Slice of Cheese

Nichols Fires Zebras To Victory

Solstice Photography

A brace from Zoe Nichols ensured that Hobart Zebras saw off the Kingborough Lions under the Friday night lights at KGV. The first half saw a bunch of half chances for both sides, however it wasn’t until the 37th minute the deadlock was finally broken between the sides, through Nichols first goal of the night. The home side doubled their lead two minutes into second the half and they never looked in doubt of securing the three points once they got their noses ahead.

It was a tense, tit for tat beginning to the match, that saw neither side convincingly beat the defensive lines with the ball largely stuck in midfield. Both sides looked to remain defensively structured and avoid the possibility of being exposed in the back. Both sides opted for a similar strategy of pressing high to try force the respective defences into an error. Neither team could take any of the early opportunities that fell their way, either hitting the ball over the bar or safely into the respective goalkeepers hands.

A key chance for both sides came through exposing each others high defensive lines. For the Lions, Emille Tatton got in behind the Zebras defence and looked clear on goal but for a timely, last ditch challenge from Kayla Mason in the box. Meanwhile up the other end, Georgia Burt looked to have put Sarah Morris through on goal, only for some brave goalkeeping by Olivia Gardner putting a stop to the opportunity by meeting Morris at the edge of the box and blocking the shot.

As the half wore on, the Zebras continued to persist. Save of the week has to come from Isabelle Dadswell, who cleared the ball off the goal line from a corner that had been fumbled by the goalkeeper and came agonisingly close to getting over the line for the games opening goal.

Solstice Photography

Eventually the deadlock was broken before half time. Some excellent work by Rachel Gill down the left flank, saw a cross come flying into the box landing at Morris’ feet. Morris was unable to capitalise, smashing the ball into the top crossbar, but fortunately for her side, Nichols was there and made no doubt of the opportunity, volleying the ball home.

After going in to the break 1-0 ahead, both sides were quick to turn up the tempo in the second half. Again it was the Zebras who capitalised through the outstanding Zoe Nichols. In the 47th minute, Nichols received the ball, with her back to the defence, just outside the box. Turning on a dime, Nichols beats her player, keeping her feet enough to strike a powerful shot to the near bottom corner to get her second of the night and a two goal cushion for the Zebras.

Even with a two goal advantage, the Zebras still looked to assert themselves, not content to sit back and wind the clock down. Nichols was out for a hat trick, but luck alluded her efforts, with Gardner doing enough to deny her in the 70th minute, then again in extra time the Lions defence scraping to stop a chance as Nichols got through on goal.

The Lions didn’t look to back down either, having a good spell of possession and creating some opportunities midway through the half. Particularly the combination of Tatton and Leila Hickman caused the Zebras defence some issues as the Lions searched for a way back into the match. However the Zebras defence lead by an inform Mason were able to hold tight, with the Lions opportunities really limited to shots outside of the box, as their attempts to get into the box just couldn’t find enough space or purchase to threaten the goal.

Solstice Photography

In the 87th minute the Lions got their best opportunity of the half, Tatton broke through the lines of defence, took the ball around the oncoming Zebra’s goalkeeper Kacee Ponting, to have an empty net in front of her. Unfortunately a heavy touch, with a defender on her trail, saw her tumble over and place it the wrong side of the post. Tatton was immediately subbed off, looking worse for wear after taking her time getting up after the fall. 

In the end, the Zebras found themselves finishing the game with a convincing 2-0 win. The victors were well deserved, but the Lions didn’t go out without a fight, even if it wasn’t clear where they could find a goal against the well organised defensive unit the Zebras set out.

 

Long time footy supporter and player, short time referee and blogger.Wanna-be know it all about women’s soccer. Also found at MollysFootyRants for more ramblings about football.