|Launecston will be in action on Sunday Vs Tilford Zebras.|
Northern Clubs are about to get a reality check on where they are at in preparation for season 2013, none more so than Launceston United who have the unenviable task of facing off with arguably one of this year’s Victory League Favourites, Tilford Zebras.
Zebras will have a short break after taking on fellow Victory League side Kingborough Lions on Saturday night in the Southern Summer Cup.
But Victory League Coach, Stephen Pitchford is cautious in his approach to this game, perhaps with good reason, given the lengthy list of players not able to make the journey north for the clash.
Steve Pitchford had this to say, “We have a match against Kingborough Lions on Saturday at 7:00pm at Warrior Park followed by the Hudson Cup match on Sunday at 1:00pm at Birch Avenue.
Eight players are missing from the senior squad for Sunday through travel, work, injury and suspension : Andrew Telega, Alex Leszczynski, Kurt Engels, Jonathon Ladic, Sam McIntyre, Adam McKeown, Jayden Welch and Robbie Kay.
Alex Viney and Ethan Engels may be added to the squad to enable rotation for those players doubling up. This will ensure the remaining squad members get close to 90 minutes each against Launceston United.
We expect a difficult match as Launceston has had some good results in their pre-season matches to date. The routine of travelling will hopefully hold us in good stead for the Victory league season ahead.”
United will have troubles of their own, trying to cover for a number of players who have left for the Victory League Clubs. Ayden Rigby (Rangers) Pat Farrell, Nathan Bartlett and Saed bin Sumadi (Launceston City) as well as Jess McNiell who has decided to take a year off.
|City's Mitch Dent has been training as|
a keeper for this years season.
Launceston City will play their first 90 minute match for the year against Riverside.
Riverside have lost Aaron Campbell to City, while McCarragher, Cristy and Nick Lanau-Atkinson have moved to Rangers, though Sam Hughes has returned, and Riverside have plenty in reserve to cover the players that have opted to compete at the next level.
For City it will be about preparation for March, rather than perfection at this point and Coach Dane Hudson said “We along with all Victory League clubs have a diverse list of players from which to choose. Our group on Sunday will form part of our 20 and since our preseason programme has been limited it will be our first hit out in a 90 minute contest. I am not looking for perfection and we are aiming for the Steve Hudson Cup as a template from which we launch our season. I hope to have it right for the 23rd of March not the 17th of February.
I’m sure Wayne (Penfold) will have his guys up and about and Riverside have always played a very good brand of Football and are difficult opponents, so I am expecting a tough challenge from game one.”
Launceston City should get off to a winning start in this fixture, however Riverside will be out to start on the right foot also, and show their depth, not to mention give new Coach Wayne Penfold a good start to his coaching career.
Northern Rangers and South Hobart will battle it out twice over the weekend, the first of which is at 3pm in the Southern Summer Cup.
Northern Rangers will use the Southern Summer Cup as their Victory League preparation, and Hudson cup for the Premier League, though there is likely to be some crossing over between the two.
|Pat Lanau-Atkinson in posession suring last year's Hudson|
Cup match with Newtown Eagles.
Northern Rangers are getting closer to putting a full strength side on the park, though the Southern cup side will still be without Marshall Pooley, Mark Cristy ( Injured), Ayden Demiejer and UK import Shane Brassington, who won’t arrive until the end of February.
But for Coach Peter Savill, the match will provide a fair idea of where his side is at in preparation for the state league, with South Hobart one of the early favourites.
South Hobart coach Ken Morton is looking forward to the clash with Rangers, a team who has never beaten his southern and state champions in all their history, the closest in all competitions was a draw in 2006.
Ken will be without speedster Mizael and strikers Kanakaris and ex Ranger, Mark Ambrose, though his team will still go into both games as hot favourites.
“I am looking forward to the Summer and Hudson Cup matches this weekend against Northern Rangers.
South Hobart will play three games in two days. On Saturday we meet Zebras at Warrior Park at 1pm and at 3pm we play Northern Rangers.
Sunday we will clash with Northern Rangers again in the Hudson Cup.
|Ben Foote and Chris Hunt will again be in action in this years|
Hudson Cup but for different clubs this year.
“ I expect to utilize our playing group. The teams will be a mix of youth and experience. This is the part of the season when I am trying to lift the players fitness and bring our team together in terms of structure. In the Summer Cup match against Northern Rangers I will put out a strong group. Our new signings Matt Lewis, Lucas Hill, Chris Hunt, Josh Fielding will play a part. Mark Ambrose and Kostas Kanakaris will miss the game.
The sole focus of pre season is physical preparation, I must get the physical preparation right. The Cups give us valuable time to settle all the players into our pre season games program and into our structured training sessions.
I am happy so far with our preparation and I will keep looking for continued improvement. Northern Rangers are a fantastic club and I look forward to meeting up with my old friend Peter Saville.” Said Ken Morton.
On Sunday the two battle again at 3pm in the Hudson Cup, with the Rangers fielding a predominantly Northern Premier League side which will have an U20 focus.
Devonport and Prospect Knights will meet at 2pm on ground 2 in the Hudson Cup fixture, Devonport have a strong side to choose from, though tight lipped about who that may include, while all is very quiet up at Harley Parade this preseason. No news of players moving on or joining Knights, but I am sure Knights President and possible coach, Anton Balym will be hopeful of a better showing in round one of this year’s cup after the poor start they experienced last year.
Devonport Coach Chris McKenna has this to say of the upcoming match “We have Prospect Knights first up in the Hudson Cup & I must admit, I have no knowledge of the strength of their squad this year”
“We’ll use it as another opportunity to work on things we’ve been focusing on at training & we’re still working on different combinations to see what will best suit us once the Victory League season commences”
“We expect to name a strong squad as most of our 20 are available. We will rotate the squad to some degree throughout the tournament but I don’t expect the changes to be too dramatic”
“It’s been a number of years since we’ve played in the tournament & we’re looking forward to using it in the build-up to round 1”
Entry to the Hudson Cup is still $5 per person and concession rates do apply.
All matches are at the Birch Avenue Complex.
Southern Summer Cup Week 1
3.00pm Group D Northern Rangers v South Hobart
Warrior Park – Hobart.
Hudson Cup Week 1 - Sunday, February 17th,
11.00am Group B Launceston City (VL) v Riverside Olympic (NPL)
1.00pm Group A Tilford Zebras (VL) v Launceston United (NPL)
3.00pm Group B Northern Rangers (NPL) v South Hobart (VL)
2.00pm Group A Devonport City (VL) v Prospect Knights (NPL)