A change of playing surface made little difference to Devonport as they tuned up for Tuesday’s FFA Cup encounter with a 7-1 demolition of Northern Rangers in Saturday’s NPL Tasmania clash.
With the Valley Road turf waterlogged following overnight and morning rain, both teams and officials agreed to move the game to the synthetic pitch at the back of the complex, although Rangers coach Lino Sciulli did ask if the game could be transferred to another date.
“I don’t care when we play or at what time, but we had a lot of players out today and it would have been nice to have the game on another day – that was the only reason behind it,” Sciulli said.
“But I was happy to get the game out of the way as well so as not to prolong the season.”
Sciulli’s request clearly irked the Strikers, who started the game in top gear and were 3-0 up after 30 minutes thanks to two goals from Miles Barnard and one from Michael Holden.
Holden secured his brace two minutes later before Devonport captain Brayden Mann made it 5-0 in the shadows of half-time with his 32nd goal of the season.
Some changes in personnel and positioning by Sciulli allowed Rangers to be more competitive in the second half, but not before Barnard grabbed his hat-trick in the 62nd minute.
The visitors finally had something to cheer about three minutes later when a rocket from Lachlan Mccallumsmith from outside the box got past Strikers goalkeeper Nathan Pitchford.
But the hosts had the last say with defender Kieran Mulraney scoring 10 minutes from the end.
“The first half Devonport moved the ball about really quickly, but we let them do what they wanted to in the middle,” Sciulli said.
“We corrected that at half time and gave a better showing.”
The results keeps Devonport in the box seat for the title and three points ahead of South Hobart, who ended Launceston City’s slim hopes with a 3-1 win at Darcy Street.
The home side opened the scoring after 21 minutes through Jack Turner, but City responded 12 minutes later when Daniel Syson fired one home with his left foot.
South Hobart had a golden chance to hit the lead again just before the break when Aaron Campbell conceded a penalty, but just as Renato De Vecchi Marins prepared to take the kick, Launceston goalkeeper Niko Giantsopoulos came off his line and booted the ball away.
His subsequent yellow card was worth it however, with De Vecchi Marins’ attempt blocked by the Canadian.
However any momentum the visitors had was whisked away in the second half as South Hobart dominated. They went ahead in the 62nd minute through Nick Morton before Syson picked up his second yellow card in the 81st minute after bringing down De Vecchi Marins in the box and was sent off, with Kobe Kemp converting.
In Friday night’s game, Olympia defeated Hobart Zebras 4-1.