Glenorchy Knights and Launceston City produced the upsets of the Lakoseljac Cup quarterfinals in Tasmania on Saturday.
Second-tier Knights beat cup-holders Devonport City 4-3 in a penalty shoot-out after the teams finished at 2-2 in regular time and after extra-time.
Launceston City, bottom-side in the NPL Tasmania competition and who had been beaten 7-1 by South Hobart in the league a week earlier, turned the tables at home in Launceston to down South Hobart 2-1.
The two remaining quarterfinals were one-way traffic, with Olympia Warriors demolishing second-tier Nelson 12-0 and Hobart Zebras accounting for fellow NPL Tasmania side Clarence United 6-0.
Devonport City led Glenorchy Knights 2-0 at the break, Brayden Mann netting both goals.
He headed the first in the 29th minute from Edward Bidwell’s right-wing cross, Knights keeper Dmitri Nester getting to the ball but being unable to keep it out.
In the 35th minute, Mann ran onto a through-ball from Michael Holden and slotted it past the advancing Nester.
Devonport were cutting Knights open with astute cross-field passes that stretched the Knights defence to breaking point, but their failure to add to their tally cost them in the end.
Mann was cajoling and coaxing his men to greater effort, but Knights held out without conceding any more goals in the first half.
Knights were a transformed side in the second half and they began to look dangerous. They introduced twins Callum and Declan Brown and their pace down the flanks presented the cup-holders with all sorts of difficulties.
In the 61st minute, Knights were given a ticket back into the game when Ethan Engels was adjudged to have been fouled and Mr Plomaritis awarded them a penalty. Engels stroked home the spot-kick and the Knights were back in contention.
Prompted by skipper Mann, Devonport continued to create openings, but they couldn’t finish.
They appeared to have survived and qualified for the semi-finals, especially as the game went into stoppage time at the end of the 90 minutes.
But, in the 92nd minute, Knights earned a free-kick wide on the left. Goalkeeper Nester even came up into the opposing penalty area as at this stage it was clearly a case of now or never. Callum Brown floated the ball into the box and Mathew Nowicki flicked it on for Ben Phillips to head home and make it 2-2 and take the game into extra-time.
Five minutes into the second period of extra-time, Knights suffered a huge blow when Nowicki was sent off after receiving a second yellow card.
But, neither side could break the deadlock and a tense penalty shoot-out was required.
Holden, Mann and Chris McKenna netted for Devonport, as did Phillips. Declan Foley and Declan Brown for Knights.
Then it was time for the denouement in this fascinating drama.
Engels had his spot-kick saved by the excellent Matthew Zaikos, whose head must still have been spinning after tangling with Nowicki during extra-time and requiring treatment. But, Mr Plomaritis decided that Zaikos had moved early and ordered the kick retaken. This time, Engels, who had scored the spot-kick in normal time to put the Knights back into the game, netted to put the Knights in the lead at 4-3.
Tyler Fischer had his spot-kick saved by Nester and the cup-holders were out, while the Knights were through to the semi-finals of the cup, named after one of their late, great strikers, Milan Lakoseljac.
The Knights supporters rushed onto the pitch to congratulate their players and acknowledge the giant-killing feat of their heroes.
A goal after just 5 minutes by American import Dylan Williams gave Launceston City the lead against South Hobart, but Kobe Kemp equalised in the 33rd minute.
Twenty minutes from the end, Nathan Bartlett kept his cool to slot home the winner for the home-side in one of the biggest upsets of the 2017 season.
Olympia Warriors did not field their strongest line-up against Nelson and coach Ian Shaw even went to Queensland for the weekend, leaving technical director Dale Itchins in charge.
Olympia’s Czech import Jakub Sklenar scored six goals, four of them in the first half. He completed his hat-trick in 21 minutes.
Hugh Undy netted a hat-trick, while substitute Nick Meredith, who rarely gets a look-in in the senior side these days, grabbed a brace. The remaining goal came from a Warren Wadawu penalty.
Nelson, who are mid-table in the second-tier Southern Championship competition, reached this stage with a shock 1-0 away win over NPL side Northern Rangers, but they were never in the hunt against the Warriors.
Hobart Zebras brushed aside Clarence United with a 6-0 win, the opener coming after just 2 minutes when a Mathew Sanders shot went in with the help of keeper Darby Randall.
Dwayne Walsh hit the second in the 25th minute and Luke Huigsloot the third in the 38th minute.
A goal by Adam McKeown in the 43rd minute made it 4-0 at the interval.
Sanders, in the 50th minute, and McKeown with a 72nd-minute penalty, completed Zebras’ tally.
The semi-final draw will be fascinating. Knights are intent on returning to the top flight for the 2019 season and winning the cup and becoming Tasmania’s representatives in the FFA Cup is high on their agenda for re-establishing their credibility and standing in Tasmanian football.