The top four meet in action packed Round 4 of the Tasmania's PlayStation 4 Victory League.
Round 4 kicks off Friday night under lights with a top of the table clash, with Hobart Jeep Zebras and Glenorchy Knights meeting at their shared home ground, KGV Football Park from 8:00PM.
Hobart Jeep Zebras were expected to contend for silverware in 2015 so it is no surprise to see Chris Hey’s team top the table after the opening three rounds, but after much pre-season doom and gloom it is a shock to see their opponent Glenorchy feature in a top of the table clash.
The Knights have been the league’s major early season surprise packet. With a high turnover of players and a change of coach in the off-season, the club brought a young and inexperienced squad into the 2015 campaign and that youthful lineup have surprised many, claiming six points out of a possible nine from the first three rounds of football, including a shock 3-0 win over Devonport last week.
“Every person had cancelled us out prior to the start of the season and expected us to be bottom and a push over, hmmm. hasn't that so far been an underestimated judgment,” said Glenorchy Coach Mark Broadbent.
“But it is only round four so there is a long way to go and a lot of clubs to put fear into as Devonport are now feeling,” added Broadbent.
Glenorchy have shocked many to date but Friday they face their biggest test yet with the undefeated Zebras.
“Juventus are a good outfit with a lot of natural talented players, however they can be broken as we nearly saw last week.
“They have a lot of strengths and minimal weaknesses, they have NO real key players as they seem well balanced across the park.
“This week is hugely important as it is an opportunity to go to the top of the league and rattle some feathers.
“But football is a funny and unpredictable game as they could hit us hard and run riot however we will try and prevent that from happening.”
Chris Hey left the Knights at the end of last season after he was not reinstated as coach, on Friday night, he coaches against his former club for the first time. But the former Knights and now Zebras Coach isn’t getting caught up in sentiment.
“We need patience in our build up in the front third and to be aware of Knights ability and speed on the break,” said Hey.
“Every game is important, it is also important to respect each opponent and not allow complacency to set in.”
The Zebras surrendered a 2-0 half time lead up at the NTCA last week to draw 2-2 with the Rangers but remain undefeated with two wins and a draw. Hey believes it is important his side close out games and claim maximum points, in order to remain the pacesetters.
“I have said it before the season started, this is going to be a close title race and those writing off South Hobart are silly,” Hey said.
On Saturday, the remaining two teams in the top four square off with third placed Olympia FC Warriors hosting Kingborough Lions in their first home game for the season at Warrior Park. The Warriors enter the encounter off the back of a massive win for their season, downing reigning champions, South Hobart on Good Friday.
“We were obviously happy with the result on Friday against a quality team, however we still need to improve and we have worked very hard this week,” said Olympia Coach Glen McNeill.
Kingborough in contrast are coming off a loss, going down 2-0 to Launceston City in an upset at Mitsubishi Park.
“No doubt they will have something to prove and Saturday will be a good test for us,” said McNeill.
"In the context of the season a result against Kingborough is very important in order to stay touch with the leading teams.”
Despite Olympia’s hot form, Kingborough Coach Colin Robbins does not fear the trip across the river to Warrior Park.
“I have the utmost respect for Glen, Nick and the Olympia team, they are playing some really nice football, they are well structured and are getting the rewards in the big games now,” said Robbins.
“Like all teams in the PS4 Victory League they are a team we don't fear and we head over to Warrior Park looking forward to playing them.
“They have a strong midfield and a settled back four, and Eyles and Wadawu pose serious threats down the wings.”
In the other two matches of Round 4, Devonport will seek their first points of the season up against Northern Rangers at Valley Road and on Sunday, an improving Launceston City travel south to face South Hobart.