Who Is Walter Pless?

Walter_Pless

A teacher by profession, but is now in his 38th year as a football writer. Has written for "Soccer Action" (Melbourne), "Australian Soccer Weekly" (Sydney) and "World Soccer" (London), as well as for several Tasmanian newspapers. Currently contributing to "Goal!Weekly" in Melbourne and the Australian magazine "Soccer International". Played for Croatia-Glenorchy, Caledonians, Metro, Rapid and University in Tasmania, as well as in the United States of America. Coached University, Metro and Croatia-Glenorchy.

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Griffin and Mearns - Copy

Photo:  Zebras' Callen Griffin (left) shields the ball from Olympia's Nick Mearns [PlessPix]

(League Cup quarterfinal, Warrior Park, Saturday, 26 August 2017)

Olympia Warriors 2 (N Mearns 38’, J Sklenar 55’)

Hobart Zebras 1 (J Sammut 70’ og)

HT: 1-0   Att: 199   Ref: B Kopra

Olympia Warriors: Cole - Sammut, Vandermey, Hill, Stevens - Ortmann, Mearns, Bellini - Nkoso, Sklenar, Undy (Subs: Little, Hickey, Leaman, Stalker, Vincent)

Hobart Zebras: McKenna - Hey, Lewis, Groenewold, Warrener - Muller, Huigsloot, Griffin - Walsh, Sanders, Pace (Subs: Ackerley, Fraser, McKeown, Reid, Plunkett-Smith)

Bellini and Groenewold - Copy

Photo:  Olympia's Thomas Bellini stretches to win the ball from Zebras' Nicholas Groenewold [PlessPix]

Hobart Zebras should have won this game easily given the number of chances they created, but poor finishing cost them dearly.

Olympia Warriors, in fact, scored all the goals. Nick Mearns and Jakub Sklenar netted for the Warriors, while the Zebras’ goal was an own-goal off the head of Olympia’s Joel Sammut.

Olympia were missing Shane Cartwright and Warren Wadawu, while Zebras had Michael McKenna in goal and Adam McKeown on the bench.

McKenna had not played for a couple of years but was preferred for his experience over youngster Nathan Reid, who has sat on the seniors’ substitutes’ bench all season.

Lewis and Undy - Copy

Photo:  Zebras' Imran Lewis cuts off a pass to Olympia's Hugh Undy [PlessPix]

McKenna was blameless for the two goals and he did save a couple of one-on-ones, but the bottom line is that Zebras lost. It is debatable whether the score would have been any different with a young and inexperienced custodian.

The key factor in Zebras loss was the failure of the outfield players to score. Matthew Pace missed at least three good chances, as did Luke Huigsloot, while Dwayne Walsh might have had at least a couple of goals.

Zebras outplayed Olympia and dominated possession overall, but it was Olympia that scored the goals. At the end of the day, it’s the goals that count and not percentage possession or number of passes. The visitors should have won comfortably, but their season ended on a dismal note with this defeat.

Coach Tommy Fotak was in Melbourne and Gabriel Markaj and Mathew Sanders were in charge. I spoke to Markaj just before kick-off and he seemed a bundle of nerves and unwilling to rate his side’s chances. At half-time, with his side trailing 1-0, he was in deep discussion with Sanders before they went into the dressing room to address their players.

Sanders and Markaj - Copy

Photo:  Gabriel Markaj takes notes while chatting with Mathew Sanders before they go to the dressing room at half-time [PlessPix]

Mearns had given Olympia the lead with a low, precise shot from 25 metres inside the left-hand post.

Ten minutes after the interval, Mearns’s pass to Sklenar saw the Czech striker beat McKenna from close range.

Zebras reduced the arrears with 20 minutes remaining when Sammut inadvertently looped a header from Nicholas Groenewold’s free-kick over his own keeper, Jakob Cole, and into the corner of the net.

Cole was the hero for Olympia and ensured them of the win and a place in the semi-finals against Glenorchy Knights. In the closing minutes, he produced two magnificent saves within a couple of seconds, first from Huigsloot and then from Sanders.

Each time Zebras missed a golden scoring opportunity in this game, and that meant at least on eight occasions, the Zebras player was visibly upset and frustrated. Throughout the season, their defence has been excellent, but it was their inability to score, often from simple chances, that defined their season. Saturday was no different.

Griffin and Nkoso - Copy

Photo:  Zebras' Callen Griffin and Matthedw Pace surround Olympia's Joffrey Nkoso.  Griffin was one of Zebras' more effective players, while Nkoso shows great promise for Olympia. [PlessPix]

Yusuke and Shane - Copy

Photo:  Olympia's injured star midfielder Shane Cartwright (right) with former Olympia defender Yusuke Takatsu, who came from New Zealand to watch the entire League Cup series over the next few weeks [PlessPix]

Hey and Bellini - Copy

Photo:  Zebras' Jayden Hey battles for possession with Olympia's Thomas Bellini [PlessPix]

Comments   

+17 #4 Anonymous 2017-08-30 02:57
Well done Nikki. Puts things well into perspective.
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+13 #3 anonymous 2017-08-29 13:29
Thanks Nikki , I hope this puts to rest all the bad publicity once again thrown at Zebras when people on the outside have no idea what's happening in the club and just jump on the band wagon of people bad mouthing the Zebs and also other clubs without first doing their homework.
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+32 #2 Nikki 2017-08-29 11:11
Quality shots as usual Walter. I do want to say that The Zebras have been fantastic to Nathan this year. They have given him an opportunity to bench and train all year with the Seniors and learn, which he has. How could he not when training with a quality keeper like Marcelo and the great keeping coach they have (apologies, not sure of his name) Marcelo would train with Nath during day when there was school holidays also. None of this was expected at the beginning of the season. While there has been a bit of 'discussion' as to whether he should have been given a chance to play Saturday, he knew weeks before that he wouldn't and that McKenna was coming in to replace Marcelo. Nathan was always there in case of injury and McKenna did well in goals. Nathan has volunteered to help the U16's finish their season, he wasn't 'dropped' down to 16's, it was his choice because The Challenge League was finished. Been a bit great banter the last few days, love your work Walter.
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+16 #1 Just Sayin 2017-08-28 23:30
Great summary Walter. I watched this game with my son and we agreed on two things. Firstly that although we thought young Nathan deserved a chance McKenna did not put a foot wrong. The second was having watched a number of Zebra's games this year we had not seen Luke Huigsloot mis-head the ball in front of goal like he did during this match. He missed 2 headers that were unchallenged that in any other match this year he would have buried.
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