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McDonald’s® NPL TAS Friday Forecast: Round 12

Welcome to the Friday Forecast ahead of Round 12 of the McDonald’s NPL Tasmania. Round 5 had these same corresponding fixtures and it produced the tightest weekend of NPL action we had seen in many seasons, giving us all 4 games decided by a single goal, which augurs very nicely for this upcoming weekend.

Knights Out To Bounce Back Against Lions

This week features a pair of Friday Night games, at KGV, the Glenorchy Knights will be out to bounce back against the Kingborough Lions, having now fallen 7 points behind the Devonport Strikers.

Consecutive losses would likely be the death knell for any title aspirations, so the Knights need to rebound with their best football at KGV, where they have posted an imposing defensive record this year.

Granted that Knights defence was cut apart by South Hobart last weekend, doubling the total of league goals they’ve conceded this year. The South Hobart attack has basically been kryptonite to them this year, or perhaps more specifically South Hobart when playing at Darcy Street. In 11 matches at other venues this season they’ve conceded just 4 goals. In just 2 games at South’s home, they’ve conceded 11. So they will be glad to have this one at KGV, where that defensive record becomes even more impressive reading.

They’ve played 6 league games at KGV and only conceded one goal, that coming in a 1-0 loss to Launceston City. The other five games have seen them chalking up four 1-0 victories, which have come from their past four games at the venue and they also have opening day 2-0 win over Launceston United. So don’t go into this game expecting a lot of goals, despite that being the norm for the Kingborough Lions matches in 2023.

The Lions continued their win-one, lose-one pattern of the past six rounds last week by accounting for Launceston City 2-0 to claim an important three points. Defeat would’ve left them some 8 points outside of the top four, rather than the challenging, but more manageable five-point gap it sits at now.  They’ve blown hot and cold this season, but the addition of Alex Brown will further bolster an already strong attacking unit that should be able to test out the Knight’s vaunted defence and star goalkeeper.

Jackson Gardner has been outstanding for Knights- Solstice Digital

Riverside and United Eye Best Chance of Points In Derby

The other Friday night fixture will take place in the North, at Windsor Park where Riverside Olympic will take on Launceston United in a battle of the cellar dwellers.

To say this fixture is of extreme importance for both sides is putting things lightly. With the only points won by either side this year, Riverside’s 2-1 win over United back in Round 5, this quite clearly represents both side’s most substantial chance of a victory, in Riverside’s case a second of the season, or for United a breakthrough point that has thus far eluded them.

The game will birth a new Cup to be played for, The Jackson Motor Company Cup, with both side’s sponsored by a different arm of the company. This will add a little extra spice and stakes to the occasion and is a throwback to the Derby cup that Rangers and Launceston City used to play for.

You’d have to make Riverside favourites for that cup given the respective performances from the two teams last weekend. United were hammered by the Clarence Zebras 9-1, whilst Riverside put in a commendable effort before going down 2-0 to Devonport Strikers at Valley Road. They unveiled a host of new signings in that match which led to an improved performance. It will certainly give them hope of achieving some more positive results in more winnable fixtures to come than playing away to the Devonport juggernaut, fixtures just like this one.

The Roos will look for their second win of the season- Solstice Digital

Cup Final Rematch At Valley Road as Strikers Learn Australia Cup Fate

On Saturday at Valley Road, the Devonport Strikers will take on South Hobart in a rematch of the recent Lakoseljac Cup Final. The resulting qualification for the Australia Cup Round of 32 they earned from that victory has been front and centre this week, with the draw taking place and revealing the Strikers’ fate.

They were made to wait to discover it too, as they were the last side drawn out and revealed they would be travelling to the Gold Coast, to take on the Gold Coast Knights. The date and details of that fixture will be finalized in the coming days, though it’s expected to be in August. It will be the Strikers fourth venture into the competition and onto the national stage, the most recent being last season’s home defeat to A-League Side Wellington Phoenix. It will be their first interstate trip in the competition since 2018, where they were drawn away twice, famously defeating Northcote FC, before falling in the Round of 16 to the Avondale Avengers. They were set to meet the Avengers away again in 2021, before Covid border restrictions ultimately forced their withdrawal from the competition. Perhaps their most famous involvement in the competition came in 2016, when they defeated the Lambton Jaffas in front of a packed Valley Road in the driving rain, before falling to the Bentleigh Greens in similarly appalling conditions in the Round of 16. The Knights will be a formidable opponent, as they currently sit on top of the table in a strong NPL Queensland competition.

As for Saturday, we largely know what to expect from this matchup, having seen it so recently and in such a big game. It was a game that both sides created scoring chances in, with Devonport’s ability to take one, the difference on the final scoreboard. South have responded positively to the Cup final defeat in the past fortnight and won both their games, including a 4-3 thriller over the Knights last Sunday that the Strikers would’ve been delighted to see given the title race ramifications. Now the Strikers just need to ensure they don’t fall into the same trap.

The game will also once again see Valley Road turning Pink, with the Strikers hosting their annual Pink Day to raise money for the McGrath Foundation. It’s a very worthy cause and great initiative they’ve run for a few years now. For more information head to this link.

Surging Zebras Meet Slumping City

Finally, to Buckby Motors Park, where Launceston City take on the Clarence Zebras in the Italian Derby.

This is a match between two sides that have trended in two distinctly different directions over the past few weeks. The Clarence Zebras enter this one riding high off a 3-game winning streak, with the only dropped points in their past 5 matches coming in their last-minute defeat to the Devonport Strikers. The side unveiled some big new signings last weekend in their demolition of Launceston United, with Canadian Striker, Ryley Wishart scoring three and assisting on another four in what must rank, statistically at least, as the most dominant debut in league history. He will need to do it against stronger defences in the coming weeks, but the prospect of an attacking triumvirate of he, Dillon and Cappellino is one of with incredible promise.

Launceston City on the other hand have now dropped their past 3, with their only victory in the past five outings coming against struggling Riverside. City will have the aid of home-ground advantage though, which they hope will help swing things from the last meeting, in which they took an early lead, before falling 2-1 at Wentworth Park. Four of their five victories this season have come at home, so it’s an edge they will be leaning on here to get their season back on track.

Round 12

Friday 30 June

Riverside Olympic v Launceston United, 8:15pm, Windsor Park

Glenorchy Knights v Kingborough Lions, 8:15pm, KGV

Saturday 1 July

Devonport Strikers v South Hobart, 2:30pm, Valley Road

Launceston City v Clarence Zebras, 4:45pm, Buckby Motors Park