By Cameron Russell / asbpremiership.co.nz
WELLINGTON - Team Wellington faces a tough challenge when they welcome the defending league champions Waitakere United to David Farrington Park on Sunday.
The last time these two played it was Dakota Lucas scoring the winner for Waitakere, but things have since changed for the New Zealand under-20 star.
Lucas has swapped the Waitakere white for Wellington stripes, and has found form early in the season for his new team.
Lucas tore through a Canterbury side in the White Ribbon cup, notching up a hat trick inside the first thirty minutes last Saturday, and then scored twice for the New Zealand under-23 side against a Wellington eleven on Tuesday.
Although Lucas is playing well, Wellington coach Matt Calcott believes it will take a strong performance from all his players to get a result this weekend.
He said: “It can’t just be one player who you need to do well, you need to ensure that it’s a group of players at the top of their game. We’ve seen signs of that in recent weeks, which overall is pretty positive.”
Waitakere arrives in Wellington on back to back wins. The current ASB holders continued their perfect run in the Oceania Champions League last weekend defeating AS Mont Dore 1-0. Already five points clear in their group after three games, Waitakere have scored an impressive 15 goals while keeping three clean sheets at the back.
This goal scoring form has also been reflected in the ASB premier league. Neil Emblen’s side have netted 14 times in 4 outings, although at the end of the day Emblen is clear it’s about notching wins.
“We’re just looking at winning games. We have two more before Christmas and we want to keep this run going. It’s what we’re looking at rather than going somewhere and scoring lots of goals, we just want to win both these two games before the break” said Emblen.
Team Wellington central defence pairing of Nick Branch and James Musa will both be out of action this weekend, but Calcott says that his team hasn’t prepared any differently.
“We’ll have two more step up into central defence, and they’ll be fit to face the trio of attacking players Waitakere throw out on a regular basis. It’s really game by game at the moment. There are only six games before Christmas and getting maximum points out of the last two would be fantastic. said Calcott.
With league leaders Auckland City away in Japan at the Club World Cup, Waitakere have another motive to pick up three points as Emblen refereed to the psychological edge of playing a game more.
“I think we need to win by three or four goals to go top of the league, but psychologically we want them to come back looking at second spot. It’s another incentive for us, but as I said before a win first and foremost is what we’re looking at.” said Emblen.
Both teams are eager to pick up points with only two games remaining until the month long Christmas break, and both coaches made points that the league is almost like two seasons when you factor in the gap.
Kickoff is at 2pm. The match is followed by an identical ASB Youth semi-final, with both clubs young guns on display in this double-header from Dave Farrington Park.
Jason ROWLEY returns from injury and both Andy RALPH and Bill TUILOMA are included this week.
Nick BRANCH is sidelined as he serves a stand down for concussion while fellow Junior All Whites defender James MUSA serves a one match suspension following a red card in the ASB Premiership defeat to Canterbury a fortnight ago.
Adam McDonald returns to academy duty and Ross Haviland makes way.
The last player to score against Wellington in this fixture is new signing Dakota Lucas. Luca’s goal was enough to hand Waitakere a 2-1 victory over Wellington last season, but now lines up against his former club for the first time fresh from a match-winning hat trick in last weekend’s White Ribbon Cup win over Canterbury.
Roy Krishna and Dakota Lucas scored a goal each as Waitakere edged Wellington 2-1 in the corresponding fixture last season.
Team Wellington has lost it's previous three matches with Waitakere United. The last victory notched was a 3-2 win in the semi-final first leg back in 2009-10 season.
Waitakere won the first match 2-0 with Jamie Duncan scoring an own goal and Neil Emblen chiming in with the second two minutes into time added on.
ASB Premiership - Round 5
Sunday 11 December, 2011
1-Phil IMRAY (GK)
1-Danny ROBINSON (GK)
17-Jake BUTLER (C)
20-Ryan de VRIES
25-Scott BASALAJ (GK)
28-Andy RALPH (GK)
(one to be omitted).
(One to be omitted)