Launceston City coach Jez Kenth has declared the season over for his NPL club.
Still just five points behind Devonport City in the title race entering the final three rounds, Kenth has given up hope of bringing back an elusive premiership to Prospect.
“For us, the title has gone,” he said. “All we’re doing now is to finish as high as we can, but as strong as we can.
“We’ve got injuries, but we don’t want to go into games and not be competitive.
“We want to keep to our same system since day one.
“It sounds like a broken record, but what I want to achieve this year is that every game we go into we’ve got a fighting chance to win.
“If we can keep that in the next three games, whatever the results may be will be.”
South Hobart has climbed two points ahead of City, displacing Kenth’s men from second spot on the table.
That surprise 3-2 win over Strikers that included the opening three goals hurt City further after failing to collect the three points that weekend that would have given them a strong chance for next week’s clash against Devonport.
Kenth would not entertain the idea that victory over South will change things.
“The Devonport result had become a mute point as soon as we lost our game,” he said.
“We had to put ourselves in the window.
“In the end, they scored the winning goal because we had to go for it ourselves.”
City could have at least five regulars out for the arduous trip to Darcy Street.
Noah Mies seriously hurt a groin muscle last match, a slight strain the young striker had been carrying for weeks.
Kenth said missing one of two players, who – along with star Tyler Fischer – have combined for 32 of the side’s 51 goals in the loss to Olympia, has impacted heavily.
“As soon we lost Noah, we were short on NPL quality and experience,” Kenth said.
“At the moment, we have six, maybe seven out. I’m hoping by Friday I might get two of them back to fitness.
“We’re really struggling and we had minimum numbers at training because most couldn’t train. The season has caught up with them.”
Devonport can put one hand on the NPL trophy for the second time in three years should it beat Northern Rangers at Valley Road.
Multiple golden boot winner Brayden Mann said focus won’t be on other matches.
But a City win over South Hobart will eliminate the 2017 NPL Tasmanian champions from the picture.
“I don’t think it bothers us too much – if we win our next three games, we don’t have to worry about them. It is simple as that,” Mann said.
Mann also dismissed a seven-goal win over Rangers the last time they clashed.
He instead talked up the likes of the Lanau-Atkinson brothers, Harry Thannhauser, Daniel Cristy and keeper Sam Whatman as threats.
“They’re pretty good and a young team as well,” he said.
“If we can stop them from counter-attacking quickly and break up their play, we can hurt them the other way.”
- with Jarryd McGuane
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