The Devonport Strikers now face the challenge of backing up from a grueling midweek Westfield FFA cup clash and coming down off the high of their incredible victory to get back to the business of sewing up the league.
Northern Rangers v Devonport, Saturday 13 August, 12:30PM, NTCA 2
A win over the last placed and winless Rangers would secure the league title, a draw would all but do that too given their superior goal difference, though it would halt the official coronation for a week. They meet Northern Rangers at the NTCA ground in the early kick off, meaning we could well have confirmation of the Strikers league triumph by 2.30 on Saturday.
Their victory on Wednesday was one for the ages, but as far as Peter Savill is concerned, the league has always been the main prize and he will be expecting them to back it up and finish the job here. They have only lost once in the league all season, all the way back in round four, though they are sure to have some tired bodies following Wednesday night.
Rangers played spoiler for South Hobart back in 2015 upon their return from the FFA Cup but it’s hard to see them repeating the trick this time around. They were disappointing in the derby against their cross town rivals Launceston City and will need a much improved performance here if they are to be any chance of breaking their duck and avoiding finishing the season winless.
Olympia Warriors v Launceston City, Saturday August 13, 3:00PM, Warrior Park
The Olympia Warriors welcome Launceston City to Warrior Park and it’s a ground that has not been a happy hunting ground for them in recent years. Some heavy defeats here leave Lino Sciulli’s men with a point to prove as they try and be more competitive this time around. Both teams will continue to play plenty of young players as they build to the future. The Warriors will come into the match as favourites and would be expected to take all three points as they remain on their island in fourth place. Fifth placed City would love to claim the points as they look to hold off the Kingborough Lions who are just a point behind them in sixth.
The Warriors were slow out of the gates last week against the Zebras and were duly punished for it, going 3-0 down inside the first 30 minutes. From that point on they played great football however and were unlucky not to have taken a point as their youngsters showed promising signs and Shae Hickey wound back the clock with a best afield display.
City finally found their shooting boots in the Launceston Derby, for once playing clinically in front of goals and taking their chances as they scored a series of beautiful goals. If they can replicate that display here they will be a chance of taking something from the game up against a Warriors defence that has not been overly solid in 2016.
Clarence v Kingborough Lions, Saturday 13 August, 4:30PM, Wentworth Park
Clarence United will welcome the Lions to Wentworth Park and be hoping to atone for two disappointing efforts against them so far this year. Both times they have headed into those games expected to push the Lions and both times they have been handed heavy defeats, losing 6-1 the last time they met at this venue. Again they will enter this game filled with confidence having put in one of their better efforts of the year against a top side, pushing South Hobart in a 3-1 loss that they could so easily have taken something from.
Clarence should field a strong lineup for this one and will be looking for more strong performances from young star Nick Naden, who has impressed in recent weeks since being moved out onto the right wing. His dribbling skills and ability to beat defenders are maximized here and he should provide a stern test for the Lions full backs.
The Lions form has been impressive in recent weeks under Mark Broadbent, winning two in a row before pushing the Strikers and getting their best result for the year against the in a 1-0 loss. Last time around it was Shane Cartwright who bossed the Reds, the Lions star man was utterly dominant in the middle of the park whilst Chris Downes scored a hat-trick in an exhibition of the art of free kick taking. Those two will once again be key to their sides fortunes and could take the game away from them if given the chance.
Hobart Zebras v South Hobart, Sunday 14 August, 2:00PM, KGV
By the time this game comes around on Sunday the League title could have been sealed by the Devonport Strikers but there will still be plenty to play for when South Hobart and Hobart Zebras meet for the final time in the 2016 season. The winner will all but lock up second place on the table whilst a draw would also achieve that for the Zebras, it would also end their slim league chances though, needing all three points and Devonport to slip up against Rangers to be any chance.
The two teams have met twice this season in the league, playing out a 2-2 draw and 1-0 win to Zebras in spiteful encounters. The more recent game was the 1-0 win to Zebras which was marred by South Hobart being reduced to just 8 players after having three players sent off following a melee and is widely seen as the result that ended South Hobart’s 2016 title hopes. There was also drama between the side after the 2-2 draw when Ken Morton infamously lambasted the Zebras for ‘playing aerial ping pong’, though later hosing down those comments as being made in the heat of the moment. The Zebras won’t have forgotten it however and will want to prove that they have been the better side than South in 2016, in a year they hung in the title race for so long, to fall back to third place would be a major blow.