Round 13 Preview
Devonport Strikers v Northern Rangers, Saturday 25 June, Valley Road, 2.00pm
Last Time: NPL TAS Round 7, Northern Rangers 0-2 Devonport, NTCA
League Form: Devonport: WWWWW Northern Rangers: LLLLL
The Devonport Strikers, buoyed by a massive victory over South Hobart last week will play their second home game in a row, coming up against a Northern Rangers side still searching for their first win of the season. Rangers were outclassed by Olympia at Warrior Park last week but they have been harder to break down in recent games. After keeping things tight against the Strikers last time they met in a 2-0 loss, they will be hoping they can be competitive here despite coming in as big underdogs in what is a first v last game in terms of standings.
The Devonport Strikers have opened up a gap of four points on top of the table with their win over South Hobart and after a three week stretch of Hobart Zebras and South Hobart x 2, they might welcome a game against an opponent that they should enjoy considerably more time on the ball against. It will be a different mentality for them in this one, as their counter attacking game plan of the last few weeks is unlikely to be effective against Northern Rangers. Instead it will be up to their midfield creators like Joel Stone and Beau Blizzard to get on the ball and try to link up with the attacking trio from more advanced positions.
Under new coach Des Baker, Northern Rangers will have their work cut out trying to find ways to get past the Devonport defence but their first priority will be to limit the damage at the back having conceded at least three goals in each of their last five losses. A big part in slowing them may fall to someone like Harry Thannhauser, to try curtail the influence of Joel Stone in a similar role that Alfred Hess played last week. With Stone shackled, Devonport’s attacking impetus was certainly limited but he is far from Devonport’s only weapon and they face an uphill task trying to get anything from this game.
What the Coaches Said
“It was a pretty grimy performance last week. We just had to write-off our first half performance as an anomaly, as dissecting it would take all week. The team did well to put the first half behind them and got the job done in the second half.”
“Beau Blizzard is available again after a bout of tonsillitis. We may need to call on him again this week with Adam Gorrie under a small injury cloud still. The rest of the squad shouldn’t change.”
“It is hard to understand how Rangers haven’t managed a win to date. They certainly have the players to get results, as shown when they drew with Zebras. Nick Lanau-Atkinson is always dangerous and is about due to score another goal-of-the-year contender from 40 yards out.”
“Rangers held us out quite well in our last encounter and we’d expect the same approach this time. It is hard to plan for as they have a new coach and his style could be completely different. We will just have to adjust as the game progresses.”
“Our ball use through the middle third wasn’t good last week which resulted meant we created few chances up front. Also, South Hobart were almost always first to get to the loose ball so that is another area we can improve.”
“With all the changes that I have made to the line up , there were some positives to come from that. I was happy with the way they played overall. There is still work to be done to become more competitive.”
“We had no injuries from last week, but with the school holidays nearly here we will have some players unavailable, plus 2 players suspended."
“Devonport is a very strong team all over the park, it’s top team against the bottom team so it’s obviously going to be a very tough game for us, but we will give our best.”
“We will need to keep a special eye on the Devonport goal scorers, particularly Brayden Mann. We will need to put enough pressure on them to score some goals.”
Launceston City v Olympia Warriors, Saturday 25 June, Mitsubishi Park, 4.30pm
Last Time: NPL TAS Round 7, Olympia 4-0 Launceston City, Warrior Park
League Form: Launceston City: WLLLL Olympia: LLWWW
Launceston City host Olympia in a game between two teams with contrasting form lines. The Warriors have won three games straight whilst City have lost three games straight and they will be desperate to get back on track with a strong showing on their home pitch. The last time they met it was a comfortable 4-0 win for Olympia and if form holds for both of these sides a similar result would not surprise here. The pitch could certainly be a factor though, with heavy rain set to make for difficult conditions at Mitsubishi Park.
City were made to pay for wasting their chances last week against Clarence and they need to find a way to find more goals or these poor results will continue. They have scored just four goals in their last seven games and need a lift from their attacking players. The likes of Rossi and Ogusu are not hitting the heights they did in 2015 and after scoring five goals in his first four games, Nathan Bartlett has not scored since. Against an Olympia side brimming with attacking talent they are going to need to find their shooting boots to stay in the contest.
The Warriors extended the gap from them in fourth to City in fifth to 11 points and they’re looking a more settled side as the year progresses. Their 37 goals this season is the second best in the league and despite striker Graham Glynn being a bit down on form, the attacking midfield line up of Wadawu, Hoy and Mearns is still one of the best in the state and they combine extremely well to create plenty of chances. They pose major threats down the flanks and will look to hurt a Launceston City defence that has been exposed in wide areas this season. The pitch could be a bit of a bog after the heavy downpours this week which will hurt the way Olympia like to play a lot more than City though.
What the Coaches Said
“We played well for the most part last week but some bad defensive blues cost us two goals and the game.”
“The squad is still ok even though Ryan Schofield and Martyn Jackson have moved on and Nathan Bartlett has a hamstring injury.”
“Olympia are a good team who always trouble us so I am hoping the lads can dig deep and keep discipline and get a needed result for us.”
“They’re a good fast team, and very strong in the wide positions so our full backs probably hold the key.”
“We are working on some attacking parts of our game but we really need to improve defensively and all over, not just the back four.”
"We look forward to travelling to Launceston this week. Last weeks match against Rangers was good in that we controlled the game for large parts and created opportunities. However converting these chances to goals was again a problem."
"We are anticipating a tough physical match against City in what could be trying conditions. There is no doubt they will bring their physical game and that is something we will anticipate."
"It will be important for us to convert any opportunities into goals as chances will be limited."
Clarence United v Kingborough, Saturday 25 June, Wentworth Park, 4:30pm
Last Time: NPL TAS Round 7, Kingborough 4-1 Clarence, Lightwood Park
League Form: Clarence: LWLLW Kingborough: LWLLL
Clarence continue their run home of games at Wentworth Park with a fixture they will be looking at as a genuine chance to make it two wins in a row in. Despite being below them on the table and on the road it’s probably the Lions who will enter the game as favourites however. They have been playing good football lately without reward and know that they need to start converting performances into points. Last time they met it was all one way traffic in a 4-1 Lions win, but both sides have improved since that day.
Clarence have been very up and down in their debut season but a third win last week represents a successful season to date. They’ll be aware that games against the other 3 sides sitting in the bottom four represent their best chance of picking up further points and they'll be up and about for this clash. Defensively they look solid with young Darby Randall impressing in net and Malcolm and Hedge forming a solid pairing in front of him but with Aldridge out they still lack creativity. They will want to make the game a scrappy, contested affair with few goals in it.
If it does pan out that way the Lions have the perfect man for a physical encounter in Shane Cartwright who continues to shine as one of the stars of the league. He's the heart beat of this Lions side and was massive in what was an unlucky defeat to Zebras last week; with a couple of decisions going against them which cost them what would have been a major scalp. They will be disappointed to have thrown away a winning position for a second time in three weeks, but two close defeats to Olympia and Zebras either side of a win over Rangers demonstrate that the Lions have improved markedly under Shaw.
What the Coaches Said
“It was a good result last weekend. As the year progresses, we are making it harder for opposition teams to play in our half of the ground, thus minimizing the amount of goal scoring opportunities they create.”
“Continual improvement is what we have been focusing on and that seems to be happening, even though we have had a fair amount of injuries and players unavailable.”
“Bugg is highly doubtful after a bad knock to an already bad ankle last week and with Phin Aldridge still out we are definitely lacking in pace and attacking flair moving forward.”
“Just like Launceston City, Kingborough embarrassed us last time out so turning that result around will be a big ask but one the lads are looking forward to.”
“We gave the ball away too easily in the first half last weekend and if we do that against a resurgent Borough outfit I am sure we will get punished. In saying that, our pressure on the ball carrier last week was fantastic and resulted in us getting our first goal.”
"It's going to be a fierce 90 minutes at the Dungeon* Saturday night. CUFC will throw everything into getting the three points."
“The team played exceptionally well. We deserved points from the game with a penalty and goal not given, so we are looking to overcome that with a win against Clarence.”
“We are missing a few players but our core group of players will do their best for the club.”
“We are going to Wentworth Park for 3 points and the team is confident we can overcome all obstacles that have plagued us in recent weeks.”
The attitude of the side is fantastic but we need to improve on our finishing and final third decision making.”
South Hobart v Hobart JEEP Zebras, Sunday 26 June, Darcy St, 2:00pm
Last Time: NPL TAS Round 7, Hobart JEEP Zebras 2-2 South Hobart
League Form: Hobart Zebras: DWWLW South Hobart: WWWWL
After a pair of games against Devonport it doesn’t get much easier for South Hobart when they host Hobart Zebras in a Sunday blockbuster at Darcy St. The stakes could not be much higher with a loss for either side potentially ending their title push. It may sound overly dramatic with 8 weeks remaining after this round, but to fall 7 or 8 points behind would leave either side reliant on a lot of results to go their way and the bottom 4 sides this year have not looked likely to take points from the top sides, limiting the games you’d expect points to be dropped in.
South Hobart could so easily have headed into this game on top of the table; instead they sit five points behind Devonport and in third place after somehow losing 2-0 in a game they dominated. They can take confidence from the football they played but they must be more clinical against Zebras. Kobe Kemp's absence leaves a big hole in midfield that Alfred Hess is likely to fill with Alex Walter starting wide. They will need the likes of Nick Morton and Alex Leszczynski to stand up and play at their best against an unsettled Zebras back four that has been shuffled around in recent weeks and looked vulnerable against the Lions running at them last week. With the attacking weapons at their disposal South Hobart should be able to carve out chances, they just need to take them this week.
The Zebras have moved into second but they have not been particularly convincing in recent weeks. They are grinding out results but have not been doing so in the dominant manner that they did in the opening rounds of the season and were lucky to come away with three points against Kingborough last week. They need to find their best form for this game quickly. They also need to avoid a slow start; they have conceded two goals in both games against South Hobart this season inside the opening 20 minutes. Tyler Harrison's return will stabilise a back four that saw Jayden Hey and Mattias Toghill switching flanks in for last weeks game with Paul Stevens to partner him. In midfield, one of Undy or Loong Ly will likely miss with the other to play alongside Sherman and Muller. The rest of the XI is fairly settled.
What the Coaches Said
“We played well at Devonport but we still lost, so a very disappointing result but the performance was much better.”
“Jack Turner will resume training Thursday but Kobe and Ben are still not ready.”
“Zebras are a very difficult opponent with some outstanding individual players. They have also had an influx of new players, Cairns, Undy, Stevens and Loong-Li. This adds to the team’s over-all strength. Obviously, Huigsloot and McKeown are dangerous but they also have influential players like Sherman and Hey all-round the field.”
“It will be a game with a physical element and I would expect great speed and intensity.”
“We need to put our chances away and score more goals than our opponent.”
“ Last week was a good gutsy comeback, which showed a lot of discipline and commitment from the player group to dig deep and get the result when needed.”
“ Tyler Harrison trained through a full session last evening, so all being well, he should be fine. Aaron Cairns has still not trained since the Clarence game on the 27th of last month and I have no idea when we may see him at training, so he will have no part in the squad this week. Other than that everyone should be fit and ready for selection.”
“South would be livid on their result from last week given their dominance of the games, so beware of the wounded bull. Both clubs have a lot to play for and a lot to lose with a loss in this game, so this game will be like a cup final.”
“It is always difficult in these games, but I would be expecting a game with very little in it. We frustrated South last time with a longer ball style of game, using the height advantage of Huigi”
“Improvement needs to be maintaining better possession and not conceding preventable goals, especially early like we have a habit of doing against South.”