Slice of Cheese

Second Half Surge Sends Strikers Top

The Devonport Strikers staged a second half fightback to recover from a 1-0 half time deficit and defeat Launceston City 3-1. The win sees the Strikers move to the top of the NPL Tasmania table and consigned Launceston to a second successive defeat. Having been outplayed in the first half, the game completely changed in the second 45 as the Strikers awoke from their slumber and made City pay for their first half profligacy.

After their first NPL Tasmania loss of the season at the hands of South Hobart, many would have seen this match as a test of Launceston City’s character and their title-winning ability. The loss last week reduced their lead at the top of the table to just 3 points. With some questions coming out of the Devonport camp mid-week about whether their former coach Peter Savill is the mastermind behind City’s dominance this season, it seemed as though the Strikers’ leadership team were looking to get inside the heads of City’s personnel. City’s first half performance suggested they were not put off.

City were the ones that came out firing in the first half and bossed the contest. Former Strikers midfield enforcer Daniel Syson made his presence known against his former teammates early on. Within the first three minutes, the City skipper had gone through the back of Stone and thrown Mann to the ground.

Devonport’s downfall was conceding too many free kicks in dangerous areas, leading to City being able to put the ball into the box and allow the height of Millington and Mies to provide them with an avenue to goal. This was the case in the 19th minute when Syson chipped it to the back post where Mies rose to head the ball into the net and send his side 1-0 up and take his personal tally into the double digits. By halftime, City looked set to extend their lead at the top of the table back to 6 points, but after prime scoring chances were squandered by Linger and Smith, the door had been left ajar.

It was the Strikers who then came out of the break looking a new team. After a tactical switch, Joel Stone came out blazing, proving pivotal in his side’s first two goals. The first of which involved a powerful run down the right that led to Mann’s 22nd goal of the season.

The second goal came through Stone being provided with too much space outside the area, which he took full advantage of and hit a shot that never looked like missing, picking out the bottom corner. The Strikers’ final goal came through a penalty, somewhat questionably given against Liam Scott, who was otherwise solid in defence.

Nevertheless, Mann tucked it away and wheeled off in celebration in front of the City crowd, making it 3-1 and securing the win for the Strikers.

Although City absolutely dominated the first half, it came down to which side put away their chances and that left the Strikers taking the three points and claiming the top spot on the table. This leaves City in an unfamiliar position as they are knocked off from the top for the first time since they gained that title after their round 6 victory against Devonport.

City will face the Hobart Zebras next week who are in fine form after beating Clarence 9-0. The Strikers will look to keep up their scintillating form against Kingborough.