The Devonport Strikers have defeated the Kingborough Lions in a gutsy but convincing 2-1 win at their fortress up Valley Road.
Strikers controlled the game in the first half making nearly every attack and overlapping runs possible. Lions to their credit did defend well and can head home to the Den knowing they did hold the title leaders goalless in a half. Lions keeper Kenneth Perkinson caught a tackle in the box from ‘The Fox in the box’ Miles Barnard. Barnard walked away unbooked but Perkinson was far from impressed. At the end of the half he approached the referees and argued his case but earned a yellow card for dissent.
The home side headed into the sheds somehow wondering how they hadn’t broken the deadlook while Jez Kenth’s Lions had to be happy with holding the Strikers away from the back of the net.
The second half began with the same fire from Strikers but the Lions looked more hungry to press harder. Jack Turner and Nick Cuthbertson for the Lions were given yellow tickets early for some risky challenges
Devonport’s hard work finally paid off when they were awarded a penalty kick after Eddie Bidwell went down in the box when he was fouled late. Max Fitzgerald was the one to step up which many seemed to be a hush over if it was the right call. Fitzgerald proved it was the right decision to give him the dead ball and nailed home past Perkinson in the bottom right to give the Strikers the lead in the 59th minute.
The game wasn’t put to bed just yet when the Lions found a shock equaliser in the 78th minute. Keenan Douce shot from just outside the box after noticing Nathan Pitchford off his line and the ball sailed home over Pitchford’s head to make the scores 1-1!
Fifteen minutes to go and we had a real game on our hands! Strikers were fighting to keep their title hopes in their favour and the Lions were trying to leave with a valuable point which would of gone a long way to their top 4 hopes.
Devonport would get their lead back late in the 83rd minute. ‘Stone Cold’ Joel Stone picked the top right brilliantly past Perkinson off a free kick and didn’t the Strikers need that!
After the game Strikers Manager Rick Coghlan praised his team for gaining the points. “A huge win, credit to Lions for making it a hard fought game, Stone’s free kick was unbelievable”
Kingborough Manager Jez Kenth shared his thoughts after the match “One thing I did enjoy was when we went one goal down we came back harder, Keenan’s goal was great, Kenny played well in goals too but the result is disappointing.”
That win for the Striker’s today puts them in a very comfortable position to take out the title. Their closest challenger (2nd) Olympia FC Warriors will play (4th) Hobart Zebras at Warrior Park tomorrow and have to win to stay in reach of Devonport. Warrior’s are still awaiting the results of the tribunal on their suspension appeal after being handed a 3 point wipe when they fielded an ineligible Lucas Hill in their clash v South Hobart a fortnight ago.
One thing is for sure. You just can’t count out the Devonport Strikers. They are by far the best team in the NPL TAS and they prove week after week they are the hardest to keep down.
If Olympia want to snatch the celebrations away from Valley Road, they will have to put in a real shift tomorrow and gain another 3 points over David Smith’s Zebras tomorrow.
Every game is crucial from here!
Written by Tanner Coad.