Friday, December 21, 2018

Knights learn what return to top flight will be like

 Photo:  South Hobart's Pajari Sculthorpe (left) in a contest with Knights' Tyler Harrison [PlessPix]

Pajari Sculthorpe hit a hat-trick in 9 minutes as South Hobart beat Glenorchy Knights 4-2 in a pre-season friendly at KGV Park this evening.

It was a rude awakening for the Knights, who return to the NPL Tasmania top-flight competition in 2019 after three seasons in the second-tier Southern Championship.

Neither side was at full strength, with the Knights missing Hugh and Declan Foley, Callum and Declan Brown, and Jonathon Ladic.

 Photo:  The Bellini brothers, Thomas (foreground) and Alex (right), gang up on South Hobart's Gilly Desouza [PlessPix]

New signing from Olympia, Thomas Bellini, was on view, as was Tom Young, a striker-cum-midfielder from Taroona.

South Hobart were missing Adam Gorrie, Ben Hamlett, the injured pair of Ryan Cook and Connor Schmidt, and Oscar Thomas to name just five players.

Cook has a quadriceps injury, which will sideline him for another month, while Schmidt underwent surgery today after breaking his leg in Wednesday night’s 4-3 loss to Hobart Zebras in a pre-season friendly.  It will be six months or so before he will be able to resume training.

Nick Morton put South Hobart ahead in the 28th minute after Knights keeper Trent Le Rossignol blocked a short from Bradley Lakoseljac and the Knights defence failed to clear the loose ball.

 Photo:  Nick Morton (left) is congratulated for his goal by Bradley Lakoseljac (No.8) and hat-trick hero Pajari Sculthorpe [PlessPix]

Sculthorpe made it 2-0 in the 40th minute, and then 3-0 in the 45th when Le Rossignol fumbled Morton’s corner from the right.

Sculthorpe completed his hat-trick 4 minutes after the resumption when he collected Morton’s pass and lobbed the goalkeeper from range.

Knights’ substitute Mathew Nowicki pulled a goal back with an opportunistic lob over South Hobart keeper Kieran Brown from range in the 55th minute.

In the 72nd minute, Nowicki’s cross from the left was turned into his own net by South’s Frenchman, Loic Feral, to make it 4-2.

 Photo:  The two teams observe a minute's silence before the game in memory of the alte Michael Furjanic [PlessPix]

The game was preceded by a minute’s silence in memory of Knights’ late president, Michael Furjanic.  The Knights also wore black armbands.

The attendance was very good considering this was a pre-season practice match.  Indeed, the four friendlies played to date had excellent attendances and this augurs well for the 2019 NPL Tasmania season.

“It’s difficult in these early matches,” said South Hobart coach, Ken Morton.

“Knights were obviously lacking a little in fitness, but they worked very hard for each other and had a good spirit among them.

“I think in the first half we had good possession and had one or two chances which we missed, but overall I think at half-time it was a fair result [at 3-0 for South Hobart].

“In the second half, after both teams made lots of changes, then the game gets a bit iffy at times.

“Players get good minutes and the young lads have had a chance at this level and it’s a good opportunity for them and we’re happy with that.

“I think, for where we are at this stage of the year, I think we’re in a good position and we’ll just look to build on it in the new year.”

 Photo:  South Hobart's Ewan Larby (left) gets a pass away before Knights' Rowan Heggie can intervene [PlessPix]

Morton said his side would have a break now before resuming training on the 2 January and they would have four or five training sessions before heading to Melbourne to play Pascoe Vale.

South Hobart would then have some big games at home after that, including a return meeting with Pascoe Vale and home-and-away games against Devonport City and Launceston City.

“We’ve got some good games to come and we hope to have a couple of players (new signings) in January,” Morton added.

This game was the first for Knights’ new coach, James Sherman.

“It was okay,” said Sherman.  “It was okay.  More positives than I probably thought we were going to get out of it.

“I’m happy.  I’m happy with parts of what I saw, anyway.”

 Photo:  Knights' Thomas Bellini (left) and South's Gilly Desouza go for the ball [PlessPix]

Knights’ Jacob Hebert hobbled off with what appeared to be a quadriceps injury.  He missed much of last season with a hamstring injury and appeared to be back to full fitness before tonight’s setback.

“He’s [Herbert] been absolutely fantastic pre-season,” Sherman said.

“He couldn’t have gone any better.  He’s looked super sharp, super fit, and I think it’s something that he’s never had [this latest injury].

“I think it’s a quad, perhaps, but we’re hopeful that it’s not going to be anything too major.

“It’s positive that it’s not something that he’s done before, anyway.”

 Photo:  Knights' Tom Young is a split second too late to stop Nick Morton getting a pass away [PlessPix]


Anonymous said...

Those 5 players missing for the Knights are arguably their 5 best players

Anonymous said...

Oscar Thomas I believe is playing at City due to Uni commitments and there are a couple more from South doing the same next year.

Shane said...

Hi Walter
Just like to wish you and your family a Merry Xmas.

The work that you do is outstanding.

Walter said...

Thanks for your kind words and Christmas wishes, Shane. Merry Christmas and happy New Year to you and your family, too.