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Newcastle Herald

Jets striker Jemma House chance for minutes in crunch clash with Maitland in NPLW NNSW

Jets striker Jemma House could make her first appearance of the NPLW NNSW season against Maitland on Saturday. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Jets striker Jemma House looks poised to make her first appearance of NPLW Northern NSW when Newcastle Olympic take on Maitland in round nine at Cooks Square Park (2.30pm) on Saturday.

But how much game time the competition's two-time leading scorer, who has missed the start of the season with a fractured tibia, plays remains an unknown.

Olympic were thumped 5-0 by Maitland in round two on March 27 and are sixth with just six points from seven outings.

The 2020 premiers and champions and last year's second-placed side have struggled with injuries, illness and unavailability and coach Paul DeVitis said this week was no exception. He was hopeful of having versatile Alesha Clifford back after she was sidelined for their last-start 1-0 loss to Charlestown due to COVID.

"A decision is not likely to be make on Alesha until game day," DeVitis said.

"Jemma has trained this week and looked good. She obviously brings a bit of extra intensity just with how she plays and how mobile she is, so we're hoping to use her at some point from the bench in the game. But it will depend on the game situation."

Maitland have conversely made a strong start to be third with 15 points from six outings. Their only blemish has been a 3-0 loss to Warners Bay, who were top of the table on 19 points heading into round nine.

"They're one of the better teams and their attacking four - Mercedes [McNabb], Sophie [Stapleford], Bronte [Peel] and Sophie [Jones] - for me might be the best in the competition," DeVitis said.

"They're very dangerous and they've got a really strong defence as well, a more experienced defence than most teams.

"We're expecting a really difficult game but the girls know they're playing for a bit of pride at the moment."

Maitland coach David Walker expected to have a full complement of players to choose for and was taking no notice of Olympic's results to date.

"The first round of results don't come into it when you're playing a team and a club like Newcastle Olympic," Walker said.

"When teams have their back against the wall a little bit they can come out swinging, and we don't want to be in the receiving end of that."

Mid Coast host Warners Bay in Taree on Saturday night (7pm) and New Lambton play Adamstown at Alder Park on Sunday (3.40pm). Broadmeadow were set to play Charlestown at Magic Park on Friday night.

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