Launceston City has fully capitalised on tiring lapses of concentration from Hobart Zebras on Sunday to break clear of its biggest threats for the NPL Tasmania title.
An impressive 3-1 win at KGV Park has rocketed City to the top of the table for at least a further two weeks ahead of its Lakoseljac Cup home tie against South Hobart.
That Ken Morton-led side warmed up for the return to Launceston come Saturday by outclassing gallant hosts Northern Rangers 3-2.
South Hobart looked to hold on during the final half hour, but close misses off a Nick Lanau-Atkinson free kick and a Mitchell Jones header pushing into injury time left that result in doubt.
Rangers wished they had taken down notes from their crosstown rivals of how to close out halves better.
City did it superbly on both ends. But the same visitors knew how to put early doubt in the opposition’s mind too.
Zebras did have most of the early chances, but it was Tyler Fischer scoring first in his sixth goal of the year from seven games at his new club.
Fischer latched onto a long keeper’s kick from Niko Giantsopoulos to pull the ball inside three defenders and shoot outside of the box to go one up in the 15th minute.
Long balls worked so well the first time, why not try another. Fischer almost replicated his first path to goal, but he found an unmarked Noah Mies instead to score on the stroke of half-time.
Zebras had to wait until the 75th minute to pull one back from ex-South Hobart buy Olaf Conforti.
But it was Mies once again, catching the Zebras defence napping when the tall striker dribbled in from a corner unguarded that knocked in the 90th-minute sealer.
City had more to celebrate than just remaining undefeated from its first seven NPL games of the year.
The club’s WSL team looked in form off back-to-back losses to capture a 4-0 victory over Zebras.
Holly Savill, Lillian Shegog, Emily Hernyk and Keilin Fagan all scored. The result was never in real doubt after City led by three at half-time.
But Rangers, on the other hand, were found in a war of attrition early on.
South Hobart just attacked from the outset and one of its opening four shots on goal came off during the 7th minute from a Alex Walter strike.
Under siege from their tough rival’s insurmountable quality ball, Rangers scored against the run of play.
Harry Thannhauser, just back from injury, scrapped a 20th-minute equaliser off a deflection. He would later hobble off the pitch, substituted late in the game.
Rangers goalkeeper Sam Whatman had to keep his side in the game, eventually forced to stop most of South Hobart’s never-ending 27 shots on goal.
But the second half was a different story altogether.
It was really up for grabs.
Three goals in the space of seven minutes saw the pendulum swing one way and then the other.
Jack Turner goaled in the 50th and 53rd minute to give South breathing space.
That barely lasted when Pat Lanau-Atkinson headed in a Rangers’ second to give hope after the ball bounced around off a crowded box.