South Cut Strikers Lead To 3 Points South Cut Strikers Lead To 3 Points
South Hobart kept their title hopes alive, downing Devonport 3-2 to cut the gap to the leaders to just 3 points. All three of their goals came in the opening half hour, racing out to a 3-0 lead before they were forced to survive a storming second-half fightback. Brayden Mann struck twice to equal his own NPL TAS season goalscoring record at 31, but it wasn’t enough, as South hung on and ensured they remain an outside chance of the title.
It was a physical grind of a game and the pattern was set from the outset with Devonport clearly planning to give Renato De Vecchi Marins some extra attention. He was battered throughout the game and came in for some overly tough physical treatment.
The first clear chance led to the first goal of the game, Jack Turner emphatically finishing after he was slid through in on goal, igniting the Darcy Street crowd.
The chances were at a premium but South were making them count, doubling the lead via Alex Walter. Having played the ball in from the right, a mad scramble in the box saw the ball spill back to Walter, who poked home from close range, any offside shouts negated by the ball coming off Lazcano.
It got better still, Kobe Kemp racing onto a loose ball in the box after Turner had back-heeled it via a deflection perfectly into his path. The midfield maestro made no mistake, driving an absolute rocket into the back of the net.
At this stage it seemed like South were set to score a huge victory and potentially close the significant goal difference advantage the Strikers currently enjoy but Devonport had other ideas.
After a flat first 45, clearly showing the effects of Tuesday’s FFA Cup tie, the Strikers came flying out of the blocks in the second half. Their performance in this half was a truly remarkable effort given the circumstances and speaks to the pride and fight in this squad.
As it so often has been this season, it was Brayden Mann who led his side back into the contest. After some quality play wide on the right from Eddie Bidwell, getting the better of his marker and sending in the cross, Mann let fly with a truly spectacular scissor kick effort that saw the back of the net bulge.
Eight minutes he was at it again, volleying home to finish a wonderful flowing move that involved Holden and Stone in the build up, turning defence into attack in the blink of an eye.
It made the game 3-2 with half an hour to play and the Strikers suddenly surging, having been outplayed for the majority of the first half, they were suddenly making all the running.
The teams traded half chances in the remaining time, with Devonport looking the more likely but ultimately not finding a way through. South, who had gone from trying to run up the score to grimly holding on, were under immense pressure but the defensive unit, led by Oscar Thomas managed to hold out and secure a vital three points.
Whilst Devonport still remain firmly in the box seat, with their superior goal difference meaning they can afford to drop 1 of their final 3 games, South are now right on the heels. With the FFA Cup game against Avondale still to come, there remains the chance the Strikers could yet wobble and unlikely as that seems given what we have seen from them, if it does happen, South are waiting to pounce.