards winning the game. I think we’ve defended really well this year.”
Priest is coaching the side for the first time in 2023. He said this year was all about the girls enjoying their football but declared that the minor premiership had become their goal during the season.
While they can wrap that up against a team, they have beaten four times this year already, Priest knows they will be in for a tough game.
“We’ve got North Companions this weekend. The majority of them are young girls and they’ve got some of the more technically gifted players in the competition,” he said.
“I wouldn’t write them off at all. If they stay mentally strong, they’ll give us a really hard game. But I’m expecting us to go out and win the game.”
If they don’t win, OVA have the perfect opportunity to capitalise and climb within two points of the ladder leaders. OVA won the minor premiership last season when they edged out Tamworth FC by two points and they are holding out hope of going back-to-back in 2023.
Their coach Steve Doherty is hopeful that they can remain in the minor premiership hunt beyond this weekend, but said that whatever unfolds today, his side are proud of their 2023 campaign and the way they have performed in a competitive competition.
“Our side, they’re a terrific bunch of people,” he said.
“I’d coached them previously and then had a spell, but this is my fourth season back now. I really enjoy their company. They are very kind, and we have a lot of fun.
“There are only four teams this season, and it can get a bit repetitive playing the same teams nearly every week, but all the games have been very competitive, and they are generally good quality games.
“I think all of the teams in both grades appreciate playing games that are competitive for everyone.
“It’s Kootingal this weekend for us. Cassie coaches them and she’s done a great job with them. We’ve had the wood on them this year, but they can certainly put pressure on and make things difficult. They are certainly a threat.
“We’ve got a fairly good team this weekend, which is handy. We’ll just try to play our game as we always do and we’ll see how we go.
“The minor premiership is always the goal at the start of the season and it’s still the goal now, although it’s not in our hands. Tamworth FC are a good side and they’re more than a win ahead of us, so we do need them to drop points. If they get the win on the weekend, congratulations to them. They’ve done well and deserve it.”
OVA have been playing some brilliant football this year and have scored 59 goals in 13 games, which is 16 more than the top-ranked side. Players from all over the pitch have been contributing to OVA’s dominant attack.
“We’ve got a couple of prolific goal-scorers, but there are a few other players who have scored four to seven goals as well. We’ve got a lot of goal-scorers across the pitch,” Doherty said.
“At the other end, we’ve leaked a few this year, and that’s football, I guess.
“We changed formation mid-season to fix up a few things and it has been going quite well since then. I’m pretty confident that if we play to our system, we’ll do well.”
Meanwhile, the Tamworth Women’s 2nd Division minor premiership has been wrapped up for a few weeks now, with Quirindi FC currently undefeated and dominating. They’ve picked up a maximum 39 points following 13 wins from as many matches, scoring 80 goals in the process and conceding just 17.
Hillvue Rovers (21) are 18 points back but have played one less game. They have won seven matches and lost five this year.
In third and fourth place, respectively, are Kootingal (15) and Souths United (0).
Souths United will go in search of their first win of the year when they challenge Kootingal at Riverside today. The other Round 14 game will see the top-of-the-table clash between Quirindi and Hillvue take place at Johnson Field, where the Rovers will be looking to end the competition heavyweight’s dominant undefeated streak.