Saturday night will see second face third as traditional rivals meet under lights at Warrior Park.
Glenorchy Knights vs Kingborough Lions – 8:00PM/Friday 1 August 2014 (KGV Football Park)
Glenorchy host Kingborough as both team seek a much-needed win. This week’s battle could prove influential in deciding sixth position on the Victory League table.
“This is a significant game for both clubs, as whoever wins this game will finish sixth,” said Glenorchy Coach Chris Hey.
The Knights let go of a lead last week with the Rangers and will be desperate for a result as they attempt to climb the ladder.
“I think if we had of drawn last week, both clubs would have thought it a fair result, we certainly played some reasonable football, which is promising and I felt there was a penalty not given which looked convincing but it was not to be,” said Hey.
Knights have battled injury and unavailability all season and this week will be no different for the seventh placed side.
“We again have players unavailable which has become a frustrating theme but can’t be avoided, so we continue to change our starting 11.
“Paul Wilcock will return, as will Blayne Hudson. MK has been solid in his past two performances, which is providing us with some disciplined structure through our midfield, so if we can make better with our opportunities in the front third, we should be in a position to take the points.”
Glenorchy took the points in their last meeting down at the den but very nearly let it slip, Hey is aware of their key weapons ahead of this week’s meeting.
“Kingborough are always dangerous on set pieces and Danny Cowen should have had a couple in the back of the net last week, so it is not as if they are not creating plenty of opportunities, it will be a tight game.”
Last week, Kingborough became just the second team to fall to Launceston City in the Victory League, going down 2-1 at home.
“A win was within our grasps and we let the game slip, everyone is disappointed,” said Lions Coach Colin Robbins.
Although Robbins is yet to taste victory in the head coach role, he believes he is starting to see progress in the squad.
“The playing style is starting to come to life and this was clearly evident in the second half, dominating the game with our possession and attack play, we must learn to finish our goal scoring opportunities.
“The team has improved their passing accuracy and this lead to a number of good attacks on goal in the second half, reward was one goal, but we should have had more. The intensity in our game also increased significantly in the second half, something to work on this week and bring this tempo to our whole game.”
Robbins believes the Knights hold a strong home ground advantage over KGV.
“We face a team with the advantage of being able to train and play regularly on an artificial surface, so it will be a hard game. However, the surface however should suit the change of playing style we are bringing to the group. Training the group on the Twin Ovals this week has given the team the opportunity to work on our passing and possession play, the surface closely resembles KGV so preparations have been good for this game.
“The improved understanding of the team and player tasks by the players is what we, the coaching team, want to observe during the game. Players and the team must continue to improve this understanding, they have the opportunity to influence the game and get the outcomes we are after.”
Robbins draws parallels between the two competing teams, seeing them in similar stages.
“Glenorchy Knights are a young team like us and they like to play football, they look to pass the ball and maintain possession, we will need to pressure them to disrupt their play and win the ball. They like to move the ball quickly and their playing system allows them to attack quickly, their forwards will be a threat all night and we will need to set strategies to counter this.
“The game is very important in terms of a result. The team has had four games now to build an understanding on the style of play the coaching team would like them to play, the team tasks and player tasks that need to be completed and to find out where, as a player, they fit into the Lions Victory League team moving forward.
“Some players have taken their opportunity with both hands and some are still trying to find where they fit into the side. The signs to date are really positive with regard to the playing style, you need to remember, the group has had one month with the new coaching team and what they have achieved in this timeframe has been excellent.
“Wins are now needed. Winning builds confidence among the players and the team, teams that have this succeed.
“Continued discipline in maintaining our defensive structures will be a key for good outcomes. Improving our passing and positioning will be really important.
“The opportunities we create to score goals need reward, the ball must be put into the back of the net.
“Pretty much an unchanged starting eleven except that Jack Turner returns after being unavailable last week due to work commitments, in place of Tom Bilson.”
Launceston City vs Devonport City – 6:00PM/Saturday 2 August (Mitsubishi Park 1)
Launceston City return home to host Devonport at Mitsubishi Park off the back of their first away win.
“Pleased to have carved out the club’s first away win in the Victory League at Kingborough last week,” said City Coach Kurt Reynolds.
“The lads showed a lot of character, commitment and camaraderie to achieve this win which keeps us in touch with the sides above us on the ladder,” added Reynolds.
Judging from recent result history, Reynolds smells blood and believes his team are a big chance again the Strikers.
“We look forward to taking on Devonport at home and based upon recent form will enter the match looking for another win.
“Devonport have been a little inconsistent in recent weeks and will miss Corey Vickers through suspension.”
The City head coach believes Devonport’s wingers will drive their play.
“They have some speed up front and will probably look to play to this.
“Round 17 represents a good opportunity for us to improve our position on the ladder.
“I am pleased with how our team shape is progressing. Toby Omenihu and Nathan Bartlett will be instrumental in midfield.”
In a bitter blow, City striker Mark Cristy has been ruled out for the season but do have some strong players returning to the squad.
“It has been confirmed that Mark Cristy will miss the balance of this season through a serious knee injury, which may require surgery.
“We wish Mark well in this regard.
“Overall we have a strong squad to select from with Aaron Campbell and Dom Rossi both returning after personal commitments last weekend,” said Reynolds.
Devonport were valiant in defeat last week in a match that Coach Nick Owen said sums up their season.
“Our round 16 result summed up the majority of our season really, we just didn’t put our chances away when they presented themselves,” Owen said.
“Olympia played nervously in the second half as they still have a lot to play for this season.
“Conversely, we attacked the game like we had nothing to lose and piled on the pressure, Olympia defended doggedly and came away with the result.”
The Strikers come into the clash with a weakened 11 and may rush back Skipper Kieran Mulraney.
“We travel to Mitsubishi Park this week to take on a buoyant Launceston City.
“We are without Centre-Backs Miles Barnard and Cory Vickers this week and suitable replacement Jack Dance is also unavailable.”
“Kieran Mulraney returns from his European vacation on Thursday so we may have to rush him straight in even though he might be a bit rusty. Zac Mitchell will also return to the starting line up.
“A win on the weekend will pretty much secure fifth spot but that isn't overly important, what is important is that we play high-pressure defence without the ball and play attacking football with it.”
South Hobart vs Northern Rangers – 4:00PM/Saturday 2 August (KGV Football Park)
The ladder leaders South Hobart host Northern Rangers at KGV Football Park from 4:00PM.
Rangers know what it takes to defeat the top team, having beaten South Hobart earlier this season but they were also famously smashed by a ten man South Hobart in Round 10.
“They beat us soundly last time and with another 5-6 players signed up since, it won’t get any easier but in saying that, we come to play,” said Northern Rangers Coach Tim Lunnon.
South Hobart have a monumental fixture ahead of them next Tuesday night and may manage their squad with Tuggeranong United in mind but Lunnon doesn’t think it will hurt their quality.
“We are not sure of their line up given the fact that the title has not 100% been sown up as yet given the draw last week, but also taking into account their FFA cup game in a few days, we will see,” Lunnon said.
"But with those extra 5-6 players, including Hey and Lamont since we last played them, they have no shortage of depth.
“It is important for us to defend well, the difference between us competing with them is can we compete all over the ground and defend well, we will be asking that of our players.
“We did that well early in the season, but not so well last time, to me that was the big difference in the two contests.
“It is tough to play against a team like South, more quality players means a higher level of training which equates to better match day performances,” said Lunnon.
“Up north we have very limited access to players and so fattening our squad is near impossible, where as South and Zebras for example seem to be able to keep doing that by bringing players in from other teams, whether local or over the waters.
“Our team is a bunch of guys who love football and love hanging out together, and we are hoping that sense of team and mateship will lift them in such a contest. It’s a bit like a David and Goliath contest on paper, but as a coach, I firmly believe that if all things fall into place on the day, we can certainly take it to South and we will see what happens from there.”
Tilford Zebras and Olympia FC Warriors will both be cheering on their northern rivals, as an upset result for the Rangers could give the second and third placed club's title hopes some life.
“I guess Zebras and Olympia will be hoping we can take some points, but to us it is more about how we play and compete. If we make it to the Victory Cup, we do not just want to be in it to make up the numbers, so this is great preparation for us, we play for ourselves in that regard."
“Our squad is pretty much settled again now with both Nick Lanau-Atkinson and Adam back on deck proper. We have lost Mitch Dent this week to suspension but Josh Burk comes in again for another game and we have confidence he will do a job.”
South Hobart boss Ken Morton sees this week’s encounter with the Rangers as a good test for his club approaching the Westfield FFA Cup.
“It is important for us to work our way back to winning way against a very good passing team, with good players and good organisation.”
“Rangers are a smart passing team. They play a composed possession based style of football, they are very confident on the ball especially in midfield and up front.”
A win for South Hobart would make it very difficult for them to be caught on the Victory League table.
“All games are important and obviously this is a game we need to win to keep ahead of the chasing pack.
“We will not win the league this week, we need to beat Rangers, Lions and Devonport and then we can say we have won the league,” Morton said.
With the Westfield FFA Cup on the horizon, South Hobart will manage their personnel carefully but are not taking the Ranger lightly and are unlikely to make a host of changes.
“We are mindful of the FFA cup but we are well aware of the quality of Rangers and that is the important match,” said Morton.
“I stress the importance will be our fitness and a big team effort and I will certainly be asking for more controlled football through midfield. We must be more clinical and sharper in and around the box.”
The table toppers will be without their first choice keeper due to a red card last week, they will also be without some other key players.
“We are missing Kane Pierce through suspension, Liam Scott to a knee injury, while Brayden Mann is doubtful with a back injury. So obviously we have one eye on the FFA Cup but we shall have a strong line-up against Rangers.”
Olympia FC Warriors vs Tilford Zebras – 7:00PM/ Saturday 2 August (Warrior Park)
In recent times the traditional rivals have delivered some pulsating meetings and this one could prove crucial to both side’s ladder positions.
“The matches between Zebras and ourselves have been classics over the last couple of years and I am expecting this one to be the same,” said Olympia Coach Glen McNeill.
Olympia were gutsy in victory last week, holding on against a desperate Devonport.
“Against Zebras we will need to bring the same resilience and strength of character as shown against Devonport last week,” McNeill said.
Zebras broke a long drought against Olympia in their last meeting and have been on a streak of red-hot form ever since.
“Zebras have definitely turned the corner since we last met them.
"Ferns, Courtney and Fielding have been outstanding, Engels and McKeown at 10 have also worked well.
“There are great match ups across the park and it should be a great night for Tasmanian football,” McNeill said.
Olympia will be without Lachlan Nichols, who was given his marching orders last week but in some good news the eastern shore side welcome in another Mexican in Hector Guerra to their squad.
“He has been training well and it is a big opportunity for him, unfortunately due to the visa rule, Alex Ralph drops out of the squad but will return next week.”
McNeill believes the traditional rivalry is alive and well in the modern Victory League.
“The traditional rivalry between both our clubs has stepped in time and there has been some amazing games between the clubs.
“Both clubs go back around fifty years and the Italian and Greek backing of the clubs feeds a natural rivalry which gives bragging rights for the winner.
“Of course the winner will be outright second and this places more importance on what is already a highlight of the football calendar.”
The Olympia head says his side is not out of the title race but need help from others.
“Do we think we can still win the league? Well of course it is possible. However other results need to go our way and we therefore lose some control over our destiny.
“At this stage, we can only prepare for what we can control, our team and club is always confident and we will be looking forward to this fixture in particular.”
Tilford Zebras enter the battle off the back of a top of the table stalemate, and despite the result making it very difficult for Zebras to lift this year’s Victory League shield, Coach Jed Donoghue holds out hope.
“It was a very good team performance against a talented South Hobart side. There are five games to go in the Victory League and anything can happen, we need to keep playing well in order to keep the pressure on the ladder leaders.”
Olympia have had the better of the rivalry in recent times and Donoghue is expecting stiff opposition once more.
“This is a big game for us against our traditional rivals Olympia; and we will need to be focused, determined and take our chances.
“They are a good team and have two big strong centre backs, plenty of pace out wide, skillful midfielders and good strikers.”
Donoghue’s men have gone unbeaten for eight straight and he is looking for the run to continue so his team can pile the pressure on South Hobart.
“This is always an important game for us, we are equal on points with Olympia, and we want to keep the pressure on South in case they slip up.
“The rivalry is based on a shared passion for the game, plus a mutual respect, friendship and competitiveness that has existed for decades.“We need the players to be hungry for success, confident and prepared for the next five league games and finals football."