By David Gearey / asbpremiership.co.nz
NAPIER - It’s now or never for Hawke’s Bay United if they are going to make a push for their first ever playoff spot when they host Otago United at Bluewater Stadium this Sunday.
After their disappointing Waitangi weekend double header, Hawke’s Bay’s coach Chris Greatholder knows that with only five games remaining in the season, winning every one from here on in is crucial.
“It looks like we will need to win at least four of our last five games to break into the top-four and we'll do as much as we can to make that happen,” Greatholder said.
Greatholder has his first chance of revenge after his coaching debut celebrations were cut short in Round 4 with a disappointing 2-0 loss away to the visitors. Full concentration is a necessity if the home side are going to reverse the result this coming weekend.
“We were poor down in Otago and we have an opportunity to address that somewhat. We performed well against Auckland last week and will be looking for the same intensity we showed. We have a set game plan which on the whole has been working well for us,” Greatholder added.
For Otago it’s a case of getting their season back on track. The visitors sit equal on points with Hawke’s Bay, but are winless in their previous 5 matches. Coach Richard Murray is realistic in his sides chances of pushing into a top 4 playoff spot.
“We are eight points off the top four with only 12 points left up for grabs. We are now in the position where we are hoping for other teams to do us a favour. Its a no brainer, we have to put ourselves in the position to capitalise on any slip ups by winning this weekend.” Murray said.
Otago are well aware that Hawke’s Bay have performed well at home this season and under new coach Greatholder they like to play an attacking but disciplined formation. Murray is under no illusions that points are easy to come by at Bluewater Stadium.
“Park Island is a fortress as Waitakere well know. We have to take the game to Hawke’s Bay and at least match their intensity. They will have marked this fixture as a must win much as we have so I expect both teams will go at it hammer and tongs,” Murray said.
He added: “Personally, this is a game that will go the way of the team that wants it more - play offs football for both teams starts this weekend.”
So both coaches have made their point loud and clear. It comes down to having that desire, who wants to push for playoffs and who wants it more than his opponent.
Both sides will be no doubt wanting to prove their worth when the match takes place this Sunday at Bluewater Stadium. Kick off is at the earlier time of 1pm.
Hawke's Bay United
Dale HIGHAM (suspended), Matt GOULD (shoulder) and Rudi BAUERFIEND (broken arm) are unavailable. Alex BARLOW has departed the club for Australia, so coach Chris GREATHOLDER names the same squad he utilised last week.
Donnie MacGREGOR, Liam LOCKHART, James GOVAN (replaced) and back-up goalkeeper Oswaldo RODRIGUEZ (unavailable) are left out.
Adam COWAN made his 130th ASB Premiership career appearance in the match with Auckland City last Monday.
Coach Richard MURRAY has lost three of his most experienced players in Tom CONNOR, Mike CUNNINGHAM and Darren OVERTON and that has shown up in Otago United’s dip in form
Bluewater Stadium is a happy hunting ground for Hawke’s Bay United when playing host to Otago United with five consecutive wins notched since 2007.
Otago United beat Hawke’s Bay at Bluewater Stadium three times consecutively between 2005 and 2007 but have lost on every visit since then. Otago United’s biggest win over Hawke’s Bay in Napier was a 3-0 victory chalked up in 2005.
Hawke's Bay United
ASB Premiership - Round 11
Sunday 12 February, 2012
1- Richard GILLESPIE (GK)
22- Peter EVANS (GK)
2- Fergus NEIL
3- Tristan PRATTLEY (c)
4- Stu WILSON
4- Jude FITZPATRICK
5- Bill ROBERTSON (c)
5- Matt JOY
6- Stephen HINDMARCH
6- Morgan DAY
7- Matt HASTINGS
7- Regan COLDICOTT
8- Adam COWAN
8- Seamus RYDER
10- Sam MARGETTS
10- Ant HANCOCK
11- Conor TINNION
14- Sam MEPHAM
14- Danny WILSON
18- Harley RODEKA
17- Tom BISS
20- Matt BROOK
18- Hamish WATSON
21- Jose CANTILLO
20- Leon BIRNIE
23- Joel STEVENS
21- Josh MARGETTS
25- Craig FERGUSON
22- Jerome GROOT
27- Aajay CUNNINGHAM
26- Shaun PETA (GK)