Slice of

McDonald’s® NPL TAS Friday Forecast: Round 20

Welcome to the Friday Forecast ahead of Round 20 of the McDonald’s NPL Tasmania season. We are nearly at the finish line now and have reached the penultimate round of the campaign. It should be an interesting final fortnight to the season and this week has some particularly intriguing clashes on the slate.

Knights Look to Hold Second Against Zebras

The Round gets underway on Friday Night at KGV with the Glenorchy Knights hosting the Clarence Zebras.

The Knights have taken just four points from their past four outings, playing the rest of the competition’s top four in that time and finding their grip on second place slipping a little.

They return to KGV here which has been such a happy hunting ground for them in 2023 and should give them a decent edge in this encounter. In 10 NPL games at KGV they’ve conceded just twice and posted an 8-1-1 record this season. It’s also why holding onto second place and ensuring home ground advantage in the end-of-season cup could prove absolutely crucial. With a tough final day against Devonport to come, taking care of business here is an absolute must, with South Hobart breathing down their necks.

The Zebras have started to turn the ship around in the past fortnight under interim manager Alex Tatnell, stringing together consecutive victories to arrest a slide that had seen their season begin to unravel. Ryley Wishart showed last week the tremendous talent he is, and with Xuan Cappellino and Riley Dillon they have an attacking line-up that can beat anybody on their day. The defence has leaked goals, though it has been riddled by injuries which really hasn’t helped their cause. With just one goal conceded in the past fortnight they seem to be tightening up, albeit against sides below them on the table and this is another level of test.

The two sides have played twice this season, with the Knights winning 1-0 at KGV in Round 6 and then 4-2 in a highly entertaining, if defensively suspect display at Wentworth Park in Round 13. I’d expect something similar to the first meeting, despite the glut of quality attacking players set to line up.

The Knights have been rock solid at their KGV fortress- Solstice Digital

Lions and Strikers Winning Streaks On The Line

The game of the round is undoubtedly at Lightwood Park on Saturday afternoon as the two form sides of the competition, the Kingborough Lions and Devonport Strikers go head-to-head. The Lions have caught fire late in the season and won their past six clashes to lock in a top-four finish. The Strikers have won their past seven to storm to the league title. So something has to give when these two sides meet on Saturday, somebody’s winning streak is coming to an end at Lightwood Park.

The Lions winning running came somewhat out of the blue. After Round 13 they sat 7 points out of the top four, having lost 3 of their past 4 and with Kobe Kemp looking done for the season. At that point a top-four finish seemed unlikely, let alone wrapping it up with 2 weeks to spare! But Alfred Hess has got his chargers firing on all cylinders and they are playing some brilliant football at the moment and now Kemp is back in the mix. They’ve beaten everybody bar one side in this streak, the side they play on Saturday.

The Strikers streak is probably less surprising, but it’s still been an incredible response to dropping that game to South Hobart. They’ve beaten every side in the competition over the last two months to emphatically run away with their sixth league title in eight seasons. But it’s certainly not quite as surprising, we have seen this side do it before and they had already stamped themselves as the class of the NPL Tasmania.

In two prior meetings this season, the Strikers have won both games. They scored a big 5-2 win at Valley Road in Round 6 before a much tighter 1-0 result at Lightwood Park in Round 13, the last time the Lions tasted defeat.

Neither side has lost a game since the last time these two met- Solstice Digital

South Continue Bid For Second Against Resurgent Roos

Elsewhere on Saturday, Riverside Olympic looks to continue their impressive second half of the season as they play host to South Hobart at Windsor Park.

Riverside should be riding high on momentum following their midweek Derby win over Launceston City, though that does mean they might also be a little bit fatigued heading into this one. They’ve managed to build their points tally to a more respectable 13 with improved showings in the second half of the season, though they undoubtedly would like to add further to that in the final fortnight.

It won’t be easy against this South Hobart team, a side who have inflicted some heavy defeats upon them at this venue in recent years, including in Round 6 when they stormed to a thumping 6-0 win.

The more recent clash should give Riverside plenty of heart though, it was a close fought 2-1 result that saw the Roos hit the crossbar in the dying minutes and come ever so close to snatching a positive result.

South missed the chance to move outright second last week, as they fell 2-0 to Devonport at Valley Road. They will now likely be relying on the Strikers to do them a favour, with the Knights facing the Strikers on the final day of the season. That’s not in their control, all they can do is win their final 2 games and put the pressure on Knights to do likewise. Any slip up here and it’s surely a third placed finish for Morton’s men.

Van Doorne on the ball- Solstice Digital

United Eye More Derby Success Against City

In the final game of the Round, we have another Launceston Derby as United takes on City at Birch Avenue.

Launceston City’s hopes of a top-four finish have gone up in flames, dropping their past four outings to fall down to sixth on the table. Had they won the Derby midweek against Riverside then the door would still be slimly ajar for them, but now the best they can hope for is to jump the Zebras up into fifth. From how they were situated a month ago, it’s a disappointing end result for City in what has been a real mixed bag of a season. They’ve produced some fine performances and achieved some quality results, such as beating the Glenorchy Knights twice, but the consistency has been lacking and they’ve tailed away at the pointy end.

United will hope to take advantage of that downturn in form and make it consecutive games picking up points, having broken their duck by snatching a dramatic late draw with Riverside last weekend. With Riverside beating City midweek, United will fancy themselves here to repeat their efforts in what was their best performance of the season. Having gotten on the board, getting a win the final fortnight becomes the aim now and whilst they will be underdogs, given City’s form this could well be their chance to do just that.

It’s been a tough first year for United, but they are on the board- Solstice Digital

Round 20

Friday 1 September

Glenorchy Knights v Clarence Zebras, 8:15pm, KGV

Saturday 2 September

Riverside Olympic v South Hobart, 2:30pm, Windsor Park

Kingborough Lions v Devonport Strikers, 2:30pm, Lightwood Park

Launceston United v Launceston City, Birch Avenue, 6:00pm