Sunday, January 20, 2019

North Sunshine Eagles beat Zebras by a single goal

Photo:  Zebras' Dwayne Walsh grapples with Eagles' Ardi Ahmeti as Zebras' Jordan Muller watches [PlessPix]

(Interstate Friendly, South Hobart Oval, Saturday, 19 January 2019)

Hobart Zebras 0
North Sunshine Eagles 1 (Simon Tolli 53’)

HT:  0-0   Att:  120   Ref:  N Coad

Hobart Zebras:  Sam Whatman  -  Dwayne Walsh, Luke Bighin, Jan Charuza, Riley Dillon  -  Daniel Lapolla, Jordan Muller, Jeyden Hey  -  Matthew Pace, Luke Huigsloot, Mathew Sanders  (Subs:  Nathan Reid, Lachie Burt, Jonny Jones, Jimmy Ackerley, Nicky Edwards, Ryan Backhouse, Adam McKeown)

North Sunshine Eagles:  Zaim Zeneli  -  Yoshitatsu Itano, Darren Lewis, Besnik Kutleshi, Edison Ponari  -  Ilir Pali, Shane Rexhepi, Simon Tolli, Adnan Jumeri  -  Ardi Ahmeti, Kazuki Okada  (Subs:  Nicholas Bilchardz, Robert Zadworny, Deillon Memishi, Durim Acura)

Photo:  The North Sunshine Eagles players get a feel for the South Hobart pitch before the game [PlessPix]

North Sunshine Eagles beat Hobart Zebras 1-0 in a pre-season friendly at South Hobart Oval on Saturday.

The first half was goalless, but the Victorian visitors could have been three goals in front by the time the half-time whistle went.

Kazuki Okada missed a good chance early on, as did Ardi Ahmeti, as the visitors put together some excellent passages of play utilising the width of the pitch and interchanging positions seamlessly.

On the half-hour, Yoshitatsu Itano, who was excellent in defence, ventured forward but blasted his shot high over the goal.

Photo:  Simon Tolli is congratulated by team-mates after scoring the decisive goal [PlessPix]

The breakthrough came 8 minutes after the resumption when an attack down the right by Itano cut open the Zebras defence.  The ball reached Simon Tolli and he netted from dead in front and 12 metres out past a static rearguard.

Zebras did not drop their heads, however, and they created at least three excellent chances of their own.

Matthew Pace was thwarted by Eagles keeper Zaim Zeneli when presented with a one-on-one situation in which a goal seemed inevitable.

Photo:  Zebras' Jayden Hey (left) in a tangle with North Sunshine Eagles' Adnan Jumeri [PlessPix]

Zebras substitute Lachie Burt had two great chances, but the youngster fired narrowly wide on both occasions.

Eagles had a fine chance late in the match to kill off the game when they beat the off-side trap, but the attacker was bundled over and was unable to get in a shot.  There were, however, no penalty appeals by the visitors and they seemed happy to settle for the 1-0 win.

PhotoKazuki Okada gets past Zebras' Victorian defender Riley Dillon [PlessPix]

Hobart Zebras coach David Smith said:

“I was pretty happy, to be honest.  It was a really good workout to play against a team that attacked fairly well and took the game to us.

“We tried to play a 4-4-2 diamond in the first half, but probably got exploited a little bit because we just didn’t quite cover the width.  Their wingers hurt us a little bit and their fullbacks pushing on.  But, we’re trying this system and seeing what we can do and where we can go.

“I was pretty happy with the majority of it, but we didn’t get enough support in and we weren’t confident enough on the ball.

“Second half, I thought we came out and played a little bit better, backed ourselves a little more and went to a 4-3-3 and created a couple of chances.  They had a few more chances but the result was probably fair in the end.

“For us, there were lots of little positives.  I was really happy with Jayden [Hey].  That was his first game for the year.  Sammy [Whatman] played his first game in goal and I was pleased with that.  I thought it was the best I’ve seen Jan [Charuza] play since I’ve been here.  There were lots of little positives out of it.

“It’s great to play someone else, a team not from here and who want to play football. They’re an adult team.  We’re a young team.  They’re spending a fair amount of dollars trying to win the league this year and this is their big year, so they’ve got some good players and they’re men, and we don’t have the men to physically match them.”

Photo:  North Sunshine Eagles starting line-up against Hobart Zebras [PlessPix]

North Sunshine Eagles coach Arben Isai said:

“We were very happy.  A lot of us got off the plane three or four hours ago. It was a tough ask to come down here with not our entire squad.

“Especially the first half, in my opinion, we were quite good.  We created a lot of chances.  I said to the boys I would have taken two, potentially three, in that first half.  I was very happy,

“Second half, obviously, Hobart, to their credit, made some changes and went more attacking and they probably had the ascendancy, but we defended well.

“Zaim [Zeneli] had to save a couple of one-on-one chances, which he saved quite well.  You need that as it’s important to keepers.

“We’re very happy with that.  We ground out the last 15 minutes and probably could have snared a couple of the counter ourselves.  I’m very happy with the boys.”

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