By Cameron Russell / asbpremiership.co.nz
WELLINGTON - Red hot Team Wellington will tests it's ASB Premiership title credentials this Sunday when they face unbeaten Auckland City at Newtown Park.
Wellington has won three in a row, which has taken them equal on points with second place Waitakere United and Canterbury United.
Wellington coach Matt Calcott is pleased with his team’s chemistry and praised his side’s efforts away from the Capital.
“We’ve had a couple of tough trips on the road which the team’s done well in. Obviously this weekend is going to be a much tougher test but we can take a lot of confidence going into it from the last couple of results,” said Calcott.
Auckland dropped their first points of the season last weekend in a home 0-0 draw with Waikato FC.
The result came on the back of three games in eight days for Auckland. Their coach Ramon Tribulietx isn’t dwelling on the result and is focused on looking forward.
“We knew we were going to be tired after those first two games and Waikato are a very good team, but we know we’ve got two important games coming up this weekend and next,” stated Tribulietx.
One of Auckland’s reasons for sitting top of the table is there solid form at the back, conceding only four goals so far this season. Tribulietx agrees that it’s not always just about scoring goals, but also keeping control of the game.
He said: “At the end of the day we’re always thinking about attacking and a lot of people, especially older coaches, will say that everything starts from defence. Since we’re not conceding goals, it gives us confidence going forward. Although I think we play an attacking game of football, we try and keep the ball. We understand if you don’t keep the ball you will struggle at the back”.
Tribulietx is aware that Wellington’s recent form will give the home side a lift coming into this game.
He said: “We’ve got to take the game as seriously as possible. Since they’re coming off a three win break they’re going to be mentally positive about it and of course they are playing at home and know that they need three points to stay in the chase for a playoff spot. So the way to prepare is the same as always for us and we just want to play our style, play our game and get everyone ready for a battle”.
When these two sides met earlier in the season it was Auckland coming away 4-2 winners, thanks to late goals from Luis Corrales (who is suspended this weekend) and Manel Exposito.
Calcott said that his side were unlucky not to take anything from that game, but sees the result as motivation going into this weekend’s rematch.
“When you’re a young team, you’ve kind of got to learn from your mistakes. There were periods were we had Auckland on the racks a little bit, but unfortunately we couldn’t kick on and win the game”.
When asked what was needed to beat Auckland this time around, Calcott was blunt.
“You’ve really just got to have a go. I know they’ve looked vulnerable at the back recently so maybe were getting them at a good time. I think you’ve got to have longer periods of possession and need to be quite patient because when teams play them they don’t see much of the ball. We’ve got to win the ball and try and keep it for long periods of time," he said.
Auckland City has dominated this match up in recent years winning 17 out of the 22 games these sides have played (two draws and three Wellington victories).
Kick-off is at 1pm from Newtown Park this Sunday.
Michael FIFII is drafted in and in-form youngster Louis FENTON returns to the ranks.
Tim SCHAEFFERS and Michael EAGAR are both suspended for one match each.
Luis CORRALES is suspended.
Karl WHALEN will make his 115th ASB Premiership appearance. WHALEN has scored six ASB Premiership goals. Jamie DUNCAN will make his 85th ASB Premiership appearance and has yet to score a goal at this level.
James PRITCHETT will make his 110th ASB Premiership career appearance, if selected. PRITCHETT has scored three ASB Premiership career goals to date.
Team Wellington’s last home win over Auckland City was a 2-1 victory back in 2008.
Auckland City has won six and drawn one of its last seven matches with Team Wellington. Auckland has scored 64 goals in 22 matches with Wellington at an average of 2.90 goals per game. They have conceded 30.
ASB Premiership - Round 9
1- Phil IMRAY (GK)
1- Jacob SPOONLEY (GK)
3- Jamie DUNCAN
5- Angel BERLANGA
6- Darren CHERITON
6- Chad COOMBES
7- Wiremu PATRICK
7- James PRITCHETT
9- Patrick FLEMING
8- David MULLIGAN
10- Dakota LUCAS
9- Manel EXPOSITO
12- Ethan GALBRAITH
11- Daniel KOPRIVCIC
13- Karl WHALEN (c)
13- Alex FENRIDIS
15- Sam MASON-SMITH
14- Adam DICKINSON
18- Michael FIFII
15- Ivan VICELICH (c)
19- James MUSA
16- Albert RIERA
20- Luke ROWE
17- Adam McGEORGE
22- Justin GULLEY
20- Emiliano TADE
23- Louis FENTON
22- Andrew MILNE
25- Scott BASALAJ (GK)
23- Simon ARMS
- one to be added
24- Stephen CARMICHAEL
25- Mario ILICH
26- Liam ANDERSON (GK)