Monday, August 3, 2009

South Hobart take huge step towards retaining their title

Tilford Zebras 1-2 South Hobart

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This win put South Hobart on top of the Forestry Tasmania Southern Premier League ladder and three points ahead of Tilford Zebras, and with a game in hand.

It virtually assured South Hobart of retaining their title.

Zebras looked but a shadow of the side that earlier had an impressive lead in the competition and appeared to be running away with the title.

There are possibly several reasons for the Zebras’ decline.

Michael Connolly has his faults, but he was part of a four-man defence that helped get Zebras to where they were.

He was dropped and rarely gets a look in these days.

Perhaps, if he had been retained, the back-four of Andrew Telega, Ryan Smith, Henry Fagg and Connolly would have done the job because they were a closely knit group who knew the ropes and could read each other’s minds. They could compensate for individual errors.

The splitting up of that group may explain in part what went wrong. And, Smith is having a poor run at present and he is making elementary errors that he would never have made in seasons past.

The inclusion of Brayden Pace at left-back has been a satisfactory move and the youngster has acquitted himself well, but he could have played left-midfield to accommodate the return of Connolly at left-back.

Kurt Engels and Jayden Welch had an initial impact on the flanks, but they should have been introduced gradually and given the occasional spell because they are only young.

They are now regulars in the side and have lost their impact. A more experienced head such as Josh Thorpe would be more valuable and Engels and Welch could be used more sparingly at this senior level.

They certainly have the ability to be excellent players in the future, but they need to be given time rather than be thrust into the action in every match.

The long-term injury to Paul Cairns was a blow, and now that he is suspended has not helped the Zebras’ cause either.

With the lack of service to front-runners Ben Crosswell and Dwayne Walsh, it is no wonder that Zebras lost this game.

Crosswell continually had to drift deep, where he is no danger to opposition defences, while Walsh has to have more than just pace to his armoury, yet that was not evident in this game.

Fagg scores more than his share of goals and is dangerous coming forward - he scored the goal in this match - but Ricky Self had a poor game by his standards.

South Hobart, on the other hand, are running like a well-oiled machine.

They pass the ball well, retain possession for long spells and constantly create chances.

Finishing is still a problem, but they are winning and that is what counts.

Gary Upton almost put them ahead after just two minutes, but he shot wide.

In the 9th minute, Ricki Eaves was given a chance and should have done better than shoot straight at Troy Kaden.

South took the lead in the 33rd minute through one of their regular set-pieces. Kostas Kanakaris took a corner from the left and David Cooper, who had pushed forward from the back, initially seemed to stumble over the ball but then hammered it home from close range. It was poor marking by the Zebras as much as anything else.

Two minutes later, Welch fired just wide and Mark Moncur injured himself as he dived to cover the shot. He was able to resume after treatment.

Kanakaris should have settled the match just before the break when Eaves crossed from the right, but he missed an open goal from two metres out.

Again, the Zebras defence was nowhere. Frank Mainell would have swallowed that one up even if his defenders were AWOL.

Six minutes into the second half, Eaves again shot straight at Kaden after Kanakaris had laid the ball back into his path with a clever flick.

In the 57th minute, Kaden committed himself needlessly and Eaves was able to run around him and cut the ball across the face of goal, but no team-mates were up in support and the ball carried harmlessly to the far side of the box.

Self finally showed what he is capable of when, in the 61st minute, he fired in a tremendous shot from range that was brilliantly tipped over the bar by Moncur.

The Zebras were finally on a bit of a roll at this stage and Crosswell was just wide with a shot on the turn in the 69th minute.

South had their measure, however, and in the 71st minute, substitute Julius Ross outpaced Pace and flashed in a cross from the right that Eaves prodded wide.

Zebras drew level in the 72nd minute when Tommy Fotak picked up a ball out of defence by Pace and chipped it towards the penalty area. Walsh flicked it on with his head and Fagg scored with a looping header over Moncur.

It was the best passage of play produced by the Zebras, but they then went back into their shells and allowed South to regain the initiative.

Within seconds, Ross had the ball in the net after Upton’s cross had come back off the bar, but he was adjudged to have handled the ball and the effort was disallowed.

In the 78th minute, Walsh sent in his only shot of the match, but the ball flew wide.

South counter-attacked immediately and a suicidal back pass by Smith put Kanakaris in, but his shot hit the post.

Zebras failed to clear the ball, however, and it was driven back to Kanakaris, who squeezed his shot under Kaden and into the net to make it 2-1 for the visitors.

Fagg had a good shot blocked on the line in the 80th minute as Zebras desperately sought another equaliser, but South Hobart substitute David Abbott almost caught them out with a free-kick in the 84th minute that Kaden just turned against the post and out for a fruitless corner.

It is now definitely South’s title to lose, but that was the situation Zebras were in some weeks ago and they fluffed it.

South must still play Glenorchy Knights (on Tuesday night), New Town Eagles and Clarence United, while Zebras have only University and Glenorchy Knights to meet.

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· Tilford Zebras coach, Nick Lapolla, said:

“I thought in the first half we didn’t come out to play.

“In the second, we started to play a bit, but, it could have gone either way in the second half.

“Disappointing. Disappointing. It was three points that were important to both sides, so the last two or three games, we’ll see what happens.”

· South Hobart coach, Ken Morton, said:

“I thought we were absolutely brilliant tonight.

“We started well, we passed the ball well in difficult conditions and obviously against a class side as well.

“They’re always dangerous, with Crosswell and Walsh a threat.

“But, I thought we handled the conditions and the football match very, very well.

“We played well tonight.

“Maybe we could have had two or three more as well.”

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Tilford Zebras: Kaden - Telega, Smith, Pace - Welch (Hall 62), Fotak, Fagg, Self, K Engels - Walsh, Crosswell (Substitutes not used: Connolly, Thorpe)

Goals: Fagg 72

South Hobart: Moncur - Pennicott, Ludford, Cooper, Scott - Eaves, Beecroft, Upton, Heerey, Hickey - Kanakaris

Booked: Scott 71

Goals: Cooper 33, Kanakaris 78

Att: 120

Ref: K Barker

10 comments:

batistuta said...

connolly the answer to zebras title hopes now i have heard it all!!!!

Walter said...

Batistuta

I didn't say he's the only answer to all the problems, but his absence has certainly disrupted what once was quite an effective unit at the back. Better the devil you know...

There are plenty of other problems with a side that has blown a title-winning lead.

Besides, it's only a theory and we'll never know.

harden up maggot said...

its about time fft pulled there finger out and got new nets a kgv the nets there are held togetha by cable ties to cover up all the holes its a disgrace

Captain said...

I'd agree with you Walter - without looking at individual decisons - history shows that championship winning teams use less players than losing teams.

Consistency is a virtue, constant change unsettles teams.

Captain said...

re the nets ...

harden up maggot :)

harden up maggot said...

captain yes the nets kgv needs new 1s bad

Anonymous said...

So is the Zebras downfall due to Chippa's bad decision making? Enjoying the more opinionated journalism there Walter...

Anonymous said...

What about the loss of Brazendale? How can that not be a factor in this? I would have thought that Zebras loss of form came about the same time he left.

Tommy said...

Azza is a massive loss and would be for any side. One of the best players in the state no doubt.

Anonymous said...

Zebras Are Definitely Missing Azza