Merewether may still be four points adrift of Herald Women’s Premier League leaders Warners Bay but United put themselves in a position to secure the minor premiership with a hard-fought 3-2 win over the defending champions at Myamblah Oval on Sunday.
The game between the two top sides had all the drama of a Shakespearean play. Merewether held a 2-0 lead 25 minutes into the match after a Sarah Halvorsen took on Warners Bay goalkeeper Rhiannon Hines and scored then Jamee Ellis converted from the penalty spot after Grace Macintyre was brought down in the box.
The hosts appeared to go 3-0 up when Halvorsen scored a header off a Rhali Dobson cross around the 30-minute mark but the goal was disallowed due to an off-side ruling.
Moments later Warners Bay were awarded a penalty at the other end of the field when Ellis was seen to have pushed Warners Bay player-coach Cassidy Davis but captain Nadja Squires skied her attempt over the bar.
Dobson did put United 3-0 in front in the 37th minute with a curling shot from the right which bounced on the goal line before Lori Depczynski stomached the ball into the net.
Warners Bay closed the gap to two goals heading to half-time when Jenna Kingsley scored at the back post from close range after good build-up work by Sophie Stapleford and Sass Seaborn.
The home side were on top early but the visitors came out stronger from the break and were rewarded when Davis was left unmarked at the back post and was free to head home a cross from Kingsley.
Warners Bay held a seven-point lead over second-placed United going into the round-19 match and would have sealed the minor premiership with a win.
Merewether have three games remaining and will overhaul Warners Bay, who have just one game remaining as they have the bye next weekend, if they take maximum points.
Last-placed Thornton upstaged a depleted South Wallsend, who were without Stacey Day, Gemma Pearce, Laynee Field, Eliza Tupper, Erin Wilson and Emma Stevenson, with a 1-0 win.
The Wolves host Merewether in a rescheduled match at Walker Fields on Wednesday night and can mathematically still finish in fourth place but need to win both of their remaining matches and rely on other results going in their favour.
Mid North Coast ended Wallsend’s slim hopes of a finals spot with a 3-2 win at The Gardens on Sunday.