Friday, May 29, 2009

Top-of-the-table clash at Valley Road should be a classic

The game of the round in the Forestry Tasmania Northern Premier League is undoubtedly the one between second-placed Devonport City and league-leaders Northern Rangers at Valley Road on Saturday at 2.30pm.

The winner will be a clear leader at the top, so there is everything to play for.

Devonport will miss Kurt Howard, who is unavailable, but everyone else is fit and coach Tom McGinn will keep faith with a largely unchanged squad from past weeks.

Ben Pizzirani, Jordan Douce, Connor Lizotte and Miles Barnard have all impressed in the reserves and may be added to the squad in Howard’s absence.

“It’s important that we have a good crowd this week as this game is shaping up as the match of the season so far with first against second,” said Devonport City coach, Tom McGinn.

“Both teams are scoring plenty of goals, so it should be an exciting match to watch.

“Rangers are certainly a quality team with some very good individual players.

“Sean Howe and Kamil Douglas will have to win the midfield battle.

“The experienced Chris McKenna is starting to find last season’s form now he is over early season injuries and is striking a good partnership with Paul Scicluna, but we would like to see some more goals.

“Defensively, we have been a lot more solid with Simon Wilson and Nathan Gratton being solid at the back.

“And, it’s great to have the versatile Scott Wilson back from long-term injury.”

Northern Rangers will have virtually the same side that started against Ulverstone.

“We are going into this game with the under-dog tag and we will be very happy with a draw away from home,” said Rangers coach, Roslan Saad.

“We always struggle playing Devonport and would like to do one better than last season, that is, to get some points from them.

“I’m really looking forward to playing a well-organised team and I believe our team this year has what it takes to match Devonport.”

Fifth-placed Riverside Olympic entertain second-last Launceston City at Windsor Park at 2.30pm on Saturday.

Riverside coach Troy Scott has been in Sydney most of the week but was certain of one definite change to his side.

Scott Hansen is out because of a hamstring strain, but Scott said he would not make a decision about a replacement until Friday.

Seventh-placed Burnie United faces sixth-ranked Ulverstone at Montello at 2.30pm on Saturday.

Burnie will be without influential centre-back Johnson, who is unavailable, while his brother, Ayston Johnson, one of the club’s main strikers, is still out injured.

“Hopefully, we will have Jason Mole back from his university studies,” said Burnie United coach, Ray Parke.

“We have also signed a youngster from Somerset, Sam Phillips Croule and, barring any hold-ups, he will go straight into the seniors.

“Even with home advantage, we are expecting a real tough game, but to get our season back on track, we need a result this week.”

The final match of the round is at Birch Avenue at 2.30pm on Saturday, when bottom-side Launceston United host fourth-placed Prospect Knights.

“We have the same regard for Launceston as we do for every team in our league, and there are no easy games,” said Prospect Knights coach, Dane Hudson.

“We will work hard to commit to our structures and look to play good football.

“We have Atherton, Pickering, Harris and Young all unavailable, so I will be looking to our younger players to fill those positions and gain some further experience.”

Launceston United coach, Brian Dracup, said some of the Prospect players are former Launceston United players and this would add interest to the match.

“Some of their team are ex-United, and so are well known to us,” said Dracup.

“In terms of our team selection, we have gone for stability and will have nine starters from last week, together with Nick Bean from last week’s bench, plus Dave Loy, promoted from the reserves after having played well in their drawn game against Devonport.

“We anticipate a hard game and expect our players to put in well against familiar faces.”

The big news out of Somerset, even though they have the bye, is a change of coach, with Kevin Considine making way for Nick Reed and Sam Cocks.

“I have been forced to resign as senior and club coach due to ongoing problems with my right knee and leg resulting in several major operations over the past two years,” said Considine.

“I have now been off work for the last six weeks and have relied on my assistant, Sam Cocks, along with Jonathon Lo, Bobby Eaves and Tom Roach to take the majority of our training sessions, while I basically have been bench coach during this time.

“Unfortunately, the latest operation has caused immense pain and I am basically now bed-ridden for another six to twelve weeks before I can even return to work.

“The pain and discomfort has become that unbearable over the past few weeks so, unfortunately, I cannot continue, even on Saturdays, which is very disappointing considering the great bunch of guys we have at Somerset.

“Nick Reed has been appointed as senior coach for the remainder of the season, with Sam Cocks continuing as his assistant, and I am sure that the guys will continue to improve and they will form another great partnership.”

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