We preview another bumper round of NPL action from Tasmania's Victory League.
VICTORY LEAGUE - ROUND 9
KGV TRIPLE-HEADER - Saturday 31 May 2014 (KGV Football Park)
GAME 1: 2:00PM Glenorchy Knights vs Northern Rangers
In the first match of Round 9 of the Victory League, Glenorchy Knights host kings of the north, Northern Rangers.
Glenorchy will be chasing their second win of the season against the Rangers and will draw confidence from a goalless second half against South Hobart.
The Knights will also draw some confidence from their last meeting with the Rangers, going down in a tight tussle at the NTCA.
Glenorchy welcome in a boom recruit in South Korean winger Seung Yong Jin, who has crossed from Kingborough Lions.
Glenorchy have had a poor season to date, with just one win from the opening 8 matches but Hey has seen signs of improvement from his young side and he is really pleased with the team-s strong spirit.
The tenacity and attitude of not giving up in the second half last week, brought back memories of the Lakoseljac cup win years ago, so I along with the players, look forward to further improvement and a good hard contest against a strong Northern Rangers outfit,” Hey said.
Northern Rangers enter the encounter after lifting the Launceston Mitsubishi and Launceston Mazda Derby Cup with a 3-0 win over bitter rivals Launceston City.
Northern Rangers are right in the title race after 8 rounds, sitting in second position, the Rangers need to take down the Knights to remain in contention.
Despite Glenorchy-s poor record so far this season, Lunnon is not underestimating the southern side.
GAME 2: 4:15PM Olympia FC Warriors vs Devonport City
Olympia FC Warriors host the Strikers in the second match of the huge Victory League Triple-Header.
The Warriors welcome back star Mexican midfielder Eduardo Cabello, who set alight the Victory League last season in his short stint in the League.
The attacking midfielder will be a welcomed inclusion for the Warriors and will boost their attacking capabilities when they face the stubborn defence of Devonport Strikers on Saturday at KGV.
Olympia are level with Rangers on the table and need to stick to winning ways if they are to catch ladder leaders South Hobart.
Olympia have already beaten Devonport this year, being one of just two teams to win against Devonport at their fortress Valley Road in the Victory League-s history, the Warriors will be looking to make it two from two over Devonport in 2014, with a win at KGV on Saturday.
The Strikers will enter the clash confident, following a huge underdog 2-0 win over Tilford Zebras at Valley Road last weekend, a win Coach Nick Owen described as probably their best in the Victory League.
Devonport are outside of the top four on goal difference going into round nine and with their closest rivals Tilford Zebras facing South Hobart on Saturday night, a win over the Warriors could propel the Strikers into the all-important top four.
GAME 3: 6:30PM Tilford Zebras vs South Hobart
In a match that will serve as a preview for next week's Lakoseljac Cup Grand Final, Tilford Zebras host South Hobart. It is a must-win match for Tilford Zebras, who will search for a return to form when they tackle top of the table South Hobart.
Tilford Zebras fell to Devonport last week at Valley Road completing a horror month for the Zebras, with recent losses to Launceston City and Kingborough Lions.
Recent poor results mean this week-s meeting with South Hobart is now a do or die clash for Tilford Zebras, who cling to fourth position on the table with just goal difference separating them from dashers Devonport in fifth.
Zebras depth will be tested after losing two of their most talented midfielders last week, with both Jono Ladic and Joel Stone departing the club. Bright young goalscorer Ethan Engels will join the squad and is likely to start, with journeyman Josh Fielding and goalkeeper Nathan Pitchford re-joining the team after a week out last week.
Zebras inconsistent form in the opening eight rounds has them at four and four but they have produced some fine displays in their wins with their best performances seeing them trump top teams, in Northern Rangers and Olympia.
Tilford Zebras will need to recapture the football that produced them a memorable win over South Hobart in the Summer Cup, upsetting the champions on that day to win 4-2.
In their next meeting in the Victory League, South Hobart got vengeance, beating the Zebras convincingly 3-0. Coach Jed Donoghue believes a meeting with the champions could bring the best out of his side.
With Tilford Zebras- recent poor run of results their title hopes may hinge on this week's meeting with last season-s champions.
If Zebras fall to South Hobart this week, it opens up a 12-point gap between themselves and South Hobart, a deficit that would be difficult for the Zebras to chase down in the latter part of the season.
It is a fierce rivalry between the two proud clubs with interesting links between the two teams.
Importantly, the matchup will give both teams a look at each other a week out from their crucial FFA Cup qualifier and Lakoseljac Cup final on Queens Birthday.
South Hobart enter the match with form on their side, they won 3-0 last week over cellar dwellers Glenorchy and despite taking three points, Ken Morton was animated post-game in demanding more from his troops.
Launceston City vs Kingborough Lions 4:30PM/Saturday 31 May 2014 (Mitsubishi Park)
Launceston City host Kingborough Lions at Mitsubishi Park, the Lions enter the match in good form and will be pushing for their fourth win of the year.
Last time the pair met it was a shootout at Lightwood Park with a 5-5 draw between the two teams. City enters their clash with Lions with some positives from a loss against the Rangers.
“A number of forced player changes meant some significant changes to our line up versus Northern Rangers and I felt that defensively we made it difficult for them, however we lacked drive and creativity in ball possession,” Launceston City Coach Kurt Reynolds.
“Two of the three goals came from poor marking at set plays which we must address,” Reynolds added. Launceston City will be chasing a result after three losses on the trot.
“With both teams placed sixth and seventh on the ladder, we enter this match with a ‘must win- mentality. Relative to our objectives, we need to secure three points on Saturday.
Kingborough Lions have won two of their last three and had periods of dominance against the Warriors last week.
“Whilst being disappointed to lose to Olympia at home last week we created numerous opportunities and continued to develop on our attacking style of football,” said Kingborough Coach Stephen Pitchford.
The Lions are in striking distance of the top four so a win is crucial.