An intriguing fixture to open Round 7 in a match that both Kingsborough and Clarence will view as a prime chance to claim three points.
Kingborough v Clarence, Saturday 7 May Lightwood Park, 2:00PM
These two teams met in the Summer Cup with the Lions triumphing 2-0 that day, but a lot has changed for both clubs since then. The hosts are rooted to the foot of the table and yet to claim a league victory but a home game against the league newcomers arguably represents their best chance to date. After picking up a point against Northern Rangers and offering a promising display in a narrow 2-1 defeat to league leaders Hobart Zebras in recent weeks, the Lions look a more settled side than they did earlier this year and are certainly playing better football.
Goal scoring still remains a major issue, with just 3 goals scored for the year and they desperately need to find new avenues to goal. Danny Cowen, who scored 15 goals last season, is yet to find the net and they desperately need him to recapture his best form. Youngsters such as Christopher Downes and Daniel Gofton continue to show promise but have found it tough up against the heavy weights of the league; in this game they may get more time on the ball to allow them to showcase their obvious talent and impact the contest.
Clarence meanwhile have added two new faces to their squad as they continue to grow depth. Phineas Aldridge and Joseph Stevens are the latest to be added in to the mix, following the recent signing of Kyungmin Choi and the pair will provide coach Alan Jablonski with plenty of options in how his side lines up.
Northern Rangers v Devonport City, Saturday 7 May, NTCA, 2:30PM
Northern Rangers welcome the Devonport Strikers to the NTCA ground as they try to continue their resurgence by taking points from a genuine title contender on Saturday. The Strikers will enter this one as favourites but it looks a decidedly more competitive game than it might have been earlier this year.
Two draws and a spirited defeat to Olympia in the 3 weeks leading up to the bye has the Rangers confident they have turned a corner after a disastrous start to the season. Just how much they have improved will certainly be revealed up against a Devonport side that has won 5 of 6 league games this season and coasted through to the Lakoseljac Cup final with a 10-0 win over Somerset last weekend.
Brayden Mann was again prolific and the league’s all-time leading scorer should provide a tough task for new defender Jorge Palacio who provided a steadying figure at the heart of the Rangers defence on debut in the Northern Derby. Also impressing in the derby was key midfielder Harry Thannhauser, who had his best performance of the season in a best afield display. The difference in this Rangers side when the “Town-House” is playing well is noticeable and together with Nick Lanau-Atkinson they should be in for a crucial duel with a strong Devonport midfield led by the in form Joel Stone, whose creativity has really come to the fore in recent weeks.
Another key area will be the Rangers attacking full backs Tenzing Anderson and Pat Lanau Atkinson, who both love to get forward but will need to be careful that they don’t allow Devonport’s speedy wingers Adam Gorrie and Brody Denehey too much space in behind. Combined with Mann, the pair make for a mobile front three that excel at hitting teams on the counter attack by playing a direct style of game.
Olympia v Launceston City, Saturday 7 May, Warrior Park, 3:00PM
Olympia will look to rebound at home from a disappointing showing in their last league outing against the Zebras where they were comfortably second best. They welcome a Launceston City side that has been inconsistent in 2016, playing some wonderful football at times, but struggling to maintain it for 90 minutes at a time.
Olympia looked a much better unit against South Hobart in the Lakoseljac Cup last week, the return of Mearns and Vandermey made a massive difference and the performance showed that a return to their form of 2015 might not be far away.
The signing of Zois Galanopoulos has looked a shrewd move. The powerful forward has linked up well with his new teammates and allowed the prodigiously talented Gavin Hoy to return to his favoured role in behind the striker, where he so excelled last season. The Canadian was a constant handful for South Hobart in this role last week and Launceston Captain Toby Omenihu is going to need to do a job on him to try and curtail his influence on the contest.
Launceston may have a couple of new faces in the side with English duo, attacking midfielder Martyn Jackson and defender Ryan Schofield both available for selection. With Hyato Agusu and Dom Rossi both making their return in recent weeks, the options at Lino Sciulli’s disposal continue to grow and it should be a strong City side that travels to Warrior Park for this clash.
Another player that the Olympia defence will need to be on guard against will be Isaac Degetto who has now made the team of the week in consecutive rounds. The young forward is extremely mobile with an eye for goal and is currently enjoying a rich vein of form. His constant darting runs make him a handful for opposing defences and against an Olympia back four that has been somewhat inconsistent this season he could prove a match winner.
Hobart Zebras v South Hobart, Sunday 8 May, KGV, 2:00PM
The final game of week sees the top two sides meet for a blockbuster clash at KGV on Sunday. Hobart JEEP Zebras have won their first six games of the season to sit three points clear atop the table but they now face their sternest test to date, coming up against their biggest title rivals in South Hobart, for what is looming as a genuine six point game.
The sides have met once this season in the Lakoseljac Cup quarter finals with South Hobart comfortably accounting for Zebras 2-0 on that occasion in a dominant performance, opening the scoring in just the first 15 seconds of the game.
Since then however, Zebras have added Tyler Harrison, Sam Conway and Graham Wright into their side and not lost a game since, meaning it will be a far tougher assignment this time around for Ken Morton’s men. Both South Hobart and Devonport are a game behind the league leaders and a victory for South Hobart could leave all three sides tied on 18 points at the conclusion of the round, with all the teams in the league having played each other once.
Coming off the high of a thrilling 3-2 Lakoseljac Cup victory over Olympia, South Hobart will look to carry that momentum through to this crunch clash whilst their opponents should be well rested, having had last week off. South Hobart has a full strength side to pick from as do Zebras, with the exception of Kurt Engels who continues to miss with a leg injury that will require surgery, putting his availability in doubt for the rest of the season. They will likely go in with the same starting XI as they selected against Olympia in their 4-0 thumping in their last league outing whilst South Hobart will have to consider whether Jack Turner comes straight back into the line-up, or whether Dan Brown will continue in the defensive midfield role.
This is the game that everyone has been waiting for and will play a massive role in determining the eventual league champion. Both sides are very similarly constructed, they both have powerful centre forwards that can bring their goal scoring wingers into play as well put the ball in the back of the net. They have midfield’s that boast a physical defensive midfielder that breaks up the play as well as a couple of good technicians on the ball that can dictate games. Both sets of full backs love to get forward and offer a major threat overlapping and their centre backs are reliable players that know when to knock the ball long to try to catch the opponents on the break and when to retain possession and play it out from the back. Both keepers are difference makers and both benches have players that can come on and make an impact. This should be an absolute cracker of a contest and we will learn plenty about both sides after the 90 minutes are up.
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