Five Star Devonport Extend Lead Atop The Table
The Devonport Strikers extended their lead on top of the PS4 NPL TAS ladder with a comfortable 5-0 win against the Northern Rangers today at Valley Road. Devonport was the dominant team throughout the game and were never really challenged by their Northern rivals, thanks to a hat-trick from Miles Barnard and strikes from Brayden Mann and Brody Denehey.
The game started very slowly for both teams with the first real chance not coming till the eight minute mark. This chance proved to be the best the Rangers had all day, as Jorge Palacio almost opened the scoring with a fantastic header from a corner, which hit the right-hand side of the crossbar.
This early scare acted as the igniter for the Strikers as they piled on the pressure earning a multitude of successive corners. Much to the frustration of the Devonport crowd, the home team was unable to generate a decent chance on goal, despite the aerial prowess of Gratton and Zupo with many of the deliveries either too low or too close to Rangers Keeper Luigi Cordova.
Devonport finally managed to convert a corner in the 32nd minute when Barnard headed home from close range. Mann’s corner was flicked on by Zupo towards the back post where Barnard out leaped his markers to guide the ball into the bottom right hand corner.
Aside from Barnard’s goal, the first half was relativity uneventful as Devonport found it hard to penetrate the defensively minded Northern Rangers. As both teams entered the break the game was still hanging in the balance, due to Devonport’s inability to convert their high possession into quality chances on goal.
Devonport looked like a changed team coming out of half-time break, doubling their lead in the first three minutes through Barnard. He is fast establishing a reputation for being in the right place at the right time and he once again found himself tapping home from close range as Mann’s fizzing free kick managed to evade the entire Rangers defence, to find him at the back post.
Devonport then scored their second of the half in as many minutes thanks to a tactical piece of play from Mann. When Barnard was brought down on the edge of the 18 yard box Mann was the first to react. He took the quick free kick to catch the Ranger’s wall sleeping and Cordova unawares as the ball curled into the bottom right hand corner.
Brody Denehey scored Devonport’s fourth in the 69th minute as Mann found him in plenty of space with a contested flick on. Mann’s header allowed for Denehey to measure his shot and he made no mistake as he slotted the ball into the bottom left hand corner.
Barnard then capped off a perfect day for the Strikers as he completed his hat-trick with another header in the 88th minute of play. This was probably his best goal of the hat-trick as he rocketed his header past the outstretched Cordova to seal the win for the Strikers.
Devonport will walk away from today’s match happy with their performance, especially in the second half. This win continues their streak and they are in the box seat coming to the end of the second round of fixtures.
Assistant coach Nick Owen, was especially pleased to escape with no injuries and the chance to rest Gorrie in the second half. For the Rangers, unfortunately their poor form continues. Despite being competitive at times, Des Baker and the Rangers still have a lot of work to do to salvage something from this season and claim a first win.