Slice of Cheese

Strikers Eye Second NPL Victoria Scalp

Solstice Photography

Having conquered Northcote FC, the Devonport Strikers are eyeing off a second NPL Victoria scalp as they prepare to take on Avondale FC in Tuesday night’s FFA Cup Round of 16. Once again the Strikers will hit the road and fly to Melbourne as having become the first Tasmanian side to win an away FFA Cup tie, they now try to become the first Tasmanian side to reach the Quarter Final stage.

The Strikers certainly won’t be lacking for confidence entering this one. Their unbeaten run might have come to an end against South Hobart a week earlier but off the back of their Round of 32 game that was hardly unexpected. That 3-2 defeat snapped an unbeaten run that went back to May 5 but their record from their last 17 competitive games is an impressive 15-1-1. A bounce-back win over Rangers of 7-1 on Saturday saw them get right back on track and move within 3 points of claiming the 2018 NPL TAS title.

Despite the South setback, The Strikers keep on rolling- Solstice Photography

The game will be the Strikers second tilt at the competition’s Round of 16 stage after being eliminated at this stage by another NPL Victoria opponent, Bentleigh Greens back in 2016. The Greens showed their immense quality in that game, and the Strikers can expect a similarly difficult game against an Avondale side set to finish in third place in the NPL Victoria.

The Avengers, as they are known, have been one of the big success stories of Australian Football in recent years. They were playing in the sixth-tier of Victorian football as recently as 2009. But after winning promotion five times in six seasons to reach the NPL Victoria top flight, the small club from Melbourne’s north-west have solidified their place in the top division and look set to claim back to back top 3 finishes. This is their first foray into the final rounds of the FFA Cup but they have already made waves, thumping NPL NSW side Marconi Stallions 4-1 in the Round of 32.

Liam Boland and Kaine Sheppard will be the major dangers for the Strikers to account for. The attacking duo has combined for a joint total of 27 goals in the NPL Victoria this season. If Boland’s name is ringing a bell, then this is probably why

So, fair to say he has a pedigree in this competition! Elvis Kamsoba and Joey Katebian are the other noted dangermen who the Strikers will need to contain and one to keep an eye out for is the 2015 Mitsubishi Medalist, Yitay Towns! He will be familiar to viewers from Tasmania after lighting up the NPL TAS to earn the move to Avondale.

The Avengers also have a safe pair of hands between the posts in former Liverpool youth product Chris Oldfield, who was a leading figure in Hume City’s run to the FFA Cup 2015 semi-finals. Oldfield started out with the Reds as a 12-year-old before signing his first senior contract with the club at the start of the 2009/10 English Premier League season. There he was training with the likes of Gerrard, Jamie Carragher, Fernando Torres and Javier Mascherano!

So this is what the Strikers are up against. Whilst their performance against Northcote was fantastic, they will need to be even better against one of the strongest sides outside of the A-League. Gun Striker Brayden Mann, who has scored 32 times this season told Alex Fair of the Advocate Newspaper the side were unfazed and would relish the underdog status.

“We’re feeling good, as we do know what to expect now and the whole process of playing interstate. Being underdogs, that does suit us as that is the Devonport way as we are a small city and we like the challenge and we know we have to go over there and believe, as it is not an impossible task for us to go over there and get the win. 

“We know we are going to have our work cut out for us defensively, but we know if we defend really, really well and hold them out, then we can hurt them on the other end, so for us it is about making sure we do that, which will take a collective defensive effort.

“But most importantly we need to make sure we enjoy the moment. We know we will go in as massive underdogs, but we need to be able to express ourselves, play really and see what happens.

The Strikers Talis-Mann has been in scintillating form this season- Solstice Photography

There will be at least one change to the side who took the field against Nothcote FC, after Brad Cole broke the news that the Strikers had parted ways with Lithuanian import, Gedi Krusa for breaching team rules. That will allow Adriano Jelenovic to take up the second import spot allowed in the squad, but he isn’t a like for like replacement in central midfield. The likes of Mann and Holden could play the role, but given their respective veins of form, you’d imagine Henry Andrews or Jesse Dance are the more likely options to replace him. Otherwise, expect a similar Striker’s squad to the side that took care of business in their last venture to the mainland.  They are a side that has been getting big results all season long and they have truly relished the big games. So whilst they enter this as comfortable underdogs, at this point, who is still doubting the Strikers?

How To Watch 

GET TO THE GAME

Venue: ABD Stadium

ABD Stadium
Barry Rd, Meadow Heights VIC 3048, Australia

Kick Off: 7:30pm

Tickets are still available, so if you can get to the  why not experience the magic of the cup first hand! Tickets are available at the gate, or online here

WATCH IT ON FOX SPORTS 

If you can’t get to the game, don’t miss a minute of the action by watching the Fox Sports Live Stream.

For this you will require a Fox Sports Digital Subscription. This cost $5 per month, and can be cancelled at any time, if you are just wanting it for the game. For more information on how to sign up, or to see if you are eligible for a free Subscription: Click Here for more information

Alternatively, if you tune into Channel 505 from 7:00pm AEST, the main broadcast game will cut to ABD Stadium for any goals that are scored.

WATCH IT ON THE MY FOOTBALL LIVE APP

Download the My Football Live app now from the App Store for iOS and Google Play for Android.

The App is free to download, with live matches being unlocked via the Telstra Live Pass.

Telstra Live Pass, a live, fast and data free inclusion is available to all Telstra mobile customers free of charge.

Non-Telstra customers can purchase a $99.99 annual Live Pass, $16.99 monthly Live Pass, $4.99 weekly Live Pass.

FOLLOW THE LIVE BLOG

Slice of Cheese will be running a Live Blog of the game, with live updates, pictures, commentary and all the colour from the game.

FFT Media and Communications Coordinator, Everton tragic, long form journalism devotee, Andrea Pirlo enthusiast and admirer of the parked bus.