By Staff Reporter / asbpremiership.co.nz
NAPIER - An historic ASB Premiership semi-final berth will be up for grabs when Hawke's Bay United take on Waikato FC in a Napier crunch match on Sunday.
Hawke's Bay United has never qualified for the knock-out stage of the ASB Premiership in the competition's seven year history.
Victory for Hawke's Bay United will change all that. Coach Matt Chandler is aware of the record but insists his team are focussed and ready for the challenge ahead.
"We're confident. We've been confident for the last month or so where we have won two or three games away from home. We've always played attacking football and while that may have cost us one or two results we've never changed our philosophy," Chandler said.
Waikato FC have little to play for with their own play-off aspirations ended in a six goal thumping at Waitakere United last week. A win could see Waikato FC finish in at least sixth place regardless of seventh placed Otago United's result with Waitakere United in Dunedin on the same day. A win for Waitakere will seal the ASB minor premiership and an O-League spot.
Chandler believes Waikato FC will still be a tricky nut to crack.
"We're up against a very good Waikato FC side who we lost to 1-0 in the first round. The players are enjoying their football and our squad is in bouyant mood," Chandler said.
The home side will be without Leon Birnie, Phil Doran and Cole Peverley. In Birnie's absence, Andy Bevin has picked up the mantle of chief goal scorer with eight goals to his name and former All White, Jarrod Smith, coming into good form. But there is a question mark over Bill Robertson who underwent surgery on a broken wrist and has his arm in a cast.
"Bill's broken his wrist and had surgery and we're hoping the match referee will approve his cast. It's not a major concern for us. Bill has made a major contribution this season but he's been out for the past two games," Chandler said.
While a win would break Hawke's Bay United's play-off hoodoo, a defeat would leave Canterbury United needing a draw from its final match away to Auckland City to pip them for the semi-final place on goal difference. If Hawke's Bay United draw with Waikato FC, Canterbury would need to beat Auckland City to sneak into the play-offs.
But with events in Christchurch overtaking the nation's collective thoughts, sport may take a backseat. There is some doubt over whether the Auckland-Canterbury match will be played at all. Chandler is both pragmatic and sensitive about the issue.
"Uncertainty around the Auckland-Canterbury fixture has not affected us. We're concentrated on what we have to do," he said, "But Canterbury is my favourite other team and we enjoy a good relationship with Keith Braithwaite. Our thoughts are obviously with Christchurch and the Canterbury United people."
Waikato FC travel to Napier with injury concerns. January transfer window signing, Phil Edginton, is out for the rest of the season while Tim Pilkington is sidelined with a shoulder injury.
The match gets underway at Park Island, Napier, on Sunday 6 March, 2011, kick-off at 2pm.
Hawke's Bay United
With a cast on his arm, Bill ROBERTSON is drafted into the squad but faces approval from Referee Mike HESTER before he can take the field of play.
Cole PEVERLEY has departed for the USA with new club Charleston Battery. Leon BIRNIE’s injury-plagued season continues with the prolific forward sidelined again. Phil DORAN joins BIRNIE out of action with an ankle injury.
Phil EDGINTON (knee) and Tim PILKINGTON (shoulder) are both injured for this match.
Hawke’s Bay has won three, drawn three and lost two in eight previous ASB Premiership meetings with Waikato FC in Napier. The last time Hawke’s Bay lost to Waikato FC on home ground was in 2005-06 season. That match finished 4-2 in favour of Waikato FC.
Waikato FC has won twice over Hawke’s Bay in Napier – a 4-2 win in 2005-06 season and a 3-0 triumph posted in 2004-05 season. Waikato FC’s last five visits to the Bay have yet to yield a win with two draws and three defeats.
Hawke's Bay United
ASB Premiership - Week 16
1- Richard GILLESPIE (GK)
1- John FLETCHER (GK)
3- Marvin EAKINS
2- Maksim MANKO
4- Chris GREATHOLDER
4- Ryan ZOGHBY
5- Bill ROBERTSON
5- Nathan STROM
7- Scott GANNON
6- Nick BRANCH
10- Matt HASTINGS
7- Jason HICKS
11- Jarrod SMITH
8- Jason McKEOWN
12- Andy BEVIN
9- Mark JONES
13- Danny WILSON
10- Daniel PEAT
14- Marama THOMPSON
11- Nathan PALMER (c)
15- Fergus NEIL
12- Jack BEGUELY
17- David GEAREY
14- Joe BRESNAHAN
18- Jonathan TAYLOR (c)
15- Eugene HEERSCHAP
19- Tom BISS
17- Milos NIKOLIC
20- Chris McIVOR
20- Sam MARGETTS
22- Ryan MARTIN
22- Alex CARR (GK)
25- Shaun PETA (GK)
23- Matteo BALLAN