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McDonald’s NPL Weekends Wash-Up: R18

Welcome to the Weekend Wash-up for another week as we cast an eye back on Round 18 action in the McDonalds NPL Tasmania. It was a weekend headlined by the Devonport Strikers being coronated as the Kings of the NPL Tasmania once again, as they closed out the title race with a 2-0 win over Launceston City. It makes it five NPL titles in the last seven seasons for the side from the Portress, truly a remarkable effort. Elsewhere Riverside got their first win of the season with a stunning late fightback, the Lions were thwarted by a late penalty as they attempted to do similar against South Hobart, whilst the Glenorchy Knights were too strong for the Clarence Zebras. 

The Devonport Dynasty 

The word dynasty gets thrown around a tad liberally in sporting circles these days but there can be absolutely no denying that is precisely what the Strikers have built these past seven years with their five title triumphs. Throw in four Lakoseljac Cup victories from six finals appearances, and multiple victories in the FFA Cup Round of 32 and it really is quite extraordinary just how much they have achieved in this time period. Whether it be Peter Savill, Chris Gallo, Rick Coghlan or now Tom Ballantyne in charge, success has followed as they built from their breakthrough 2016 season that was the launch pad of this modern dynasty. In that respect, you must give tremendous credit to those who have put in so many hours behind the scenes in an off-field capacity. President Drew Smith and Rod Andrews before him, along with their wonderful team of volunteers have done a simply magnificent job in parlaying that 2016 FFA Cup run into this dynasty. Many clubs would’ve hung their hats on a season like 2016, the Strikers decided they wanted it to become the norm and that’s precisely what they’ve done. From a 7th place finish in 2015 to a destination club and the undisputed powerhouse of Tasmanian Football in seven seasons. It’s been a masterclass in running a football club and you’ve simply got to tip your hat to them. 

In terms of the game itself on Saturday, it was a pretty comfortable afternoon for the Strikers after they took an early lead and it always felt like they were going to win the match, even though they held just the single-goal lead till late on in the piece. Brody Denehey had them ahead after just five minutes when Lachie Clark blasted a clearance straight into Joel Stone that deflected into Denehey’s path leaving him with an empty net to tap into. Roberto Fernandez-Garrido then iced the game late on with an emphatic finish to ensure he would maintain his one-goal lead in the Golden Boot race. He holds sway by 1 goal from Noah Mies as that particular battle is set to go right down to the wire. The title race certainly didn’t though, the trophy has now been handed out and they’ve still got 3 games left to play, that’s as emphatic as it gets.

Roos Rally Late To Score Breakthrough Win

Riverside Olympic claimed their first win of the season as they produced a dramatic fightback to stun the Olympia Warriors. Trailing 2-0 with just fifteen minutes to play, the Roos snapped to life and scored 3 times in the space of 10 minutes to secure the breakthrough win.

Olympia had this one seemingly under their control as goals from Tyson Barret and Anthony Mamic in the first half handed them the advantage. Barret’s finish was a poacher’s strike after a failure to clear a cross and Mamic produced a very tidy finish into the roof of the net, arriving at the back post under pressure before capping the goal with a, well…..interesting celebration to say the least!

In the 76th minute Kosuke Mizuno controlled a cross, cut past his marker and fired home truly to give his side a glimmer. Mizuno played a major role in the equalizer moments later as well, driving a powerful shot that McGuinness parried into the path of Toby Simeoni who was in the right place to tap home and suddenly it was level.

Buoyed by the goals and vocal home support, the Roos then completed the comeback when Zac Reissig and William Prince combined to perfection. Prince swung in a magnificent cross which Reissig ran onto and produced an accomplished finish, volleying home a delightful goal to secure the 3-2 win. It’s been a tough year for Riverside, but they have dug in, stuck at it and at least they were rewarded with something to celebrate. The sheer jubilation of the players and Windsor Park faithful showed just how much it meant to them.

The victory sees Riverside moving level on 6 points with the Warriors and if they can take something from the Zebras match next weekend, then they could yet avoid a wooden spoon they had long appeared locked in for. The Warriors will have the goal difference tiebreaker and face the Lions, Knights and City in their final three games. Riverside best chance will be next week against the Zebras, before facing Devonport and South Hobart in a tough final two weeks.  

Lions Pay The Penalty For Slow Start

South Hobart have landed a decisive blow in the battle for second place, eclipsing the Kingborough Lions 3-2 at Clennett’s Lightwood Park to move four points clear in second. They can probably consider themselves somewhat fortunate to have done so with a dubious penalty helping them overcome a Lions side who had come storming back from 2-0 down to level the game in what was a thrilling match.

The first half was pretty well dominated by South Hobart and they took a deserved lead via Sam Berezansky who turned in a tidy near-post finish after Lachie Semmler showed some awesome determination to track down a ball that looked like it was headed out and supply the cross from the by-line. 

When Isky Van Doorne let fly with a wonder strike from 30 yards out to double South’s advantage just before half time it seemed like South were going to cruise to victory. 

Enter Adam McKeown. The savvy striker was introduced into the contest and made a huge impact for the Lions. He helped turn the tide of the game as they raised their game significantly in the second half and began to test a South defence that had largely been untroubled to that point. 

The Lions began to grow into the contest and it led to South gifting them an avenue back into the game. A horror touch from Bighin in the box and sloppy tackle on the follow-up led to a penalty that Kobe Kemp just snuck home, despite Hayers getting a huge piece of the shot.

A corner five minutes led to Noah Mies bobbing up at the back post to squeeze one in and suddenly it was 2-2 with 30 minutes left to play. South had gone from complete control to suddenly under siege at the back and it was the Lions who looked the more likely side to take the lead, creating the better chances with McKeown almost heading them into the lead. 

Then in the 83rd minute, controversy struck as flinging himself in a dive across the box, Jacob Huigsloot blocked a shot away to keep out a certain goal, but unfortunately for him the referee adjudged it to have been blocked with the arm. It was a massive call and having since seen a photograph of the enormous football-sized mark on Huigsloot’s chest, I’d have to say it was ultimately the wrong one. That’s football for you though and you need to seize the chance when fortune is on your side, because there certainly will be days when it isn’t. Nick Morton did just that for his side here, dispatching the penalty for his 16th goal of the season and securing the 3-2 win for South Hobart. The win leaves them four points clear in second place and barring any major surprises that is where they will finish the season.  

It was a bitter blow for the Lions who had worked themselves back into the contest and appeared to finishing the stronger of the sides. They now find themselves just a point ahead of Glenorchy Knights, who they play on the final day. So the final few weeks are now probably more about defending from behind to hold onto third place rather than chasing down second spot. 

Knights Close Gap To Lions With Win Over Zebras

Lastly to Wentworth Park, where the Glenorchy Knights snapped a two-game losing skid to claim a 3-1 win over the Clarence Zebras. The win moves them back within a point of the Kingborough Lions in third place with 3 weeks remaining. Lucas Dzalakowski did the damage as he scored a first-half brace and Eli Luttmer added a third to consign the 10-man Zebras to another defeat. 

Defensive lapses are ultimately what cost the Zebras here. The first two goals they conceded to Dzalakowski in the first half were absolute shockers. The first was a howler from the keeper as he completely ran underneath a cross into the box and the second came from a situation that just should’ve been defended comfortably. A basic long ball down the middle was not dealt with and full credit to Dzalakowski who took full advantage and raced in behind to score. 

The Zebras hopes of a second-half fightback were significantly denied by an early second-half red card to Josh Burgess for a crude challenge on Adam Gorrie that rightly saw him given his marching orders. But they did manage to pull one back just past the hour mark despite being a man down as Joshua Mathie lofted a lovely ball into the box that Dwayne Walsh managed to crash home.

The Zebras generally acquitted themselves quite well in the second half despite the numerical disadvantage but their hopes of snaring something from the contest were soon evaporated by Eli Luttmer who thumped a header home from Adam Gorrie’s cross to seal the win for Knights.

The post McDonald’s NPL Weekends Wash-Up: R18 first appeared on Football Tasmania.