Slice of Cheese

Friday Forecast: Cup Semi Finals

Solstice Photography

Welcome to the Friday Forecast with a big weekend of Semi Final action awaiting us. Without further ado lets jump into the four semi final matches across the Lakoseljac Cup and Statewide Women’s Cup and see what can be gleaned in the lead up to these hotly anticipated fixtures.

Northern Rangers v Devonport Strikers

Saturday 19 May, 1:00PM, NTCA GROUND

Form

Rangers: LWWLW

Devonport: WLWWW

Recent Matches

April 21, 2018, Northern Rangers 2-3 Devonport, NTCA

29 July 2017, Devonport 4-0 Northern Rangers, Valley Road

May 13, 2017, Devonport 7-1 Northern Rangers, Valley Road

Road To The Semi

Rangers:

Round of 16: df Ulverstone 6-0 (Ulverstone)

Quarter Finals: df Taroona 6-0 (NTCA)

Devonport: 

Round of 16: df New Town Eagles 7-0 (Clare St)

Quarter Finals: df Olympia, 4-3 AET (Valley Road)

In the first Semi Final, Northern Rangers are set to meet the Devonport Strikers at the NTCA ground in a rematch of their thrilling NPL game that took place in Round 5. On that day Devonport rallied back from a 2-1 deficit to win 3-2, the exact same score line from their 2017 meeting at the NTCA. It took a stoppage time penalty to separate the sides so if we get a similar game this time around, it has potential to be a cup classic.

Devonport most recently won the Lakoseljac Cup in 2016 and went on to advance to the FFA Cup Round of 16, something they will be hoping to repeat, but Rangers have been a difficult foe on home turf this year. Rangers could so easily have taken the 3 points from that Round 5 game, at 2-1 and playing well it was their’s to lose, but that’s just what happened as Devonport dug deep. Whether it was extra fitness or just Rangers switching off at the end, the Strikers are not a side you want to leave hanging around. They have the most goals in the league this season which is no surprise given the firepower at their disposal. Holden, Mann, Blizzard, Jackson and Stone offers them plenty of attacking depth and no side has kept them scoreless in a game this year. They have had issues at times with their finishing but for the most part they have played an aesthetic attacking game and you get the sense if it all clicks, this side could be a title winner.

After a somewhat sluggish start, Rangers have been a tough commodity since the start of April. In that period, including the Cup, their record is 4-1-2 with the two defeats both narrow, falling 3-2 at the hands of Devonport and South Hobart. They may have had a soft draw to reach this stage of the cup, but the football they have produced in 2018 shows that they are not out of place in the final four. Daniel Cristy has emerged as a real weapon and along with Argentinian Federio Cano they now have an added dimensions in attack to support the always reliable Nick Lanau-Atkinson. Coach Lino Sciulli has done a fine job growing and developing this side since he took the reins, Saturday will be the acid test, this is the biggest game the club has had in recent years, is this young group ready for it? We are about to find out.

Image- Northern Rangers FC

Launceston City v South Hobart

Saturday 19 May, 3:00PM, Buckby Landrover Park

Form

Launceston City: WWWDW

South Hobart:  WWWDL

Recent Matches

April 21, 2018, Launceston City 0-0 South Hobart (Buckby Landrover Park)

August 19, 2017, South Hobart 7-0 Launceston City (Darcy Street)

June 24, 2017, Launceston City 1-5 South Hobart (Buckby Landrover Park)

Road To The Semi

Launceston City

Round of 16: df Kingborough 6-0 (KGV)

Quarter Finals: df Hobart United 4-1 (Buckby Landrover Park)

South Hobart

Round of 16: df Clarence 7-0 (Wentworth Park)

Quarter Finals: df Hobart Zebras 5-1 (Darcy Street)

Kicking off at 3:00pm, Launceston City and South Hobart are set to meet in the Lakoseljac Cup for a remarkable fifth season in a row! South Hobart were the victors in their 2013, 14 and 15 clashes but last year it was City who knocked them out with a 2-1 win. This will be the most advanced stage of the competition that any of those meetings have occurred at. The game is also a rematch from Round 4, with that game ending locked at o-0 suggesting a tight cup tie is in prospect.

Back in Round 4, City were still somewhat of an unknown quantity, with that game the second game of a tough month that would see them play the competitions top four of 2017. Well we know what they are now, and that is a very good football side, claiming victories of 3-2 away to Devonport and 3-1 against Zebras to follow their 2-0 win over Olympia. They sit atop the NPL Tasmania table by four points and have emerged as one of the big contenders. They are playing a pragmatic, defence first style of game that is reminiscent of Devonport in 2016 and has them dreaming of mirroring their success in the FFA Cup. With a defence that has conceded just five goals all year, backed by star keeper Niko Giantsopoulos, they are going to be very tough to break down for South who couldn’t solve the Canadian last time around. Whilst Giantsopoulos’s highlight reel has seen him earn the plaudits, the play of the Scott/Millington central defensive pairing in front him has also played a major role in their fantastic defensive record and they will need to be big again on Saturday.

Their opponents are starting to hit form however and they have an affinity for this competition, winning it and representing Tasmania in the FFA Cup in 2014 and 2015. That draw with City marked somewhat of a turning point for South; since that day they have beaten Zebras 5-1, Olympia 2-1 and Rangers 3-2 in their three games since. With Brazilian striker Renato De Vecchi Marins providing the attacking flair they missed in the early rounds of the season, it should be a much tougher South Hobart side awaiting City on Saturday afternoon. South’s problems in games this year have been taking chances, creating has not been the problem. With City likely to prove tough to break down, South cannot rely on winning by weight of chances created, they will need to sharpen up and be clinical, because City have the means to stifle them and the weapons to make them pay at the other end. This should be a tight affair and both sides will enter it high on confidence given their recent form.

Image-Jamie Richardson

Ulverstone v Kingborough

Saturday 19 May, 2:30pm, Ulverstone

Form

Ulverstone:WWWWW

Kingborough:LLWLL

Recent Matches

May 12, 2018, Ulverstone 6-3 Kingborough (Ulverstone)

August 19, 2017, Kingborough 3-2 Ulverstone (Lightwood Park)

May 6, 2017, Ulverstone 5- 1 Kingborough (Ulverstone)

Road To The Semi

Ulverstone:

Round of 16: df Beachside 24-0 (Ulverstone)

Quarter Finals: df South Hobart 6-1 (Darcy Street)

Kingborough: 

Round of 16: df Devonport by Walkover

Quarter Finals: df Northern Rangers 2-1 (NTCA)

In the first semi final of the Women’s Statewide Cup, the undefeated in 2018 Ulverstone SC, have been given a home game against the Kingborough Lions. The North West side will be warm favourites given their red hot start to the year. The sides will be very familiar with each other, as they meet in the Super League just last week with Ulverstone running out 6-3 victors. Ulverstone most recently made the final in 2015, where they fell 2-1 to Launceston City and look well positioned to return to the big dance in 2018.

On paper this seems like Ulverstone should be fairly comfortable victors. They are a perfect 9/9 on the season and have emerged as the early Super League favourites. Their 6-3 win last week saw them continue their free scoring ways. They have now hit the six goal mark in four of their past five games and the only game they didn’t, they still scored five in! Chief among the goals has been the speediest striker in the business, Jazmin Gorrrie, who has chalked up 14 goals already in the league and is routinely torching defences. With Lucy Foote in midfield supplying the ammunition and the arrival of Emily Nellis and Georgia Foote at the back, the impact some star power has had on this side has been completely transformative. Ulverstone are the real deal in 2018 and find themselves well poised for Cup success.

If you are making the case for an upset, the first 50 minute of last week is probably where it starts. The Lions led that game 3-2 and put themselves in a position to get a positive result. Ultimately they couldn’t stick with Ulverstone for the full 90, but they showed they can score on them. Ulverstone have now leaked 6 goals in the last 2 weeks after conceding just four across their first 6 games, so perhaps they are vulnerable and Laura Davis is the type of player who could take advantage of that. But goal scoring is not the area Kingborough struggle with, its at the other end they must tighten up if they are to spring the surprise. They need to reverse the trend of conceding heavily against the top few sides that has plagued them in the past few seasons and cost them in the game against Ulverstone last weekend

Image-Solstice Photography

Olympia v Taroona

Saturday 19 May, 4:00PM, Warrior Park

Form

Olympia: WWWWW

Taroona: WWDLW

Recent Matches

February 10, 2018, Taroona 1-4 Olympia (Olinda Grove)

August 28, 2018, Olympia 5-3 Taroona  (Warrior Park)

August 15, Olympia 6-1 Taroona (Warrior Park)

Road To The Semi

Olympia:

Round of 16: BYE

Quarter Finals:  df Launceston City 7-3 (Warrior Park)

Taroona: 

Round of 16:  BYE

Quarter Finals: df Hobart Zebras 6-5 AET (Kelvedon Park)

The other Semi Final throws up Olympia against Taroona who both surprised with their progression by knocking out last season’s finalists, Launceston City and Hobart Zebras in the quarter final stage; ensuring that a new champion will be crowned for 2018.

The Warriors might just be favourites for the Cup at this stage despite the fact they aren’t in the WSL. Davies, Crawford, Michael, Bomford, Crawford, the list goes on, but these are some of the best players in the state and pound for pound there is a case to be made that they are the strongest side left in the draw. Taroona will be under no illusions, they know they face a very tough opponent here. The Warriors are going to coast to the Southern Championship title, as well they should with the personnel at their disposal, but this is the big carrot they are chasing, its the cup that will really matter to them, and where they can truly prove themselves. The only question mark is whether their lack of games against the best sides might leave them unprepared for a team like Taroona, and whether going from interchange to 3 substitutions will see fitness come into play as a concern. Their thumping win over City seemingly put those concerns to bed though and having beaten Taroona 4-1 in the preseason, their confidence will be high.

Taroona will once again be without midfield talisman Adelyn Ayton, so a lot will fall on the shoulders of Zoe Horgan to be that midfield playmaker. It was a sublime performance from Horgan that carried them past the Zebras in the quarter finals and against her former side, she is going to be vital again in the semis. Taroona will likely welcome back the dangerous pair of Ashlee Tolman and Eli Cropp for this game and with Melinda Minstrell also recently returning for the side, they have some extra experience and physicality to call upon. The absence of the sweeper keeper Izzi Ottavi remains an issue, but their form has been solid and they will put out a stronger XI than they did in the Summer Cup. That was both sides first game of the season, so Saturday will demonstrate how far both have come since that day. Taroona have finally gotten the Hobart Zebras sized monkey off their backs in their quarter final win, now they need to make sure it wasn’t ultimately for nothing.

Image-Solstice Photography

FFT Media and Communications Coordinator, Everton tragic, long form journalism devotee, Andrea Pirlo enthusiast and admirer of the parked bus.