Friday, August 7, 2009

South, North and Division One Preview

South Hobart can retain their Forestry Tasmania Southern Premier League title by beating or drawing with second-last New Town Eagles at home at South Hobart on Saturday.

Second-placed Tilford Zebras, who trail South Hobart by 6 points, can keep their hopes alive if South lose by downing bottom-side University away at Olinda Grove, also on Saturday.

University will be relegated to Division One if they lose to Zebras, or if they win and Eagles earn at least a draw against South Hobart.

The most likely scenario is a South Hobart win, giving them the title, and a University loss, dooming the Students to relegation.

South and Eagles will field unchanged sides from their last outings, which means both should be at full strength, but South are a class above Eagles and should be untroubled in collecting at least a point.

Coach Ken Morton has South playing an attractive and effective style of football which saw them beat third-placed Glenorchy Knights 2-1 on Tuesday night.

Kostas Kanakaris netted both goals, while Amadu Koroma replied for Knights.

South’s mobility and speed will be a problem for Eagles.

Eagles have been squandering a lot of chances and they will need to rectify this shortcoming to have any chance of success.

Glenorchy Knights take on sixth-placed Hobart Olympic at KGV Park on Friday evening and anything can happen given the inconsistency of both teams.

Olympic have beaten Knights twice in the league this season and, with the likely return of goalkeeper Dmitri Nester, may well do so again.

Olympic had serious goalkeeping problems in the absence of Nester in their 4-3 loss to University last weekend, but their strikers will also have to improve their finishing.

Zebras should have midfielder Paul Cairns back from suspension for the game against University, but they will have to be at their best against the Students, who will be hoping for two miracles this weekend.

If Nigel Blundell is back for University, their chances should be improved against a Zebras outfit that has not impressed in recent weeks.

University have pulled off a couple of good results in recent weeks, but their strikers will need to be on the mark if they are to threaten Zebras.

Fourth-placed Kingborough Lions United host fifth-ranked Clarence United at Lightwood Park on Saturday as both sides fight for a top-four spot.

Clarence occupy fourth place after beating the Lions 1-0 on Thursday night at Wentworth Park due to a 54th-minute striker by Joseph Stevens.

The Lions must be slight favourites at home, though, as they had a good 2-0 win over Glenorchy Knights last weekend and are starting to regain some of their early season form.

If Greg Freeman can put in at least one half, that will improve their chances, as will the return of Charles White from injury and Brett Andrews from suspension.

Both sides will be a little tired as this will be their second game in three days, but with fourth place at stake, everyone will give one hundred per cent.

In the Forestry Tasmania Northern Premier League, Devonport City has a great chance to overtake leaders Northern Rangers on Saturday.

Devonport should easily account for bottom-side Launceston United at home at Valley Road, while Northern Rangers have a fight on their hands against Ulverstone away at the Showgrounds.

Rangers voluntarily gave up home-ground advantage because of the poor condition of the NTCA Ground and the match was switched to Ulverstone.

This may well play into the hands of the Reds and could cost Rangers the lead and even the title.

“We will be at full strength, except for Sam Nugteren, who is not available,” said Rangers coach, Roslan Saad.

“His place will be covered by Luke Tuma, who has been one of the club’s young players that has graduated from the under-18s and has adapted well in the seniors.

“I realise Ulverstone has the best record in the second half of this season and they have a few good young players that can cause us problems.

“We will be very organised and will go into the game with an away-game mentality and expect nothing less than 3 points because a draw will cost us the championship.”

Somerset host Riverside Olympic at Cardigan Street and will be hoping for the two top sides to falter, while Prospect Knights entertain second-last Launceston City at Harley Parade and should snare all three points.

Metro should have little trouble in hanging on to the lead in the Division One competition on Saturday when they travel to Sherburd Park to take on second-last Christian United.

Thirty-one points separate the teams on the ladder and Metro will only need to be in cruise control to come out victors.

Christian will certainly give it everything they have, but the difference in quality between the sides is enormous and there can only be one winner and that will be the visitors.

Second-placed Taroona are in action on Sunday when they visit North Warrane to meet fourth-placed Nelson Eastern Suburbs.

Taroona will have Tom Shepperd back in goal in place of Jon Burridge, while striker Chris Cox is still plagued by injury and may start on the bench.

“Chris’s injuries aren’t severe enough to stop him from playing altogether, but they do restrict his ability to run out a game,” said Taroona coach, Ben Horgan.

“I may use him off the bench as an impact player as we probably get more benefit from him that way at the moment.

“Ruaidhri Carey will come into the starting line-up in Chris’s place and, although he is primarily a right-sided midfielder, he is quite versatile and I can easily slot him in at right-back or as a winger.

“We found it difficult to score against Nelson the last time even though we dominated possession, but our finishing has improved in recent weeks.

“We’ll need to make sure we continue to take a good percentage of our chances so that we don’t get ourselves into any trouble.”

Robert Brooke returns for Nelson in midfield, while captain Adam Mills is unlikely to play after injuring his knee in the loss to Beachside.

Striker Tom Gordon returns to the starting line-up in the place of Nick Roberts, while goalkeeper Nic Decarpentier should return in place of Ben Gibson.

“It was a close match last time out at Kelvedon Park and we know they are a good team and will be keen to win to maintain pressure at the top on Metro,” said Nelson coach, Michael Roach.

“We have been improving our level of play and Tom Gordon is back in the starting 11 and he looked good last week off the bench and can be a dangerous goalscorer, so I hope we can create some chances for him.

“Basically, if we can sustain 90 minutes of pressure as we did last time against them, I think we can get a result.”

Saturday’s other match sees fifth-placed Northern Suburbs DOSA host bottom-side Hobart United at the Showground.

Hobart United are in action again on Monday evening when they tackle Christian United at Sandown Park at 6.30pm in a bottom-of-the-table clash.

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