Second Half Blitz Powers Zebras Back Within 2 Points of Summit
The Hobart JEEP Zebras have kept the pressure on ladder leaders Devonport Strikers with a thumping 6-1 victory over Clarence United at Wentworth Park.
The win means Zebras remain only two points behind Devonport, and sets up a potential title defining match when the clubs play against each other next Saturday 30 June at Valley Rd.
From kick-off Zebras forced the match to be played in Clarence's half, with the continued Zebras possession telling on the stat sheet. Jayden Hey and Luke Huigsloot made damaging runs down the left flank within the first five minutes, with the latter unlucky not to score when he failed to connect correctly with an early cross.
Midfielder Hugh Undy had two thundering shots from 25 yards, one going inches wide of the post and the other forcing Matt Dyson into a save at full stretch. Even with the possession advantage many of Zebras shots were from distance rather than getting in behind the Clarence defence.
However in the 26th minute Clarence United took the lead against the run of play. With Clarence's only shot of the first half, Nick Naden hit a bullet from 35 yards and found the the top right corner to beat Graham Wright.
Despite dominating possession in the first half, Zebras found themselves 1-0 behind at half time with the potential of losing touch with Devonport if they failed to convert their possession into goals and take the three points home.
With their title challenge hanging in the balance Zebras came out in the second half and not only continued to dictate the play and hold possession, they also created more clear cut chances than in the first half.
The equaliser came in the 56th minute through Mattias Toghill who scored from the edge of the penalty area. His shot was on target and not even a Clarence deflected header could keep his shot out of the bottom corner.
Zebras found themselves in the lead five minutes later when a Dyson save led to a goal mouth scramble, with Huigsloot getting the final touch to put his side 2-1 ahead.
By the 70th minute it was 4-1 and game over, with goals to Tyler Harrison and Adam McKeown. Huigsloot had a brace with a nice one touch control before burying it past Dyson to make it 5-1. Dwayne Walsh had a brilliant match and finished it off with a goal by volleying it home on the turn and giving his side a 6-1 win.
Hobart JEEP Zebras assistant coach Romeo Frediani was pleased with the outcome. He said he wasn't concerned when they were trailing 1-0 at half time, with the message at half time being to just keep playing the way they were.
"I thought we were always going to score, it was just a matter of when. We could've come away with one for two goals but we didn't (in the first half), but we did in the second half."
With the three points won over Clarence, preparations for next week's crucial match against Devonport will now begin.
"Tomorrow starts and we focus on next week. It's a crunch game for both teams but the boys are up for it."
"I think we do focus a lot on what we do well and I think that showed tonight. We will look at a few things that Devonport do well and then see if we can exploit some of their weaknesses."
For Clarence coach Alan Jablonski it is onto next week, with a big Eastern Shore Derby against rivals Olympia Warriors.
"Big game next week, obviously love to take points next week."