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McDonald’s® NPL TAS Friday Forecast: Round 10

Welcome to the Friday Forecast ahead of Round 10 of the McDonald’s NPL Tasmania. With the Lakoseljac Cup now in the rear vision mirror, there are no more interruptions to the league and it’s now a 12-week stretch to the finish line, starting with an action-packed Saturday of fixtures.

Goals Expected At The Twin Ovals

The Round will begin with another Saturday Morning kick-off, as the Kingborough Lions return to the Twin Ovals as a temporary home base, and this week entertain the Clarence Zebras.

The first meeting of these two sides was an absolute goal fest over at Wentworth Park, as the Kingborough Lions claimed a 6-3 victory. They jumped the Zebras on that day, racing out to a 3-0 lead inside the opening 20 minutes in a game that featured some seriously impressive strikes.

We should probably expect more of the same this time around, as both sides have continued on from that day to play in games littered with goals. Kingborough Lions matches are averaging 5.77 goals per game, which is comfortably the most in the league and the Clarence Zebras 4.44 goals per game is a fairly high clip in itself.

The Zebras probably come into this match with the better form line, which may be an odd thing to say on the surface given the Lions won 10-0 in their last outing, but their two thumping wins over the bottom two sides are sandwiched between defeats to South Hobart and the Devonport Strikers. The Zebras meanwhile downed South Hobart in their last match and only a last-gasp mistake cost them a result against Devonport. They’ve gotten better as the season has worn on and are certainly playing at a more consistent level than we have previously seen from them.

This shapes as an important match in determining the competition’s top four. Both sides currently sit just outside the top four, in fifth and sixth respectively, but the Zebras are only missing out due to goal difference. Whilst South slipping up is unlikely, should City fall to the Strikers, a win would have them leaping into that top four. It would also put them five points clear of the Lions who would be left chasing major ground in the second half of the season to sneak in. As such the home side can ill afford to drop this one, and will be hoping to have too much firepower once again.

The Zebras are coming off the back of a 5-4 win over South Hobart- Solstice Digital

South Look To Bounce Back Against United

South Hobart will look to put last Saturday’s disappointment behind them as they welcome Launceston United to Darcy Street.

A week after their Cup Final heartbreak, South must shake that off and get back to business in the league as they try to climb up a table they currently sit in just fourth place on. It’s been a disappointing campaign so far by their usual standards, with a leaky defence plaguing them and costing them points. The defensive efforts in the Cup Final were far better however and perhaps suggest they’ve now turned a corner in that regard and can build into the back half of the year. A title push is surely out of reach now, but they’re currently in a scrap for a top-four finish, which they will be expecting to achieve.

United meanwhile are languishing in last place in their debut NPL season, and haven’t been closer than 4-0 in the last month. They are still figuring out life at this level, but will want to be improving upon those results down the stretch. This probably isn’t the week they break their duck, but they need to start trending in the right direction.

United’s best performance of the season came against South Hobart in Round 3, ultimately falling 3-2 but taking an early lead and giving South some headaches. That was at Floorworld Park though, and this is a more daunting road trip down to Darcy Street. Still, they showed they could take it up to South on that day, and a similar mentality will be required on Saturday.

Morton has 6 goals in his last 2 NPL games- Solstice Digital

Knights Out To Keep Pressure on

The Glenorchy Knights will be out to keep the pressure on Devonport as they take on Riverside Olympic at Windsor Park. With a win here they can cut the Strikers’ lead back to a single point before they take to the pitch against City in the evening to hopefully add some pressure.

The Knights appear to be the Striker’s lone title threat at this stage, with a rock-solid defensive unit providing the foundation. The 3 goals they’ve conceded through 9 games has them on course for a league record and if they can maintain that discipline, they’ll keep themselves firmly in the mix. It’s in attack where they have lacked a little, but the return of Nick Naden should help in this regard and give them some more firepower moving forwards. A third Canadian import, Marco Favaro has also arrived to further bolster their stocks as the try to catch the Strikers.

Riverside were dismantled by the Kingborough Lions in their last outing, losing 10-0 in their heaviest defeat of the season. They haven’t scored a goal in the past 4 matches and they’ve conceded 22. Quite simply they needed a circuit breaker and they will be hoping that the week off for the Cup Final has given them the chance to reset things ahead of what looks a challenging afternoon.

The sides have already met at Windsor Park this season, with the Glenorchy Knights cruising to a comfortable 5-0 victory as they did the damage in the second half. Unless Riverside can figure things out at the back a similar result looms this time around.

Nash has been outstanding but Riverside have still leaked goals- Solstice Digital

Strikers Return Attention to City and the League

In the final game of the round, Launceston City welcomes the Devonport Strikers to Buckby Motors Park in what shapes as the game of the round, with first place taking on third, and little love lost between these two sides.

Fresh off their historic third consecutive Lakoseljac Cup victory, the Devonport Strikers return their focus to the league and on trying to complete another League/Cup double. With a four-point lead after 9 rounds, they are well positioned to do so, with only Knights really appearing to be within striking distance and looking like a genuine threat. This could be a potential banana skin of a game though, as Buckby Park has not been an easy venue to take points from this season. City are a side they’ve enjoyed many fiery battles with across recent years, but they’re battles they’ve generally walked away with the three points from.

The most recent of these clashes was at Valley Road in Round 3, as the Strikers reclaimed top spot with a 2-0 win. It was a game they completely controlled, and they did a fine job stifling any attacking threat City possessed. City will need the likes of Stefan Tantari, who is enjoying a blistering season in attack to provide some spark and they will hope being freshly rested could give them an edge if it stays close into the second half. There is no shortage of connections between these two clubs. City’s coaches, Daniel Syson and Nathan Pitchford should have plenty of insights into the Strikers, whilst former Strikers’ star Joel Stone would undoubtedly love to get one up over his former side. If he can produce one of his best performances, then City are as well poised as they have been in many years to get one over their rivals.

Round 10

Saturday 17 June

Kingborough Lions v Clarence Zebras, 11:45am, Kingston Twin Ovals

South Hobart v Launceston United, 2:00pm, Darcy Street

Riverside Olympic v Glenorchy Knights, 2:30pm, Windsor Park

Launceston City v Devonport Strikers, 4:30pm, Valley Road