By Bob Pearce / asbpremiership.co.nz
AUCKLAND - Auckland City have become victims of their own success and they will have to dig deep to maintain their two-point lead in the ASB Premiership this weekend.
First up they take on crosstown rivals Waitakere United at Kiwitea St on Saturday. On Monday they will be in Napier to play a catch-up game against a resurgent Hawkes Bay United team.
The Aucklanders are unbeaten in New Zealand this season but suddenly they face the possibility that what was once a four-point lead in the Premiership with a game in hand could be wiped out in the space of three days.
Waitakere, who had their season’s low point in Napier a couple of weeks ago, know that victory at Kiwitea would put them top of the Premiership. Hawkes Bay could do them a favour by securing their second Auckland scalp, even though they also have to double up.
The pressures of travelling to Japan for the World Club Cup while also competing in the ASB Premiership and O-League have clearly stretched even Auckland City’s talented squad. They have already played a gut-busting three games in eight days, culminating in a scoreless draw with Waikato United.
Success for the team has conversely weakened their squad. Spaniard midfield maestro Andreu Guerao was always going to pick up a professional contract after Japan. The defence has been further weakened by Ian Hogg’s successful trial in Sweden and Sam Campbell’s recruitment across the Tasman.
Into the squad, but short of fitness, comes old stalwart Riki van Steeden, best remembered for the goal that secured fifth place for City at the Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi.
Auckland managed a 1-1 draw in their last outing on Sunday against Team Wellington in the capital, a result which coach Ramon Tribulietx describes as “expectable.”
“They are one of the best teams in the competition and they really threatened us at set pieces,” he said. “The games are much more difficult in the second part of the season.
“Waitakere are a very dangerous team. In the first two games of the season we beat them. But they will have worked out new ways to play us. It’s a little unfair that we have to play again on Monday but we are victims of our success.”
The only fitness cloud is over Adam Dickinson, who is recovering from a twisted knee. Luis Corrales is available for selection again after suspension.
For Waitakere coach Neil Emblen Auckland’s unbeaten record adds spice to what is always a tasty encounter with a traditional foe.
“They’re unbeaten and will be defending that record. Teams sometimes don’t know how to lose. But when all of a sudden they haven’t got that record to hang on to, things change. Hopefully we’ll be the first team to take that record away. We know we can go top of the league and that is a great incentive for us.”
Waitakere put memories of their Hawkes Bay loss to rest with a 5-0 defeat of Otago United at Fred Taylor Park.
But Auckland will be a different proposition and Emblen believes his team can and must improve for what promises to be a season-deciding encounter.
Luis CORRALES returns from suspension
Steven HOLLOWAY, Ross HAVILAND and Ryan de VRIES are included in the match day squad
Youngster Simon ARMS makes way.
Aaron SCOTT remains on the injured list.
Auckland City’s biggest win in this fixture was a 5-1 victory in the 2005-06 season. Auckland City coach Ramon TRIBULIETX names an extended squad with two matches in three days, Hawke’s Bay Monday’s opponents in Napier.Alex FENERIDIS will make his 45th ASB Premiership career appearance, if selected.
Coach and stop-gap player Neil EMBLEN dropping out of contention.
Auckland City has won seven, drawn two and lost two of its Super City derbies with Waitakere United on home turf. Auckland City’s biggest win in this fixture was a 5-1 victory in the 2005-06 season.
Waitakere United has won two and lost two of its previous four ASB Premiership Super City derbies with Auckland City. This includes a 3-1 win at Kiwitea Street and a 3-2 ASB Premiership Grand Final victory last season.
ASB Premiership - Round 10
1- Jacob SPOONLEY (GK)
1- Danny ROBINSON (GK)
5- Angel BERLANGA
2- Jason ROWLEY
6- Chad COOMBES
4- Tim MYERS
7- James PRITCHETT
7- Martin BULLOCK
8- David MULLIGAN
8- Chris BALE
9- Manel EXPOSITO
10- Allan PEARCE
10- Luis CORRALES
11- Ross McKENZIE
11- Daniel KOPRVIC
12- Roy KRISHNA
13- Alex FENERIDIS
14- Andy BEVIN
14- Adam DICKINSON
15- Gagame FENI1
15- Ivan VICELICH (c)
17- Jake BUTLER (c)
16- Albert RIERA
18- Steven HOLLOWAY
17- Adam McGEORGE
20- Ryan de VRIES
20- Emiliano TADE
22- Matt UPTON (GK)
22- Andrew MILNE
25- Sean LOVEMORE
25- Mario ILICH
27- Ross HAVILAND
26- Liam ANDERSON (GK)
29- Jordan VALE
30- Rory TURNER
- enlarged squad named for double header
- two to be omitted