Opposition talk generally centres around Warners Bay danger players Cassidy Davis and Jenna Kingsley.
The W-League Jets pair drive the Panthers attack and have combined for 41 of the minor premier’s 64 goals in the Herald Women’s Premier League this season. At times they have produced individual four and five-goal hauls.
But Davis, who is also the Warners Bay coach, said only a team effort would beat a revived South Wallsend in the semi-finals starting this weekend.
“I’ve said to the girls, ‘It’s not about individuals and it’s not about playing pretty football and being a good footballer’,” Davis said.
“It’s about your work ethic and your mentality, especially in semi-finals where anything can happen no matter how good you play.”
A lesser talked about player has been captain and defensive midfielder Nadja Squires, who Davis considered one of the unsung heroes of the league with tireless performances week in and week out.
“She brings leadership and experience but I think she is just getting better with every year,” Davis said.
“She’s maturing as a player and is starting to really control the position she plays.
“She has scored 10 goals as a defensive midfielder this season, which is something everyone should look at because she doesn’t really get talked about too much.
“She’s very consistent and that’s what you want from your players – to do their job and do even more than their job.”
Squires is no stranger to finals – she has played alongside Davis in the past three WPL grand finals – but the build-up to this year’s series has been a little different.
The 22-year-old speech pathologist started working in her home town of Taree during the last round of the league and has only travelled to Newcastle for games.
She has been training with the Mid North Coast under 20s squad once a week.
“They’ve been really nice to let me join in on Thursdays when they’re in Taree and let me have a run,” Squires said. “I’ve been otherwise doing my own training but it’s not the same, so that’s been good.”
Warners Bay lost just one game on the way to retaining the minor premiership while South Wallsend sealed their first finals appearance with only four wins.
The Panthers beat the Wolves 8-1 then 7-2 in the first two rounds but their third encounter, on June 17, was much tighter with Warners Bay winning 3-2.
“We’ve had some big wins, so everyone sees us as the biggest target and everyone wants to beat the leaders,” Squires said.
“But I think they’ve really hit their straps now and I think they’re going to be difficult. They don’t like losing and they don’t give up. I think it’s going to be a big couple of weeks for us.”
The two sides meet at Walker Fields on Sunday. The winner over two legs, home and away, will progress to the grand final and play the winner of the other semi-final between Merewether and New Lambton.
United and the Eagles open their semi-final series at Alder Park on Saturday.