By Bob PEARCE asbpremiership.co.nz
AUCKLAND - Auckland City may be dancing to the tune of one Super City Council these days, but in the ASB Premiership the rivalry between Waitakere United and Auckland City remains unabated.
Yet there is change in the air. Some of the old faces will be missing from their clash at Kiwitea St on Sunday and several young stars of the future will be strutting their stuff.
When the teams last met at City's Sandringham headquarters they fought out a 2-2 draw that saw Waitakere progress to the O-League final. It was something of a farewell performance for the home team's Grant Young, Ki-Hyung Lee and Greg Uhlmann.
Waitakere player-coach Neil Emblen is strictly a bench player now, Ivan Vicelich has been in China and Brent Fisher is in Australia.
In a refreshing look for the league, young players have seized their chance to fill the vacancies and both Emblen and Auckland coach Aaron McFarland are enthusiastic about their prospects.
Auckland have Adam Thomas, who played for the New Zealand under-17 team in Nigeria in 2009.
McFarland, an assistant coach on that venture, is happy to have him as a starter.
"He's an exciting young prospect. He was a sprint star at school and he's one of the quickest in the league. He is two-footed and can play in a number of positions.
"In Nigeria he was centre back for the under-17s and he has played in midfield, but we think it's best to have him out wide as he gets used to the league."
Emblen has fitted five academy players into his line-up in the two ASB Premiership and one O-League game so far.
Central midfielder Zane Sole, a former New Zealand under-17 player, and Ryan de Vries, a South African-born attacking player, have started in three games and Emblen was thrilled by the form they showed in the 3-1 win over Hawkes Bay in Napier last weekend.
"If Allan (Pearce) hadn't scored two goals, Zane would have been my player of the day," he said.
Up front Pearce and de Vries swapped sides, with Pearce moving to the right flank and both thrived on the change.
"To be honest, the whole team played very well and everybody performed, including the substitutes. I think it says something that at no stage did I think I was going on. I didn't even warm up!"
The win has given Waitakere a two-point edge over Auckland City, who could only manage a scoreless draw with Team Wellington in the capital, squandering a penalty and several other good chances. But McFarland is upbeat.
"The result was disappointing, but the manner of performance was not disappointing. I was happy with the way we performed and the improvement we made. All that cost us was a lack of finishing and the boys aren't trying to miss."
McFarland is unsure whether David Mulligan will be available after his trial in Singapore. Alex Feneridis is a likely cover.
Emblen also has Jake Butler in the Singapore trial uncertainty. Neil Sykes has served his suspension but has a calf problem.
Finding an unbiased view of the result is hard in a city where football people are firmly in one camp or the other, but Wellington coach Stu Jacobs, whose team lost 0-2 to Waitakere in the first round and drew 0-0 with Auckland City in the second, offers an informed judgment.
After last weekend's game, he said: "Auckland aren't a bad side. Whereas in the first round I thought we were unlucky not to get a point, this time I thought we were lucky to get one."
Jake BUTLER returns to the squad following his return from a professional trial overseas
A calf injury to Neil SYKES and an ankle injury to Luke ADAMS leave both players on the injured list for Waitakere United.
All Whites midfielder David MULLIGAN is trialling in Singapore but is rated an outside chance to make the match day squad after flying back to New Zealand on Saturday 6 November.
SYKES also has 48 ASB Premiership appearances for Waitakere United. Allan PEARCE will make his 89th ASB Premiership appearance, if selected. PEARCE has scored 40 ASB Premiership career goals.Neil SYKES remains poised for his 100th ASB Premiership career appearance.
Auckland City hold the upper-hand in head-to-head clashes between the two teams and boast an impressive six wins, two draws and one loss in nine ASB Premiership home encounters with Waitakere United. Daniel KOPRIVCIC will make his 60th ASB Premiership career appearance, if selected. KOPRIVCIC has scored 23 career goals in the ASB Premiership since 2004-05 season.
Waitakere has won just once in nine visits to face Auckland City away from home in the ASB Premiership. Last season a Tim MYERS goal was enough to earn the champions a 1-1 draw at Kiwitea Street. Neil SYKES remains poised for his 100th ASB Premiership career appearance. SYKES also has 48 ASB Premiership appearances for Waitakere United. Allan PEARCE will make his 89th ASB Premiership appearance, if selected. PEARCE has scored 40 ASB Premiership career goals.
ASB Premiership - Week Three
Sunday 7 November, 2010
1-Jacob SPOONLEY (GK)
1-Danny ROBINSON (GK)
2- Angel BERLANGA
2- Jason ROWLEY
3- Ian HOGG
3- Aaron SCOTT
4- Sam CAMPBELL
4- Tim MYERS
5- Phil EDGINTON
6- Jack PELTER
6- Stu KELLY
7- Martin BULLOCK
7- James PRITCHETT (c)
8- Chris BALE
9- Francisco AVENDANO
10- Allan PEARCE
10- Luis CORRALES
12- Roy KRISHNA
11- Daniel KOPRIVCIC
13- Mike GWYTHER
12- Patrick GEORGE (GK)
16- Neil EMBLEN
13- Alex FENERIDIS
17- Jake BUTLER
14- Adam DICKINSON
18- Zane SOLE
17- Adam McGEORGE
19- Dakota LUCAS
19- Daniel MORGAN
20- Ryan de VRIES
23- Adam THOMAS
23- Ashton PETT
25- Sean LOVEMORE
28- Andy RALPH (GK)