Slice of Cheese

NPL R6 Friday Forecast

By Andrew Cooling

South Seeks Steadying Win Against Zebras

The Round gets underway with South Hobart looking to get their season back on track as they play host to Clarence Zebras at Darcy Street. Having dropped points in their past 3 fixtures, I would be expecting a fired-up South outfit for this one against a Zebras side who have proven themselves a tough side to beat so far in the league in 2022 but will still be big underdogs for this one.

Despite the lack of a win in their past 3, South aren’t playing bad football at the moment and they have played their 3 likely title rivals in those 3 games. Had Fernandez Garrido not scored his wonderful goal late on and the game ended locked at 0-0, you’d probably say last week had been a big success for South and it was an extremely solid road performance to grind out a point. Performances are generally a better indicator of future success than raw results, so I don’t think South fans have too much to worry about moving forwards. Still, it’s a results business and there is no doubt the past 3 weeks have made it tougher for them and they now have less scope to slip up moving forwards.  

Despite picking up a point, the Zebras will feel like last week was a wasted chance for a win. Playing at home against a winless Riverside outfit they would have been disappointed to only walk away with a draw and it follows a poor showing in the Cup against Devonport the week prior. Whilst they have been competitive in all their league outings so far this year, they are going to need to be a lot better than they have played in the past fortnight if they are to cause a boil over here. South are 5 from 5 in their NPL TAS meetings with the Zebras across the past two seasons and they really should be able to extend that to 6 on Saturday.

Lions Aim To Keep On Rolling

The Kingborough Lions will look to continue with their strong run of form when they welcome Launceston City to the Den on Saturday. The Lions have built into the season quite nicely after their opening day no show against Devonport and are now playing some lovely attacking football. The goals are flowing, and the confidence is clearly growing in the playing group, making this a game you would expect them to take the three points from. 

It was vital that City showed something last week in response to being dumped out of the Lakoseljac Cup by Hobart United and they did it in the best possible fashion, claiming a shock 1-0 win over Glenorchy Knights. It was a dogged display defensively and to go on and find the late winner shows some significant character. Repeating the efforts on the road for a second successive week is going to be tough, but that’s the type of performance that can really breed confidence in a playing group.

City’s biggest task will be trying to shackle a player they will be very familiar with in Noah Mies. Their former star striker has been in scintillating touch leading the line for the Lions and will require some close attention to curtail his influence. City did a good job in blunting Knights attack last week, but they certainly rode their luck and they won’t want to be counting on the Lions attackers replicating some of the glaring misses from the Knights because the way Mies has been burying them of late, that seems rather unlikely.

Back On Top, The Strikers Are Again the Hunted 

Riverside Olympic may have broken through for their first point of the season last weekend but they will face a far tougher test this time around with the Devonport Strikers set to travel to Windsor Park.

After a disastrous start to the season culminating in the sacking of their coach Alex Gaetaini, the Roos have steadied in the past fortnight with a Lakoseljac Cup win over Hobart City Beachside and last week’s NPL draw with Clarence Zebras. The Devonport Strikers visit offers a big step up in challenge level however and will perhaps be the better test of any potential improvement in their levels that they might have found.  

The Strikers have once again resumed their familiar position sitting atop the NPL table. It’s a position they have spent a large period of time occupying over the past few years and will doubtless be reticent to relinquish in 2022. They are once again the hunted side, but their enviable depth means they are less likely than most to drop unexpected points in games they enter as comfortable favourites such as this one. 

Last season the Strikers won on both their trips to Windsor Park in two very different games. The first game the Roos pushed them all the way and threatened to take something from the contest before it ultimately ended 3-2. The second encounter was all one-way traffic, as the Strikers scored a thumping 8-0 victory. Based on the two sides’ respective form lines to start the year a game like the latter looks the more likely, but the Roos will be hoping that they have turned a corner over the past fortnight and can get the new coach bounce with Rob Murray reportedly set to take the reins. 

Knights Look To Rebound Against Warriors

The defending Champion Glenorchy Knights will be looking to bounce back from last week’s shock loss as they take on the Olympia Warriors at Empire Couriers Park on Saturday night. Having relinquished their hold on top spot, they will certainly be on guard to not drop points in a second consecutive game against a side you’d expect them to defeat. 

Heading into the season the question mark over Knights was seemingly at the back, mainly how were they going to replace the defensive spine of their title-winning side? Well, that hasn’t been an issue for them at all, in fact they’ve looked rock-solid defensively and are conceding very few chances per game. Their problems have come in the final third, where they haven’t looked nearly as threatening and scoring goals has been an issue. The 4 goals they have cored in their past 4 NPL outings is well below their usual scoring rate. For the amount of possession they are enjoying in advanced areas, they simply aren’t converting that into goals and without Austin Yost against Launceston City, they simply couldn’t find a way through. 

Playing the Warriors would seem a good balm for those goalscoring woes. Outside of their clean sheet against Riverside, Olympia have conceded 17 goals in their other 4 outings and they were brought undone at the back far too easily by some fairly basic long balls against the Lions on Monday. The Warriors had a good couple of weeks around Easter, thumping Riverside and winning in the Cup, but Monday was more of what they produced in the opening month of the season, and if they are to inflict another upset on Knights here, then they have to offer more than that. 

McDonalds NPL Tasmania, Round 6

Saturday 30 April

South Hobart v Clarence Zebras, 2:00pm, Darcy Street

Kingborough v Launceston City, 2:30pm, Clennetts Lightwood Park

Riverside Olympic v Launceston City, 4:30pm, Windsor Park

Olympia v Glenorchy Knights, 6:30pm, Empire Couriers Park