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.
HOBART JEEP ZEBRAS v GLENORCHY KNIGHTS
8:00PM – FRIDAY 10 APRIL 2015
VENUE: KGV FOOTBALL PARK, GLENORCHY
“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.
“My opinion was that we worked Devonport out really well and crunched them on their weaknesses.
“The result was worthy of our performance and three points is always handy, however we still have a lot of work to do to compete with the big teams.
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.
“My squad is improving every week and building confidence to play at this level every day.
“The longer we go the more comfortable the lads are feeling.
“No injuries to date thank goodness but we do have two changes, with Aaron Wilson our captain out through suspension.
“We can definitely get the upper hand in this game against the league leaders by converting our chances to a high percentage rate and restrict them to minimal shots on target.
“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.
“I think Mark Broadbent has done a good job with the young brigade, you can see what he is trying to achieve and they are disciplined.
“Benny Whitehall is having a knee scan to see what the damage is but other than that, everyone is good to go for this week.
“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.
“We weren’t great in the first half but could have gone in three or four up at half time.
“Second half we were chasing our tail, Rangers took control of the game and we struggled with our shape from midfield forward.
“I think it was a fair result in the end.
“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.
“I watched Kingborough play against Metro and was impressed. They will be very difficult this weekend coming off a disappointing result last week.
“No doubt they will have something to prove and Saturday will be a good test for us,” said McNeill.
“The squad is injury free and looking forward to the challenge.
OLYMPIA FC WARRIORS v KINGBOROUGH LIONS
3:00PM – SATURDAY 11 APRIL 2015
VENUE: WARRIOR PARK, WARRANE
“We need to be at the top of our game this week as Kingborough will be a stern test for us.
“In the context of the season a result against Kingborough is very important in order to stay touch with the leading teams.”
The Lions 2-0 loss is no cause for concern for Kingborough but their coach Colin Robbins is calling for greater cutting edge.
“I thought we played particularly well despite the result, playing the ball to feet and creating opportunities to score,” said Robbins.
“We bossed City’s long ball tactics when we didn’t have the ball but the area we didn’t execute well was winning the second ball.
“Work in the front third needs to greatly improve, not getting enough reward here, it really hurt our chances of winning the game.
“City took their limited chances in the game, the first goal coming from a defensive error in our back third and the second from a defensive corner error.
Despite Olympia’s hot form, 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.
“Weaknesses, all teams have them, Olympia’s have been identified by our coaching team after watching their last few games.
“Our squad is showing signs of consistency heading into Round 4, the man flu hit big goalkeeper Alex Tatnell last weekend but he is good to go for this weekend.
“We conducted two recovery sessions over the busy Easter weekend period, completing the second one last night.
“There are no major injury concerns just the usual knocks and bumps, so everyone will be up for selection.
“Lewis Verdouw commenced jogging and light ball work this week following his ankle injury and will return in the coming weeks. Tom McDonald is now in full training mode and will definitely play some part in Saturday’s game.
“We have set our plans for the Olympia game and our players will be disciplined to complete the tasks required to gain the three points.
“Monday’s Cup game was perfect preparation in doing this, a clinical performance by the team.
“There are another 3 points on offer, so the game is extremely important. Our focus is on winning the game and getting the 3 points.
“Some very interesting results so far, it’s early days but we will be watching things unfold as we progress further into the remaining Round 1 fixtures.
“It’s a long season, 21 games to be played together with Cup fixtures, squads will be effected by injuries, suspension and loss of form.
“Some maybe effected by internal and external pressures, and squads that deal with these will rise to the top and the end of the season.”
Saturday’s Playstation 4 Victory League meeting between Devonport Strikers and Northern Rangers at Valley Road is do or die for both clubs after poor starts to the season.
The Strikers disappointing start sees them sit on the floor of the table with zero points to their name, suffering three losses in their first three games of the season.
“As far as the Strikers are concerned every game is crucial now after such poor results in the first three rounds,” said Devonport Strikers Coach Bobby Eaves.
Glenorchy produced a major shock to upset the Strikers 3-0 away from home last week.
“Round 3 is probably best not to be spoke about, Round 4 becomes bigger again and every match for us now becomes big.
“It has proved this year how much the gaps have shrunk between all teams, proving that on their day anyone can win with the exception of us so far,” said Eaves.
“We had a good showing against South Hobart on Monday which gave the boys a lot of confidence. Against Rangers we need to take that confidence and turn it into goals.”
“Squad remains the same and with another game under Daniel Syson’s belt he will begin to get better and better. And Brody Denehey found himself in a new position on Monday and absolutely excelled.
“The upper hand for this fixture will be shutting out the ball speed from Thannhauser and Towns. If they can supply the ball with time they will cause a lot of trouble for us.”
DEVONPORT STRIKERS v NORTHERN RANGERS
2:00PM – SATURDAY 11 APRIL 2015
VENUE: VALLEY ROAD, DEVONPORT
Although they have had an underwhelming start to the season, Northern Rangers fought back hard from 2-0 to share points 2-2 with ladder leaders Hobart Jeep Zebras last week.
Valley Road is regarded the toughest road trip in the PS4 Victory League but it has been a very unhappy hunting ground for the Rangers, with the club not bagging a win since 2006.
“We have not won in a senior game at Valley Road since 2006,” said Rangers Coach Dane Hudson.
“The Strikers have also not performed to their potential but had a decent showing against South on Monday.
“Really important game for both teams as three points is vital. Not a happy hunting ground for us, but we will turn up to play.
“Squad is healthy at the moment, a few niggles but everyone is generally ok.
“Both Joel Sanderson and Nick Swirad are at training now and both are looking to play. Both will offer us good quality and should help the young guys develop further.
“To gain the upper hand this week will take everyone to play their role and win their personal battles.
“Devonport, at their last home outing were disappointing against South and I know Bobby will not accept that effort again.
“It will be a cracker and we can’t wait.
“If there is a loser on Saturday they remain at the bottom of the ladder.
“Explain it any way you like but no one wants that spot, it is said often, but this game is worth six points.”
Launceston City are sitting in their highest ever league position at fifth on the table, City face a tough task this week up against the reigning champions but will come in confident off the back of their fourth ever PS4 Victory League win.
“We did well last round, we played a team who had won their previous games and straight from the offset took it right up to them,” said City Coach Lino Sciulli.
“The first half we scored a couple and lost a man early in the second but still managed to hold them out and create chances so very pleasing day.
“South Hobart have quality all over the pitch.
“We will have to be switched on all game to have any chance, don’t believe they have too many weaknesses if any and their strength is in how they are always attacking all over the ground.
“Their keys are definitely their quality attackers.
“Nathan Bartlett is unavailable serving the second of his two game suspension.
“Trent Mitchell is out for at least eight weeks with a broken ankle and Shane Egan will have to pass a fitness test.
“We will have to work extremely hard when not in possession and make sure when we do have possession being effective in how we use the ball.
“Important in the sense that my guys can guage their improvement and how far they have progressed.
“To date it has been an even competition with no set stand outs and chances for anyone to win if in the right frame of mind. But it’s only round four.”
SOUTH HOBART v LAUNCESTON CITY
12:00PM – SUNDAY 12 APRIL 2015
VENUE: DARCY STREET, SOUTH HOBART
South Hobart are the lowest they have ever been on the PS4 Victory League table after their 3-1 Good Friday loss to Olympia.
“We didn’t play well enough on the day to win and we conceded two poor goals in the stoppage time,” said South Hobart Coach Ken Morton.
“Our football at times was good, but we didn’t have enough flair.”
“We look forward to meeting Launceston City at Darcy Street on Sunday. They had a good result last weekend, they have a strong workmanlike team so we expect a tough encounter.
“Greg Duffy has formed a good partnership in the heart of the defence with Egan. They have a bit of fight in midfield and have improved steadily from last season.”
South Hobart will have some bruised and battered bodies off the back of 120 minutes of cup football on Monday, downing Devonport in an extra time thriller.
“Ben Hamlett is missing suspended. Alex Leszczynski will miss the game with a bruised knee, the rest of the squad are fit after a good week of training.
“Connor Schmidt will come back in after missing the Laka Cup game due to suspension.
“We are monitoring carefully the progress of Cam Rogers.”
South Hobart have not been at their best early in the season and Morton is looking for them to return to the style that made them successful.
“It’s important for us to work our possession football, control the game, lift the speed and intensity of our attacks.
“But the philosophy of dominating possession and scoring goals remains our key objective. It’s a home match and we want three points.
“Looks like it’s going to be an exciting season, teams are competitive and points can be lost as a result of mistakes.
“For South Hobart it’s all about cool heads, big hearts and lots of passion.
“We must run and fight in every game, so every game is important.”