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McDonald’s® NPL TAS Friday Forecast: Round 18

Welcome to the Friday Forecast for Round 18 of the McDonald’s NPL Tasmania season. This weekend features a couple of massive clashes set to shape the final league table, with Knights and South facing a crunch clash in the battle for second, and the Lions hosting Launceston City with fourth spot on the line. Elsewhere the Strikers will look to take another step towards confirming the title as they play Riverside and Launceston United and the Clarence Zebras look to end their respective slides.

Second Place On The Line as Knights Take on South

The Round will begin tonight at KGV with Glenorchy Knights taking on South Hobart in a battle for second place on the table. With just a point between the two sides and only three rounds remaining after this one, it will likely prove the decisive battle in determining who finishes as the runner-up to the Strikers.

The sides have met three times this year, twice in the NPL and once in the Lakoseljac Cup, with the two most recent of those games coming at Darcy Street and both resulting in South Hobart wins. Defensive stability has been the hallmark of this Knights side, their strength largely lies in how hard they are to score on and yet in two trips to Darcy Street they leaked 11 goals as they fell 4-3 and 7-2.

Fortunately for them, this one will be at KGV where they managed a 1-0 win over South in the opening month of the season. The KGV element could well prove crucial as it’s a ground the Knights defend incredibly well, and they have only conceded 1 goal in their 9 matches at the venue this year. Eight clean-sheet victories, the last 7 of which have come in a row shows their affinity for the ground. So is it that South have figured out how to unlock this Knights side and they will once again score freely? Or is Darcy Street just some sort of haunted venue as far as the Knights are concerned and it will be business at usual at KGV?

With the exception of a day where they didn’t take their chances against the Lions, South have been on fire lately winning 6 of their past 7 games. A slightly sluggish opening to the season saw them falling too far behind the Strikers to push for the title, but they’ve been pretty much the form side of the competition over the past couple of months and with Knights dealing with some injuries at the moment, this is a big chance for Morton’s men to leap them into second spot.

South have enjoyed goal scoring success against Knights in 2023- Solstice Digital

Battle For Fourth Heats Up As Lions Take on City
The battle for fourth place and the final spot in the end-of-the-season tournament will heat up this weekend as the Kingborough Lions host Launceston City at Lightwood Park on Saturday.

The Lions currently occupy fourth place, but they have played an extra match and do have a tougher set of fixtures to follow this match. So this is more of a must-win match for the Lions than it is for City, as a draw would be a perfectly fine result for the Northerners. City can potentially still finish in fourth even if they drop this, though they would no longer be controlling their fate and the Lions would be in the box seat. They have games against Clarence Zebras, Riverside Olympic and Launceston United to follow, which are all certainly winnable fixtures, before a tough final day away to South Hobart.

The remaining fixtures for the Lions are trickier but are played entirely at home and it sees them hosting the Knights and Devonport, before a final-day home clash against Launceston United. They may need to get at least a point from the Knights/Strikers matches to feel totally secure heading into the final day, but a win on Saturday will certainly go a long way to securing fourth.

They have met twice in the NPL this season with both prior meetings being played at Buckby Motors Park. They’ve split the results with City winning the first 4-3, before the Lions turned the table in the more recent fixture with a 2-0 win. This is the most important battle between the two yet and fourth place could well be decided by these 90 minutes at Lightwood Park on Saturday.

Noah Mies will be key to downing his former side- Solstice Digital

Something Must Give As United Host Zebras

Launceston United and Clarence Zebras will be out to snap their losing streaks as they meet at Birch Avenue in a game both sides must be eyeing off as a big opportunity.

The hosts United are still yet to claim a point this year and this might well be their best chance to do so, playing at home against a Zebras side in a bit of a freefall.

The Clarence Zebras last victory came the last time the two sides met, and it was an utterly dominant display as they scored a thumping 9-1 win. That came off the heels of wins over South Hobart and the Lions and at that point of the season it really seemed like a comfortable top-four finish was on the cards. Yet ever since that day, it’s been all downhill and they’ve now lost their past six straight to be in desperate need of a circuit breaker here.

United meanwhile have lost their past three games by a combined 18-1 and are running out of chances to get that breakthrough result. This looks to be a good chance for them and if they want to avoid a pointless season then it’s a weekend where they need to strike. The Zebras have conceded 23 goals of their own in the past five weeks, so this is a defence that they can get and score goals. But can they keep them out at the other end?

Quite simply, something has to give here as at least one of the losing streaks is going to come to an end on Saturday evening at Birch Avenue.

Clarence Zebras shamed United last time, but have been in freefall since- Solstice Digital

Strikers Closing In On Their Crown

The Devonport Strikers will look to take a step closer to securing the League title as they take on Riverside Olympic at Windsor Park.

Last week was a bit of a setback for the Roos, it was their worst performance since the team was bolstered in the transfer window, falling to a 3-0 loss, but they still created some dangerous moments in attack and back on their home patch will be hopeful they can provide a test here for the Champions-elect.

The last time they met Devonport it ended 2-0 at Valley Road, as the Roos battled hard defensively and was the start of their uptick in form. The prior meeting at Windsor Park ended 5-1, though Riverside’s early season results are now a bit misleading as they are a substantially improved side since then.

Sitting seven points clear and with a game in hand, it really is just a matter of when it’s mathematically sealed for Devonport at this point. Should the Strikers win this game, then they will have the chance to close the title out on Wednesday night when they host Launceston United in the rearranged match that had previously been washed out.

The Roos have been much improved in the second half of the year- Solstice Digital

Round 18

Friday 18 August

Glenorchy Knights v South Hobart, 8:15pm, KGV

Saturday 19 August

Kingborough Lions v Launceston City, 2:30pm, Lightwood Park

Riverside Olympic v Devonport Strikers, 4:30pm, Windsor Park

Launceston United v Clarence Zebras, 4:30pm, Birch Avenue