Zebras Leave It Late To Close Gap To Strikers
Hobart Zebras 1 (Jayden Hey 78’ pen) Olympia Warriors 0
The Hobart JEEP Zebras overcame the Olympia FC Warriors 1-0 under the Friday night lights of KGV to move within a point of top spot. In a free flowing affair of good quality, the Zebras had all the running after half time but took till the 78th minute to score from the penalty spot and had to endure some nervous minutes at the end against a 10 man Warriors.
The opening half was open, but neither team was able to break the deadlock. Some inspired defending by Thomas Little and Paul Stevens kept their respective teams in it with timely interventions.
Olympia probably just shaded the opening half in terms of possession as Gavin Hoy ran riot trying to create, but they didn't rattle off as many shots as their dominance should have led to and the later the half went on the more the Zebras got back into the contest and had the better of the overall chances.
The Warriors won an astonishing 12 corners in the opening half and their best chance to score came in the 28th minute when one of those corners found Nicholas Mearns unmarked from 6 yards out. He leaped high but powered a header well over the bar when a shot on target should have been the bare minimum for a player of his calibre.
In the 34th minute, Hugh Undy rattled the crossbar with a half volley from a flick on by Luke Huigsloot in one of two decent chances that the Zebras had in the opening half.
The second good chance came on the stroke of half time as Dwayne Walsh was released one on one battle with Pasquale Gioffre. Little pursued like a mad man to put a bit of inferred pressure on Walsh but nonetheless the winger should have done better as Gioffre left a large part of his goal unattended. His left foot strike had far too much venom on it and lacked the accuracy he desired and the chance for the Zebras to take the lead went begging.
The opening 15 minutes of the second half were rather subdued as both teams tried to settle back into the rhythm of the game. The Zebras settled first and then dominated the majority of the half.
A fine string of saves from Gioffre kept the scoreline at 0-0. The big Olympia custodian made saves in the 61st, 62nd, 67th, 70th and 75th minutes, all of good quality, before undoing all of his excellent work in the 77th minute.
Adam McKeown danced around one man inside the box before sneaking past Gioffre as well with a quick turn. The gloveman had no other alternative other than sticking an arm out to bring down McKeown after he was beaten. Referee Barker had no problems in pointing to the spot. Jayden Hey stepped up and buried it with great conviction to make it 1-0.
Two minutes later, Yusuke Takatsu was sent from the field after collecting two yellows inside 20 seconds. The second card came after he looked to have pushed the arm of Referee Barker away in disgust with his decision. Barker had no alternative but to brandish the second yellow and send Takatsu for an early shower.
Just like the previous week, the Zebras suddenly looked more shaky with a numerical advantage, with Olympia having the last two chances of the match but fortunately for the Zebras, they weren't able to force Graham Wright into any saves.
It was a business like performance from the Zebras as they continue their title chase. This win leaves them just one point behind the Strikers with the Strikers having a game in hand. It helps maintain the pressure on their title rivals and all Zebras can do is to continue to collect three points each week to maintain the two horse race.