Slice of Cheese

Zebras & Strikers Share The Spoils

Solstice Photography

The Devonport Strikers were held to a 1-1 draw by the Hobart Zebras in a dour affair at KGV. In a result that represents a setback for both sides title hopes, the pair couldn’t be separated as a Brayden Mann penalty cancelled out Jakub Sklenar’s first half header.

The game started with a pair of Zebras attacks, seeing the strike force of Hey, Dillon and Van Doorne combining well. In the 3rd minute the Zebras almost went in front, when Matthew Sanders nodded the ball on to find Jakub Sklenar whose shot was hit just wide. The rest of the early stages continued along this same path, with the Zebras creating some early chances before Devonport fought their way back into the game.

This fightback saw the visitors hold a lot more possession than the home side, and a 22nd minute foul by Markaj on Holden  saw the Strikers win a freekick. With Krusa over the ball set pieces are always going to be dangerous, and this one was no different, with the Lithuanian finding Kieran Mulraney at the back post who almost struck the back of the net.

As the half wore on the Strikers became more dominant, with Mann, Stone and Mulraney each having the opportunity to put their side ahead. However, the Zebras defence held strong in what was on of their best defensive performances of this years competition. Then, after surviving attack after attack the Zebras came into their own as Lachlan Burt found space to cross in the 42nd minute. Burt played a fantastic ball to the top of the six yard box to hit Jakob Sklenar on the head and see the Zebras go 1-0 up, seeing the Zebras go into halftime as unexpected leaders of the contest.

The Strikers came out of the blocks fast in the second half and in the 50th minute Brayden Mann played the ball to Michael Holden who had found space at the top of the box. Holden’s first time shot went well over the bar in what was a golden opputunity for the Strikers. Over the next 20 minutes neither side stood out, but in the 70th minute when Lakoseljac Cup hero Miles Barnard was bought down in the box the referee pointed to the spot. Brayden Mann made no mistake, hitting the back of the net to level the score.

As the contest grew closer to a climax both sides were looking for a decisive blow and in the 80th minute an attacking frenzy almost saw the men in black and white hit the front. Then in 86th minute, Isky Van Doorne picked up his second slice of cheese, thus seeing the referee reach for a red and the sending the Canadian to take an early shower. This gave the Strikers a late advantage, and an injury time mistake from Ben Robinson almost saw the fox in the box Miles Bernard strike home. However it was not to be, with the final result being Hobart Zebras 1 Devonport Strikers 1.

Speaking post game, Zebras coach Gabriel Markaj believed his side had executed their game plan properly. However, he outlined the danger the Strikers posses from set pieces and that when his side gifted the visitors a dead ball situation, they gave the opposition a chance to be in the game.

Devonport coach Chris Gallo labelled his teams performance poor, stating that the lack of composure and decision making in the final third was costly. Gallo said that his teams result may have been impacted by Monday’s cup final, however it had been discussed at the club throughout the week.

The draw sees the gap widen between Launceston City and the chasing pack, whilst the big games keep coming in the NPL TAS. Round 11 will see Devonport take on South Hobart in a rematch of Monday’s Lakoseljac Cup Final. Meanwhile the Hobart Zebras take on the Kingborough Lions for the first time since their 5-0 loss in round 4.

Lazcano looks to send the Strikers forward- Solstice Photography

Student, lover of Melbourne Victory, the Richmond Tigers and all things sport