Zebras Relinquish Top Spot in Exciting Draw

IC- Solstice Digital

Mark Wakefield 

The Hobart JEEP Zebras faltered in their chase for silverware against bottom of the ladder Northern Rangers at KGV this afternoon. In a game that seemed destined to peter out into a Zebra's win after they led 2-0 and were looking comfortable, the game turned on its head in 12 minutes of madness midway through the second half which saw 2 red cards issued and 4 goals scored including a 30 yard bomb from Nick Lanau-Atkinson. It helped Rangers steal a 3-3 draw that bumped the Zebras from top spot on the table.

The game was only 40 seconds old when Dwayne Walsh found himself about 8 yards out unmarked and on the end of Matthew Pace's miscued shot and tapped home past Luigi Cordova to make it 1-0.

The Zebras continued to press the pace for the next ten to fifteen minutes before the Rangers started to work their way into the game without showing a whole lot of threat.

In the 39th minute it was 2-0 as Adam McKeown was released down the left flank, before beating his marker and firing a cross to the back post where Huigsloot volleyed home.

In the second half, the Zebras came out firing again and had three shots in the space of 10 minutes before the Rangers pulled a goal back against the run of play to begin the 12 minutes of madness.

In the 58th minute Tenzing Anderson avoided the offside trap and burst down the left wing unopposed before crossing to Pat Lanau-Atkinson who made no mistake putting the ball into the back of the net.

In the 64th minute Michael Maiorano received a second yellow and his marching orders as his persistent fouling drew the ire of referee Kim Barker.

From the resulting free kick that Maiorano had conceded, Nick Lanau-Atkinson's delivery into the box found the towering Palacio and he buried his header past a wrong footed Graham Wright in the Zebras goal to square the ledger at 2-2.

In the 68th minute, McKeown was through on goals before being scythed down from behind, Barker allowed advantage to flow as a Dwayne Walsh fired a shot on target only for Tenzing Anderson to perform a fill in keeper role, diving across the goal line and handling the ball to keep it out of the net. Barker had no hesitation in pulling the red from his pocket and sending him from the field before pointing to the penalty spot.

Hey stepped up and stuttered his run up before burying his penalty into the bottom right past a stationery Cordova to make it 3-2 and put the Zebras back on top.

The lead lasted just 2 minute as in the 70th minute Nick Lanau-Atkinson squared things back up. Thannhauser had fired a shot against the right post and the ball ended up back with Lanau-Atkinson after a defensive scramble to clear the area. The Rangers captain spotted Wright off his line and lobbed him with a brilliant shot from 30 yards out to make it 3-3.

There were an incredible 9 minutes of added time at the end of the game and they were all the Zebras, but they were not able to find a winner. In the 6th minute of added time it seemed easier for Huigsloot to score the winner than to miss, as he strode in from 10 yards only to shank his effort left of the goals. The big striker was gutted with his finish but he put in a massive effort for his team all afternoon.

Luke Huigsloot and Jayden Hey were the Zebras better players, whilst for the Rangers, Nick and Pat Lanau-Atkinson, Jorge Palacio, Connor Doherty and Harry Thannhauser all played good games for the Rangers.

Northern Rangers coach Dane Hudson was happy with the result, "Look, it was good, it was a 3 all draw, I thought two of the goals were offside - one for us and one for them."

"The guys will learn from that (game)."

"Not sort of overly negative (thoughts about being 2-0 down). We've been two nil down before."

"Most weeks we've got three goals in us, I really believe that."

"The last ten minutes we were under the pump."

"Not every game you play is pretty."

Hobart Zebras coach Chris Hey was disappointed in the result, "Yep, yep without a doubt (it was 2 points lost)".

"...we talked about winning the second half and complacency when you think you've got things comfortably."

"...I think we started to focus on decisions that were in the minds of some going against us."

"I think the second and third goals were very preventable."

"It's a long season and we're still in there, it's a simple as that."

"It's a wake up call for the players and for the coaching staff and we've got to do better."

So it was an improved performance from the Rangers, whilst Zebras will rue a missed opportunity to collect all three points. The Zebras focus now shifts to next weeks game against Launceston City away which will be another tricky assignment if they do not bring the focus and attitude required of the top level.





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