Slice of

NPL Long Weekend Wash-up

In a big Round 5 of the McDonalds NPL Tasmania, the Devonport Strikers have moved top as they ground out a narrow win over South and saw one of their chief title rivals in Knights slipping up to City. Elsewhere Riverside broke their duck as they drew 1-1 with Clarence Zebras and the Lions hammered the Warriors 5-1 to round out the action on ANZAC Day. 

Strikers Grind Out Crucial Win Over South

The Devonport Strikers have ascended to the top of the NPL Table after 5 rounds, edging out South Hobart 1-0 in a tightly fought contest at Valley Road.  A solitary strike from Spaniard Roberto Fernandez Garrido in the 75th minute was enough for his side to take all three points from a grind of a game that saw both defences firmly on top for most of the afternoon. 

This was a game almost completely devoid of goal scoring chances. I would hazard a guess that the XG of both sides would be somewhere around 0.2 each, if not less, so rare were the scoring opportunities in this one. The chances that did come were certainly not clear cut and it was only a moment of pure inspiration from Fernandez Garrido that ultimately separated the sides. For most the afternoon it looked as if a stalemate was looming before substitute Ali Dulleh drove past Jayden Hey wide on the left before cutting back to the Spaniard at the top of the box. Still left with plenty to do, Garrido showed his pure quality, buying himself some space before bending a perfect shot that left Jake Hayers with no chance in South Hobart’s net. One goal always seemed as though it would be enough for all three points and so it proved, as the Stikers professionally saw the game out to claim what might prove a pivotal 3 points.

With Knights slipping up later in the evening the day only got better for the Strikers, who now occupy top spot on the table after 5 rounds. With their next 4 games in the league against Knights and South all coming on the road later in the year, it seemed especially important that they took something from this home match and they duly did. This is a club that has been so good in the big moments, in the big games for so long now, and once again when the chips were down, they somehow found a way to get the result. 

For South it was a similar story to the Knights match they drew earlier in the season, they will probably be happy with their performance, if not the end result. They were probably worthy of walking away with a point from this one, but at the end of the day it’s a results business and it’s now 3 consecutive games without a win for them, a rare occurrence for such perennial winners. Those results do include 2 draws and have come against the 3 sides that I think will likely finish in the top 4 with them, so it’s certainly not disastrous and with a month of more favourable fixtures looming plus the game in hand, they should be able to make up the ground over the coming weeks, but they will feel they are on fewer points than perhaps they should be after Round 5. 

Fidra Stuns Profligate Knights

A week after being the victims of a big upset in the Lakoseljac Cup, Launceston City turned the tables and sprung a stunning result of their own, downing Glenorchy Knights 1-0 at KGV in a shock result.

A blistering counterattack finished off by Jaden Fidra in the 93rd minute of the game made the Knights pay for their profligacy and secure a famous win for a 10 man City side. So often this game boils down to being a result of who can take their chances the better, and so it proved once again at KGV. The Knights were made to pay brutally for their inability to take their chances in a match they really should have put to bed much earlier, wasting a number of prime scoring chances throughout the match. 

The Knights probably should have been ahead inside of 2 minutes when Lachie Clark saved well to deny Cade Smith before Naden volleyed the follow up onto the crossbar. Volleyed chances are never easy, but with the keeper out of position having made the earlier save it was an empty net beckoning and one a player of Naden’s quality usually buries. 

Denied superbly by Clark on that first chance, Cade Smith then had two glorious chances he surely had to take present themselves in the first half. The first came on 24 minutes as he smashed a half volley over the top from close range at the back post, before missing an absolute sitter from 6 yards out just before the halftime whistle after Connor Schmidt picked him out unmarked and at the back post.

So it somehow remained 0-0 at the break and it would stay that way throughout the second half as a frustrated Knights side continued to waste half chances and find Lachie Clark a tough man to get the ball past, before on 70 minutes Kyle Vincent became the latest player to blow another prime chance. He slipped in behind the defence but with only the keeper to beat and plenty of time to pick his spot, he could only fire agonizingly wide. 

As Knights desperately threw bodies forward, trying to take advantage of a 10 man opposition following Matthew Oh’s dismissal, the door had been left ajar for City and they would then charge on through it in stoppage time.  

Fidra stormed through the middle of the park and showed a sharp turn of pace, beating Jack Bowman to a loose ball before playing it to the only other man joining the attack in Gedi Krusa.

Krusa’s role in the goal cannot be understated. The Lithuanian showed great composure to take a touch backwards, drawing the defender out before threading an absolutely perfectly weighted pass for Fidra to run onto. This was not an easy pass to make with 4 red shirts back and 3 surrounding him, yet he threaded it expertly. On rushed Fidra who beat the keeper to the ball and poked home a stunning last gasp winner to secure an enormous result for City that could really spark their season.

Knights will look at this as a blown three points, handing the ascendancy back to Devonport in the title race and putting some questions marks over their title defence with the attack just not quite firing so far in season 2022. 

Riverside Off The Mark

Riverside Olympic have their first point of the 2022 season though they had to be content with settling for a draw thanks to James Ackerley’s leveller 8 minutes from full time for the Clarence Zebras.

The first half was an open-ended affair with both sides looking to take advantage of what they would both have viewed as a winnable fixture by setting out to attack. Clarence Zebras certainly shaded the chances, but it was a pretty close battle for the most part. 

The Zebras came closest to breaking the deadlock when Sam Tooze absolutely rocketed a volley onto the crossbar on 25 minutes. The ball came back down and bounced off Nash which could have gone anywhere, but fortunately for the Roos gloveman, it rolled wide.

Nash was called into action on several occasions in the first half but came up with the answers, as did Darby Randall in the Zebras net, who made a good stop on William Coert on 35 minutes to ensure the game was all square at halftime.

Riverside started the second half the sharper of the two sides and had their best period of match in the opening quarter of an hour. A long ball over the top sprung Coert in behind for a 1 v 1 but he fired rather tamely at Randall who made the leg save. He couldn’t keep out Mitch Jones 5 minutes later though, as he expertly controlled a high ball with a silky first touch outside the box before turning onto his right and picking out the far corner to perfection his second touch. It was pure quality from Jones and it had his side on the path to a breakthrough win with 30 minutes left to play.

But the Zebras weren’t about to surrender and it took some brilliance from Nash to deny Baumgarnter at the near post with a quality reaction save to keep it at 1-0 with just 10 minutes left on the clock. But there was nothing Nash could do to keep out James Ackerley on 82 minutes, as he absolutely clattered a volley that burst the back of the net and squared the game up at 1-1. 

Both sides had dangerous moments in attack in the dying moments, but neither could take one and ultimately both had to settle for just a point. For Riverside, it will be a relief to have broken the duck and got something on the board, though no doubt they will still be somewhat disappointed they couldn’t hold on for 10 minutes longer and make it all 3.

Kemp Magic and a Mies Hat-Trick

It began with a spectacular bicycle kick goal from Kobe Kemp and by the time Noah Mies had fired in his third of the night, the Kingborough Lions had stormed away to a comfortable 5-1 win over the Olympia Warriors in their ANZAC Day clash.

Kemp got the Lions party started in style in the 10th minute when he launched an audacious bicycle kick that left the Warriors defence and keeper stunned with an effort that will go down as a strong goal of the season contender. He then had his second on the board just four minutes later as he stepped up to convert a penalty that Noah Mies had won, sending the keeper the wrong way and doubling his side’s advantage. 

Then it was Mies turn to do the damage, making it 3-0 after just 20 minutes of play when he reacted quickest to pounce on McKeown’s blocked shot and then 4-0 after 35 minutes when he stroked home McKeown’s cross as the Warriors defence was brought undone all too easily once again. They simply couldn’t contain the Lions speed of ball movement and they had no answer to the powerful Noah Mies. 

The sting was largely out of the game after the fourth goal and whilst they came close on a few occasions, it wasn’t till the 73rd minute that the Lions eventually added another. 

Ramiro Vilar nearly upstaged Kemp’s earlier effort when he let fly with a shot from the centre circle of the ground that had the keeper beat, but not the crossbar. But Mies was on hand to follow up the rebound to tap home his hat-trick and make it 5-0.

Olympia would pull back a goal late when Tyson Barret turned home Anthony Mamic’s cross albeit with the aid of a rather fortuitous deflection off Tom Prince but it was little consolation for what was another disappointing result for the Warriors.

The 5-1 win makes it 21 goals that the Lions have now scored in their past 4 matches and shows the sheer potency they have in the final third. They’ve been fantastic since that opening day defeat to Devonport and are playing in a manner that suggests they can well and truly mix it with anyone in the league this year.