Prediction Thursday: TAS Statewide Cup Final

Oh boy it’s been a while between drinks for prediction Thursday. You’re probably thinking “what the flip are you predicting?” If you’re not from Tassie, or just otherwise unaware, let me fill you in. There’s a cup final this long weekend, the Women’s Statewide Cup to be precise. So hold onto your hats, because in loo of actually being able to watch and report the game live in any capacity, because I’ll be in the air flying back home, we’re dusting off Prediction Thursday for this weekend only.

We’ve got a cup final to predict guys.

The Teams.
Taroona v Kingborough

Kingborough
A young side, with some streaks of brilliance. Their biggest asset is up top, with combinations such as Laura Davis and Emille Tatton pulling out some special moments already this season. This side got here by beating an inform Ulverstone team, which is no easy feat this season. Whilst I’ve no proper or informed idea how that game went, travelling to Ulverstone is a journey I just didn’t have time for that weekend, I imagine the game went a bit like this. Kingborough were able to commit to defensive organisation for the full 90, with their goalie, Olivia Gardner, pulling out an inspired performance acting as a brick wall to any incoming traffic, as she has done previous times this season, then they got the break away against the run of play for the goal. Look I’ve watched the goal, as I’ve watched a few Kingborough goals this year, and it was delightful, catching the defence out of position and well placed into the back of the net.

Taroona
A more experienced side who play like composed fighters. Similarly their biggest assets are upfront. They’ve got the likes of Lily Hulton and Eliza Crop as forwards, who will always make the effort to run deep to win the ball back, plus they’ve got a very clever player in Zoe Horgan who will thread that beautiful through ball to them all day if given the space. Taroona have couple of wild cards. One is  whether Ash Tolman gets a jersey, and if they move her upfront. I’ve seen her play both fullback and further up the field, with the first time further forward up against Kingborough, where she tore the side apart getting a bucket of goals due to her ability to stay on the ball and let one rip into a bottom corner. The second wildcard is whether Adelyn Ayton is fit to play, with limited time on the field this season she’s still proven to be a game winner. A big call if fit to play whether to play her, but in a final it could be well worth the risk. I caught Taroona’s second half semifinal against Olympia, they were 2-0 up by that point, with Olympia pressing the entire second half. Yes they conceded a goal, but ultimately did enough to hold out for the win, that’s all you need in Cup football. Don’t be surprised if something similar happens on Monday.

Head to Head. 
Both teams are going to have their work cut out for them. I’m certain anyone going into this final wouldn’t have bet these two would make it this far, and in my opinion that makes it pretty special. I watched the two teams the last time they met  during the regular season, the match was tight, often stuck in the midfield, with Ashlee Tolman being the difference between the sides, singlehandedly ensuring her side went home with a win. Both sides have improved since this early season encounter, but it still wouldn’t surprise me if it’s a game of keeping the ball in the midfield, away from both sets of deadly forwards, with individual brilliance from either side being the difference.

If Kingborough are going to win this Olivia Gardener is going to have to show up in a big way for them in goals. A fumble just this past weekend shows how difficult it is to be consistently brilliant in the position. But for such a big game, keepers always pull up their socks. I’m certain if Gardener can keep the ball out of the net, her side know how to score against the run of play.

For Taroona to win, they’re going to need to stay disciplined the whole 90, which they’re capable of doing. Plus if Zoe Horgan turns up, then they will be capable of breaking down Kingborough’s lines. Early this season I didn’t get the hype, but then I got to see Horgan actually command a game, and she turned the temp of the game up by about 50, dictating play just for fun. If Horgan is playing well on Monday, Taroona will have that spark, giving them the edge.

Prediction. 
Look so far this WSL season I’ve been rubbish at predicting games. Just this past weekend I went for 0-0 for Zebras v Uni, which ended up 6-1. So be aware, my record going into this match is well below average. But I’m gonna back a 2-1 result. Whilst I could see this going either way, I’m gonna go with Taroona. It’ll be tight the whole way through, but I think Taroona have a bit more depth, a few more wildcards and could perhaps pull in some changes to their attack during the game to ultimately catch Kingborough out.

PS.
Shout out to both sets of fans. I’ve loved the support and atmosphere you guys have brought to any game I’ve watched where either of these sides are playing. This will be a good day for you both sides, no matter the score line, so I really hope you enjoy the day.

Predicted score: Kingborough 1-2 Taroona

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