By Niall Anderson / asbpremiership.co.nz
HAMILTON - Waikato FC will be hoping a change of scenery does them good as they take on Canterbury United at Centennial Park this Sunday.
Waikato haven’t played at Ngaruawahia’s Centennial Park since the 2010-2011 season, which was also the scene of their most recent win over Canterbury, a 1-0 triumph 21 months ago.
Waikato have a strong home record against Canterbury, only losing once in their last six home encounters, but points will come much harder this time around against a far stronger Canterbury team than in the past, with the Dragons having earned three straight playoff appearances under the tutelage of former All White Keith Braithwaite.
Braithwaite has been pleased with his team so far this season, but still sees room for improvement.
“We're still feeling our way along. We had a difficult start, with Auckland and Wellington away, so to get one win out of two there was pleasing.”
“We did really well in the first half against Otago but slipped away again in the second half
we're aiming to improve with every game. We do have some new faces, and are trying some new formations and players in different positions.”
Waikato have played good football to start the season and can be considered unlucky to be pointless, with several key decisions going against Declan Edge’s side in crucial moments.
Braithwaite is wary of what Waikato FC can do.
“Declan's doing a good job and he has Waikato playing the way he wants to see the game played
We just have to be patient when we don't have the ball and then do something destructive when we get it”
After a superb season last year where Canterbury finished second in the regular season, Braithwaite is wary of setting expectations too high.
“Last season was fantastic for us, we hugely over- performed and our goal this year is to try and do that again. Everyone knows Auckland and Waitakere are the two sides that are ahead of the pack and we have a wee way to go to catch them”.
One thing which will help Canterbury in that goal is the fortress they’ve been building at home, being unbeaten all of last season, but the men in red have struggled away from home, something Waikato will be looking to capitalise on.
Braithwaite points out the hectic travel hours the Southerners have to deal with, but admits that “you have to go with what's been dealt to you”.
Waikato will be hoping that Canterbury’s cards won’t be strong enough to win Sunday’s showdown.
Dave PARKINSON (ankle), Adam THOMAS (knee), Harry EDGE (foot) and Tyler LISSETTE (ankle) all succumb to injury.
Declan EDGE names the same squad that fell to Team Wellington last Sunday.
Four Canterbury players have passed the 50 ASB Premiership career appearances mark for the club this season – Adam HIGHFIELD, Aaron CLAPHAM, Russell KAMO and Nick WORTELBOER. HIGHFIELD is set for his 65th ASB Premiership career appearance on Sunday
Waikato FC boasts a healthy home record over Canterbury United in recent seasons with 4 wins, 1 draw and 1 defeat in their last six encounters. However, Waikato FC lost both clashes with the Dragons last season 5-0 and 3-0.
Canterbury United won two from two over Waikato FC last season but have found Waikato FC a tricky proposition away. Four losses in six previous visits suggest the Dragons may find Waikato FC a tough nut to crack.
ASB Premiership - Round 4
Sunday 25 November, 2012
1- Matt UPTON (GK)
1- Tom BATTY (GK)
4- Josh GREENE
2- Dan TERRIS
5- Eder FRANCHINI
3- Vladimir BAYREV
6- Sam JASPER
4- Nick WORTELBOER
7- Ryan THOMAS
5- Tom SCHWARZ
8- Bailey WEBSTER
7- Darren WHITE
9- Rory TURNER
8- Aaron CLAPHAM
3- Harley TAHAU
9- Russell KAMO
11- Jack HOBSON-McVEIGH
10- Dimitar BAYREV
12- Matt OLIVER (GK)
12- Andy BARTON
14- Sam MARGETTS
14- Josh SMITH
16- Jesse EDGE
15- Julyan COLLETT
17- Mohamed AWAD
16- Ashley WELLBOURN
18- Alexi Caroama VARELA
19- Louie BUSH
24- Adam WALLIS
24- Cory MITCHELL
23- Hone FOWLER
22- Adam HIGHFIELD (GK)