NPL Tasmania Round 14 Preview

South Hobart vs Launceston City
Saturday July 17
Venue: Darcy Street
Kick-off: 2:00 PM

2021 record
South Hobart: 7-4-1 (third in NPL TAS)
Launceston City: 4-1-7 (fifth in NPL TAS)

Top scorers
South Hobart: Nick Morton (11)
Launceston City: Yasin Mohammadi (5)

This clash has the potential to be much more intriguing than it presents on paper.

South Hobart is holding on to its title hopes in third place, but despite being undefeated in their last five games, Ken Morton’s men only took nine points from the possible 15. Meanwhile, Launceston City are on a three-game winning streak and are with the ladder-leading Devonport Strikers as the most in-form teams in the competition. That being said, City’s 5-1 win over Riverside Olympic in round 13 marked the first victory away from home this season following a string of losses on the road, including a 5-0 thumping in their last visit to Darcy Street. City’s recent form can largely be attributed to the goalscoring prowess of Yasin Mohammadi in recent weeks, however his wings may be clipped in his battle with South Hobart full-backs who pose plenty of threat going forward.

South Hobart find themselves in a position where they have to continue winning if they are going to have a chance at the title, and a win in this game would be a big step toward finding some consistent form. City have the potential beat any team on their day, but if South Hobart can come away with a win, City may do them a favour against title rivals later in the year. Ken Morton’s reputation of welcoming young stars to the NPL Tasmania continued this season when Josh Divin officially introduced himself to the league with a last gasp equaliser against the Glenorchy Knights. He followed it up with another goal against Riverside Olympic last week, and surrounded by the continued threat of Kasper Hallam, Nick Morton and a fit Hugh Undy, he may well find the scoresheet again.

Clarence Zebras vs Olympia Warriors
Saturday July 17
Venue: Wentworth Park
Kick-off: 4:30 PM

2021 record
Clarence Zebras: 3-1-8 (seventh in NPL TAS)
Olympia Warriors: 3-2-7 (sixth in NPL TAS)

Top scorers
Clarence Zebras: Riley Dillon (10)
Olympia Warriors: Kyle Vincent (8)

Both Clarence Zebras and Olympia Warriors are coming off losses in the previous round, but a win against their bitter eastern shore rivals would be the perfect way to bounce back.

The Zebras will enter the clash with history on their side – they have a perfect record in competitive fixtures against the Warriors since the club was established in 2019. Plus, two of the Zebras’ three wins this season were over the Warriors for an aggregate score of 9-2, so if there is one fixture on the calendar that the Zebras look forward to, it is this one. Riley Dillon’s goal scoring record would suggest the Zebras captain loves playing against the Warriors, and he will fancy himself to find the net again in front of what will be a vocal home crowd. The Warriors welcome Koby Moschogianis back from suspension, but he will return to a backline that is yet to keep a clean sheet this season.

However, it is not all bad news for the Warriors. The young side are extremely mature, and play an attractive style of football which earned them a draw in Devonport earlier this year. Leading goal scorer Kyle Vincent will return to play up front, and that will free up Brayton Allan who filled the void left by Vincent in a narrow 2-1 loss to the Kingborough Lions last week. The Warriors are a side that rely heavily on confidence, so expect a fast start as they search for the early goal to give them the boost they need. They have used their unique home ground as an advantage when meeting teams on their own turf, but Wentworth Park poses a different challenge. They are going to need to be at their best to get the black and white monkey off their back.

Key player: Josh Mathie, Clarence Zebras

Mathie has been the Robin to Dillon’s Batman over the course of this season; he has worked tirelessly in the middle of the park to allow his captain freedom up front. Surrounded by an energetic Warriors midfield, he will have an important role to play once again.

Riverside Olympic vs Devonport Strikers
Date: Saturday July 17
Venue: Windsor Park
Kick-off: 4:30 PM

2021 record
Riverside Olympic: 0-2-10 (eighth in NPL TAS)
Devonport Strikers: 10-1-2 (first in NPL TAS)

Top scorers
Riverside Olympic: Fletcher Fulton (5)
Devonport Strikers: Brody Denehey (13)

The bottom-placed Riverside Olympic are meeting the Devonport Strikers at a bad time after the ladder-leaders went four points clear last week.

After a 2-2 draw with the Olympia Warriors in round five, the Strikers have won eight in a row which culminated with a 4-0 win over Glenorchy Knights last week. The season started slow for the reigning champions, but Lakoseljac Cup success followed by reclaiming top spot on the league table has them full of confidence ahead of a clash with a Riverside outfit that could do with a boost themselves. Brody Denehey will have his eye on increasing his league-high goal tally against the league’s leakiest defence, while at the other end of the field, Nathan Pitchford will be looking to secure a seventh clean sheet against a forward line that have struggled to find the net.

Riverside showed at the end of last season that they had the quality to mix it with the best, and with majority of their key players sticking around in 2021, it seems like a matter of time before they pick up their first victory of the season. It almost arrived when they went 4-1 up over the Kingborough Lions, however poor discipline left them wondering what could have been after three red cards saw the points shared. This has been a reoccurring theme for Alex Gaetani’s men who have copped 17 yellow cards in 12 games. The Strikers showed last week what they can do from set-pieces after scoring twice from free-kicks, and if Riverside give them the chance, expect the Strikers to capitalise yet again.

Key player: Fletcher Fulton, Riverside Olympic

Riverside are going to need to be at their absolute best to claim anything from this clash, and for that the happen they need their best players to rise to the occasion. Fulton is Riverside’s X-factor, and he possess the quality to turn a game on its head if given the chance.

Kingborough Lions vs Glenorchy Knights
Date: Saturday July 17
Venue: Lightwood Park
Kick-off: 6:30 PM

2021 record
Kingborough Lions: 6-2-5 (fourth in NPL TAS)
Glenorchy Knights: 8-3-1 (second in NPL TAS)

Top scorers
Kingborough Lions: 
Adam McKeown (9)
Glenorchy Knights: Nick Mearns (8)

The Kingborough Lions and Glenorchy Knights face off for the third time this season with the visitors desperate to bounce back from their first run of consecutive games without a win.

A Philadelphia-born underdog once mumbled “It ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.” This is particularly true for the Knights this week after falling 4-0 to the Devonport Strikers who proved earlier this year that they are capable of bouncing back from plenty themselves. In what was a blow to their title challenge, two free kicks plus an Eli Luttmer mistake accounted for three of the four goals. However, James Sherman’s focus on team performance rarely leads to two bad games, and they will need to put everything behind them to overcome a Lions side who came away with a win from a similar position last week.

The Lions were jubilant following last week’s victory over the Warriors, and rightfully so. A string of disappointing losses left them adrift from the title challengers, but they meet the Knights at a good time and have fixtures in their favour with an opportunity to ignite a resurgence. Keenan Douce and Kobe Kemp were at their best last week, complimented by Jack Turner running the show in midfield. Even though leading goal-scorer Adam McKeown is experiencing a minor drought, the pressure is off with team-mates stepping up to the plate. At the other end of the field, young goalkeeper Tate Kingston made a name for himself with a mature performance that may see him keep Sheku Kamara and Lee Mackie out of the side.

Key player: Kobe Kemp, Kingborough Lions

Kemp has spent much of his NPL Tasmania career as a deep-lying midfielder; however, Jez Kenth unlocked his attacking potential by deploying him higher up the field last week. Regardless of where he plays, he will either be responsible for creating the Lions’ chances, or preventing Knights from creating theirs.

Image: Solstice Digital