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McDonalds NPL Weekend Wash-Up: R17

Welcome to the Weekend Wash Up for another week as we take a look back on Round 17 of the NPL Tasmania. It was a weekend with relatively few surprises, though there were plenty of fireworks, in particular at Darcy Street where South Hobart downed Knights 5-3 in a fiery game that boiled over. 

In the Friday night Derbies, Launceston City struck late to break Riverside hearts in a 2-2 draw whilst the Lions fought back from a goal down to overcome the Zebras 4-2 and move clear in third place. At the top of the table, it’s still all Devonport however, as they took another step towards securing the title with a 4-0 win over the Warriors, meaning they can now officially wrap things up next Saturday at Valley Road.  

Krusa Denies Riverside

The Round began at Windsor Park on Friday night with the final Launceston Derby of the season, where Gedi Krusa broke Riverside hearts with a late double to secure a share of the spoils for Launceston City. Trailing 2-0 with 14 minutes to play, the Lithuanian stepped up to deny their rivals a breakthrough victory that had appeared within their grasp, as he scored twice to secure a point for his side.

Riverside had taken an early lead in the game when Thomas Milner made a well-timed run into the area and hammered home a loose ball just three minutes after kick-off. It was a much-needed injection of and it sparked the belief from the outset. 

Just prior to the hour mark they doubled the lead and it seemed as if they were set to get that elusive first win as Toby Simeoni timed his run to perfection before blasting a perfect shot that left the keeper with no chance, picking out the top corner. 

But with 15 minutes remaining a spot kick would drastically change the direction of the game, when William Humphrey was adjudged to have been too forceful in his efforts to shield the ball through to his keeper as he upended Krusa in the box. Up stepped the Lithuanian to take the penalty he had won and he duly halved the lead. 

A minute later and a sweeping end-to-end move saw City drawing level. The lively Fidra released Vogelaar down the right who found Krusa in the area. City’s star man made no mistake to just slide the ball under Nash and level the game up with 10 minutes to go.

It was a furiously paced final ten minutes that flowed from end to end, but neither side could find the winner. Fidra almost conjured a stunning match-winner with a strike from range in the final minute, but Nash was alert and got down to keep it out and at least ensure a point for his side.

So a good result for Riverside in the sense that they would’ve been happy with it pre-game, but leading 2-0 so late in the piece against a rival side and squandering it has got to sting. They’ve made some real strides late in the year after a tough season, but that breakthrough win still remains elusive. 

Lions Roar Back To Down Zebras

Elsewhere on the Friday night, the Kingborough Lions fought back to down the Clarence Zebras 4-2 in a thrilling clash. The Zebras led it early before the Lions came roaring back to secure a big win in their quest to secure a second-place finish. 

The Zebras took the lead 9 minutes into the match when Samuel Tooze drilled a ball across the face of goal and Matthew Pace was lurking to redirect it home from close range. 

The Lions quickly responded when their goalkeeper Featherstone couldn’t keep a handle on Ramiro Vilar’s fizzing shot from distance and following up was Noah Mies to tuck home his 16th of the season

But the Zebras quickly restored their lead just minutes later when Josh Mathie chipped a ball over the defence that Dwayne Walsh did well to bring down before firing a drive that slid between the legs of the keeper Mackie. It was sloppy stuff from the Lions but they would restore parity before the halftime break.

A drop ball for the Lions on the right saw Keenan Douce clip in a high ball that the keeper probably should’ve come for which Kemp headed down onto a defender. The defence failed to deal with the pinballing football on the goal line, and ultimately Declan Taylor was able to bundle it home from a yard out to make it 2-2 at half time. 

The Lions lifted in the second half, not wanting to let the opportunity to temporarily jump into second place slip and just past the hour mark Kobe Kemp put them ahead. Featherstone was desperately unlucky having made a fine save to tip McKeown’s effort onto the post but following up was Kemp to bury the rebound.

Kemp would then bag his second and ice the game minutes later with a piece of finishing any striker would be proud of. Pouncing on the ball at the top of the area his first touch took him clear of the defender and gave him room to shoot, which he did with aplomb, smashing the ball home to make it 4-2. It takes his tally to 11 goals for the season, which has him sitting 4th in the goalscoring charts, not bad for a midfielder! He has always been an extremely talented player but adding in that extra goal threat this year has been another dimension to his game that has made him all the more formidable.  

The victory leaves the Lions sitting in 3rd place, 4 points clear of Knights and 1 behind South in second. With games against South and Knights among their final four fixtures, their fate is very much in their own hands as they look to send coach Jez Kenth out in style. 

Melee Mars South Masterclass

On the Saturday South Hobart moved back into second place as they downed the Glenorchy Knights 5-3 in a fiery affair at Darcy Street. Leading the game 5-1 with five minutes to go, the final score ultimately flattered the Knights, but unfortunately, it’s not the football on display that was the main talking point out of the match after an ugly melee broke out on 73 minutes, resulting in referee Stratos Plomaritis issuing by my count, 8 yellow cards and a red!  

Where to even begin with this one! It started as a shoving match between Sam Berezansky and Jack Bowman on the touchline between the two benches, and from there it rather descended. Someone would try to wrestle a player off someone else, and in turn, that would seemingly lead to someone else grabbing them. The maul continued to swell in size and at one point the Knights coaching staff were seemingly right in the midst of it all, with three of the staff subsequently booked once it had finally simmered down. I won’t go into it forensically, mainly because it seems the footage has been taken down from NPL TV so I can’t. So I will leave the judgements on who is to blame to the disciplinary committee at FT who are no doubt in for a very busy week dissecting all of this. It was a shameful sight however and it marred what had been a pretty spectacular performance up to that point. It’s the type of ugliness we can certainly do without.

Before turning into Wrestlemania, South Hobart had built a 4-1 lead with a scintillating display of football. After their 10-1 win last week over City, it’s fair to say they are absolutely humming right now. 

Berezansky got them off and running with a spectacular hit from distance that left the keeper flat footed before Jacob Lancaster finished off a set piece to double the lead midway through the half.

The third was crafted by an exquisite ball from Jayden Hey that released Toby Herweynen down the right who found Morton at the back post for a tap-in. 

Morton was then given the chance to double his tally just before the half time break when a contentious penalty was blown against Jack Bowman. He converted the kick to send South into the sheds with a 4-0 lead.

Eli Lutter pulled one back for Knights before the melee break out and play was halted for several minutes.

Upon resumption, South would kill the contest with a fifth coming via Tobias Herweynen before Knights pulled back a pair of consolation goals to bring some respectability to the final score.

Austin Yost got in behind and produced a composed finish to make it 5-2, before Luttmer was able to convert from the penalty spot in stoppage time to see it end at 5-3.

The victory leaves South Hobart in the box seat for second place and has Knights up against it to finish higher than fourth place. South have had the Knights number in all three of their head-to-head matches this year, and for the second time in a row they have now walked away with a big win over the defending champions, who have just not been able to replicate their level from 2021. 

Strikers Just One Game Away 

In the final game of the round the Devonport Strikers did what was expected of them as they accounted for Olympia 4-0 to move within a game of officially sealing the league title.

They wasted no time in claiming the lead, opening the scoring with a wonderful flowing move. You could have forgiven Henry Andrews for taking the shot on when he was sprung in behind the defence 1 v 1 with the keeper, but he showed selflessness and composure to cut it back to Ali Dulleh to tap into an open goal.

The Strikers had to wait till after the hour mark to extend that lead, as the Warriors dug in and defended resolutely. Keegan Smith was called into action on a couple of occasions at the other end as Olympia came close to drawing level.

Eventually, a second did arrive via a comical and unfortunate own goal. A Fernandez Garrido cross from the right was punched by a diving Stalker into the leg of a backtracking Alex Holmes, the ball then deviated back onto the turning keeper’s shoulder and somehow into the back of the net. It was desperately unlucky stuff and killed the Warriors hopes of a shock point, which had seemed an outside chance to that point. 

Fernandez Garrido would then get onto the scoresheet himself with a penalty kick to reclaim the lead in the Golden Boot race with his 17th of the season before Mulraney added a fourth in stoppage time from point blank range when Stalker failed to claim a cross. 

The victory means the Strikers can now be confirmed as NPL Champions if they defeat their Northern rivals Launceston City next weekend at Valley Road. Three points there makes it official, not there is any doubt they will be the ones hoisting the trophy, it’s been just a matter of when for a few weeks now. That time appears to be next Saturday afternoon. 

For Olympia, well a 4-0 loss at home is not a result you will ever be happy with, but given they shipped 10 goals to them last time they met, they can be content with at least showing some significant improvement here as they build towards 2023. 

The post McDonalds NPL Weekend Wash-Up: R17 first appeared on Football Tasmania.