By John Donnachie / asbpremiership.co.nz
CHRISTCHURCH - South Island derbies in any sport are often explosive encounters, and this weekend's Canterbury United and Otago United showdown promises to be no different.
This clash has all the ingredients- as well as the bragging rights to Mainland football supremacy, Canterbury are seeking to avenge a bitter 2-1 loss incurred back in December, to their southern rivals.
Moreover, both sides are vying for the hotly contested final play-off berth, in this year's ASB Premiership.
Dragons skipper Dan Terris, marks the occasion with his 100th appearance for the red and blacks. The defender has been a permanent fixture in the Canterbury back four since his debut, six years ago against Team Wellington.
The modest Englishman, the Dragons' first ever centurion, would rather play down the significance of his milestone-at least for the moment.
“To be honest it is just another game. Maybe I will look back in the future and then think of it as an achievement. It would have been nice to have played more games after all this time.”
The former West Ham United academy star originally came to New Zealand on holiday, to visit a relative who lived in Nelson.
“I really did not expect to play football when I came over here. I was visiting my uncle at the time and I loved the Kiwi lifestyle. I then got involved with the local club Nelson Surburbs.”
Terris still remembers vividly his first outing for Canterbury United. “Yep, It was away to Team Wellington and it finished 2 all. I remember there was a big crowd too- probably around 2000 people there,” he said.
The versatile defender said he still got excited about playing in the ASB Premiership. Some of his best memories included beating Auckland City at Kiwitea Street.
“It has always been a hard place to win at. So winning there is always good. I think [overall] my favourite games have been the Grand Finals. Even though we have been runners up on both occasions, I have been proud to captain Canterbury in those matches.”
Terris said he would like to see the present ASB Premiership format expanded. “I think the 14 games we play a season is not enough. I personally would like to play in more games. I believe it would help develop the game more in New Zealand.”
Meanwhile, looking ahead to Sunday, the Dragons' skipper predicted a match with “plenty of bite” against Otago. But he was quick to downplay any suggestions, that the Canterbury camp were still bitter, over the controversial defeat in Dunedin last time around.
“We are over it now. I got sent off, and i'm not proud of it-i felt I let the boys down over that. But there are always chances afterwards to put things right.”
Canterbury are virtually at full strength for the match. Coach Keith Braithwaite revealed Danny Attwell was doubtful with an achilles problem.
Play-off hopefuls Otago, also go into the match with no major worries. Only long-term absentees Tim Horner and Alistair Rickerby are unavailable. Coach Malcolm Fleming, expects a Canterbury backlash after his side's last-grasp 2-1 win in December.
“They were winning with 5 minutes to go and then we got a couple of late goals and they got a player sent off. I think it was one of those matches, sometimes you get the decisions sometimes not. You just have to take the good with the bad. It has happenend to us too”
Fleming meanwhile, is confident his side can complete the double over their Mainland rivals. “If we play to our potential, we can do it. We have already been playing finals football in the last few weeks. All we need is for Hawkes Bay to drop something at Team Wellington, and ourselves or Canterbury, [Waikato] are back in it. I believe 18 points will be enough to get that final play-off spot.”
Canterbury United skipper, Dan TERRIS, will make his 100th ASB Premiership appearance.
Veteran midfielder, Paul SEAMAN, is pencilled in pending a fitness test and a late decision to include him in the squad will be made prior to the match.
Canterbury’s home record against Otago United makes for solid reading with four wins, two draws and two defeats in eight previous meetings. A win for the home side would end Otago’s interest in the playoffs. A draw or defeat for the Dragons would see the race for the playoffs carry through to the final round on March 6.
The last time Otago United defeated Canterbury United in Christchurch was in 2008-09 season when a double by Aaron BURGESS saw his team return to Dunedin with maximum points. Otago’s biggest win over Canterbury was a 5-1 win in Christchurch back in 2004. A win for Otago would see them leapfrog Canterbury in the race for the final playoff berth. Defeat would mean elimination.
1- Tom BATTY (GK)
1- Adam HIGHFIELD (GK)
2- Dan TERRIS (c)
6- Tom SADD
3- Nick WORTELBOER
9- Aaron BURGESS
4- Gareth ROWE
11- Andy COBURN
5- Tom SCHWARZ
12- James REICHWIEN
6- Glen COLLINS
13- Callum FLAWS (GK)
7- Aaron CLAPHAM
16- James GOVAN
9- Russell KAMO
18- Harley RODEKA
10- Sam MILES
19- Chris ANDERSON
11- Ryan FAICHNIE
20- Matt BROOK
12- Gagame FENI
21- Liam LOCKHART
13- Garry McDERMOTT
23- Ant HANCOCK
14- Joe MURRAY
24- Curtis DAY
15- Danny ATTWELL
26- Tristan PRATTLEY
19- Jeremy WILD
27- Morgan DAY
23- Andrew BARTON
28- Sam MEPHAN