Round 7 Preview
Kingborough v Clarence, Saturday 7 May Lightwood Park, 2:00PM
An intriguing fixture to open Round 7 in a match that both teams will view as a prime chance to claim points from. These two teams met in the Summer Cup with the Lions triumphing 2-0 that day, but a lot has changed for both clubs since then.
The hosts are rooted to the foot of the table and yet to claim a league victory but a home game against the league newcomers arguably represents their best chance to date. After picking up a point against Northern Rangers and offering a promising display in a narrow 2-1 defeat to league leaders Hobart Zebras in recent weeks, the Lions look a more settled side than they did earlier this year and are certainly playing better football.
Goal scoring still remains a major issue, with just 3 goals scored for the year and they desperately need to find new avenues to goal. Danny Cowen, who scored 15 goals last season, is yet to find the net and they desperately need him to recapture his best form. Youngsters such as Christopher Downes and Daniel Gofton continue to show promise but have found it tough up against the heavy weights of the league; in this game they may get more time on the ball to allow them to showcase their obvious talent and impact the contest.
Clarence meanwhile have added two new faces to their squad as they continue to grow depth. Phineas Aldridge and Joseph Stevens are the latest to be added in to the mix, following the recent signing of Kyungmin Choi and the pair will provide coach Alan Jablonski with plenty of options in how his side lines up.
The bye week probably came at a good time for the Reds, coming off a couple of heavy defeats as they continue to adjust to life in the top flight. The lack of depth following a couple of injuries and suspensions was exposed in this period, so the signing of two new players should help them significantly in this regard. This week should see them put out their strongest squad to date and prove a tough opponent for the Lions.
An interesting sub-plot to this clash will be the return of Adam Hedge to the Den. The experienced Hedge has been a standout as a target man for Clarence this year and he will provide a tough match up for the man he partnered in the centre of the Lions defence last year, the big stork Nick Cuthbertson.
What the Coaches Said
“Our team spent the weekend supporting our club’s junior competitions at the Den and the break came at a good time for squad. We now have a clean bill of health which is vital for this time of the year and we’ve been able to utilise these few sessions to continue to develop our style of play and team tasks under Mark Broadbent.”
“We have no injury concerns, we’ll have Damian Pearce returning from exams and looking to get Tom Mcdonald some vital minutes as he builds back towards match fitness. Trent Peace will feature at some stage but due to illness and the week off hasn’t played for a few weeks.”
“This is a must win for the team and the club, we’ll need to respect Clarence as they have been achieving some respectable results and gave us a good battle in the Summer Cup. We’ll continue to focus on our individual and player tasks to ensure we don’t allow Clarence to control the middle of the park.”
“We are confident going into this weekend’s match as we have seen the boys improve in their own belief around our style of play, we’ll need to ensure that we stop making costly errors as we have seen against Zebra’s and Devonport, if we can do that and be composed moving forward we’ll certainly be expecting to come away with our first win for the year.”
“The team play has been fantastic, this has also been evident in our training sessions and the key to us now winning games and taking points of the top teams will be to stop the costly errors that are giving cheap goals away. The goals we are conceding have been from our own mistakes and very few have been from the opposition breaking us down with good play.”
“The week off has been great and we are primed for Kingborough this Saturday.”
“Co-captain Jeremy Price is still out and Andrew Robb is also unavailable due to work. Paul Bremner is in this week and we have also signed one of our favourite sons Joseph Stephens this week. He has been training with us for a while and can now commit to playing. Joe is a quality player and a calming influence so having his knowledge and experience in our midfield is a great plus.”
“We also have Phineas Aldridge signing with us this week but it’s too early to say if he will play as of yet.”
“Paul Bremner will also give us some extra firepower in front of goal and I am looking forward to watching him work with Adam Hedge and Kyungmin Choi up front.”
“Both clubs need to win this game if we want to keep in touch with the pack so I am sure it will be a great contest.”
“I know the lads are up for this game after being beaten badly in our last two. Our squad is improving all the time and this weekend will see us put out our most attacking line up to date.”
Northern Rangers v Devonport City, Saturday 7 May, NTCA, 2:30PM
Northern Rangers welcome the Devonport Strikers to the NTCA ground as they try to continue their resurgence by taking points from a genuine title contender on Saturday. The Strikers will enter this one as favourites but it looks a decidedly more competitive game than it might have been earlier this year.
Two draws and a spirited defeat to Olympia in the 3 weeks leading up to the bye has the Rangers confident they have turned a corner after a disastrous start to the season. Just how much they have improved will certainly be revealed up against a Devonport side that has won 5 of 6 league games this season and coasted through to the Lakoseljac Cup final with a 10-0 win over Somerset last weekend.
Brayden Mann was again prolific and the league’s all-time leading scorer should provide a tough task for new defender Jorge Palacio who provided a steadying figure at the heart of the Rangers defence on debut in the Northern Derby. Also impressing in the derby was key midfielder Harry Thannhauser, who had his best performance of the season in a best afield display. The difference in this Rangers side when the “Town-House” is playing well is noticeable and together with Nick Lanau-Atkinson they should be in for a crucial duel with a strong Devonport midfield led by the in form Joel Stone, whose creativity has really come to the fore in recent weeks.
Another key area will be the Rangers attacking full backs Tenzing Anderson and Pat Lanau Atkinson, who both love to get forward but will need to be careful that they don’t allow Devonport’s speedy wingers Adam Gorrie and Brody Denehey too much space in behind. Combined with Mann, the pair make for a mobile front three that excel at hitting teams on the counter attack by playing a direct style of game.
What the Coaches Said
“It was the same routine for us as per usual even with the week off, only difference was having no game on the weekend.”
“We should have the same 11 from the previous game against City.”
“Devonport are very good all over the park, so we have to be up and about from the kick off.”
“Tough assignment for us this week up against a side that I believe is a real premiership chance. They are fit, organised and hard to break down. This game will be a great measuring stick for us at the end of the first round.”
“We are under no illusions we have to improve. Jorge has come into the squad against City and gave us some stability and confidence on the last line. We need to keep possession for longer periods to keep the opposition moving. Not possession for possession’s sake but good quality movement of the ball with a good tempo and completions. That is starting to come so every week we look for incremental improvement across every player.”
“A 10-0 win sounds like a brilliant result but there were plenty of areas we still need to address. Ball movement was one of those areas. We had trouble stringing passes together through the midfield so we have worked on that quite a bit.”
“We are accumulating a few little niggles amongst our starting 11 but we have had a couple of recent signings and we are looking to promote a few up into the squad so we should be able to cover any player who is unfit on Saturday.”
“Rangers have bounced back well after there big defeat a few weeks ago so we are expecting a tough time at the NTCA.”
“It will be tight. Their focus has clearly been on defending so it is imperative that we hold on to the ball and work it through their defence.”
“Stringing passes together all over the park and winning the ball back in an organised fashion are what we are currently working on.”
Olympia v Launceston City, Saturday 7 May, Warrior Park, 3:00PM
Olympia will look to rebound at home from a disappointing showing in their last league outing against the Zebras where they were comfortably second best. They welcome a Launceston City side that has been inconsistent in 2016, playing some wonderful football at times, but struggling to maintain it for 90 minutes at a time.
Olympia looked a much better unit against South Hobart in the Lakoseljac Cup last week, the return of Mearns and Vandermey made a massive difference and the performance showed that a return to their form of 2015 might not be far away.
The signing of Zois Galanopoulos has looked a shrewd move. The powerful forward has linked up well with his new teammates and allowed the prodigiously talented Gavin Hoy to return to his favoured role in behind the striker, where he so excelled last season. The Canadian was a constant handful for South Hobart in this role last week and Launceston Captain Toby Omenihu is going to need to do a job on him to try and curtail his influence on the contest.
Launceston may have a couple of new faces in the side with English duo, attacking midfielder Martyn Jackson and defender Ryan Schofield both available for selection. With Hyato Agusu and Dom Rossi both making their return in recent weeks, the options at Lino Sciulli’s disposal continue to grow and it should be a strong City side that travels to Warrior Park for this clash.
Another player that the Olympia defence will need to be on guard against will be Isaac Degetto who has now made the team of the week in consecutive rounds. The young forward is extremely mobile with an eye for goal and is currently enjoying a rich vein of form. His constant darting runs make him a handful for opposing defences and against an Olympia back four that has been somewhat inconsistent this season he could prove a match winner.
What the Coaches Said
“Last week was an improved performance from our young squad. However there is still a long way to go. But I believe our younger players are improving each week and that is promising for the rest of this season and beyond. “
“There are no injury concerns this week apart from Nicholas Mearns. He will be assessed by our physio as to whether he takes the park on Saturday.”
“Launceston City are a very physical competitive team. They are well organised by Lino and will be a hand full for us on Saturday. We will need to be at our best in order to get the right result.”
“Finishing opportunities is still an issue for us and this is an area of improvement that we need to focus on.”
“We trained pretty hard last week but they had the whole weekend off to re-charge.”
“Should be ok with all players fit, Dom Rossi is coming on a little slower than he would have liked he just has to be patient which is hard when all you want is to play.”
“Very strong team who are hard enough to beat anywhere let alone their own ground. We need to be very strong defensively and sort out our middle of the park as I thought we were poor in that area last match.”
“Going to be a huge game as the last game at this venue was one to forget for us, we need to work very hard in all areas and that is just to be competitive.”
“The area we need to focus on the most is that we need to work harder in the middle of the park defensively.”
Hobart Zebras v South Hobart, Sunday 8 May, KGV, 2:00PM
The final game of week sees the top two sides meet for a blockbuster clash at KGV on Sunday. Hobart JEEP Zebras have won their first six games of the season to sit three points clear atop the table but they now face their sternest test to date, coming up against their biggest title rivals in South Hobart, for what is looming as a genuine six point game.
The sides have met once this season in the Lakoseljac Cup quarter finals with South Hobart comfortably accounting for Zebras 2-0 on that occasion in a dominant performance, opening the scoring in just the first 15 seconds of the game.
Since then however, Zebras have added Tyler Harrison, Sam Conway and Graham Wright into their side and not lost a game since, meaning it will be a far tougher assignment this time around for Ken Morton’s men. Both South Hobart and Devonport are a game behind the league leaders and a victory for South Hobart could leave all three sides tied on 18 points at the conclusion of the round, with all the teams in the league having played each other once.
Coming off the high of a thrilling 3-2 Lakoseljac Cup victory over Olympia, South Hobart will look to carry that momentum through to this crunch clash whilst their opponents should be well rested, having had last week off. South Hobart has a full strength side to pick from as do Zebras, with the exception of Kurt Engels who continues to miss with a leg injury that will require surgery, putting his availability in doubt for the rest of the season. They will likely go in with the same starting XI as they selected against Olympia in their 4-0 thumping in their last league outing whilst South Hobart will have to consider whether Jack Turner comes straight back into the line-up, or whether Dan Brown will continue in the defensive midfield role.
This is the game that everyone has been waiting for and will play a massive role in determining the eventual league champion. Both sides are very similarly constructed, they both have powerful centre forwards that can bring their goal scoring wingers into play as well put the ball in the back of the net. They have midfield’s that boast a physical defensive midfielder that breaks up the play as well as a couple of good technicians on the ball that can dictate games. Both sets of full backs love to get forward and offer a major threat overlapping and their centre backs are reliable players that know when to knock the ball long to try to catch the opponents on the break and when to retain possession and play it out from the back. Both keepers are difference makers and both benches have players that can come on and make an impact. This should be an absolute cracker of a contest and we will learn plenty about both sides after the 90 minutes are up.
What the Coaches Said
“We trained as per normal but would have preferred to have had a game to keep things in check.”
“The squad will be mainly unchanged from our last outing. Competition for positions is strong and there are a few players disappointed not to be on the park but their time will come & they have to take full advantage of those opportunities when they occur.”
“We have 5 long term injuries to players but still holding our head above water in that regard. Our back up players like Nick Drew are also suffering longer term injuries, so out medical staff are hard at work ensuring the best outcome for those players.”
“ This is our biggest test to date and we have struggled against South Hobart this season but we have improved and have a stronger squad, so I think the battle will be intense. Albie is looking strong on the ball and that is something we need to be wary of. The multitude attacking options up front and through midfield for South is daunting, so we will need to be compact through our midfield and prevent the passage into Albie.”
“The outcome of the game is too close to pick bit obviously we are confident in our ability to get the points.”
“We need to be strong & tight early defensively and not concede unnecessary goals and win our individual battles.”
“I was happy with our cup performance and I thought we controlled the game against a very good opponent. Olympia scored two late first half goals to lead 1-2 at half time. The second half we were much quicker with our transition and our passing. We went on to win the game 3-2, creating and missing a number of opportunities.”
“No new players. At this stage we have a full squad to select from.”
“We look forward to playing Zebras, the ladder leaders who have had a terrific start to the season. We expect them to be a very physical and stubborn opponent.”
“South must be motivated and disciplined. Defend well, play good football. Play with pressure and with great intensity in transition, must win 1 v 1s and play football. Our mental strength is important.”
“We will continue to try and do better. We want to be more professional, keep doing what we do, play football. Be confident, play for each other and work hard for each other.”