Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Hobart puts on perfect weather and perfect pitch for FFA Cup clash

Photo:  Marconi Stallions players (L-R) Nathan Millgate, Zac Cairncross, (?), Anthony Frangie and Brandon Vella after breakfast this morning at Hobart's Ibis Hotel [PlessPix] 

It’s a perfect winter’s day in Hobart.

The temperature is 12C as I write in the early afternoon and the sun is smiling down from a cloudless, bright blue sky.

The pitch at Blundstone Arena is nicely mowed and perfect for a game of football.

The pitch will probably be watered a bit before the game to make it slick and to allow the ball to move quickly over the surface.

The stage is set, then, for the FFA Cup Round-of-32 clash between the home side South Hobart and the visiting Marconi Stallions.

South Hobart sit in third place on the 9-team NPL Tasmania ladder, while Marconi Stallions are fifth in the 12-team New South Wales NPL standings.

The Stallions are staying at the Ibis Hotel in Macquarie Street and have a free-day until tonight’s game.

They’ll probably have a team meeting where tactics will be discussed, but the only physical preparation before the 7.30pm kick-off will probably be a group walk taking in some of the sights of this beautiful city.

There’ll also be time for an afternoon nap, and then it’ll be down to business.

For South Hobart, it’ll probably be a team meeting at some time, followed by a meal together.

Playing at home means the players will be relaxed and comfortable in familiar surroundings.

Photo:  South Hobart's Nick Morton and Bradley Lakoseljac rocked up to Blundstone Arena this morning in a sponsored Mazda 3 [PlessPix]

“It means an awful lot to be back on this big stage [FFA Cup] under the eye of all of Australia,” said South Hobart attacker, Nick Morton.

“It’s exciting and it’s a game we’re looking forward to.

“Closer to kick-off I think there’ll be the feeling of pressure and a bit of nerves going around.

“Whoever can deal with that the better should be off to a good start.

“The venue us unreal.  It’s an absolutely beautiful surface and we had a light run on it last night to get a feel for it and the ball was moving around unreal.

“We’re looking forward to playing on it.”

Young striker-cum-midfielder Bradley Lakoseljac said it will be the biggest game he has played in.

“This is my first time in the competition and it’s the biggest competition in Australia and so it’s a great opportunity for myself and for my team and I’m really looking forward to it,” Lakoseljac said.

“They play in one of the hardest competitions in Australia and I’ve never experienced that but I’m looking forward to the challenge.

“I think it’ll be tough, but we’ll just have a crack and see how it turns out.

“We’ll just play our own game and hope it turns out okay in the end.”

“We’re focusing on playing our game and not playing into their hands.

“We believe our style of football is good enough to compete with the best around Australia, so we’re hoping to go out there and show a good representation of Tasmanian football tonight.”

Photo:  Nick Morton, Bradley Lakoseljac and coach Ken Morton inspect the Blundstone pitch this morning [PlessPix]

South Hobart coach Ken Morton said the size of the pitch was determined by the club so that it was a good size for his team.

“It’s a little bit wider than Darcy Street and maybe a yard shorter than KGV,” Morton said.  “The length is pretty much the same.

“Those are two grounds where we’ve had a lot of success and where we play well, so we’re hoping we’ve got the pitch dimensions right and it suits us.

“They [Marconi] looked quite fresh and lively at training last night and so it’s up to us to look after ourselves and to go out and put in a good shift and see if we can do Tassie proud.

“We’ve got injuries and, unfortunately, the back-line is a new back-line and there are changes there.

“The midfield and up front are pretty experienced players in those positions so we’re just hoping we can play as high up the field as possible and playing in the opponents’ half as much as possible and get some pressure on them and their weaknesses and see if we can get something from it.

“They play a physical game and they’ve got good aerial players and they’re very skilful and sharp on the ground.

“The wingers are very sharp, but I do believe if we press them high up the pitch then it will be difficult for them to do that long ball, so maybe we need to stop that and se what they do after that.

“I think the name of the game tonight is applying early pressure.

“They’ve got players right around the park who could hurt us if they’re given time and space.”

Morton said pre-ticket sales were going well and he hope people would come out to support the round-ball game and give his side support on the night.

“If they don’t like us, come and support Marconi, but I just hope we get good numbers here tonight and that they enjoy the good football on show,” he said.

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