NORTHERN Premier League sides will go head to head with their Southern counterparts in the final series to decide a state champion.
Northern Rangers’ striker Mark Ambrose was in great touch last week
All NPL sides were eliminated from the Statewide Cup in the opening round earlier this year and will be looking for better performances, particularly Northern Rangers and Devonport City, which will play in next year’s Victory League.
Rangers coach Peter McBeath said his side had celebrated its third NPL title in four years last week but was ready to push for a state title.
“It’s always very hard to size up the opponents from the South, particularly Kingborough which I’ve had various reports on how they like to play and go about it tactically,” he said.
“So we will focus on ourselves and what we can control. We’re playing on our home pitch, which we love playing on because it suits our style.”
Rangers has lost teenage midfielder Scott Murray who has gone to the US on a soccer scholarship in North Dakota. He will be replaced by Pat Lanau-Atkinson while Agele Luate will start on the bench and Gabriel Tams.
McBeath said Tams offered a different playing style being stronger and able to hold the ball up plus having a long throw-in and good kick on set plays.
“Gabriel has been knocking in the goals freely in reserves, I think he’s scored 34 or 35 and got as many assists so he’s a different kettle of fish to Agele.”
Ulverstone coach Nick Owen said his side was looking for a better result than in previous games against Southern Premier League sides.
“Our recent history against Hobart sides has been pretty poor so we will be pretty keen to turn that around,” Owen said.
“ In last year’s first finals match we went down to South Hobart 5-0. In this year’s statewide cup game we went down 4-0 to Kingborough.”
Owen said the bye in the last round of the NPL had refreshed the players who were very sharp at training on Tuesday.
“Selection will be a bit of a headache with all but two of the senior squad available. Stevie Arthur forgot there was finals and booked a holiday months ago so we will have the under-18 keeper Cedric Cox-Haines in the sticks.
“Conor Meaney is the only other one with an injury concern. I have been starting one of the Conkie twins on the bench since the Rangers game. They will both start on Saturday so someone will miss out.”
Owen said Clarence was an unknown. “We’ve heard how good Cairns and Ortiz can be but both aren’t 100 per cent so it will be interesting to see if they line up. Not that it would change our plans if they did or didn’t play. We’ll be going out there knowing whomever they bring will give us a run for our money.”
Devonport travels to New Town, which finished second in the SPL after failing to win on the last day of the season.
Coach Chris McKenna will bring himself into the starting line-up as well as Grant Ashdown andBrad Chilcott to replace Nat Cochrane, Jesse Curran and Michael Holden, who are all unavailable.
“We’ll just keep doing what we’ve been trying to do,”McKenna said. “Apart from the slip up against Launceston United, for the last couple of months we’ve been going pretty reasonably.
“Obviously intensity goes up in a statewide game and they have a couple of the best strikers in the state so we will have to look at shutting them down.”
Prospect Knights have arguable the toughest task, taking on South Hobart who have been the form side in the state for several years.
Coach Ray Heald said five regular senior players were unavailable in Chris Pickering, Kristin Beardwood, Nathan Balym, Anton La Palombara and Mark Baker.
“Anton Balym comes in as goalkeeper and we will look to promote younger players Mitchell Chugg, Tim Roberts, Zac Van Asch and Sam Cooper,” Heald said.
“The club is very proud to have finished in the top four after losing seven senior players and coach before the first game this year, and we will look to focus on the performance of young players as the priority rafter than the game result this week.”
Northern Rangers v Kingborough Lions at NTCA Ground (2pm)
Ulverstone v Clarence at Ulverstone Showgrounds (noon)
New Town Eagles v Devonport City at Clare St (2pm)
South Hobart v Prospect Knights at D’arcy Street (noon)
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.