Slice of Cheese

League Cup Quarter Finals Preview

The Final act of the 2017 Tasmanian Football season is set to commence this weekend with the quarter finals of the League Cup set to play out on Saturday. The top six sides from the PS4 NPL Tasmania season along with the Southern and Northern Championship champions, namely Somerset and Glenorchy Knights  are set to play off in a knock out style cup tournament.

The first of the quarter finals sees South Hobart travelling up to Somerset to take on the Sharks. Somerset were dominant in the Northern Championship and from all reports were champing at the bit to make a run in this tournament but a draw against South Hobart certainly stings that aspiration. They at least have the advantage of a home game but South are playing some superb football and represent the toughest side they could have drawn. South are unbeaten in their past 15 games, winning 14 of them, thumped Launceston City 7-0 last week and won’ be taking the foot off the pedal with the National NPL Finals series awaiting them. Not that Somerset aren’t in form themselves, they have ridden a 16 game winning streak to the Championship title and posted a remarkable 20-0-1 season. They are a physical side and against what is expected to be a youthful South side, with some of their Challenge League youngsters set to have a run, the Sharks will be hoping that extra physical edge can help them cause an upset. The last time South traveled North for a cup game they lost to Launceston City, so whilst unlikely, it’s not an impossible task for the Sharks.

In the second game on the Coast, Devonport will welcome Northern Rangers to Valley Road. Devonport are set to continue the approach they have taken in the final few weeks of the NPL season and field a young side with an eye to next year. Chris Gallo will want to take a good look at his prospects and this is another chance for players to prove they should be in the first team plans for 2018. They met at Valley Road recently, clashing in Round 18 and despite missing the likes of Mann and Reynolds it was Devonport who claimed a convincing 4-0 victory. Injury and suspension will rule that pair out again for the Strikers giving Rangers a better chance to atone for that and show they are a better side than that.  Last week they were poor though, albeit under strength as Zebras defeated them 5-0. With Nick Lanau-Atkinson set to return to the side and less players battling the flu you’d expect a more competitive effort, but Devonport have had their number this season, winning all 3 games against them, even when they have been short of full strength.

At 4:00pm, Hobart Zebras are up against Olympia Warriors again, having met three times in the league and in the Lakoseljac Cup already in 2017. Zebras appear to be rounding back in form at the right time of the season as they claimed a 2-2 draw at Darcy Street to bring South Hobart’s 13 game winning streak to an end before thumping Northern Rangers 5-0 on the final day of the season. With the likes of Dwayne Walsh, Imran Lewis, Jordan Muller and Adam Mckeown all returning to the side in recent weeks after injuries, they are starting to resemble the side that looked an early title contender in the opening months of the season. Olympia meanwhile have stalled again after it seemed they had gotten themselves back on track. A pair of victories over Hobart Zebras and Devonport have been followed by draws against Northern Rangers and Clarence in the past 3 weeks, with last week’s 3-3 draw against Clarence almost ending in defeat but for a last gasp Jakub Sklenar goal to earn them a point. The battle of Sklenar v Groenewold in this game will be worth the price of admission alone. The two players who swept the major awards as the best two players in the competition going head to head, the leagues best defender against the top striker. It should be compelling viewing and will go a long way to settling the game.

Finally redemption will be on the cards for Launceston City as they meet Glenorchy Knights for the second time this season in a Cup game at KGV. Their Lakoseljac Cup clash ended in a 6-0 thumping win for the Knights as City were sent crashing out. That will be a motivating factor for them as they look to atone for that performance and build off some promising late season form. Certainly City are travelling a lot better than they were back in that game, with a late season surge lifting them from the bottom of the table and into sixth place to qualify for this tournament, though a 7-0 humbling at the hands of South Hobart last weekend would be a concern. Knights rode their luck to claim a draw with Beachside in the season finale but over the course of the season they have been a quality side in a strong Southern Championship competition.

Saturday 26 August

Devonport v Northern Rangers, Valley Road, 2:00pm

Somerset v South Hobart, Cardigan Street, 2:00pm

Olympia Warriors v Hobart Zebras, Warrior Park, 4:00pm

Glenorchy Knights v Launceston City, KGV, 4:30pm