By David Gearey / asbpremiership.co.nz
NAPIER - Winless Otago United travel north to Napier this Sunday to take on the unbeaten Hawke's Bay in a match both sides had been targeting for maximum points.
The respective managers have had contrasting starts to their ASB Premiership campaigns, and points are becoming desperate for both franchises despite where they are sitting on the league table.
Hawke’s Bay’s Chris Greatholder is buzzing with his side's record start to an ASB Premiership season and would love to see his troops continue in their rich vein of form.
“Confidence is sky high, we are now placing a big emphasis on creativity and becoming more expansive going forward.” Greatholder said.
But it’s not only the players who are excited by their start this season. The manager himself is also just as animated about what could lie ahead.
“There's more to come, there's absolutely no doubt about that.”
“We will respect Otago, as they've put in some good performances so far this season, but mindful that we need to get as many points on the board as soon as we can to start shaping our season," he added.
Hopeful that performances will start to earn his side valuable points is Otago United coach Richard Murray.
The southerners are yet to pick up a solitary point this season despite having done enough in previous weeks to at least be sitting mid table.
Having been cruelly denied the huge scalp of Auckland City a fortnight ago, Murray’s side were then deprived of any points after finishing the stronger of the two sides in the all Southern derby last weekend.
The Otago coach is very wary that although slow starts are not ideal, teams can bounce back and get themselves into playoff contention very quickly.
“In the games against Auckland and Canterbury we showed encouraging signs and were unlucky to walk away without points” Murray said.
“We are improving and aren't far away, and as Wellington and Canterbury showed last year, a slow start doesn't necessarily mean you are out of the race," Murray said.
Murray will be mindful that further improvement could indeed halt the high flying Hawke’s Bay dead in their tracks and more importantly slingshot his side up the league ladder.
“We are at opposite ends of the table and Hawke's Bay will be brimming with confidence but we will approach this game like the others, where we look to build on the week before.”
“We proved to ourselves that we are capable of matching the top teams and that we aren't far away.” Murray added.
Otago will make the long trip South with the addition of Regan Coldicott who returns from suspension meanwhile Hawke’s Bay will look to field an unchanged squad with Dakota Lucas and former All White Jarrod Smith both still side lined with injuries.
On a positive note for the home side, Dakota Lucas had surgery mid week and will be hopeful for selection after Christmas.
The match takes place at Bluewater Stadium this Sunday afternoon with kick off at 2pm.
Hawke's Bay United
Regan COLDICOTT returns from suspension
Tui KENNEDY, Josh MARGETTS (injured) and Harley RODEKA (suspended) miss out. Dakota LUCAS, Ross HAVILAND and Jarrod SMITH are all injured.
James GOVAN (unavailable) and Jake MORRISON (injured) join Victor da COSTA (injured) on the sidelines for the visit to Napier.
Dakota LUCAS underwent surgery and is available from January 2013.
Hawke’s Bay United has won seven and lost three of their previous ten ASB Premiership home matches with Otago United. Bay hasn’t lost to Otago at Bluewater Stadium since 2006 and is on a six match winning run in this fixture at home.
Otago United won three of their first four visits to Bluewater Stadium, Napier, after the ASB Premiership was launched in 2004-05, but it’s been a barren ground for the southern men ever since with six consecutive defeats in Napier in a row.
Hawke's Bay United
ASB Premiership - Round 4
Sunday 25 November, 2012
1- Richard GILLESPIE (GK)
1- Liam LITTLE (GK)
2- Aaron JONES
3- Tristan PRATTLEY
4- Danny WILSON
4- Ben FITZPATRICK
5- Bill ROBERTSON
5- Matt JOY
6- Stephen HINDMARCH
8- Seamus RYDER
7- Matt HASTINGS
10- Ant HANCOCK
8- Cole PEVERLEY
12- Aaron BURGESS
10- Stephen HOYLE
15- Tom CONNOR
11- Conor TINNION
17- Tim HORNER
16- Sean LOVEMORE
18- Scott GANNON
17- Fergus NEIL
20- Andy RIDDEN
19- Rudi BAUERFIEND
21- Joel STEVENS
21- Matt BRUIN
23- Regan COLDICOTT
22- Angus KILKOLLY
25- Craig FERGUSON
23- Luke CHAPMAN
27- Morgan DAY
26- Danyon DRAKE (GK)