Slice of Cheese

McDonald’s NPL R10 Wash-Up

Round 10 of the NPL Tasmania is in the books as the sides returned to league action following the final weekend off for Cup Football in the 2022 season. Launceston City began the round by claiming Launceston Derby bragging rights with a late flurry of goals and the Lions ended it with a comfortable 4-0 win in the Safari Derby. In between those two clashes, the league’s title contenders took to the pitch as Devonport looked every bit the cream of the crop in their demolition job over Olympia and South Hobart emerged as the side best poised to challenge them as they vanquished Knights.

City Finish Strong To Claim Derby

Launceston City struck three times in the final 20 minutes to eventually overcome a spirited Riverside Olympic outfit 5-2 in the second Launceston Derby of the season. With the game delicately poised at 2-2 with 15 minutes left to play, 2 goals in the space of a minute saw City finally break away from the Roos who earlier had twice pulled back leads, before Jaden Fidra capped another lively display with another goal in stoppage time to put the cherry on top.

Albert Amankwaa gave City the fast start when he had the ball in the back of the net inside of 2 minutes, firing home at the near post from the first chance of the night. Fidra came close to extending the lead as did Dan Smith, but a combination of some good keeping from Ari Johnson and the crossbar kept the score at 1-0. 

In the midst of a difficult season, Riverside were clearly determined this was not going to be another one-sided affair and they got back on terms via a spectacular chipped effort from Mackye Jago to level it at 1-1.

That parity was short-lived however as Jaden Fidra showed his dazzling dribbling skills to beat two defenders wide on the right before delivering a perfect cross to the back post that picked out a leaping Tantari at the back post to head home. 

They were being out-chanced, but they were hanging around and shortly after half time Riverside drew level again, this time from a set-piece. Humphrey’s cross was headed back across goal by Rutabayiro for William Coert to bob up and draw the game level at 2-2.

Suddenly it was all to play for as the game headed into the final 20 minutes all squared up but City’s key movers in attack would stand up and deliver.

Skipping into some space outside the penalty box, Stefan Tantari’s long-range shot caught the keeper by surprise and squeezed home to see City reclaim the lead at 3-2. 

Less than 2 minutes later and it was 4-2 as Fidra rolled home a scrappy goal that came about following a failure to clear their lines by the Riverside defence. There was nothing scrappy about his goal in stoppage time though, chipping a delightful goal from long range over the head of the keeper to secure the 5-2 win for his side in some serious style.  

South Jump Knights Into Second Spot

South Hobart scored a major victory over Glenorchy Knights, downing them 3-0 and in the process perhaps emerged as the side set to challenge the Strikers in the title race. 

Much like the first meeting between the pair back in Round 3, chances were few and far between but it was South Hobart who seemed largely in control of the general play. They had more of the ball in dangerous areas but were struggling to break through a resolute Knights defence.

Sam Berezansky came closest with his drive from the top of the area that drew a sharp save from Reef Murfett and it was those 2 players in the spotlight again when South eventually did find the breakthrough on 40 minutes. 

Murfett got down to block Nick Morton’s cross from the right, but he deflected the ball into the thigh of a sliding Berezansky and it rebounded back past the keeper and into the back of the net. A fortunate goal to be sure, but there was certainly an element of swings and roundabouts at play here, having conceded the opener in Monday’s Cup final in a strikingly similar fashion. 

It left Knights needing to chase the game in the second half and they started that endeavor in a positive manger as Thomas Walpole forged a chance shortly after the restart but fired his shot into the side netting.

South Hobart quickly took back over and nearly doubled their lead when Nick Morton came close to a goal of the year contender after he utterly bamboozled multiple defenders with a mazy run into the box. His shot was a powerful one that had the keeper beat but it rattled into the crossbar and stayed out, denying South’s skipper an incredible goal.

He would get his goal on 62 minutes however when a rare error from Eli Luttmer saw him butchering a back pass that allowed Morton to sneak in and place the ball in the back of the net for a 2-0 lead.

A third goal to kill the contest arrived soon after as Berezansky grabbed his second of the afternoon, firing home a rebound after Murfett had denied Divin’s initial shot.

It secured the 3-0 result and sees South jump past Knights and into second on the table. Whether South can go on from here and catch the Strikers, or at least make them sweat a little in the second half of the season remains to be seen, but there is no doubt they are now the side best poised to do so after this result. Knights have got some results earlier in the year in games where they were outplayed, but they’ve been unable to do so in recent times and their title defence is slipping away as a result.  

Strikers Wallop Warriors 

The Devonport Strikers continued on with their celebrations from Monday’s Lakoseljac Cup victory, completely demolishing the Olympia Warriors 10-1 at Valley Road. In a complete mismatch of a game, the Strikers slammed on 9 goals in the opening hour before putting the cue in the rack for the final half hour.

After an intense fortnight of action saw them vanquishing the second-placed Knights and then downing South Hobart in a Cup Final, the Strikers seemed to rather relish the procession this game became. Taking full advantage of the time and space they had been denied in their past couple of games the Strikers surgically picked an inexperienced Warriors defence apart, and at times simply toyed with their opponents.

Roberto Fernandez-Garrido extended his Golden Boot lead with a hat-trick whilst the outstanding Ali Dulleh and Joel Stone also bagged braces in the demolition job. The pick of the goals may well have been the first of the day, when Henry Andrew bent one in from long range in just the third minute, a harbinger of what was soon to come.  

The resulting boost to their goal difference this result provided was significant as they moved from level with now second-placed South Hobart on +25 heading into the Round, into a commanding 6-goal lead in the tie-breaker. The way they are going right now, goal difference will probably not even come into it, but with South Hobart 3 points behind them, it’s another nice advantage to have in the pocket should it be required. 

For the Warriors it’s a new low in what was already an extremely challenging season for them. Already a young side, this probably would’ve been the most inexperienced line up they’ve put out all season and it showed. Injuries have meant a few have been thrown into the fire prematurely and so perhaps unsurprisingly at times it did look like men against boys out there. They will look forward to a more winnable game next week when they play host to Riverside, whom they claimed their sole win for the year over, earlier this season. 

Lions Cruise Past Zebras

For the second time this year the Kingborough Lions made short work of the Clarence Zebras, this time doing it on the road in a 4-0 win at a cold Wentworth Park. 

These were not pleasant conditions for the players, it was so cold that you could clearly see the masses of steam billowing off the players every time they breathed in and out. But the Zebras couldn’t match the conditions and provide the tough grind they want their home games to be for visiting sides, falling well short of a result here. 

The opening goal felt like something from out of the coaching manual. Get it wide, get bodies in the box and cross it in. That’s coaching 101 and that’s duly what they did as Adam McKeown turned home a cross from close range to get the Lions off and running. 

The second came just before the hour mark via an audacious setup from Ramiro Villar as he tapped the ball up to himself before producing a bicycle kick cross. It found the head of a diving McKeown who seemingly squandered the chance when he directed his header backwards, only for it to ricochet off an arriving Baumgartner and into the back of the net. It was one of the stranger goals of the season and it doubled the Lions lead.

From there the Lions killed off the contest as Noah Mies bagged a late brace. His first was nicely set up by an Alfred Hess run down the left and the second from Villar down the right. If you give him service Mies has always scored goals and this was silver service from the wide men. It secured the 4-0 win and got the Lions back on track. 

After a few down weeks this was a welcome return to form for the Lions and a reminder they’re still a quality side. They’ve probably left themselves too far behind to seriously push for the title in the second half of the season, but they could play a major role in shaping things. They’re going to be a tough out for every side who plays them and could easily take more points from the top few sides down the stretch.

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