Devonport City's win over Launceston City levels both teams at top of NPL table

EVASIVE: Launceston City scorer Noah Mies looks to pass around Devonport City tackler Dominic Smith in Saturday's NPL blockbuster at Prospect. Pictures: Paul Scambler
EVASIVE: Launceston City scorer Noah Mies looks to pass around Devonport City tackler Dominic Smith in Saturday's NPL blockbuster at Prospect. Pictures: Paul Scambler

Devonport City has gone on to square things up in the most open NPL Tasmania title race seen for years.

That also coincided with Launceston City giving up the competition lead for the first time in 10 games.

The 3-1 win at Launceston has put the Strikers level with City on points, but on top on goal difference by three. 

The two combatants in Saturday’s top-of-the-table clash head a congested table on 29 points each.

The premiership could be up for grabs eight games out for four teams should South Hobart earn the three points over Olympia on Sunday.

Ken Morton’s side could ensure they level up with Hobart Zebras on 26 points.

Zebras had pressed their claims earlier in the day following a resounding 7-0 drubbing of Clarence United.

Devonport were on the verge of falling eight points behind City just a fortnight earlier when Chris Gallo’s charges were headed for a scoreless draw until a late winner against South Hobart.

But little more than 120 minutes later and Strikers could sniff out their second crown in three seasons.

Two goals inside the first 10 minutes of the second half turned the game around.

Down a goal at half-time, Strikers leveled after Miles Barnard’s shot hit the post but teammate Brayden Mann scored off the rebound in only the 48th minute.

HANDS OFF: Striker Beau Blizzard fends off City stalwart Aaron Campbell.

HANDS OFF: Striker Beau Blizzard fends off City stalwart Aaron Campbell.

Joel Stone, who set up Devonport’s first, found space and hit a wobbly long shot to beat City goalkeeper Niko Giantsopoulos for the lead.

The visitors looked to seal the win after defender Liam Scott was called for handball.

Mann goaled again in the 79th-minute from the spot.

The Strikers’ second-half dominance was in stark contrast to the first half.

City had six shots on goal to one, five corners to one and Devonport, struggling to keep pace with the NPL pacesetters, fouled 10 times to three.

William Smith could have opened the Devils’ account after 16 minutes when his open header only just cleared the crossbar.

Teammate Noah Mies, after threatening early on, capitalised from a set piece.

Off a perfectly-weighted free kick from ex-Striker Daniel Syson, Mies soared above defenders to head home City’s 19th-minute opener.

Mies had two chances seconds apart after keeper Nathan Pitchford fell off his line.

The initial shot from long range was only stopped by desperate rushing defence from Beau Blizzard. 

Jarrod Linger could also have doubled the lead in the opening minute of stoppage time when he hit the crossbar after losing his man.

RUNAWAY: City's Liam Scott looks to race away from Devonport's Miles Barnard.

RUNAWAY: City's Liam Scott looks to race away from Devonport's Miles Barnard.

Northern Rangers gave up an early lead to surrender the next four of the first half against Kingborough Lions.

The 5-2 loss was a turnaround from a 1-0 win at Kingborough earlier this year.

Pat Lanau-Atkinson was fouled in the box early and his brother and captain Nick Lanau-Atkinson stood up to put the visitors a goal in front.

But that only seem to spark Lions into action with goals in the 19th, 24th, 34th and 43rd minutes.

Daniel Cristy pulled one back for Rangers deep into the second half.