Slice of Cheese

Zebras Hold Warriors As Title Hopes Slip

It was a result that really didn’t help either side as Hobart Zebras and Olympia Zebras played out a 1-1 draw to kick off Round 13 on Friday night. The result could potentially leave Olympia 8 points off the pace depending on Saturday’s results and prove catastrophic for title ambitions.

With both sides missing a host of first team regulars, the first half was a largely dour affair, despite it eventually producing both of the games goals. Those goals came from the only 2 shots to be registered in a first half that saw both sides unable to break through the defence of the other side, as Olympia enjoyed more of the ball but scarcely threatened.

The first chance came on 20 minutes when a free kick was awarded to the Warriors on the left hand corner of the 18 yard box. Up stepped Jakub Sklenar who curled an effort to the far post, catching Marcelo Mercuri cheating off his line and nestling in the back of the net. Despite the question marks over the keeping, it was a sublime piece of skill from the Czech striker, notching his 16th goal of the campaign.

It was a rare bright moment in a fairly dull first 45 minutes with the only real moments of note both the Zebras centre backs receiving bookings.

Just as Olympia had their moment of inspiration from their star striker, so too did the Zebras, as Mathew Sanders helped them restore parity just before the half time break.

A clever turn and glorious through ball from the Colonel played in Jack Gates who raced onto it and placed a perfect shot into the bottom corner to square things up heading into the sheds.

The first half hour of the second half played out almost exactly as the first 45 did, with both teams struggling to create much, save for a few long range efforts that did naught to trouble either keeper.

The game would then spring to life in the final 15 minutes as both sides pushed hard for a game winner, throwing men forwards knowing that a single point here would do neither of them any favours.

First it was Zebras who had a couple of chances to win it, as Hey, who played a starring role all night at right back for his side, marauding forwards and tracking back like a man possessed swung in a free kick to the back post where Sanders got his head to it before nodding wide. Then 16 year old Backhouse, who battled early before putting in a fine second 45 blasted a volley over the bar after Sanders set the chance for him.

At the other end Jakub Sklenar had a chance to put them ahead but was denied by a great diving stop from Marcelo Mercuri who had moments earlier parried strongly to keep out Jake Vandermeys drive from just inside the box.

It was the Warriors, with their season on the line who were really pushing hard and they should have won it when Jakub Sklenar was played in by a through ball from Bellini that split the centre backs. The Czezch striker raced onto it, getting there before the keeper and directed his shot past Mercuri, but also agonisingly past the post.

He nearly made ammends a minute later when a fine cross from Little picked him out at the near post where he made good contact with a header that forced a sharp stop from a diving Mercuri, who had his angles covered well.

That was to be the final chance of the game, though not the drama as Imran Lewis was given a second yellow card, after holding back Sklenar to prevent him bursting in behind in the final minutes. It rules him out of next weeks game with Zebras depth set to be further tested.

The best players on the night were generally defenders, with Hey, Groenewold and Warrener solid for the Zebras whilst the Warriors were well served in midfield by Mark Ortmann who played some delightful passes. Shae Hickey made the most of a rare start as he knocked the ball around well and Paul Stevens dominated in defence.

 

 

 

 

 

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