Strikers Edge Closer To Title With Narrow Win
The Devonport Strikers moved a step closer to claiming the 2016 NPL TAS title with a 1 – 0 victory over the Kingborough Lions to move 8 points clear on top. The game lacked intensity for many periods as both sides struggled to get the ball moving quickly. Nonetheless, Devonport will be satisfied with gaining the three points regardless of how it was achieved, and will now turn their focus to their FFA cup match on Wednesday night.
The win came as a cost however, with Nathan Gratton being stretchered off with a knee injury that will almost certainly rule him out of Wednesday’s massive cup clash with the Lambton Jaffas.
The first half began very slowly with minimal action coming inside either sides attacking areas. It wasn’t until 10 minutes into the game when a team was able to keep the ball inside their forward half and create consecutive chances, and that team was the Strikers. The best of these chances was in the 13th minute for Joel Stone after multiple corners for the Devonport. This came as a result of the ball spilling his way on the left side of the box where he was then able to get past Cartwright and fire the shot. However, Mark Grace was able to dive down and save the shot.
This began a good period for the Strikers in which they created multiple chances. A slightly optimistic opportunity came in the 20th minute when Brayden Mann attempted an overhead kick from the penalty area after Joel Stone’s cross was sent too far behind him.
In the 25th minute Adam Gorrie scored, what turned out to be the only goal of the match. Brody Denehey was able to find space on the right wing and send in a cross towards the penalty area. The ball found Gorrie, who had to slide to reach it, and he was able to guide the ball into the bottom left corner past a diving Mark Grace.
After the Devonport goal, Kingborough kicked into gear and they were able to apply pressure to the Strikers. Despite being challenged in this period, the Devonport defence was able to stand strong, as it has done so often, and kept their opponents scoreless.
The second half began with a devastating moment for the Strikers as Nathan Gratton fell to the ground holding his knee after colliding with Jack Gates and had to be stretchered from the field, putting his FFC Cup availability in serious doubt.
For Kingborough, they had their own injury concerns early in the second half too when keeper, Mark Grace, was slow to get up in the 60th minute. In an attempt to clear Joel Stone’s corner, Grace came off his line to punch the ball away but in doing so collided with multiple bodies. After seeking assistance from the Kingborough trainer, he eventually returned to his feet and was fine to continue.
Daniel Syson and Miles Barnard both went into the referee’s book with yellow cards in the 73rd and 83rd minutes respectively. Syson’s yellow was awarded for deliberately preventing a Kingborough quick free kick and Barnard made a professional foul on Christopher Downes.
Devonport dominated possession in the second half, resulting in a few good chances and an overall tally of 16 corners for the match. Despite this, they were unable to convert any of these into goals which largely sums up the entire game.
Overall, the Strikers will be happy to have gained the three points today at the “Portress”. Anything less than a victory from the Hobart Jeep Zebra’s tomorrow against Olympia will secure the Strikers of the NPL title, and with their FFA cup match on Wednesday, exciting times are ahead for the Strikers.