By Kelvin Wescombe / asbpremiership.co.nz
PALMERSTON NORTH - YoungHeart Manawatu go head to head with a highflying Team Wellington eager to push their play-off hopes at Memorial Park on Sunday.
Last year was a forgettable one for YoungHeart Manawatu; losing their first six games and scoring just one goal.
Yet they gave their season a much needed kick in the pants in the final round of 2010 with a convincing 5-2 win over Waikato FC in torrential conditions at Memorial Park.
That victory provides the home side with a vital launchpad for the second half of what has so far been a traumatic season for the Palmerstonians.
Confidence is a much needed attribute for YoungHeart Manawatu, and may prove helpful for a team who often lacked a finishing touch in front of goal.
YoungHeart Manawatu coach Bob Sova has always believed he had a side who could inflict damage on opponents, but has been plagued by selection worries and fielding young sides.
“The guys can play, and play well”, said Sova. “If we can implement our strategies and finish set pieces we are a hard side to beat”.
YoungHeart Manawatu will have to play the full 90 minutes against a team who are notorious in scoring late goals and running teams down.
“We’ve done a lot of running this season, so we are match fit and conditioning is about spot on”, said Sova.
Wellington are no easy-beats by any stretch, coming into this game with an impressive 2010 record of four wins, one draw and two losses.
Wellington also ended last year with a bang, thumping Otago United 5-0 at home, adding to their impressive goal tally of sixteen for the season so far and are sitting second on the ASB Premiership table.
Wellington coach Stu Jacobs may look to bank on what has been dubbed his “super subs” – Hicham Kamri and Emiliano Tade.
In their win over Otago the two were injected into the game with Wellington 2-0 up, and between them added three goals to blow out the scoreline late in the game.
The week before the two were instrumental in beating Hawke's Bay, coming back from 2-0 down at the halftime break with Hicham Kamri scoring early in the half, and Emiliano Tado slotting the game winner in the 88th minute.
The 5-2 demolition job of Waikato FC suggests the YoungHeart Manawatu season may have turned a corner and a showdown with an in form Team Wellington should test that theory to its fullest.
Action gets underway this Sunday at Memorial Park, kickoff is scheduled for 2pm.
Colin FALVEY (suspended)
Adam COWAN returns to the match day squad while Colin FALVEY is suspended. Greg O’CONNOR, Khair JONES, Nathan MORATH, Nick HAYWARD and Graham CRAVEN remain on the long term injured list.
Jamie O'CONNOR remains on the injured list for Team Wellington with a hamstring problem.
Home advantage has meant little for Manawatu in recent history with Bob Sova’s side winning just one in its previous four matches with Team Wellington. Last season’s 3-0 victory was bookended by 0-4 and 0-2 beatings on home soil. Manawatu recorded its biggest home win over Team Wellington in 2007 when they beat the visitors 5-0.
Team Wellington has enjoyed successful visits to Palmerston North with their 8-0 win in 2007-08 the undoubted highlight. The capital men have scored 17 goals in their last seven encounters with their hosts and conceded only seven.
Sunday 9 January, 2011
1- Matt BORREN (GK)
1- Phil IMRAY (GK)
2- Nobi ISHI
2- Scott ROBSON
3- Matt SMITH
3- Jamie DUNCAN
5- Josh CHETTLEBURGH
7- Wiremu PATRICK
7- Jason HAYNE
9- Romain CORNAND
8- Nathan COOKSLEY
10- Michael FIFII
9- Michael WHITE
12- Emiliano TADO
10- Adam COWAN (C)
13- Karl WHALEN
11- Nathan MacKAY
14- Hicham KAMRI
16- Michael FRASER
16- John SUTHERLAND
17- Brook TOZER
18- Darren CHERITON
18- Dale HIGHAM
19- George BARBAROUSES
19- Ben WILKES (GK)
21- Pomare TE ANAU
20- Willie HODGE
23- Ryan CAIN
21- Jared BLOOR
24- Tyler LISSETTE
25- Jono STEELE
25- Lance RAMAEKERS (GK)