Strikers look for result on the road in push for Victory Cup.
Launceston City vs Northern Rangers – 7:00PM/Friday 18 July (Mitsubishi Park 1)
Launceston City and Northern Rangers will do battle for the last time in the 2014 Victory League season this week, with the last match of the Launceston Mitsubishi and Launceston Mazda Derby Cup to kick off Round 15 of the Victory League at Mitsubishi Park on Friday night.
Northern Rangers wrapped up the best of three series between the pair in their last meeting but there is still plenty for both clubs to play for in the Round 15 match.
Launceston City are still searching for their first victory over their fierce rivals since the Victory League's inception. City Coach Kurt Reynolds is hopeful his side can break that drought and get the third round off on the right foot.
“We enter the third Round of the Victory League season with strong aspirations to improve our position on the ladder,” said Reynolds.
“Every match counts towards this and we welcome Rangers to Mitsubishi Park tomorrow night. Rangers are a strong squad and we will pay them respect. A few changes to our set up will make the game interesting.
Rangers will be without a key cog in Toby Omenihu. Last week City were demolished by South Hobart.
Despite already lifting the Derby Cup, the fixture will also be important for the Rangers, who will be looking for a clean sweep to consolidate their position in the top four and regain winning form off the back of a nail biting loss to Olympia in Round 14.
Northern Rangers have taken the points in all five of their previous Victory League meetings, with a 4-1 win this year in Round 1 and a 3-0 win in Round 8, Rangers will be strengthened by some big ins for the encounter.
Rangers will also be looking for a response after their first ever loss to Olympia, as they push to strengthen their position in the top four.
Glenorchy Knights vs South Hobart – 2:00PM/Saturday 19 July (KGV Football Park)
KGV Football Park hosts a blockbuster double-header with two massive clashes in Hobart on Saturday afternoon.
The KGV double-header kicks off from 2:00PM with Glenorchy Knights facing a tall task up against South Hobart. Knights Captain Shae Hickey will face his former side, South Hobart. The clash will also see Jayden Hey face his old side and also his father and ex-coach for the second time since crossing to the ladder leaders.
“Last week we came back to earth, when playing Zebras, with their clinical finishing and at times our poor defensive positioning,” said Glenorchy Coach Chris Hey.
It will be a tough task for the Knights, who are again without several first squad players, with Harry Woolley, Paul Wilcock, Blayne Hudson, Jeremy Marshall, Seungyong Jin and Jae Young Choi all missing from their squad to face the table toppers. They will also be without their Coach Chris Hey, who was sent from his technical area last week in their match against Tilford Zebras. Amidst the carnage there is some good news for the Knights, they regain goalkeeper Sam Kruiver from a lengthy stay on the sidelines through injury, he is expected to take up a position on the bench.
“This week we face the league champions and leaders with a severely understrength squad, having 8 players either injured or unavailable, not including myself, who will be watching from the stand,” said Hey.
“My personal lack of discipline last week has not assisted our situation and I apologise for the manner in which I conducted myself against Zebras.
“It is a tough world at times and I have the confidence that our players no matter what the circumstances, will fight hard for one another and challenge South Hobart for the full 90 minutes. Recent World cup results show how finer line there is between winning and losing, even for those at the top.”
South Hobart recorded their 12th win last week and hold a six point advantage at the top of the Victory League table.
“Our round 14 match away to Launceston City was played on a heavy pitch but I thought we played well. Our movement and passing was good and we created opportunities,” said South Hobart Manager Ken Morton.
“I was happy with our defending, Launceston City had a couple of chances but overall we were solid and strong. I was happy with the performance and a great result for us with a strong debut from Scott Lamont,” added Morton.
Tilford Zebras vs Devonport City – 4:15PM/Saturday 19 July (KGV Football Park)
The second match of the double-header is match of the round, with Devonport hitting the road to face a red-hot Tilford Zebras from 4:15PM.
The Zebras enter the match on a hot streak with six straight victories thrusting them into outright second and right back into title contention. Jed Donoghue’s men will be looking to make it seven straight this week and move into their Round 16 showdown with South Hobart with confidence.
“Always a good hard contest against the Knights. They are well coached and they are hard at the ball,” said Donoghue.
“Devonport had a good win last week, so we will need to be at our best and put in a good performance for 95 minutes.
“I like Devonport, they have big strong centre backs, lots of pace up top and quality players in the middle of the park."
This week’s matchup will also see Joel Stone return to his former home ground, KGV Football Park to tackle the Zebras for the first time since leaving the club to cross back to Devonport. Stone played as a substitute last week against Kingborough due to injury but is expected to take a starting place against his former teammates.
Tilford Zebras attack is in ominous touch, with dynamic duo Adam McKeown and the powerful Alex Leszczynski in good form, as well as Ethan Engels, who has exploded onto the radar for the Zebras with the young goal sneak hitting back to back hat tricks, including a clinical first half triple to sink Glenorchy last Friday night. In some concern for Tilford Zebras, they had both their central defenders depart through injury last week, elder statesman Josh Fielding is expected to miss with a hamstring complaint, while Russell Courtney has recovered from a toe injury in time to meet the northerners.
“We need to keep playing good football so that we can put pressure on the ladder leaders.
“I am hoping that everyone has fully recovered from last weekend and is available to play this weekend.
Devonport and Zebras matches are always interesting clashes with the results split between the pair at one win a piece this season. The Strikers will be seeking a result from the road trip, off the back of their smashing 8-1 win last week, to continue their hunt for a spot in the Victory Cup.
“Last week's 8-1 win over Kingborough was fantastic for us. The early send off last week made it fairly easy for us in the end but the fact that we put away so many chances was most pleasing,” said Devonport Coach Nick Owen.
“An entirely different proposition for us this week as the Zebras look to make it 7 in a row I think. Their last league defeat was against us. On that day we played our best game tactically for the year. The tactics change a bit for us on the bigger and a lot less muddy KGV so it will be interesting to see how we go."
The Strikers will be without young gun Michael Holden through suspension and also last week’s debutant goal scoring hero Jake Gleeson, who will miss with a corked thigh.
Olympia FC Warriors vs Kingborough Lions – 7:00PM/Saturday 19 July (Warrior Park)
Olympia bounced back and broke the Ranger hoodoo last week and this week face a Lions side ready to roar in response to a poor outing at Valley Road last week.
“This week we welcome Kingborough to Warrior Park on Saturday night,” said Olympia Coach Glen McNeill.
McNeill expects a spirited display from the Lions, following an 8-1 smashing at the hands of Devonport.
“We are anticipating a tough encounter with the Lions, as they come off a tough road trip against Devonport.
“At times last week we played some good football. However the speed of our transition was sluggish and will need to be improved, we have been working on that this week.”
The Warriors have a number of players that will be put through their paces with a fitness test before lining up against Kingborough.
Kingborough Lions Coach Colin Robbins has had a baptism of fire into the top job with two defeats to open his account.
“Tough road trip to Valley Road, the early loss of our goalkeeper Andrew Duncan in the first half to a red card was disappointing and we then needed to implement a “plan b” for the remainder of the game,” said Robbins.
“It was pleasing that we continued to play with confidence for the remainder of the first half with 10 men, entering the attacking third as many times as the Strikers. In the second half, on the heavy ground, we struggled to keep possession of the ball and this combined with being one man down, were unable to maintain high entries into the attacking third. Really proud of the team to grit the game out, the boys were pretty much out of legs late in the game, in which the Strikers punished us with a number of quick goals.”
Promising gloveman Roan Gillam returns for the suspended Andrew Duncan amongst a number of changes for Kingborough this week.