By David Cross / asbpremiership.co.nz
WELLINGTON - After their eight match winning streak ended last week, Waitakere now visit the capital looking to inflict similar damage to minor premiership rivals Team Wellington own six-in-a-row winning record.
Waitakere United set an ASB Premiership record when they won their first eight games of the season until Auckland City downed them 1-0 last week.
Now Team Wellington loom into view boasting their own six consecutive wins.
Wellington coach Stu Jacobs predicts the game will match the excitement of previous showdowns and believes his side are up for the challenge.
“We need more of the same hard work and to believe we are good enough to win the ASB Premiership," Jacobs said.
"Waitakere’s real motivation will be that they are playing Team Wellington. Fixtures between the two have in the main been very mouth watering recently and I don’t see this being any different," he added.
But Team Wellington will have to go about their work away from the familiar environs of David Farrington Park when they return to their spiritual home at Newtown Park.
“Certainly, Davey F Park is unique for a number of reasons. Compactness, emotion, history and success. But Newtown Park is what we have and we will do our very best there," said Jacobs.
Jacobs has plenty to worry about aside from a venue switch.
Injuries and absences have decimated the home side’s back line with Jamie Duncan and Karl Whalen already unavailable and Jamie O’Connor out long term, a whole new set of challenges confronts Jacobs.
“Losing two of our senior defenders is going to be a challenge. We also lost Tyler Lissette during the week so we are stretched to full capacity within our defensive ranks," Jacobs said, "I am sure that whoever we put in their place will acquit themselves well and with the support of their team mates and the staff, they will make a real fist of the opportunity.”
“We tend to look at situations like this as a fantastic opportunity for someone new to make their mark," Jacobs added.
Jacobs opposite number Neil Emblen has a few selection dilemmas of his own.
Youngsters Luke Adams and Tim Payne put in standout performances for the New Zealand U-17 side in Auckland while Zane Sole and Ashton Pett were away with the Wellington Phoenix ‘A’ side.
Emblen must also consider who replaces the suspended Jack Pelter in the heart of defence.
“We'll miss him this weekend but we've got some good backup in the squad," Emblen said, "It may be a chance for a youngster to come back in like Zane Sole or Ashton Pett and Luke Adams has been fantastic for the U-17 side.”
“Whoever we put out will be up to the task. We’ll see how Tim Payne and Luke pulled up after the U-17 Final and how Zane and Ashton come through the Phoenix 'A' game. It's difficult for us having them away, and not ideal for preparation but it's such a great opportunity for them I wouldn't let them miss it," Emblen said.
Emblen isn’t forgetting the last few results for his side in Wellington either - 4-3 and 3-2 losses.
“We'll certainly be watching Michael Fifii late in the game. Team Wellington are a very dangerous side and this weekend we hope we can get our focus back and get back on track.Team Wellington are playing good football, they've won six on the bounce and we don't think we can just turn up and expect a win," Emblen said.
Action gets underway at 3.30pm at Newtown Park, Saturday 22nd January, 2011.
Mikey HALIKAIAS, Alec SOLOMONS and Matthew WILLIAMS are drafted into a Team Wellington squad that has won six ASB Premiership matches in a row.
Anthony HOBBS and New Zealand U-17 international Tim PAYNE are drafted into the squad.
The home team will have its work cut out with Karl WHALEN and Jamie DUNCAN both unavailable for selection while
Jack PELTER is suspended and Ross HAVILAND deselected
Jamie O’CONNOR remains on the injured list.
Neil SYKES (1 week), Martin BULLOCK (1 week), Luis del MONTE (2 weeks) and Sean LOVEMORE (1 week) remain on the injured list.
Team Wellington have won their two previous home matches with Waitakere United – a dramatic 4-3 regular season win and a nail-biting 3-2 semi-final victory.
Waitakere United enjoyed a six year unbeaten run in the capital up until last season’s two defeats. Waitakere have won eight of their last ten showdowns with Team Wellington which include six straight wins between 2007 and 2010.
1- Phil IMRAY (GK)
1- Danny ROBINSON (GK)
2- Scott ROBSON
2- Jasn ROWLEY
4- Michael EAGER
3- Aaron SCOTT
6- Mikey HALIKAIAS
4- Tim MYERS
7- Wiremu PATRICK
8- Chris BALE
8- Alec SOLOMONS
10- Allan PEARCE
9- Romain CORNAND
12- Roy KRISHNA
10- Michael FIFII
13- Mik GWYTHER
12- Emiliano TADE
14- Tim PAYNE
14- Hicham KAMRI
16- Neil EMBLEN
16- John SUTHERLAND
17- Jake BUTLER
17- Matthew WILLIAMS
18- Zane SOLE
18- Darren CHERITON
19- Dakota LUCAS
19- George BARBAROUSES
21- Anthony HOBBS
21- Pomare TE ANAU
23- Ashton PETT
23- Ryan CAIN
28- Andy RALPH (GK)
24- Tyler LISSETTE
25- Lance RAMAEKERS (GK)
three to be omitted