Friday, March 8, 2019

Battle of title favourites and clash between NPL newcomers mark this weekend's NPL fixtures

Photo:  Riverside Olympic's goalkeeper, Jarrod Hill, will play after recovering from a dislocated finger, which kept him out of most pre-season game [PlessPix]

Reigning NPL Tasmania champions Devonport City begin the defence of their title tomorrow when they host Olympia Warriors at Valley Road at 2pm.

The Warriors are title favourites to many and this game is a crucial test of both sides’ credentials.

Devonport beat Olympia 1-0 in a pre-season friendly, but not much can be gauged from that meeting as Olympia were far from full strength and the game was played on a small artificial pitch.

“We’re pretty much at full strength with just one or two missing,” said Devonport coach, Rick Coughlan.

“We’re confident in our own ability and we’ve worked extremely hard over the past four months and I think we’re in a really good place internally, as a squad and as a group.

“We’re quietly confident about what we can achieve this year.

“[The 2-0 win] was a pre-season game and it’s too early to take any real indication from that sort of game.  That was just about getting minutes into legs.

“We’re confident in our own abilities and against most of the teams out there.

“We’re feeling extremely prepared and both on and off the field we’re taking things to another level this year in terms of match preparation and player wellness and injury management and the physical analysis, and all the things that fully prepare us individually and collectively on the field.

“We’re in a really good place and going in a good direction this year.”

Photo:  Devonport will expect big things from goalkeeper Nathan Pitchford, arguably the best custodian in the NPL this season [PlessPix]

Olympia come into this game after an opening win against South Hobart last Friday night.

They will make two changes to their squad with Ben Curtis and Jonathan Mulungula coming in to replace Joel Sammut and Jacob Leaman, who are both ill.

Warren Wadawu and Ryan Cook are both still injured.

Warriors coach, Rob Clarke, said the starting line-up will be the same as against South Hobart.

“We’re looking forward to the challenge of playing Devonport up there and we’ll be trying to bring the same intensity as we did last week,” Clarke said.

“If we do that, we hope to be competitive, which is our aim for every game.”

Newcomers to the NPL, Riverside Olympic and Glenorchy Knights, will do battle tomorrow at 4pm at Windsor Park in Launceston.

Both teams will be keen to kick off their inaugural campaigns with a win.

Riverside will miss midfielder Liam Gilmore, who has family commitments, but new Argentine recruit, Luca Vigilante, will make his debut.

Vigilante’s last club was Ferentino in the Italian Serie D, while he has also played in the third-tier Spanish competition with Melista and in Greece’s second tier with Kalamata.

Goalkeeper Jarrod Hill is back in the side after missing most of the pre-season with a dislocated finger.

Club captain Ethan Olner will be playing his first-ever NPL match, while Mitchell Jones, Jonathon O’Neill and Aaron Campbell have returned to the club after stints with other NPL clubs.  Their experience in the top flight will be invaluable to Riverside in their debut season.

“Glenorchy have been one of the in-form teams in pre-season and I know James Sherman quite well and he’s a good coach,” said Riverside coach, Alex Gaetani.

“We expect them to be in the top four or five clubs, but I think that being at home will help us.

“We’ve prepared really well and we’re in a good head-space and I think we’ll play at our best.

“Technically, our players are at a high level and I pick players on their technical level first and foremost.

“Glenorchy will be a challenge for us.”

Photo:  Much will be expected by Glenorchy Knights of their skilful midfielder, Alex Bellini [PlessPix]

Glenorchy Knights will field much the same side that they have in pre-season friendlies, with some players still missing.

“We won’t quite be at full strength,” said coach, James Sherman.

“But, we’re in reasonably good shape.

“It’s hard to say how we’ll go as I don’t know too much about Riverside yet.  It would have been nice if they’d played Clarence last week and I’d got a proper look at them.

“I have seen them play twice in pre-season But there’s not much you can really take from such fixtures.

“We just focus on ourselves and look to play to our strengths and keep it as tight as we can defensively for as long as we can and work hard.

“That’ll be the idea, for the whole season, really, regardless of who we’re playing against.

“We’ll treat everyone with the same respect and we’ll go into every match with the same attitude, whether it’s Riverside or Devonport.”


Final scrore said...

Think Riverside will beat knights 2-0 Devonport to win 2-1

Nick Owen said...

For what it is worth, Walter, the pre season game against Olympia was on the white lined synthetic pitch which is the same dimensions as the grass pitch at Valley Rd. Hardly a small pitch. Also, the result was 1-0.