NPL Tasmania Round 17 Review

The Kingborough Lions fought back from a goal down to earn an important three points at Warrior Park on Saturday, although bizarre circumstances surrounded Greg Downes’ winning goal.

The Olympia Warriors entered the clash on a high after defeating South Hobart the week before, but the Lions were determined to get their season back on track having not tasted victory since round 13. Kobe Kemp starting the game in an advanced midfield position, just as he did in that round 13 victory, however Simon Vivarelli and Jorden Mundy partnered him in the absence of Jack Turner, while Andy Taylor was dropped to the bench.

Kemp had the first real chance of the game after just four minutes, when he rose high from a corner and headed over the crossbar. He was involved again in the 16th minute when he got away from Ashton Pacey-Mayne with some fancy footwork, but his through ball to Adam McKeown was met with a shot that was gathered comfortably by Jake Hayers in the Warriors’ goal.

Hayers was under siege in the early stages with the Lions firing plenty of crosses into the box. He looked uncertain under the pressure of the big-bodied opposition, although it was not long until the Warriors started to find their rhythm. In the 25th minute, Kyle Vincent played a ball into the feet of Joel Sammut, who found Anthony Mamic with his back to goal. Mamic bounced the ball back into Sammut who played a delightful flicked ball over the Lions defence setting up Mamic for a one-on-one, however Joseph Juma retreated in time to clear the danger. It was a common theme in the early stages with Mamic struggling to get the better of Juma, while Vincent was isolated on the right-hand side.

The Lions made better use of their attacking possession and Kemp once again had a shot at goal in the 38th minute. Phil Kantzos had switched sides with Keenan Douce, and the left-footer cut in from the right flank to play in Kemp, who had a shot from distance that was well gathered by Hayers. Against the run of play and with minutes remaining, it was Vincent who scored the breakthrough goal for the Warriors. Tate Kingston had barely been tested in the Lions’ goal until the 43rd minute when the Warriors talisman received a pass across his body and struck a first-time effort that sailed into the top corner beyond the outstretched arm of the Lions’ shot-stopper.

Matthew Bomford scored the equaliser for the Warriors last week, and with his side 1-0 ahead the wingback started venturing forward more often. He got on the end of an early cross in the opening minutes of the second half, but could not steer his headed effort on target.

The Warriors’ momentum was short-lived as the Lions found themselves level in the 55th minute. Kemp was a step of ahead of Pacey-Mayne as their battle continued into the second half. He turned inside of the Warriors midfielder and played the ball into Ben Hamlett, who sent an effort across the face for McKeown to tap home at the back post.

Hamlett and McKeown’s connection grew as the game went on, and Hamlett’s involvement was key to the Lions going ahead. He charged toward goal and went down under a heavy challenge which saw the ball spill to Kemp, who struck a first-time effort toward goal. As the ball careered towards goal and struck the net, the referee’s whistle called the advantage back to award the free-kick for the challenge on Hamlett.

After a lengthy discussion between the referee and Lions’ captain Keenan Douce, Greg Downes stepped up to the set piece and – from a single step – sent a curling effort into the top corner to hand the Lions a 2-1 victory and a valuable three points.

The Olympia Warriors remain in seventh place, still three points behind the Clarence Zebras who also suffered defeat. The victory means the Kingborough Lions will hold onto hopes of a third-place finish, while remaining five points ahead of the pursuing Launceston City.

NPL Round 17 Results:
Devonport Strikers 1-1 Glenorchy Knights
Riverside Olympic 0-4 South Hobart
Launceston City 2-0 Clarence Zebras
Olympia Warriors 1-2 Kingborough Lions

Image: Solstice Digital