Sunday, October 25, 2020

Devonport deliver master class to confirm they are the best in Tasmania


Photo:  Joel Stone (centre) celebrates his excellent goal [PlessPix]

(NPL Tasmania, KGV Park, Saturday, 24 October 2020)

Glenorchy Knights 1 (A Walter 90+3)

Devonport City 4 (R Reynolds 48 pen, B Denehey 64, J Stone 74, E Bidwell 82)

HT:  0-0   Att:  100   Ref:  N Coad

Glenorchy Knights:  Hart  -  Bowman, Harrison, Thomas, Schmidt  -  Muller  -  Naden, Young, N’Koso  -  Anderson, T Bellini  (Subs:  A Bellini, O’Brien, Sherman, C Smith, Walter)

Devonport City:  Pitchford  -  Parke, Reynolds, Mulraney, Crocker  -  Pizzirani, C Bidwell, E Bidwell  -  Denehey, Syson, Stone  (Subs:  Barnard, Hingston, Payne, D Smith)

Photo:  Devonport's Joel Stone (right) grapples with Knights' Joffrey N'Koso. Stone was prepared to defend and attack and after one frenzied incident near the side-line in which he won the ball, he nodded to me and said:  "Happy to go to any length, Walt." [PlessPix]

This was the best game I have seen this season and Devonport showed they are clearly the finest team in Tasmania.

They took Glenorchy Knights to the cleaners and showed why they are worthy champions.  When you’ve got a 6-point lead over the second-placed side and you whip them 4-1, it says a lot.

The North-West Coast outfit won the competition by 9 points and retained their NPL Tasmania crown for a third year in a row and the fourth time in five seasons.

Photo:  Knights' Alex Walter, coach James Sherman and assistant Marcello Marchioli consider the options with their side down 2-0 [PlessPix]

Knights had a last-minute withdrawal when Alex Walter cricked his neck while tossing his long, flowing locks back with a flick of the head.  I guess that’s something like the ancient Spartans, who used to comb their long locks before going into battle.  Walter was kept on the bench and came on late to score Knights’ only goal deep into stoppage time.  That was some consolation to his family and friends, who had come to the game to see him score goals and collect the Ibro Cahut top goalscoring award in the NPL Tasmania competition, which he did.

But, it is doubtful that one man could have stemmed this Devonport juggernaut.  Devonport meant business from the start and they produced a fine display of team-work, as well as individual skills.  The score could have been higher but for some brilliant goalkeeping by Lachlan Hart.

Devonport keeper Nathan Pitchford was also at his best and made a couple of great saves to deny Knights their few chances.

Photo:  Joel Stone and Brody Denehey celebrate the latter's goal [PlessPix]

Joel Stone and Eddie Bidwell were outstanding for Devonport.  They pulled the strings as Devonport attacked and their speed and skills were too much for their opponents.

Devonport might have led by three goals at half-time, but a magnificent full-length save by Hart from Stone’s pile-driver in the 8th minute, following indecision at the back by Knights, denied them on one occasion.

In the 13th minute, 17-year-old Charles Bidwell unleased a rocket from 35 metres which cannoned off the base of the left-hand post to again let Knights off the hook.

Ten minutes before the break, Devonport created a mesmerising attack that had begun in their own penalty area and involved some magic from Stone and Eddie Bidwell, but Daniel Syson shot tamely when a goal seemed certain.

With 8 minutes of the half remaining, Knights finally threatened after a nice build-up, but Devonport desperately cleared for a corner at the last stride.

Photo:  Joel Stone prepares to take on Jack Bowman and Nick Naden [PlessPix]

Given the balance of play, it was ironic that Devonport needed a penalty to take the lead.  In the 48th minute, Eddie Bidwell was brought down by Tyler Harrison, and Raphael Reynolds stepped up to put his side in front with the spot-kick.  I was standing next to one of the match managers, Knights’ Ivica Bologna, who was a star with Knights a few decades ago.  “To the keeper’s right at hand height”, he kept ,muttering.  That’s exactly where Reynolds put the penalty, too, but goalkeeper Hart obviously couldn’t hear the advice as he dived the wrong way.  Bologna had been studying Reynolds’s penalties this season.

Joffrey N’Koso created a wonderful chance for Knights in the 59th minute when he sent over a low cross from the left to the far post.  Pitchford managed to get to the far post and he denied Harry Anderson at point-blank range.  If Pitchford doesn’t win the players’ player award this season, there is something wrong in the land of Tasmanian football.

Photo:  Knights' Nick Naden tries to outfox Devonport's Kieran Mulraney [Plesspix]

In the 64th minute, Devonport netted their second.  A long clearance upfield had Knights centre-back Oscar Thomas in all sorts of bother.  He couldn’t control the dropping ball and managed only to knock it into space behind him.  Brody Denehey was onto it like a flash and, although Hart managed to block his shot in a one-on-one, Denehey knocked home the rebound to give Devonport a well-deserved 2-0 lead.

Two minutes later, it was Pitchford to the rescue as he dived full-length to his right to turn substitute Alex Bellini’s fierce shot wide.

Stone then imposed himself on the game once more and nonchalantly scored Devonport’s third with a fine low drive inside the far right-hand post from the edge of the box to shatter any hopes Knights may have had of a revival.

Photo:  Devonport's Connor Park ventures forward in attack as he is shadowed by Alex Walter [PlessPix]

With 8 minutes remaining, Eddie Bidwell got the goal he so richly deserved.  He weaved his way into the box and, although Hart again managed to block the first shot, Bidwell stroked home the rebound to make to 4-0.

‘The Spartan’ netted a late consolation for the Knights, but this was a masterclass by Devonport.  Not only were they the most consistent side in the NPL this season by grinding out narrow wins and never losing, they produced this fine display against their closest rivals to show they could inject class into their performances when they so desired.

Photo:  Knights' Alex Walter (left) tangles with Devonport's Brody Denehey [PlessPix]

Photo:  A battle of captains.  Knights' Tyler Harrison and Devonport's Kieran Mulraney contest a high ball into the box.  [PlessPix]

Photo:  The Devonport City squad after yesterday's win over the Knights [PlessPix]


Anonymous said...

Devonport aren't the most attractive team, but they are the most effective by the length of the Midlands Highway. And its helped by an extremely stable playing list, something their main rivals couldn't say they had with their pre-season recruiting sprees. Nine of those 11 starters for the Strikers yesterday were in their NPL team last year, and Denehey and Crocker had been at the club before as well.
In a season full of unknowns, having a heap of knowns had to have been an advantage.
If the likes of South, Olympia and Knights retain the bulk of their lists, I expect season 2021 to be hugely competitive.

Anonymous said...

Don't know what second half you saw. The Thomas error was sloppy and bidwells tidy feet was the difference. Knights constantly worked pitchford. Poor write up.

Anonymous said...

Didnt like getting spanked 4-1? Walters write up is spot on.

Anonymous said...

Who would? An honest report would've highlighted the score wasn't a reflection.

Anonymous said...

It could have been more! It could easily have been 3-0 at half-time. The goals by Stone and Bidwell were brilliant, each beating three or four defenders on the way to scoring. Accept the fact that Knights weren't in the hunt, cobber.

Anonymous said...

Dev took everyone of their chances and the knights didn't. Look at the changes. There wasnt a lot too them. The team that player better doesn't always win. Just watch the game.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:23pm & 10:05pm, so are you saying that Port should have lost 4 or 5 2? Guess they just got lucky again, like they did 13 other times this season, although admittedly only twice against Knights.
I think any reasonable person who watched the game would see it very differently than you, but there you go.
What's also pretty clear is that in a very even competition (the most even I can recall) most people who comment on here still have no idea how or why Port seem to consistently get lucky week after week.

Anonymous said...

All I'm saying is the game was a lot closer then the score showed. The second half in particular showed this. The score doesn't. That can happen in football. The report isn't a true reflection of the match at all.

Anonymous said...

No it's not a true reflection of the game how you saw it. It is however a true reflection of the game how everyone else saw it. Port were never troubled and Knights were terrible.

Anonymous said...

Pitchford and the defensive aspect to Devonports game (have a look at the photographs and see how they all work back and are committed in the tackle) set them apart. And they're always a threat up front, rarely kept scoreless. That's a championship winning formula.

Knights were well beaten on Saturday. They were second to every ball in their own penalty area when the keeper made a save too.

Sherman has a big job getting his lads to regroup and win the cup final. South will smell blood in the water already.

Anonymous said...

Agree South generally match up very well with Knights and their best performances this year have been at KGV so I would suggest they’re in with a better than even chance in this game, Knights have a slightly better forward line but South the better midfield and both defences are suspect so looking forward to this one as I’d suggest the winner will almost certainly win the cup the following week

Anonymous said...

If South win( I hope they do) Knights will have nothing to show for a season which must be terrible for them to comprehend given the amount of players they poached to create this team.