Round 18 of PlayStation 4 NPL Tasmania kicks off on Friday Night with traditional rivals Olympia FC Warriors and Hobart Zebras meeting at KGV.
It’s a fixture that will take place with the spectre of Tueday night’s FFA Cup clash hovering over it, with the Warriors facing the conundrum of just how many of their first XI should they risk by playing? Having claimed second place with their fighting win over Devonport last weekend, they could relinquish it immediately if they were to drop points, yet winning an FFA Cup game is surely a bigger prize than finishing second in the league.
Furthermore any red cards in the game would rule a player out of Tuesday’s game, as it did for South Hobart goalkeeper Kane Pierce 2 years ago, meaning discipline will be a major focus for the Warriors. Both Jakub Sklenar and Nick Mearns are under significant injury clouds and will surely not be risked meaning it could be a very young and inexperienced Warriors side that takes to the pitch.
The sides have met three times this year, twice playing out 1-1 draws in the league but it was Olympia who claimed the big one, when they won the Lakoseljac Cup Semi Final between the sides 2-0. Zebras meanwhile, having secured a top four finish, can still finish third or second and a win over the Warriors would close the gap between the sides to 3 points.
After a down period through the middle of the year after a wretched run of injuries, Zebras have recaptured their best form in recent weeks, beating Devonport 3-2 and Clarence 5-0. Their defence has remained solid all season, conceding a league low 14 goals, but it has been their attack that has started to click again with the dangerous Mathew Sanders scoring 5 goals in the past 2 weeks to move into second on the goal scoring charts.
With Sklenar injured he will be looking to make up ground on the Czech striker this week, though with Skelnar’s 24 goals putting him 7 ahead, it remains a tough assignment.
Moving on to the the Saturday and Launceston City host Clarence in a vitally important game for both sides at Buckby Landrover Park at 4:30pm. Having jumped into sixth place with their convincing victory over Kingborough last week, they now need to stay there to ensure qualification for the end of season League Cup.
With the Lions unlikely to take points from South Hobart, they could move four points clear with a win and make it tough for them to be caught with just three rounds remaining.With Zebras, Olympia and South Hobart in their next 3 weeks, this is certainly their best chance of doing just that and gaining those points. Conversely should they drop them, with Clarence and Kingborough to meet next week, they would suddenly find themselves up against it.
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PS4 NPL Tasmania Round 18 Fixtures
Friday 28 July
Hobart Zebras v Olympia Warriors, KGV LIVE BLOG/STREAM
Saturday 29 July
Launceston City v Clarence, 4:30pm, Buckby Landrover Park LIVE BLOG
Devonport v Northern Rangers, 4:30pm, Valley Road LIVE BLOG
Sunday 30 July
South Hobart v Kingborough Lions, 2:00pm, Darcy Street LIVE BLOG/STREAM