NPL Tasmania Round 19 Preview

Kingborough Lions vs Riverside Olympic
 Saturday August 21
Venue: Clennet’s Lightwood Park
Kick-off: 2:15 pm

2021 Record
Kingborough Lions: 
7-3-7 (fourth in NPL TAS)
Riverside Olympic: 0-3-14 (eighth in NPL TAS)

Top Scorers
Kingborough Lions: Adam McKeown (12)
Riverside Olympic: Fletcher Fulton (6)

The game of the season so far was the round 10 meeting between the Kingborough Lions and Riverside Olympic, and they will do battle again this weekend with the Lions desperate for a win to retain fourth spot.

A mid-table finish is all but confirmed for the Lions after last week’s loss to South Hobart, but whether it is fourth or fifth at the end of the season is still yet to be seen thanks to Launceston City’s late revival. The Lions have a good chance at three points against the struggling Riverside this weekend, but they will surely remember the 4-1 deficit they faced late in the game in their last meeting. Adam McKeown is still causing problems up front, and although his three-game scoring streak ended last week, he did earn a penalty. He will view this weekend as an opportunity to add to his goal tally, as will Ben Hamlett who has had a slightly disappointing season in front of goal.

After two weeks across round 15 and 16 that hinted at a Riverside resurgence, it has not come to fruition with seven goals conceded in the two games since. Time is running out for Alex Gaetani’s men to find their first victory of the season, and while this year looks destined for a last-place finish it is time to look ahead to next year. Zac Reissig, Jacob Burk and Drew Sykes have all been handed NPL Tasmania game-time this season, perhaps with an eye on the future, and team performances will be the key indicator for Gaetani going forward. Riverside have proven to themselves in the past that they are capable of troubling the Lions and it took some time for Kingborough to adjust to the wide threat of South Hobart last week, so a fast start could see Riverside in with a chance.

Key Player: Tate Kingston, Kingborough Lions
Kingborough will get plenty of opportunities to score, but they were wasteful last week which has been a theme so far this season. The longer it takes to find a breakthrough, the more pressure will build on Kingston in the Lions goal, so it may be up to him to keep his side in the game.

Clarence Zebras vs South Hobart
 Saturday August 21
Venue: Wentworth Park
Kick-off: 2:15 pm

2021 Record
Clarence Zebras: 
4-3-10 (sixth in NPL TAS)
South Hobart: 10-4-3 (third in NPL TAS)

Top Scorers
Clarence Zebras: Riley Dillon (11)
South Hobart: Nicholas Morton (14)

South Hobart’s title hopes remain alive, but they are hanging by a thread ahead of this weekend’s clash with the Clarence Zebras at Darcy Street.

The Zebras had a tough outing against the Devonport Strikers last week, but facing the ladder-leaders without captain and leading goal-scorer Riley Dillon was bound to be a big ask for a very young side. Dillon’s return this weekend is a boost, but they face another challenging fixture in the form of a desperate South Hobart. Playing at Wentworth Park will be a welcome boost since the Zebras have conceded 11 goals in two visits to Darcy Street, while the two sides’ last meeting at Wentworth Park ended in a narrow 2-1 defeat. A few interesting battles are sure to unfold, including those between Lachlan Semmler and Matthew Pace, and Kasper Hallam and Ryan Cook, while many will remember the history between Dillon and Nick Morton from past years.

Ken Morton reiterated again earlier this week that his team must take it one game at a time. While they are still mathematically title contenders, it will take something special for his side to be in the conversation after this weekend. Both Glenorchy Knights and Devonport Strikers have tough fixtures and are by no means guaranteed a win, but South Hobart need three points regardless. The never-say-die attitude that has become synonymous with South Hobart was on display last week and they managed a tough win in which Hallam had one of his most influential games of the season. With Samuel Berezansky, Nick Morton and Hugh Undy all looking the part alongside him – and Josh Divin back in the mix – signs point to another win if they can show the same spirit this weekend.

Key Player: Ryan Cook, Clarence Zebras
No matter who plays up front for South Hobart, Ryan Cook will have his hands full. A lot of the defensive pressure tends to fall on Cook and he will not only be responsible for his own battle, but also the organisation of those around him while trying to keep a dangerous South Hobart attack at bay.

Glenorchy Knights vs Olympia Warriors​​​​​​​
 Saturday August 21
Venue: KGV Park
Kick-off: 3:30 pm

2021 Record
Glenorchy Knights: 
12-4-1 (second in NPL TAS)
Olympia Warriors: 4-2-11 (seventh in NPL TAS)

Top Scorers
Glenorchy Knights: Nick Mearns (12)
Olympia Warriors: Kyle Vincent (11)

Once again, the Glenorchy Knights require a win to keep the fate of the NPL Tasmania title in their own hands. Standing in their way are the Olympia Warriors who look to have spoiled South Hobart’s campaign in round 16, and they will be looking to do the same to the Knights this week.

A 3-0 win at Riverside Olympic in their last outing will make James Sherman very pleased considering the road to round 21 is now paved with home games. That begins this weekend, and by welcoming back Eduardo Castaneda and Jack Bowman from suspension the Knights will enter this game against the Warriors nearing full strength. Nick Mearns and Nic Naden are both having an excellent end to the season and have scored 20 goals between them for the campaign. Austin Yost and Connor Schmidt are the other two form players, both benefitting enormously from the move to a 3-5-2 formation. It will be interesting to see how that shape works against a Warriors side that line up the same way, but one thing is for sure; wingbacks Schmidt and Bowman will play a key role in defence as well as attack.

The Olympia Warriors can realistically finish as high as sixth place, and with a young squad who are very reliant on confidence there is a big difference between sixth, or second-last when looking to next season. They have suffered through the loss of Ben Curtis, Austin Yost and Ben Tilley at different stages in the year, each of whom were a significant blow to their leadership group as well as on-field performance. Matthew Bomford has stepped up well in that regard, and Vandermay has returned to fill the hole left behind by Tilley, but they will no doubt be tested by what is a Knights strike force with plenty of avenues to goal.

Key Player: Connor Schmidt, Glenorchy Knights

A wingback that finds himself on the scoresheet two weeks running will no doubt be on the radar of Rob Clarke and the Warriors. The Knights are in a unique position to have multiple goal scorers who are finding the net on a regular basis, and Schmidt has joined that group since moving further up the field.

Launceston City vs Devonport Strikers​​​​​​​
 Saturday August 21
Venue: Buckby Motors Park
Kick-off: 4:30 pm

2021 Record
Launceston City: 
7-1-9 (fifth in NPL TAS)
Devonport Strikers: 13-2-2 (first in NPL TAS)

Top Scorers
Launceston City: Yasin Mohammadi (6)
Devonport Strikers: Brody Denehey (19)

The Devonport Strikers face many tough road trips in a typical NPL Tasmania season, but you would be hard pressed to find an away game more daunting than Launceston City at Buckby Motors Park right now.

The home side have won six of their last eight games, accumulating 18 of their 22 points along the way. Four of those six wins occurred at Bucky Motors Park, which has them in a great position for a late run into the top four. City have hit form recently, and with a 3-2 win at Warrior Park last week, their confidence will be at an all-time high. Perhaps the most promising thing to come out of that clash is the fact that Yassin Mohammadi returned to the scoresheet, taking his total to six for the season. He is the main threat for the home side, but against the Devonport Strikers, City will require production across the field if they have a hope of getting over the line.

Joel Stone and Charles Bidwell were both absent last week, but the Strikers still had no trouble in scoring seven goals against the Clarence Zebras. That goal spree and ninth clean sheet were the perfect confidence boost for Chris Gallo’s side ahead of this clash against Launceston City, who have proven to be a tough nut to crack at Bucky Motors Park. They have conceded an average of 1.1 goal per game at home compared to 3.4 on the road, but the Strikers – and Brody Denehey in particular – are arguably the best in the state when it comes to finding the net.

Key Player: Lachlan Clark, Launceston City

Devonport will be firing on all cylinders with the NPL Tasmania title within reach, but Lachlan Clark is having a brilliant season and he could be the man to nullify the Strikers’ attacking threat. He will need to rise to the occasion against the league’s leading goal scorer to give his attacking players a chance to do some damage at the other end.