NPL Lakoseljac Cup Semi-Finals

The Lakoseljac Cup semi-finals take place to decide the teams that will face-off in the Statewide Lakoseljac Cup Grand Final for a place in the FFA Cup.

Saturday May 3 2014 @ Darcy Street, South Hobart 2:00PM - South Hobart vs Northern Rangers

The all-important Lakoseljac Cup enters the final four this weekend as the semi-finals take place to decide the teams that will face-off in the Statewide Lakoseljac Cup Grand Final for a place in the FFA Cup.

The Lakoseljac Cup has extra significance in 2014 as the Champion gains entry into the national FFA Cup competition, the FFA Cup gives the Lakoseljac Cup winner an opportunity to compete for national glory against the heavyweights of Australian football, including all 10 A-League clubs.

In the first Semi-Final, Northern Rangers hit the road on Saturday to face South Hobart at Darcy Street from 2:00PM. The Rangers knocked off the 2013 champions in Round 3 of the Victory League and will be hoping they can repeat their historic scalp when they face South Hobart again in the Semi-Finals of the cutthroat knockout cup.

South Hobart beat a plucky Launceston City 3-1 to make the semis with a double from sharpshooter Brayden Mann.

“Mitsubishi Park was solid, workmanlike and we played well in patches against a much-improved City,” South Hobart Manager Ken Morton said.

“We dominated possession for long spells and then in the second half we got going and put our opponents under a lot of pressure. We got the goals to see the victory so I am happy with the result and an improved performance,” Morton added.

South Hobart sit atop the Victory League table with just goal difference separating them from Rangers meaning both sides enter the Semi-Final with good form on their side.

“Our semi-final game versus Northern Rangers will be a typical fiercely, contested semi-final.

“Both teams will go at it to make a win. Rangers are quality and they have had a very consistent and winning start to the season.

“They have some very important players, all are fit and playing really well,” Morton said.

South Hobart have a few players under injury clouds but should regain influential midfielder Caleb Ludlow.

“Hugh Ludford has resumed light training but will not be fit to participate. Cam Rogers will train lightly on Thursday and has a 50/50 chance to play. Caleb Ludlow is back and he will come into contention. Hugh Undy missed Tuesday training but we expect him to be fit,” Morton said.

Northern Rangers defeated Devonport 4-1 in the quarterfinals with two goals from Shane Brassington proving decisive in the big win.

“We were stoked with our victory over Devonport. We were not sure how the boys would bounce back both physically and mentally after the Zebras game, we put the challenge to them and they rose to it,” Northern Rangers Coach Tim Lunnon said.

Lunnon was not surprised by the draw but expects a tricky match.

“Many people at Rangers said before the draw - you watch, we will get South (Hobart) at Darcy St. After our last encounter there a few weeks ago, we are expecting a tough, hard encounter.”

“South are a great team, and their record over the last few years speaks for itself, we will have to come ready to play for sure.

“It will be interesting to see how the pitch comes up after the rain etc., it looked pretty heavy and boggy in places.

“If it is, this will only add to the toughness of the game,” Lunnon said.

Despite rolling South Hobart in Round 3, Lunnon says his defence need to be at the top of their game against a dangerous South attacking pack.

“South have players on every line, for sure. Their attacking options are probably second to none in the league, so our defence will have a challenge in front of them once again. We are all looking forward to the encounter for sure.

“The only way we will come away from Darcy St on Saturday with the points is for everyone in our squad to do their bit, we cannot afford any passengers. It will take a team effort. If we do this and play the way we want to, then we are in with a shot, for sure. But it will take a big effort from the boys, South are always the favourites every time they play.

“Our team is still pretty settled. It is good to have Yitay Towns back in the squad, he is super creative and will no doubt do a job off the bench.”

Sunday May 4 2014 at Lightwood Park, Kingston 2:00PM - Kingborough Lions vs Tilford Zebras

In the second Semi-Final, Tilford Zebras enter the lion-s den (Lightwood Park) to take on Kingborough Lions from 2:00PM on Sunday.

Both teams are coming off disappointing Victory League results; Tilford Zebras became the first team to fall to Launceston City since the league-s inception, losing 4-2 up at Mitsubishi Park.

Kingborough also had a tough week and were blown away 7-1 by the Rangers at the NTCA. Both teams will be out for a win to progress further in the search for an FFA Cup berth.

The two teams had contrasting quarter final victories to make it this stage, Tilford Zebras comfortably beat Clarence 4-0 at Wentworth Park.

“The quarter final against Clarence was a very hard earned result away from home against a highly motivated opposition who were never out of the game,” said Tilford Zebras Coach Jed Donoghue.

Donoghue is weary of the Lions despite their recent form.

“The semi final against Kingborough will also be a very difficult game away from home against a well organised and determined opposition.

“Kingborough are a big strong, attacking team, who play free flowing football, they have been scoring plenty of goals at home and are very dangerous at set pieces.

“We need to be more disciplined in defence, more composed in attack, especially in the box and make better use of possession.

“The keys to success are a strong defensive display, good use of possession and more composure in the attacking third of the pitch,” Donoghue said.

The Lions had a tougher quarterfinal; it took until extra time for Kingborough to take down a valiant University. Central defender Tom Young netted deep in extra time to defeat the Students and send the Lions into a home semi-final. Kingborough Coach Stephen Pitchford said the fighting win indicated the character within his playing group.

“The quarter final victory was hard fought over a robust University but underlined the fighting qualities of our squad staying in the contest and prevailing after 120 minutes.”

Zebras welcome in new signing Russell Courtney from the Welsh Premier League for the fixture but will be without Harrison Thomas and Kurt Engels.

“Zebras have increased their squad choices with another import as they look to further strengthen their squad for their visit to the Den,” Pitchford said.

“Jed will have them working hard following their loss to City last weekend and it would not surprise to see their defensive setup change.

“(Adam) McKeown, (Alex) Leszczynski, (Dwayne) Walsh and (Joel) Stone are all competent goal scorers and we will need to tighten our own play in the back third to keep them at bay,” Pitchford said.

Kingborough have some squad concerns with young goalkeeper Roan Gillam touch and go to play for the Lions after injuring his finger late in their Round 5 match. But in some good news for the Lions they should have the welcomed return of Jack Turner to their starting midfield, which is sure to give them a boost against a tough Zebras lineup.

“Roan Gillam dislocated a finger in the dying seconds of last weekend-s game but was cleared of any permanent damage and has trained with the rest of the squad as an outfield player this week.

“Adam Coleman will be on standby should Roan not pass his fitness test on Saturday. Nick Vialle strained a hamstring last week and will miss the next couple of weeks. Jack Tuner will most likely return in midfield. Martin Farquhar has also trained well this week and will be included in the squad.”

The Lions head honcho has been impressed with his front three.

“Danny Cowen, Francis Kenyi and Seung Yong Jin continue to test defences and the added presence of Nick Cuthbertson, Tom Young and Turner pushing forward will allow us to score more freely.”