The top three are beginning to bolt away from the pack in the PlayStation 4 Victory League, with Olympia, Zebras and South Hobart winning to open up a gap on the rest of the competition after five rounds.
Round 5 went according to plan with three favourites winning and one game that was tough to tip prior to the round ending 2-2.
The RSL ANZAC Cup kicked off the round and it was Olympia FC Warriors that continued their fine recent league form, dismantling Glenorchy Knights 8-0 to retain the RSL ANZAC Cup.
It was usual suspects for Olympia as the Warriors’ triple threat ran rampant on the Knights. Luke Eyles was magnificent to watch and crowds should enjoy watching him whilst he is still in Tasmania.
Anzac Day Medalist Nick Mearns was superb throughout and netted four of the game’s eight, whilst midfield general Shae Hickey was creative throughout, orchestrating a swag of Olympia chances from the centre of the park.
The second match of the week saw Launceston City snatch a point from the jaws of defeat in a gripping Playstation 4 Victory League clash against Devonport, scoring two goals in the last 10 minutes to end the game 2-2, leaving the Strikers devastated after a dominant performance.
Devonport took the lead in the 48th minute in controversial circumstances. Referee Craig Phillips awarded the Strikers a penalty for a handball against Ben Brookfield, but it looked a very harsh decision. After a delay, whilst the referee consulted with his linesman, Blizzard stepped up and calmly sent the keeper the wrong way to put the Strikers a goal to the good.
In the 66th minute, the Strikers doubled their lead, Holden racing onto a lobbed through ball and showing great tenacity to win the ball from Greg Duffy before burying a left footed drive into the bottom corner.
Devonport were looking dominant at this point and it seemed they would hold out for a win, but the game changed in the 81st minute when City pulled a goal back against the flow of play through Andrew Trethowan. The Englishman sent in an inswinging free kick from the left wing which bounced in the six yard box, and with Pearce unsighted and expecting a touch that didn’t come from the City players in front of him, the ball flew past him and into the net.
The goal gave City hope and they grabbed their equaliser in the 86thminute to break Devonport hearts. Trethowan was this time the provider, sending in a perfect corner which Nathan Butler leapt to attack, burying a header low past Pearce.
On Sunday, a ten man Hobart JEEP Zebras atoned for last week’s Lakoseljac Cup loss, getting revenge with a hard fought two-nil victory over Kingborough Lions at Lightwood Park.
Despite some bright moments for the Lions, it was the Zebras that opened the scoring, striking in the 27th minute with a through ball from Callen Griffin finding Dwayne Walsh on the right. Walsh squared the ball to Adam McKeown, who side footed it into the back of the net to give Zebras a valuable lead.
Just before half time, controversy struck for the second time in as many weeks for Zebras, English central defender Nathan Cook was given his marching orders for violent conduct and Zebras were reduced to ten men.
Referee Ivan Jozeljac showed the straight red for Cook lashing a boot out to the back of Jack Turner’s neck, Zebras players were visibly frustrated with the decision, but it was difficult to clearly see how the incident played out from the press box.
Full back Dwayne Walsh stood up when needed and was electric on the right, he doubled the visitors advantage in the 61st minute with a fantastic run and shot across the goal that went in off the post to make it 2-0.
Reigning champions South Hobart showed signs they are edging back to their best, comfortably defeating Northern Rangers 4-2, with an exceptional first half performance all-but ending the game as a contest prior to half time.
The home side got off to the worst possible start, South Hobart opening the scoring after only 17 seconds, surely the fastest goal in Victory League history. The ball was played back to English centre-half Nick Swirad and ex Ranger Chris Hunt nipped in to win the ball off him, before calmly dispatching it into the back of the net.
In the 23rd minute, the visitors came close to doubling their lead, Mann hitting the post with a low drive, they didn’t have to wait long for another chance though, a minute later they got the second that their dominance deserved. Hamlett linked beautifully with Mann, before firing off a shot which was blocked, but the ball fell nicely for Alex Walter who made no mistake with the finish.
South Hobart grabbed their third in the 35th minute, defender Dan Brown launching a perfect ball over the top for Mann, who hit a cracking volley from a tight angle which James Wilson got his hands to but couldn’t keep out of the net.
With half an hour to go, Rangers scored two goals in quick succession to give them the slightest glimmer of hope of an unlikely comeback. Firstly in the 61st minute Yitay Towns thundered home a free kick from the edge of the box, then Schalde Andersen grabbed another from the penalty spot in the 63rd minute after he’d been flattened by the South Hobart ‘keeper Kane Pierce.
The home side huffed and puffed for the next 20 minutes but you never got the feeling that South were going to let the three points slip, and they closed out the game to seal the win.
Click here for the full details from all of the Round 5 matches.