By Kelvin Wescombe / asbpremiership.co.nz
It’s a desperate bottom-of-the-table clash this Sunday at Memorial Park, as the bottom two sides in the ASB Premiership look for their first scalp of the season.
With just a point earned from a two-all draw against Hawkes Bay United, YoungHeart Manawatu are clinging onto their second-to-last position above Waikato FC as the ASB Premiership heads into round five.
YoungHeart, still smarting from their 0-5 drubbing against Auckland two weeks ago, should be boosted by having their main attacking asset, Vanuatu marksman Seule Soromon, back in the starting squad after missing the previous game through injury.
Though without a win next to their name so far, YoungHeart may boast a psychological advantage over Waikato FC, after beating them in their last outing 5-2, their only win of last season.
With Wellington playing the defending champions, and Hawke’s Bay’s match against Auckland postponed due to City’s FIFA Club World Cup date in Japan, a win could see Manawatu move to within three points of a place in the top half.
Coach Stu Jacobs, though admitting they had key aspects of their game to work on, was pleased with patches of play they had against Auckland two weeks ago, and feels with improvement they can still come up with Premiership points during the season.
"If we can perform like we did in those 15-minute patches against those teams that don't have the same ability as Auckland City, we'll do very, very well," Jacobs said.
For Waikato FC, it is their chance to gain points and credibility in a season that has not started well for Declan Edge’s youthful side.
Four losses from four and a staggering seventeen goals scored against them already, Waikato will look to leapfrog YoungHeart Manawatu before facing Hawke’s Bay United at home for their final game of the year.
Last weekend’s White Ribbon Cup win over Hawke’s Bay may yet be a turning point for Waikato but at the very least it is a timely confidence booster for a side, much like Manawatu, with players still adjusting to the demands of national league football.
With not a lot separating the two sides, YoungHeart Manawatu will look to use their home-field advantage, as action will kickoff at 2pm.
Dangerman Seule SOROMON is added to the squad after missing the 5-0 defeat to Auckland two weeks ago.
Goalkeeper Mark FULCHER returns after missing the White Ribbon Cup win over Hawke’s Bay United. Michael MAYNE and Jordan SHAW have re-signed for Waikato and are included as are Adam WALLIS and Mohammed AWAD.
YoungHeart Manawatu managed just one win in last season’s competition – a 5-2 win over Waikato FC. Their biggest win over Waikato FC was a 6-1 demolition job recorded in 2006.
The vital statistics: Waikato FC have won four and lost five out of nine away matches with YoungHeart Manawatu. Waikato FC’s biggest win over Manawatu was a 4-0 victory notched up in 2004.
ASB Premiership - Round 5,
Sunday 11 December, 2011
1-Matt BORREN (GK)
1-Mark FULCHER (GK)
10-Cory CHETTLEBURGH (c)
10-Adam THOMAS (c)
12-Andrew DRAKE (A) (GK)
12-Danyon DRAKE (GK)
17-Jordan MARTENS (A)
21 Tyler BOYD