|Joel Stone of Ulverstone|
It was a one win one draw and one loss a piece for the North and South today in the Steve Hudson Cup opening round continuation at Birch Avenue in Launceston.
Today’s fixtures pitted a northern side against a southern side in all three fixtures.
The 11am fixture saw Glenorchy Knights rise early to catch the bus north and face Riverside Olympic. Olympic had on display Todd Mitchell who has returned from a stint on the mainland and blooded Rhys Kinslow into the side who has signed from rival club Prospect Knights.
Glenorchy seemed undeterred by the fact they were playing their second game in as many days and served it up to Riverside in the opening quarter of an hour and opened the scoring through Yan Fuentes and held the slender lead into the half time interval.
The earlier predicted rain and cool temperatures eluded the sides and the teams had to battle it out in warmish 25 plus degree heat on a dry and bumpy Launceston pitch, which it has to be said, is in poor condition for this time of year, and will struggle to recover after so many games over the next 5 weeks.
Riverside however took advantage of some fresher legs in the second half and levelled the scores when Steve Gulbrandson’s strike found the back of the net. The two teams struggled for ascendancy but it was a share of the points at the final whistle.
Game two gave the spectators a chance to view two teams with premiership aspirations in their respective regional premier leagues as Ulverstone came up against New Town Eagles.
|Cormac Collins back in Eagles Colours|
New Town put regular gloveman in Nathan Pitchford on the field for this clash, perhaps to make use of some legs with a few less miles in them. Cormac Collins also made a return to the north at left back after a 7 month stint with Northern Rangers. He has returned to the south to work, but it was the return north from the south that stole the show as Brayden Mann for Ulverstone opened the scoring in the first half then doubled the lead and his personal tally from the spot after a penalty was awarded late in the half. Ulverstone had most of the play in the opening half but struggled to find the back of the net, and if not for some wayward shooting, could have been home and hosed by the 45 minute mark.
Ulverstone continued to pour pressure onto Newtown Eagles, but the game became more physical and New Town fought their way back into the contest. A strong goal to Jeremy Marshall had the Eagles with in a peck of Ulverstone, and then a shot that hit the upright cannoned back into the field of play, Ulverstone hit Eagles on the counter and Joel Stone placed a fine ball for Adrian Foote to run onto and he placed it into the back of the net from the top of the 18 yard box to knock the feathers out of the Eagles fight back.
David Horne rounded out the result after he was taken down in the penalty area and opted to convert his hard work into a goal, slotting home his spot kick with ease.
Nick Owen said after the game: “New Town were clearly under strength today, I didn’t see too many that had played yesterday against South Hobart”
“We had at least 15 shots on goal today that went just wide or were saved, everything was going well but we were only able to get two up”
“Eagles were more physical in the second half, and they got a deserved goal and hit the post which would have made it 2 all, then we went and scored almost straight after and they just didn’t have the legs to come back”
“Its a good start but nothing to get excited about”
|South Captain Hugh Ludford tries to go around|
Northern Rangers Issa Dumbuya
Game three for the day featured South Hobart up against Northern Rangers, with both sides suffering from significant player losses, it was a battle of which teams youngsters were better prepared for senior football.
The score line would suggest South Hobart’s are with South slotting 3 unanswered goals past Northern Rangers, but the game looked to be closer than that.
South certainly put Rangers under more pressure in the opening 15 minutes, but failed to convert possession and pressure into opportunities.
It was Rangers who hit South on the counter first and Agele Luate almost put Rangers in front, but shot wide.
The opening goal came when Shae Hickey placed a superb lobed through ball onto Andy Brennan who beat the keeper to the shot and lobbed the ball into the net to put South Hobart 1-0 up and the half time score line.
Both teams came out hard in the second half, but Rangers dropped to low pressure for the remainder of the game, while South had the fitness to continue pressing Rangers in the final third. Mizael Caires returned to the South line up after arriving from Brazil yesterday, but broke down 5 minutes into the second half with cramp after playing some good football.
Shortly after South was awarded a penalty when the ball bounced up and hit the hand of Rangers midfielder Issa Dumbuya inside the area. Captain Hugh Ludford converted the shot by slotting the ball low and to the left while the keeper dived the opposite way.
|Northern Ranger's Chris Hunt.|
Rangers put together a fine passage of play after this and created some fine opportunities in the quest to pull a goal back, the best when Todd Hingston received a chance to head the ball into a keeper-less goal but knocked the ball over the bar. South’s keeper also made some fine saves to retain his clean sheet. South however weathered the storm and worked Andy Brennan into the left corner with pin point long balls, he regularly beat his defender to the ball and knocked in some quality crosses but lacked a killer striker on the other side. Felix on the right side looked out of place and well off the usual standards of a South Hobart player, let alone a striker.
As Rangers tired across the park, South’s superior fitness came to the fore, Andy Brennan completed the result after he beat three defenders from just inside half way and went one on one with the Rangers keeper and slotted the ball neatly across the face and into the side netting.
Ken Morton said after the game “I thought it was a good game especially for the first round, obviously two top sides come together early, both teams were probably short of some key players, but the match was played at a good pace and the passing and the tempo of the game was good for pre-season and both teams will get a lot out of the game”
|Ken Morton was happy with Greg Duffy|
“We were maybe a little bit more clinical in the front third today, Andy (Brennan) used the ball quicker and when he score his goal he took his time, and let the keeper make a decision”
“Mizael arrived last night from Brazil and he’ll fit in alright with his speed”
“That was Bobbies (Eaves) first run since doing his knee in the Bentley game, we’ll have him checked out on Monday”
“There were a lot of things that happened today that were positives and I would think Rangers would feel the same”
Regarding Greg Duffy “I like him! I think he’s a good lad, he’s a talented football player, with us he’ll get the chance of playing maybe centre back alongside Hugh Ludford, but having said that he could probably do a job on the flanks. We’ll settle him down now, he’s strong and has good composure”
Gabriel Tams said after the game “I was really happy with the lads today, we used our fullbacks to great effect getting them up and down the length of the pitch, overlapping and creating some great chances”
“In the very warm conditions our midfielders were worked overtime and then our shape was affected leaving massive holes in which the opposition could play the ball into. I thought Adam Beard was sensational at right back being a position he isn't familiar with. I'm not too concerned with the end score, as we created some beautiful chances and really held our own against one of the best teams in the state. Nice easy session tomorrow, the boys will be sore”