Launceston City and Northern Rangers desperate for vital NPL Tasmania wins

LEAP OF FAITH: Launceston City's Noah Mies and Northern Ranger Harry Thannhauser contest a high ball during last Saturday's NPL Tasmania derby game. Picture: Phillip Biggs

LEAP OF FAITH: Launceston City's Noah Mies and Northern Ranger Harry Thannhauser contest a high ball during last Saturday's NPL Tasmania derby game. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Launceston City coach Jez Kenth has set out a boom or bust run of winning its next four games.

The pursuit of an elusive NPL Tasmania title has caused the first-year coach to urge his side to take the ascendancy this Saturday.

The Devils still trail Devonport City by five points at the top of the table one week on ahead of a trip to Hobart against Olympia Warriors.

“It’s a game that we can’t afford to lose,” Kenth said.

“We have to win all four games if we have any hope of pushing Devonport. Even then it might not be enough if Devonport keep winning.”

The Strikers are coming off a five-day break following a 3-1 win over Northcote City in the FFA Cup’s round of 32.

City will be hoping the euphoria of arguably the state’s best club win on the national stage takes its toll travelling to South Hobart on Sunday.

But Kenth said that starts with his own side renewing its early-season form.

“Our job is to put pressure on Devonport and the only way we can put pressure on Devonport is just to keep winning,” he said.

“So from now on every game is a grand final for us.

“We have no other way, but to treat every game now like it’s a grand final.

“We just got to give everything that we’ve got and leave nothing for tomorrow.

“If we drop points in any way, it’s curtains for us.

“We have to show Olympia the respect, but we have to go in and play like champions.”

Kenth felt ladder positions do not tell the true story of a side stuck in the mid-table.

“They are a team you can’t underestimate,” he said.

“They are good enough to beat anybody and they’re big club. So it’s not that they have average players; they actually have good players.

“If we are not at our best, I suspect we will be punished.”

Northern Rangers appear to have little to play for on Saturday bar pride.

But avoiding embarrassment of being the first team to lose to Clarence United – or concede a point on home turf – is a serious motivation.

Clarence has lost 15 out of 17 games, only drawing in successive weeks against Kingborough and Hobart Zebras, but not earning a point during its past 11 matches.

Rangers coach Lino Sciulli said the side that is coming off a 4-1 derby loss to City was taking nothing for granted.

“We don’t want to be first to lose this year to Clarence, but they have had some good games also,” he said.

“So if we’re not on our game, we are going to be on the wrong end of one. I sure hope it’s not this week.”

Rangers have won four times with just a further two draws after a promising start that included taking the first points off City in round three.

Sciulli said piecing together polished games is an issue.

“We’ve had a couple of unlucky results where we let lots of goals in, but we still played really well,” he said.

“Look they are good boys, they’ve worked really hard all year and they’d like to get some more wins.

“We really should be way up there with points – that’s my personal belief, anyway – and we’re not.”

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