By John Donnachie / asbpremiership.co.nz
CHRISTCHURCH - High-flying Hawke's Bay United visit Christchurch on Sunday, seeking redemption, after one of their most humiliating defeats in recent memory.
The bay were embarrassed by Canterbury 7-0 in February, in a match coach Chris Greatholder described as “freakish”.
This weekend, Greatholder and his troops return to ASB Football Park with a new-found belief built around their impressive unbeaten start to the season.
Greatholder, the ASB Premiership manager of the month, believes the Napier side is better prepared this time to cope with an expectant Canterbury onslaught. Though, he admitted it would be an acid test for his team.
“It will be a good test and matches like this will define our season. It was not nice the last time we played there, while we were never going to win, we did not deserve to lose that way. It just happened, you live and learn.”
Greatholder has reason to be optimistic. Some shrewd transfer dealing close season has paid dividends already. The acquisition of explosive talents of Dakota Lucas and Sean Lovemore, coupled with the experienced Cole Peverley, and English import Connor Tinnion, has sparked the best start to a campaign in years.
He said “We have good strength in-depth now.We have actually missed 3 or 4 players since the start of the season and in the past we would have struggled. [But]there is a buoyant mood about the squad.”
Staying in-touch with the ASB Premiership summit, will be key to the club finally breaking their play-off duck. And Greatholder said expectations are rising in the Bay.
“ There is a lot of excitement up here after the good start. But we have done nothing yet. People do expect us to win games now and the top 4 is definitely our aim this season.”
Team-wise, the Bay have are no major worries, although Connor Tinnion has a hamstring niggle. Jarrod Smith is unavailable, but Harley Rodeka returns after suspension.
For Canterbury coach Keith Braithwaite,a win first and foremost is his wish. Anything else will be a bonus in a match he believes will be very tight.
“It will be a tough contest. A goal for either side could be the difference. It is a home match for us so we need to be confident, and make sure we do the business,” he said.
The Dragons prepared for the showdown with an entertaining 3-2 win against the Wellington Phoenix reserves midweek. They rested key players during the match with the captain Aaron Clapham coming off at half-time due to a niggle.
Braithwaite said his team selection would be determined by Thursday night's light training session.
Kick off on Sunday, 2pm at ASB Football Park
Hawke's Bay United
Russell KAMO was named ASB Premiership Player of the Month for November, while team-mates Dan TERRIS and Aaron CLAPHAM were included in the ASB Premiership Team of the Month.
Coach Chris GREATHOLDER won ASB Premiership Coach of the Month as three of his squad – Sean LOVEMORE, skipper Bill ROBERTSON and midfielder Conor TINNION – were all included in the ASB Premiership Team of the Month for November.
Canterbury United smashed Hawke’s Bay United 7-0 in the corresponding fixture last season with George SLEFENDORFAS grabbing five goals during the ASB Football Park rout.
Hawke’s Bay United last won in Christchurch back in 2009 when they thrashed Canterbury 4-0.
ASB Premiership - Round 5
Hawke's Bay United
Sunday 2 December, 2012
1- Tom BATTY (GK)
1- Richard GILLESPIE (GK)
2- Dan TERRIS
2- Aaron JONES
3- Vlad BAYREV
4- Danny WILSON
5- Tom SCHWARZ
5- Bill ROBERTSON (c)
6- Chris MURPHY
6- Stephen HINDMARCH
7- Darren WHITE
7- Matt HASTINGS
8- Aaron CLAPHAM
8- Cole PEVERLEY
9- Dimitar BAYREV
10- Stephen HOYLE
10- Russell KAMO
11- Conor TINNION
12- Andy BARTON
12- Harley RODEKA
14- Josh SMITH
16- Sean LOVEMORE
15- Julyan COLLETT
17- Fergus NEIL
16- Ash WELLBOURN
19- Rudi BAUERFIEND
20- Ken YAMAMOTO
21- Matt BRUIN
22- Adam HIGHFIELD (GK)
22- Angus KILKOLLY
24- Cory MITCHELL
23- Luke CHAPMAN
25- Danyon DRAKE (GK)