By Gordon Glen Watson / asbpremiership.co.nz
NAPIER - Four new transfer window recruits will bolster Hawke's Bay's ASB Premiership drive when Canterbury United roll into town for Sunday's play-off showdown at Park Island.
Australia age-group international signing Scott Gannon was joined by Lucas da Silva, Fergus Neil and former favourtie David Gearey as Matt Chandler strengthens his squad in the play-off run-in.
Gannon has already made a positive impression since making his debut and Chandler is eager for his charges to press on and claim an historic semi-final berth.
"Canterbury United at home is yet another big game for us, " Chandler said, "but I suppose every game this season has been. We were very good last week and the boys are keen to maintain our performance."
Prolific goalscorer, Leon Birnie, could be in line for a return to the pitch after several weeks out with a stress fracture in his left foot. His goals have been missed with Andy Bevin picking up Birnie's mantle. Birnie's recovery helps offset the loss of suspended skipper Jonathan Taylor.
"Losing Jonathan is a blow but we have formed our squad's mindset around coping with this factor," Chandler said.
Canterbury United picked up its first win in seven matches when they downed YoungHeart Manawatu 3-2 in Palmerston North last week and will be no easybeats.
Coach Keith Braithwaite has dropped Joe Murray and Darren Overton and brought in Danny Attwell and Ryan Faichnie.
Braithwaite names an otherwise unchanged squad from the one that he has used for most of this season as skipper Dan Terris lines up for his 98th career appearance for the Cantabs.
A win for Hawke's Bay would open a four point gap between themselves and Canterbury with just three rounds left to play. In that scenario, if Waikato FC also lose to Team Wellington, Hawke's Bay would be within touching distance of its first appearance in the semi-finals since the ASB Premiership was formed in 2004.
But Park Island holds no fears for Canterbury.
The black and reds have won four times in eight previous visits to Hawke's Bay and with a play-off berth at stake, there is unlikely to be a repeat of the 0-0 draw played out by both teams in Christchurch prior to the holiday break.
Action gets underway at Park Island, Napier, on Sunday 30th January at 2pm.
Hawke's Bay United
Coach Matt CHANDLER introduces two new signings to the squad – Lucas Da SILVA and Fergus NEIL. Leon BIRNIE is named in the squad.
Ryan FAICHNIE and Danny ATTWELL.
Hawke’s Bay United is missing influential skipper Jonathan TAYLOR due to suspension.
Joe MURRAY and Darren OVERTON.
Adam CHANDLER faces a long spell on the sidelines due to injury.
Canterbury United skipper Dan TERRIS will make his 98th ASB Premiership career appearance, if selected. TERRIS has scored five career goals.
Hawke's Bay's four home wins over Canterbury United have never featured a winning margin of more than a single goal - 3-2 (2005), 2-1 (2007), 2-1 (2008) and 2-1 (2010).
Canterbury United has a 50-50 record on visits to Napier – eight matches in the Bay has yielded four wins and four losses for the Cantabs.
Hawke's Bay United
1- Richard GILLESPIE (GK)
1- Tom BATTY (GK)
2- Phil DORAN
2- Dan TERRIS (c)
3- Marvin EAKINS
3- Nick WORTELBOER
4- Chris GREATHOLDER
4- Gareth ROWE
5- Bill ROBERTSON
5- Tom SCHWARZ
6- Lucas Da SILVA
6- Glen COLLINS
7- Scott GANNON
7- Aaron CLAPHAM
8- Leon BIRNIE
9- Russell KAMO
10- Matt HASTINGS
10- Sam MILES
11- Jarrod SMITH
11- Ryan FAICHNIE
12- Andy BEVIN
12- Gagame FENI
14- Marama THOMPSON
15- Danny ATTWELL
15- Fergus NEIL
19- Jeremy WILD
17- David GEAREY
22- Coey TURIPA (GK)
19- Dan BALL
23- Andy BARTON
20- Chris McIVOR
25- Andy PITMAN
22- Ryan MARTIN
25- Shaun PETA (GK)
- Two to be omitted