City Hold Firm To Upset Warriors
Jarrod Linger scored the solitary goal of the game just before half time and Launceston City held on from there to snap a four game losing streak with a hard fought win 1-0 over the Olympia Warriors. City had to fight every inch of the way to hold out against an aerial bombardment from the Warriors but on a heavy, slippery pitch they did just that.
The form of the two teams indicated that Olympia would continue their winning ways while City would again struggle to take points from a top four team but the match ebbed and flowed with the result on a knife-edge for much of the 90 minutes.
Within two minutes of kick-off Thomas Bellini found a looping ball arriving over his shoulder as he approached the home side's six yard line. His out-stretched boot connected for a desperate volley but he sent the ball over the City goal towards the spectators' glowing firepots.
Yusuke Takatsu, Gavin Hoy and Bellini were creating chance after chance down the right channel with many a ball whipped in to the home team's penalty area. With the tall target of Graham Glynn up front and so many crosses arriving it seemed purely a fact of mathematical probability that a goal would arrive soon enough.
City were not making it easy for the Warriors though. Alex Sciulli and Aaron Mattarozzi cut out many of Olympia's threats through headed clearances, interceptions and well timed tackles. Isaac Degetto was a dynamo up and down the left flank running on to long passes, carrying the ball up field and then tracking back to give Olympia no time on the ball. On the 10 minute mark he had his second headed attempt at goal with Pasquale Gioffre doing well to smother his downward header.
Moments later Aaron Campbell struck a superb free kick from directly outside the penalty area to draw a full-stretch diving save from Gioffre to deny a goal in the top-right corner.
Midway through the half Warren Wadawu, who had swapped flanks with Hoy, produced a tasty cut-back from the by-line. Glynn received the ball at the far-side of the goal, turned his marker but couldn't muster any power behind the shot and it trickled goalward from 8 yards.
Each time it seemed that Olympia were starting to really exert some dominance, the ball would appear at the other end of the pitch with the Warrior's goal under threat. And just before half time a short period of City attacks bore results. Some blocked shots and committed tackling combined together with the slippery surface saw the ball fall for Jarrod Linger at the corner of the penalty box on the right wing. He shaped to shoot, let fly and fell to the ground as his feet slipped out from under him. From the ground he could console himself with the sight of Gioffre being beaten and the ball rustling the net inside the far post to put his side 1-0 ahead. For a player making his starting debut it was a nice way to announce your arrival.
The half-time whistle blew and in echoes of previous matches the question of whether Olympia would rue their inability to convert chances in to goals lingered.
The second half brought a resumption of the same pattern but with an air of tension on the side of the visitors. City looked to protect their lead and play on the break. When City broke over half way five minutes in to the half Meredith earnt himself a yellow for holding back his opponent. Jake Vandermay did likewise a short while later against Campbell but without making it in to the referee's book.
Hoy and Wadawu continued to create opportunities while the newly introduced Harrison Thomas let fly with a few worm-burner shots which were tipped wide by Smith or sailed just wide. As the minutes ticked down the pressure was ratcheted up by Olympia. One minute in to injury time Wadawu's own corner bounced back to him. He sent a driving cross to the six yard box which Glynn did well to aim goalward but the speed with which it arrived prevented him from keeping it below the crossbar.
When the final whistle blew, the crowd let out a relieved cheer.
The Launceston City coach Lino Sciulli was understandably proud of his team.
"We didn't give the ball away too much, we worked really, really hard throughout the ground, our five midfielders did exceptionally well, our four guys in the back worked really hard tirelessly, and the one guy up front he did exceptionally well, when he got the ball he held it up and allowed people to come up, we attacked a little bit as well it wasn't just defending for us, so I was very happy with the all round performance."
His counter-part, Glen McNeill, was blunt in his assessment of how things had panned out. "Obviously possession and dominance in a game counts for nothing if you can't put the ball in the back of the net and we couldn't, and really, at the end of the day with the opportunities we had we didn't take them, we didn't deserve to win the game." When asked about who, if anyone, had played well he had the following to say, "To be honest, our back four.…. but really, anyone in front of them was poor. Although we were creating opportunities we just were not clinical and ruthless….. that will bite you. And it did."
Launceston City worked terrifically well as a unit to forge a win under intense and constant pressure. The silly mistakes from last week had disappeared. They showed team spirit and a team understanding to play smartly and with commitment to achieve their goal. This bodes well in the lead up to their local derby away against Rangers next week.
Olympia on the other hand will need to quickly remedy their inability to convert opportunities in to goals when faced with dogged opposition. And they'll need to do so in less than six days as they too have a derby match looming at the KGV on Friday night when they take on their fierce rivals Hobart JEEP Zebras.