Friday, July 11, 2014

South Hobart, Zebras, Warriors and Strikers should be in winners' circle this weekend

South Hobart should continue their march towards the Victory League title by beating bottom-side Launceston City away at Mitsubishi Park at 4.30pm on Saturday.

The league leaders are 6 points ahead of second-placed Tilford Zebras and will need to lose three games out of the remaining eight to be in danger of relinquishing their title.

Tilford Zebras should be too strong for second-last Glenorchy Knights at 8pm at KGV Park on Friday, while the most intriguing match of Round 14 will probably be Saturday night’s showdown between third-placed Olympia Warriors and fourth-ranked Northern Rangers at 6pm at Warrior Park.

The remaining fixture is at Valley Road at 3pm on Saturday, when fifth-placed Devonport City host sixth-ranked Kingborough Lions United.

Launceston City coach, Kurt Reynolds, is not despairing about his side’s chances against South Hobart.

“South Hobart are a very good side and deservedly sit on top of the ladder,” said Reynolds.  “In saying that, we are at home and in a position to put the strongest squad in weeks on the park.

“I am not satisfied that we have not picked up further points in Round Two and Saturday is our last opportunity to do so.

“South Hobart are well organised and difficult to break down.  It will be interesting to see if new signing Lamont starts.  Their midfield is strong and the likes of Brennan, Mann and Hamlett are a handful up-front, so we must pay South lots of respect.

“As always, we enter this match hoping to create a positive outcome.  Again, our objective was to collect more points in Round Two than we have currently achieved and Saturday is another opportunity.

“With Mark Cristy returning from suspension and Nathan Bartlett potentially playing in a more advanced role, I believe that we will be able to create multiple scoring opportunities.

“Andy Compagne remains out with an ankle injury.  However, we welcome back Mark Cristy from suspension and Yanjin Park, who was unavailable last weekend.  Angus Martin will make his second appearance for the club.”

This will be South Hobart’s last trip north this season and theya re likely to include new signing Scott Lamont.

“We can’t afford to drop silly points so our emphasis will be to make sure the players are focused and ready for this game,” said South Hobart coach, Ken Morton.

“Launceston City have improved, they have some good players and, if given opportunities, will score goals, but at the same time, they have made mistakes and have been punished.

“We will work hard, try and apply some early pressure on them and look for the breakthrough because it is important for us to keep that space at the top of the ladder.

“In the last couple of games our team work has been good.  We have created chances, converted and we have defended well as a team.  The key for our success, we believe, is teamwork.

Hugh Ludford returns after serving one week for a red card and, of course, new signing Scott Lamont enters the squad.”

Knights will be missing the injured trio of Sam Johnson, Tyler Harrison and Seung Yong Jin, while Nick Di Falco is unavailable.

“We have included Phineas Aldridge and Sean Robb in our Victory League squad,” said Knights coach, Chris Hey.  “Both players will play Victory Development League and we will see what options we have at our disposal on game day.

“Zebras are having a purple patch and it is good to see young Ethan Engels being provided an opportunity and rewarding his coach by getting on the score sheet regularly.  Ethan, along with the physical presence of Alex Leszczynski and Adam McKeowen on their day, are a handful for any team.

“The big improvement with Zebras is in their defensive structure, having the second best in the league to date, so this will be a difficult task for us, but Vincent Kamano and Aaron Wilson both showed maturity and composure when they came off the bench last week, both scoring crucial goals.

“Noah Thorne will make his starting debut at full back for us and he is a promising young player for the future of the Knights.”

Tilford Zebras will have Kurt Reynolds back in their squad for the game against an under-strength Glenorchy Knights.

I expect a tough game against well-organised opposition, so we have to remain disciplined and play to the best of our abilities,” said Tilford Zebras coach, Jed Donoghue.

“Glenorchy are well coached and have plenty of skill and leadership at the back and in the middle of the park, and lots of pace out wide, so they are always a handful.

We have to play to the best of our abilities and be focused and disciplined in order to put pressure on the ladder leaders.

“We have to take our chances in front of goal, and pressure the opposition when they have the ball.”

Devonport City coach Nick Owen has all but given up on a top-four berth.

“After last week's loss, playing finals is highly unlikely,” said Owen.

“This will take the pressure off a bit and allow us to try a few new faces and really focus more on our style of play.

“This might not make everyone at the club happy, but the difference between finishing 5th, 6th or 7th is nothing really and we are probably clear of the wooden spoon.

“That is not to say that the next 8 games aren't important.  It is extremely important to see who is up to the challenge and who is willing to improve.”

Kingborough Lions United’s new coach, Colin Robbins, realises the immensity of the task faced by his side.

Devonport will not be an easy game for the team,” he said.  “The Strikers have won four times at home this season with only the two losses, the recent South Hobart Round 12 game and Round 2 against Olympia.  The Strikers will also be looking to bounce back after two consecutive losses and will be hungry for the win.

“Completing an inspection of Valley Road last Sunday, we found the venue extremely heavy and the further wet weather expected during the week will only compound the problem.

“We will continue to develop our new defensive structures with Tom Young returning.  The loss of Jack Turner will be a loss but this will provide an opportunity to test the depth of the squad.

“Training this week has concentrated on transitioning and attacking, two areas that exposed us against the Zebras.  We had enough entries into the attacking third but lacked the finishing skill.

“The team continues to take small positive steps with growing confidence, so we believe we will provide the Strikers with a tough, hard fought game.

“Strikers are a strong team and like to play football.  They don’t concede too many goals, which indicates that they have a strong defence.  Some big wins this year also.  They are a team that can create goal-scoring opportunities and finish on goal.

“Holden is a very good young player but we will also need to be mindful of their other avenues to goal.  Defending Strikers’ set-piece plays will be a key for our team.  They have some good tall timber amongst their team and this will be a threat.

We have taken a lot of positives from the Zebras game and must look to continuing the stepping stones that will improve the team’s performance for the remainder of the season and build towards next season.

“It will be a tough assignment heading to Valley Road but coming away with the three points will provide the team with further confidence in upcoming games.

“The side that tires the earliest on the heavy track may lead to the final outcome of the game.

“We are looking to continue the development of our new defensive unit and its ability to maintain shape and complete the team and player tasks.  We must also strive to enter the attacking third regularly to test the opposition, then display improvement with our finishing skills.  Our fitness levels are very good, which should see us finish the game strongly as we did last week against the Zebras.

Jack Turner, with a groin strain, and Nate Taylor, with a hamstring strain, are both out of the squad this week after picking up injuries during last week’s game.

“Billy Gasparinatos has decided to concentrate on his work commitments for the remainder of the season, so drops out of the 20 man KLUFC VL squad.

“Defender Tom Young returns, along with Nick Vialle, and young defender Daniel Kingsbury has been added to the squad.

“Young goalkeeper Roan Gillam returns to the squad from a quad strain after training strongly this week.”

Olympia Warriors will be without Nick Meredith for their game against Northern Rangers, while Brian Kabangu returns to the squad.

“It looks like Rangers have turned the corner and they are back to producing consistent results,” said Olympia coach, Glen McNeill.

“We are yet to earn three points against them and we will need to be at our best to achieve it.

“We are obviously coming off the back of a disappointing performance last week and we will be looking to redeem ourselves on Saturday night.

Northern Rangers coach, Tim Lunnon, was delighted with last week’s win against Devonport City but is not taking the outcome of this game for granted.

“Last week against Devonport was an important game for us,”  Lunnon said.  “We really needed the win as we look to gather points for the top-4.

“Overall, we were reasonably happy with the result, but there are still elements of our game that need tightening up and we aim to further improve in these areas.

“This week’s game against Olympia in Hobart provides another test for us, but one the boys are looking forward to.  Olympia are always a tough match-up down south, but we match up fairly well against them, so we are aiming to put our best foot forward.

“Their squad is certainly stronger than last time we played them, with Ralph and Cabello in the mix.  Nester has been making some great saves of late also but we think some one-on-one battles will be key to the result.  If we put our best foot forward, it should be a great game.

“In terms of the match itself, yes it is important.  You have to keep accruing points and this match-up is an opportunity to jump a spot on the ladder, so it certainly does add something into the mix.

“We just have to stick to our game and no doubt defend well against some good attacking players.

“We finally have Adam [Edwards] back after having a nasty infection picked up from either a boot stud or a recovery session.
“It took a lot longer than we thought for him to recover, so it is good to have him back.  Apart from that, our squad is pretty settled, Nick [Lanau-Atkinson] is still a week or two away, so our squad to Hobart is pretty much the same as last week.
“The boys have been doing a pretty good job, so you have to back them in again.”


South Hobart
Tilford Zebras
Olympia Warriors
Northern Rangers
Devonport City
Kingborough Lions
Glenorchy Knights
Launceston City