By Kelvin Wescombe / asbpremiership.co.nz
PALMERSTON NORTH - Canterbury United has a lot to prove and even more to play for this weekend, as they take on fellow strugglers YoungHeart Manawatu at Memorial Park this weekend.
A loss on Sunday for Canterbury United will see their playoff hopes dashed. Having lost their last four games on the trot, the string of losses have put pressure on the team in the latter stages of the season, and another loss will most likely see them play for pride only for the remainder of the season.
The last time Canterbury played YoungHeart Manawatu was back in Round 4, where the Dragons turned out a hard-fought 1-0 win.
But after Manawatu’s loss to provincial neighbours Hawkes Bay last Sunday, YoungHeart coach Bob Sova said he felt his side should come away with premiership points this Sunday against a Canterbury side he feels is somewhat “over-rated”.
“I was just using that as a motivational thing for my players so that we’ve got a really good chance on Sunday and to not get too carried away about last years’ final”, said Manawatu coach Bob Sova. “I’m just telling my guys to just front up, because we can get this result.”
YoungHeart Manawatu is often guilty of letting their opponents score early goals, but have proved to be tough closers and finish games strong.
However Sova knows his side need to be better in the opening half if they are to become more competitive in the Premiership.
“We need to play better in the opening periods of the game. It’s somewhat ironic because we are so strong in the final 20 minutes, and the last time we played Canterbury we were all over them in the final 20 minutes, so the first half was a killer and it stuffed us up”, said Sova.
YoungHeart Manawatu have set up camp at the bottom of the table since the very start of the ASB Premiership season, but after Canterbury’s poor run of late they will be looking to make up for a poor first half of the season.
“We’re confident we’re going to play well. As long as we can eliminate some defensive errors then I’m confident we can score. If we play tight and try playing a clean sheet we have a great chance. It should be a highly entertaining game”, said Sova.
Kickoff is scheduled for Midday at Memorial Park, Palmerston North.
Academy custodian Junya NAKAHASHI receives a call up. Midfielder Matt KENNEDY also returns to the squad.
All Whites midfielder Aaron CLAPHAM returns from injury and is joined by Joe MURRAY who completes his second suspension of the season
Goalkeeper Ben WILKES is dropped for this match.
Glen COLLINS is injured with an ankle problem while Garry McDERMOTT is replaced.
Matt SMITH and Michael FRASER make way for the return of Matt KENNEDY
Manawatu has won five, drawn two and lost only once at home to Canterbury United in their previous eight clashes in Palmerston North. Manawatu last tasted defeat in this fixture nearly three years ago when they were beaten 5-1 in 2008. The biggest home win enjoyed by Manawatu over Canterbury was a 6-2 win back in 2006.
History is very much against Canterbury in this fixture with the Dragons winning just once in their previous eight visits to Palmerston North. They have won two of their last two matches between the two sides – a 6-0 win last season and a hard-fought 1-0 win back in Week Four of this season.
1- Matt BORREN (GK)
1- Tom BATTY (GK)
2- Nobu ISHI
2- Dan TERRIS
4- Colin FALVEY
3- Nick WORTELBOER
5- Josh CHETTLEBURGH
4- Gareth ROWE
6- Matt KENNEDY
5- Tom SCHWARZ
7- Jason HAYNE
7- Aaron CLAPHAM
8- Nathan COOKSLEY
8- Darren OVERTON
9- Michael WHITE
9- Russell KAMO
10- Adam COWAN
10- Sam MILES
11- Hamish MacKAY
12- Gagame FENI
17- Brook TOZER
14- Joe MURRAY
18- Dale HIGHAM
15- Danny ATTWELL
20- Willie HODGE
19- Jeremy WILD
21- Jared BLOOR
22- Coey TURIPA (GK)
23- Junya NAKAHASHI (GK)
23- Andrew BARTON
25- Jono STEELE
25- Andy PITMAN