NPL Tasmania Round 21 Preview

Kingborough Lions vs Devonport Strikers
Date:
 Saturday September 11
Venue: Clennett’s Lightwood Park
Kick-off: 2:00 pm

2021 Record
Kingborough Lions: 
10-3-7 (fourth in NPL TAS)
Devonport Strikers: 15-2-3 (first in NPL TAS)

Top Scorers
Kingborough Lions: 
Adam McKeown (14)
Devonport Strikers: Brody Denehey (21)

Preview:

Clennett’s Lightwood Park will host a huge double header on Saturday, and the second of the two games is about as big as it gets. If the visiting Devonport Strikers win, chances are they take the NPL Tasmania trophy back home with them but anything less and their dynasty built over the last three years may come to an end.

The Kingborough Lions’ off-season signings and their Summer Cup triumph suggested they may push for the title this year. Although things did not go to plan, they still find themselves in one of the biggest games of the season with a chance to impact where the trophy will land in 2021. A change in system late in the season has seen them playing good football lately – with Ben Hamlett is lining up through the middle, his partnership with Adam McKeown is thriving and the two have combined to score five goals in the last three games.

As if the occasion was not big enough already, goalkeeper Nathan Pitchford announced his imminent retirement mid-week and joins coach Chris Gallo in appearing with the Devonport Strikers for the final time this weekend. If ever there was a football team that did not require motivation it is the Devonport Strikers, but they have it in spades. Eddie Bidwell will be serving a suspension for a fifth yellow card which is a huge blow for the Strikers, but there is no doubting that they still have the personnel required to get the job done. With a fourth-straight NPL Tasmania title up for grabs they will be leaving everything on the field in an attempt to end the season draped in championship winning glory, however it is certainly not a given – they have slipped up once against the Lions already this year.

Key Player: Nathan Pitchford, Devonport Strikers

In his final game, the script is written for Nathan Pitchford to play a significant role with goal-difference being a major factor in deciding the title’s destination. He has been a man for the big occasion many times before in his four-year stint with the Strikers. A win is crucial, and a clean sheet would go a long way in bolstering their hopes of title success.

South Hobart vs Olympia Warriors​​​​​​​
Date:
 Saturday September 1
Venue: Darcy Street
Kick-off: 2:00 pm

2021 Record
South Hobart: 
12-4-4 (third in NPL TAS)
Olympia Warriors: 5-3-12 (sixth in NPL TAS)

Top Scorers
South Hobart: Nick Morton (20)
Olympia Warriors: Kyle Vincent (11)

Preview:

South Hobart showed last week that they are not taking their foot off the gas, so with the Olympia Warriors requiring a win to stay in sixth place, it is likely they will face a tough task on their trip to Darcy Street.

South Hobart scored the most goals in a single game this year when they put ten past Riverside Olympic last week, so it is unlikely they will let the Warriors off the hook. Josh Divin led the line, but Sam Berezansky, Nick Morton and Kasper Hallam stole the headlines with eight goals between them, and Morton’s captain’s performance was marked by a four-goal haul. In the final home game of the season, South Hobart will be eager to make up for the disappointing loss suffered in this fixture back in round 16 which effectively cost them their chance at the title.

The Warriors are currently in sixth place, but they are level on points with the seventh placed Clarence Zebras and require a win to avoid sliding down the table. They suffered a disappointing 2-0 loss to the in-form Kingborough Lions last week, but they are a team that have the ability to bounce back and have proven so many times this year. The Warriors have used a 29-man squad so far this season, and they have plenty of promising young players who would benefit from more NPL experience. After the changes that took place at the club in the off-season, a sixth-place finish and a win in the final game would give a valuable confidence boost ahead of next season.

Key Player: Nick Morton, South Hobart

Nick Morton put himself back in the golden boot race with four goals against Riverside, and the team is likely to rally around their captain as he looks to overtake Brody Denehey who is currently ahead by a single goal. He has hit some good form recently with eight goals in his last five games, but he is yet to score against the Warriors this year.

Glenorchy Knights vs Launceston City​​​​​​​
Date:
 Saturday September 11
Venue: KGV
Kick-off: 2:00 pm

2021 Record:
Glenorchy Knights: 
14-5-1 (second in NPL TAS)
Launceston City: 7-1-12 (fifth in NPL TAS)

Top Scorers:
Glenorchy Knights: Nick Mearns (13)
Launceston City: Yasin Mohammadi, Daniel Smith (6)

Preview:

The Glenorchy Knights will require the stars to align if they are to have a chance at the NPL Tasmania title this weekend, but they will first have to earn three points in a potentially tough fixture against Launceston City.

There are two possible scenarios that will see the Glenorchy Knights crowned champions this weekend, but they both involve a victory for the home side. If the Strikers also win, then the Knights are required to score enough goals to overcome the Strikers’ superior goal difference, which would mean finding the net at least six times. It is a tough ask, but the Knights have a good record against Launceston City after earning a 5-0 win in this fixture back in round seven. Goals have been hard to find for the Knights in the last three weeks with two 1-0 victories and a 0-0 draw in that time, but they have plenty of goal scorers in the side. Combined with the fact that Lachlan Hart has not conceded a goal since round 17, James Sherman’s men will be confident that they have the ability to do the job.

Launceston City have seen huge improvements in the second half of the season to change their fortune and earn a fifth-place finish, but they will be disappointed with recent results. After earning 18 points from a possible 24, City have gone on to lose their last three by an aggregate score of 11-2 and they face a daunting task in the form of the title-hungry Glenorchy Knights. Lachlan Clark has had a brilliant year up until now, and if he performs at his best, he could bring the Knights’ title hopes crashing down.

Key Player: Eli Luttmer, Glenorchy Knights

Although it is his first season in the NPL Tasmania, Eli Luttmer has filled an important role in the heart of the Knights back three. With six goals of his own this year and a strong presence at set-pieces, Luttmer will be key in keeping Launceston City scoreless, while possibly chipping in with a goal of his own.

Clarence Zebras vs Riverside Olympic​​​​​​​
Date:
 Saturday September 11
Venue: Wentworth Park
​​​​​​​Kick-off: 2:00 pm

2021 Record:
Clarence Zebras: 
5-3-12 (seventh in NPL TAS)
Riverside Olympic: 0-3-17 (eighth in NPL TAS)

Top Scorers:
Clarence Zebras: Riley Dillon (13)
Riverside Olympic: Fletcher Fulton (9)

Preview:

The Clarence Zebras have a chance to move up the NPL Tasmania table and finish the season in sixth place, and while Riverside Olympic are certain to finish on the bottom of the table, they have one final chance to earn a maiden victory in their 2021 campaign.

The Zebras’ 4-1 win over Launceston City last week brought an end to a four-game losing streak which was an important result for their confidence. More importantly, the four goals scored were their first in over a month after going all of August without finding the net. James Ackerley got on the scoresheet for the first time this year with a brace last week, and Riley Dillon continued his good run of form with two of his own. After some tough fixtures, and six games without a win, the Zebras have a chance to end the season two wins from two, which will be a huge positive ahead of the new season.

Riverside Olympic have had some poor results so far this year, but they fell to a new low in last week’s 10-2 loss to South Hobart. It has been six weeks since they earned a point, but it came in their last meeting with the Zebras which may provide them with a small confidence boost. Although they have scored their fair share of goals, they are conceding an average of four goals per game which is the main reason they are yet to find a win. Although the three points would not undo the damage done up until now, there is no question it would be tough to see out the year without chalking up a win.

Key Player: James Ackerley, Clarence Zebras

Riley Dillon and Mathew Pace had a good partnership in the Zebras’ final third, but with Pace missing the last three weeks, James Ackerley has started to step up and fill his role. He scored two valuable goals and provided Dillon with another, and will be an important player against Riverside this week.