Sunday, March 7, 2021

South Hobart and Lions qualify for NPL Summer Cup Final

Photo:  Knights' Eduardo Castaneda (left) and South's Ewan Larby were key players for their teams yesterday. [PlessPix]

South Hobart got out of jail on Saturday with a goal in stoppage time to beat Glenorchy Knights 3-2 and qualify for the NPL Summer Cup Final next Saturday.

They will meet Kingborough Lions United in the final.

The Lions downed Launceston City 3-0 away on Saturday through goals by Adam McKeown, Kobe Kemp and Simon Vivarelli.

Knights started with established pair Jack Bowman and Jordan Muller on the bench, which indicates the depth of James Sherman’s senior squad.

Thomas Bellini is fit again and was also a substitute, as was former South Hobart youngster Pajari Sculthorpe, who came on as centre-forward after Alex Walter suffered an injury.

Photo:  Knights' Nick Naden (No.13) is congratulated by team-mates after restoring his side's lead early in the second half. [PlessPix]  

Alex Bellini was injured and was not available.

Eli Luttmer, a Tasmanian who had been playing in Victoria, did well for Knights in midfield.  His passing was precise and his physical strength was an asset to the side.  He appeared in many of Knights’ attacks and set pieces, where he was not reluctant to put his body on the line.

Eduardo Castaneda is over his injury and back in form and he produced a solid performance for Knights.  On one occasion, he showed his quick reactions when he managed to send in a fierce shot in a split second.  The ball took a slight deflection and went just wide for a corner.

South Hobart kept Frenchman Loic Feral and tricky striker Kasper Hallam in reserve and, when coach Ken Morton introduced them midway through the second half when his side were 2-1 down, they made crucial contributions which ultimately swung things in South Hobart’s favour.

Jayden Hey and Luke Bighin were the two centre-backs for South Hobart and although both are solid and mobile, the South rearguard was too easily breached for the two goals.

Photo:  South's Luke Bighin tackles Knights' Joffrey N'Koso [PlessPix]

Bradley Lakoseljac and Sam Berezansky were in the starting line-up and were well worth their places.

The precocious Jacob Lancaster and Ewan Larby were reliable and the latter presented the Knights with some headaches.  His headed goal after a set-piece to make it 1-1 was a classic.

Berezansky should have given South the lead after just 5 minutes when he broke through the Knights defence, but he placed his low shot wide.

In the 11th minute, Knights took the lead when Walter released Joffrey N’Koso on the right and he fired home into the top left-hand corner of the net.

The equaliser came in the 22nd minute after Adam Gorrie had upended Tobias Herweynen wide on the left.  Berezansky floated the free-kick towards the far post and Larby rose above everyone to power home a header and make it 1-1 at the interval.

Photo:  South's Nick Morton elbows Knights' Nick Mearns to the ground. [PlessPix]

Three minutes after the resumption, Nick Naden ran onto a ball that was looped over the South defence and made for goal.  He had a long way to run and kept his composure before driving home low and hard beyond keeper Nicholas O’Connell and inside the far right-hand post to restore the Knights’ lead.

Knights appeared to have the measure of their opponents after that and if Castaneda’s excellent shot had gone in, it might have been game over.

Morton brought on Feral and Hallam and with the former anchoring down the midfield and the latter introducing an element of surprise up front, the game was rescued.

Hallam made it 2-2 with 3 minutes remaining when he collected a cross from the left and beat Lachlan Hart.

Photo:  South's Loic Feral (left) foils Knights' Joffrey N'Koso. [PlessPix]

As the game went into stoppage time, I was getting ready to change the lens on my camera for the penalty shoot-out when up popped youngster Noah Gardner to grab the winner.

Morton was jubilant on the South bench, while his assistant, Peter Savill, was his usual phlegmatic self.  On the visitors’ bench, Sherman was left shaking his head in disbelief and pondering what went wrong.

At Warrior Park, Olympia Warriors gave winger Warren Wadawu a perfect farewell by beating Clarence Zebras 4-0.  Wadawu, who started on the bench, has played 265 games for the Warriors and is moving to Perth, where he will play for Greek-based Floreat Athena.

Photo:  Olympia's Austin Yost demonstrates his skills to five Clarence Zebras opponents. [PlessPix]  

Austin Yost gave Olympia the lead from a left-wing cross after just 30 seconds.

Bilal Ait Maamar made it 2-0 on the half-hour when he chipped keeper Joshua Jones from range, while Samuel Cummins added the third on the stroke of half-time.

Joseph Mwarabu completed the scoring 8 minutes from the end.

Clarence Zebras missed Ryan Cook, who has a back injury, and they played American import Daniel Baumgartner at centre-back.

The visitors’ best chance came when Lachlan Burt fired wide with the goal at his mercy.

NSW import Josh Mathie showed good passing skills in midfield, but Clarence Zebras lacked cut and thrust in attack and rarely had the Warriors in trouble.

Photo:  Olympia's Brayton Allan about to be tackled by Clarence Zebras' Thomas Backhouse. [PlessPix]

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