Friday, May 28, 2021

Some intriguing battles loom for the weekend's Lakoseljac and State-wide Cup semi-finals

Photo:  Taroona coach Anton Rohner knows the history of his club's battles with Devonport but was still all smiles at this morning's pre-game media conference. [PlessPix] 

History is against Taroona as they face NPL Tasmania reigning champions Devonport Strikers in the Lakoseljac Cup semi-final tomorrow [Saturday] at 1pm at Kelvedon Park.

The sides have met twice before in State-wide Cup matches and Devonport have triumphed 8-0 and 6-1.

But, that was a long time ago and anything could happen this time around.

Taroona coach, Anton Rohner, played for a season in the North-West in the late 1990s for Somerset and has scored goals against Devonport.

Nostalgia and history do not come into the equation tomorrow, however, and anything can happen in cup football.

“It’s not in our DNA to not go as hard as possible at Taroona, and it is a David and Goliath battle and we fully respect Devonport,” said Taroona coach, Anton Rohner.

“We’re going out to try and win and we don’t give up.

“We think it’s going to be an actual ding-dong physical battle.

“Devonport have always been a competitive cultured team that is very physical and we totally respect that, but of anyone has watched Taroona, we have been a physical team, too, and I think we’ll be competitive.

“Devonport have had some bumps on their road, but every team does, as have we, too.

“This game will allow us to test ourselves at the highest level in Tasmania in a prestigious cup competition leading to the FFA Cup.

“It’s great exposure for our players and our club and what we have built, from the juniors through to the women’s teams and the seniors over the last four years.

“We take this one game at a time and we’re very motivated.”

Photo:  Taroona coach Anton Rohner knows what it's like to score against Devonport, which he sometimes did while playing for Somerset. [PlessPix]  

Rohner said he would make up to four changes to his team from the past two weeks because of injuries or unavailability.

“The depth of our squad this year is really incredibly strong and we’re looking forward to giving it a red-hot go.” Rohner said.

“Home ground advantage is something and our ground is known as ‘the graveyard’, so we’re very keen to leverage the home ground advnathe and we also believed there’ll be a lot of Hobart football supporters from other clubs coming down to support us.”

Matthew Johnson, a former Devonport player, will be goalkeeper for Taroona in place of James Cherry, who is unavailable.

“He has improved out of sight over the past two years and his presence will create interest,” Rohner said.

Devonport are expected to be at full strength and it will be their second visit to Hobart for two consecutive weekends.

They beat South Hobart 2-0 last Saturday in an NPL match.

The other semi-final is at Buckby Motors park in Launceston at 4.30pm tomorrow [Saturday], when Launceston City host Glenorchy Knights.

Launceston City are generally good cup competition performers and Knights will need to be at their best.

Knights currently top the NPL Tasmania standings and City are second-last, but league form does not mean a thing when it comes to cup competitions.

Photo:  Taylor Rand, Clarence Zebras' American midfielder, aid Olympia will be a challenge on Sunday. [PlessPix]  

In the Women’s State-wide Cup semi-finals, Kingborough Lions United host Launceston United at Lightwood park tomorrow [Saturday] at 3.30pm, while on Sunday, Olympia Warriors entertain arch rivals Clarence Zebras at 3.30pm at Warrior Park.

“This is definitely a big game,” said Clarence Zebras’ Taylor Rand in reference to Sunday’s game.

“Olympia has been a rival of Clarence Zebras for a couple of years now and we’ve played them in cup games a couple of times.

“We’re definitely looking forward to it and our whole team is excited.

“We beat them 2-1 in the league this season and it was a very close game.

“This is a cup game and you can’t not show up and give your best for 90 minutes.

“I think we’ve definitely developed game on game and we’ve got a couple of players back in over the last couple of rounds who have been fantastic for us and who have been goalscorers.

“Our strategy will be to put a full 90 minutes together, which we haven’t really done so far, and we’ll have to do that to win.

“They have very few weaknesses and we’ll have to play at our best.

“They’re pretty strong and our previous game against them was challenging.”

Launceston United beat Kingborough 5-2 in the league earlier this season and this indicates that the Lions will have to be at their best if they are to beat their northern visitors and qualify for the final.

Photo:  South Hobart's Reilly Morton would love to be a key factor in a victory over Olympia on Sunday. [PlessPix]  

In the Men’s State-wide Under-20s Cup semi-finals, Ulverstone host Launceston City at 2pm at Ulverstone on Saturday, while on Sunday, South Hobart meet Olympia Warriors at South Hobart Oval at 1pm.

“Olympia area  good club with good junior players and they’re always tough competition,” said South Hobart’s Reilly Morton.

“It’s always very competitive between us and Olympia and we’re looking forward to the challenge and, hopefully, the game goes our way.

“We played them in the Championship a couple of weeks agon and won, but we were a goal down and slow starts do affect us.

“If we can start strongly, then we’ll have a good opportunity to win the game.”

Morton has NPL experience and is a leader within the squad and one of his tasks will be to fire up the team.

He said South Hobart Oval is becoming something of a fortress for the team and the large ground and grass surface would suit them more than Olympia’s artificial pitch.


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