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McDonald’s® NPL TAS Friday Forecast: Round 19

Welcome to the Friday Forecast for Round 19 of the McDonald’s NPL Tasmania. We’re into the final three weeks of the season and this looms as an important weekend in sorting out the final table featuring some potentially gripping clashes.

Lions and Knights Both Eager For Points Under Lights

The Round will get underway on Friday night as the Kingborough Lions host the Glenorchy Knights in what should be a thrilling clash under lights with three points looming as very important for both sides.

The Kingborough Lions head into this one on the second-longest winning streak in the competition, with their five wins from their past five games coming second only to Devonport’s six consecutive wins. It’s been quite the uptick from them after their season appeared to be sliding away and a top-four spot was appearing unlikely. They’ve really found new life and won as many points from the past five games as they did their opening 13 rounds. A top-four finish is still far from secured though, despite last weekend’s crucial victory over Launceston City. Whilst their final-day fixture hosting Launceston United is favourable, this match is followed by a clash with Devonport. So they have the competition’s top two sides to navigate in the next fortnight and probably need to find at least one win from those games.

The Knights are also looking to fend off a side leaping them from behind, with their lead over South Hobart standing at just a slender 1 point. They’ve battled a slew of injuries over the past month so it’s been a big effort to keep themselves in second. Their last-gasp leveller last weekend was a massive blow in the battle for second spot, but that could be undone if they can’t get the job done here against a difficult opponent.

The sides have met twice so far this season, with the Knights claiming both encounters 1-0 and 4-0 with both games played at KGV. Given the Knight’s remarkable defensive record at that venue, the Lions will be glad to have home-field advantage to call upon here.

Ahmad Othman has been a major catalyst for the Lion’s recent form- Solstice Digital

Cup Final Rematch at Valley Road

On Saturday the game of the day will take place at Valley Road with the Devonport Strikers hosting South Hobart in a rematch of the Lakoseljac Cup Final.

The Strikers head into this game as the 2023 Champions after they took care of Launceston United 5-0 at Birch Avenue midweek to officially wrap things up. Brody Denehey struck a hat-trick, Roberto Fernandez Garrdio added two more as party mode was engaged for the Strikers to celebrate a remarkable sixth title in the past eight seasons. That’s a simply phenomenal record and it really is an incredible dynasty that they have built up at the Portress. The consistency they show year on year is a credit to the group they have and to sustain it for so long speaks to the culture they’ve developed.

This pair has played out some thrillers this season, and whilst the stakes may be lacking this time around, it should still be a quality match. Devonport won the first league meeting 2-1 at Darcy Street as well as the Lakoseljac Cup Final 1-0, but it was South who won the most recent clash at Valley Road, 3-1. It was a result that threatened to really ignite the title race in the back half of the season, but the Strikers have not slipped up since, winning their next 6 matches to squash any notions of a potential wobble.

South fell about 60 seconds short of moving up into second place last weekend and now no longer controls their fate in that regard. Both they and the Knights play the Strikers in the final weeks, so getting a better result in that head-to-head could see them move into second unless the Lions can do them a favour the night prior. Their form has been really impressive in the second half of the season and if they maintain that level then they’re every chance of claiming a second positive result at Valley Road for the season.

Nick Morton will be key to South’s chances-Solstice Digital

City Out To Bounce Back and Catch Lions

At Buckby Motors Park Launceston City will look to dust themselves off following last week’s disappointment as they entertain the Clarence Zebras.

Last week was a significant setback in City’s bid for the final spot in the top four as they slipped five points behind the Lions, but it wasn’t a terminal blow given their match in hand. With this match followed by a pair of Derbies, midweek v Riverside Olympic and next week against Launceston United, they have got three winnable fixtures here to close that gap by the time the final day of the season rolls around. That will be a tough clash against South Hobart, but if they win the 3 matches before that, it’s feasible they could even start the final day ahead of the Lions given their tough upcoming fortnight against the Knights and Strikers to come.

The Clarence Zebras got their circuit breaker last week, stopping their losing slide with a 2-1 win over Launceston United. Given they played the whole second half a player down and were without their regular starting goalkeeper, it was a commendable effort. Everything was conspiring against them but they managed to dig in and get a badly needed result. That has stemmed the bleeding, but this will be a more challenging fixture.

So far in season 2023 they’ve split the fixtures, with both sides winning the game at home. Clarence 2-1 earlier this year, before City won 3-1 in Round 12, a result which kicked off the Clarence Zebras second half of the season struggle.

City have it all to do if they are to make the top 4- Solstice Digital

Derby Day Arrives With Time Running Out For United

In the final game of the Round, Launceston United hosts Riverside Olympic at Birch Avenue in the final derby between the pair for the season.

The Roos claimed bragging rights in the first two derbies of the season, running out 4-1 victors at Windsor Park and 2-1 at Birch Avenue.

Chances are starting to run out for Launceston United to avoid a pointless season, with just three games now remaining for them to get on the board. They are at home at Birch Avenue in Derbies for the next two weeks, but this weekend against Riverside is undoubtedly the best spot left on their schedule. They pushed them in a 2-1 defeat at this venue earlier in the season, but given how things have been going, they might be relying on the old adage that form goes out the window for a derby. Given the rate at which they’ve been leaking goals, it’s a narrative they should lean into.

Riverside meanwhile have been a bit disappointing the past fortnight and fallen to 3-0 and 6-0 defeats to the competition’s top two sides. After they had seemingly turned a corner and strung some positive results together that’s a letdown, but they are still a vastly improved outfit from earlier in the year and should head into this one confident they can get the three points.

This match will also be notable for Aaron Campbell playing NPL TAS game #200 in this one. He has been a stalwart of the competition splitting his time between Launceston City and Riverside in a variety of different positions. He’s the type of player a coach absolutely loves because he can do a job nearly anywhere on the park. He becomes the second player to reach that milestone after Nick Morton last weekend.

Campbell bursts through a pair of Lions challenges- Solstice Digital

Round 19

Friday 25 August

Kingborough Lions v Glenorchy Knights, 8:15pm, Lightwood Park

Saturday 26 August

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

Launceston United SC v Riverside Olympic, 3:45pm, Birch Avenue

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