Slice of Cheese

NPL Tasmania Round 9 Preview

Devonport Strikers vs Riverside Olympic

Date: Saturday June 5

Venue: Valley Road

Kick-off: 2:15 PM

2021 record
Devonport Strikers: 5-1-2 (third in NPL TAS)
Riverside Olympic: 0-1-6 (eighth in NPL TAS)

Top scorers
Devonport Strikers: Brody Denehey (5)
Riverside Olympic: William Humphrey (3)

Preview:

The Devonport Strikers are starting to round into top form once again, and they will host a Riverside Olympic side still searching for their first win of the season. Across all competitions the Strikers have now won their last four games and would be flying high after an 8-0 thumping of Taroona in the Lakoseljac Cup last weekend. Miles Barnard bagged a brace in that game and remains one of the best finishers in the league, and with his fellow attackers lifting in recent weeks he should see more opportunities to score. They’re still not blowing teams away in the NPL, but they have won titles before without any huge wins. Given their low-scoring tendencies, this presents as something of a danger game against a Riverside team that has been much more competitive than their record suggests. They haven’t lost a game by more than two goals this season, with four of their six losses coming by a single score. That includes a 3-2 thriller against the Strikers in round three, although that came at home and during the defending champions’ slow start to the season. They still have plenty of quality across the park, starting with Dan Nash in goal all the way to Fletcher Fulton forward, but they need to put together a full 90 minute performance for the first time this season.

Key player: Charles Bidwell, Devonport Strikers

The younger Bidwell has been among his side’s best players this season, as has his older brother. Against a defensively questionable Riverside team he should have plenty of room to operate, and a strong performance could bury the opposition early.

 

Launceston City vs South Hobart

Date: Saturday June 5

Venue: Buckby Motors Park

Kick-off: 4:30 PM

2021 record
Launceston City: 1-0-6 (seventh in NPL TAS)
South Hobart: 5-1-1 (second in NPL TAS)

Top scorers
Launceston City: Yasin Mohammadi (2)
South Hobart: Nick Morton (8)

Preview:

South Hobart will travel north looking to stay within touching distance of the top of the table, but they will face a Launceston City side that were one kick away from a Lakoseljac Cup final berth. City entered as big underdogs in their semi-final against Glenorchy, and yet they took the game to extra time and had chances to win it themselves before falling 1-0. Coach Lino Sciulli preached defensive accountability before the season began, and with his players following that mindset City have become a tough team to break down on their day. Their bigger issues come in the forward half, where they have scored just five goals in seven NPL games this season. That could be a problem against a South side with one of the stingiest defences in the state. They have conceded an equal-league low seven goals, with Jayden Hey adding experience to a talented but young unit. With plenty of attacking firepower led by league-leading scorer and captain Nick Morton it’s hard to see them failing to score at all, and one goal could be all they need here.

Key player: Lachlan Clark, Launceston City

The lynchpin of the Launceston’s defence, Clark has excelled this season even when his team has leaked goals. He will need to be at his best and constantly on guard against a South attack capable of lightning-fast strikes.

 

Glenorchy Knights vs Kingborough Lions

Date: Saturday June 5

Venue: KGV Football Park

Kick-off: 4:30 PM

2021 record
Glenorchy Knights: 6-1-0 (first in NPL TAS)
Kingborough Lions: 5-0-3 (fourth in NPL TAS)

Top scorers
Glenorchy Knights: 
Alex Walter/Nick Mearns/Austin Yost (5)
Kingborough Lions: Adam McKeown (8)

Preview:

Cast your mind back to the pre-season, and this would have loomed as a potentially title-defining clash. The reality months later looks a little different– while the Knights are flying high on top of the table, the Lions have had to scramble to keep touch with the leaders after some indifferent form. Still, even though it’s been a bumpy road at times for Kingborough, they remain just close enough to keep the teams above them on their toes. With a dynamic attacking duo in Adam McKeown and Ben Hamlett, they can never truly be counted out of any game either. They will need to prove that they can consistently beat the sides ahead of them, with just one win this season over a team alongside them in the top four. The Knights have had no such issues as they are still awaiting their first loss of the season. An extra 30 minutes in the cup on a weekend while the Lions were resting at home could leave them slightly vulnerable, but coach James Sherman should have his side well-drilled and in shape. The losses of top scorer Alex Walter and dynamic winger Joffrey Nkoso haven’t slowed them down yet, as they slammed nine goals past the Zebras in their last NPL game.

Key player: Austin Yost, Glenorchy Knights

The newest Knight settled in very quickly with a brace against Clarence, and he adds instant quality to an already strong lineup. He has gone from being a leader on a young team to being a youngster on a leading team, and that should allow him to play with plenty of freedom.

 

Clarence Zebras vs Olympia Warriors

Date: Saturday June 5

Venue: Wentworth Park

Kick-off: 4:30 PM

2021 record
Clarence Zebras: 1-1-5 (sixth in NPL TAS)
Olympia Warriors: 3-1-3 (fifth in NPL TAS)

Top scorers
Clarence Zebras: Riley Dillon (8)
Olympia Warriors: Kyle Vincent (6)

Preview:

Both of these teams would be desperate for a win here, with the Warriors still in the hunt for a top-four finish and the Zebras looking to stay well clear of the wooden spoon. Clarence’s only win of the season came over Olympia in round three, and it was an emphatic 5-1 scoreline at Warrior Park. They have struggled mightily since then, though, earning just one point in their last four games and conceding 15 goals in that span. They have now leaked the most goals of any team across the season, and they will need to tighten that up to avoid a shootout here. It has been a better run of late for the Warriors, with two wins and a draw in their last four outings. Kyle Vincent continues to lead their attacking line, and with Austin Yost gone he will need more support from the likes of Joseph Mwarabu and Joel Sammut. The league table is currently split into two tiers down the middle, and if the Warriors want to crack into the top four they need to convincingly win this kind of game.

Key player: Riley Dillon

Dillon scored a brace the last time these teams met, and he has since moved into a tie for the lead on the NPL goalscoring chart. If he fires, the Zebras are competitive; if he doesn’t, things suddenly get much harder for them.