By David Gearey / asbpremiership.co.nz
NAPIER - Hawke’s Bay United will look to clinch their maiden playoff berth this weekend, when they host Canterbury United at Bluewater Stadium this Sunday.
The Bay are only one win away from securing that elusive dream, one they have flirted with on numerous occasions, but still yet one to experience.
Play offs have eluded the franchise, former coaches and many past players for the previous eight campaigns, but now coach Chris Greatholder and assistant Perry Cotton are on the brink of creating franchise history.
Greatholder has recruited well this season and under his management he has guided his side to an impressive seven wins to date this campaign.
Two players that have returned for their second stint with the franchise are the exciting English pair of Stephen Hindmarch and Conor Tinnion.
Both players have been instrumental for the Bay this season and the duo are loving every minute involved within their current squad.
“I’m really enjoying my second season, my first one wasn’t bad but could get a bit frustrating. But Chrissy (Greatholder) promised me it would be better this season and he was right, and it’s a really good bunch of lads to be involved with,” Tinnion said.
“I'm loving my second season here at Hawke’s Bay. I think we have had a great season so far and the gaffer has added to the squad really well and kept the core of players from last season together.” Hindmarch added.
Greatholder has not only recruited well this season, but he has also installed new values within his squad. Attitudes that have seen his side go unbeaten at home over the past year, and beliefs that now have them sitting as serious title contenders.
“There has been big changes from last season to be honest. Chrissy (Greatholder) taking charge from the start, picking his own squad and installing his philosophy on us early on has certainly helped us to be where we are today.” Hindmarch said.
He added. “I think the team has the potential to go all the way this season. With the players we have here I think we can beat anyone on our day and we have to believe that.”
“Since the first day I came back everything has been more professional, from Perry showing us how to slide tackle, to Brandon giving us high 5's every time we lift a weight. But in all seriousness everything has been brilliant, it’s such a professional environment,” Tinnion added.
But before the Bay can celebrate they need to overcome a rampant Canterbury United.
The Southerners have scored eight goals in their previous two outings, and a win would see them leapfrog the Bay on the Premiership ladder.
Hindmarch, who will line up against former All White Aaron Clapham, knows that Canterbury have not been an easy team to overcome in recent times.
“I think this weekend is going to be very tough, they have some good players. After the last two games down in Christchurch, I think a few of the boys want to put things right this weekend, and show them why we are where we are on the table.” said Hindmarch.
The playoffs could all well be wrapped up this weekend if results go that way and the Bay could be celebrating that elusive play off berth.
Hawke’s Bay will be without the suspended Fergus Neil whilst Canterbury will look to make the trip north with a fully fit squad to choose from.
The match takes place this Sunday at Bluewater Stadium. Kick off is at 2pm.
Hawke's Bay United
Conor TINNION returns from suspension.
skipper Dan TERRIS shrugs off his injury woes to take his place in coach Keith BRAITHWAITE’s line up
there is no room for in-form Jarrod SMITH who succumbs to an Achilles tendon injury. Fergus NEIL is suspended after his red card in Dunedin in Round 11.
Danny KNIGHT drops out of the squad
Cole PEVERLEY named in the ASB Premiership Team of the Month in January, also returns from suspension
Darren WHITE is walking a suspension tightrope with just one more caution earning the midfielder a seat on the sidelines.
Hawke’s Bay United are undefeated at home since Round 5 of the 2011/12 season when they lost 3-1 to Auckland City. That seven game unbeaten streak includes conceding just three goals at home this season and they set a new record for longest unbeaten run of five games in the last round.
Aaron CLAPHAM is Canterbury’s top scorer this season with six goals in ten games. The All Whites player has 25 goals in 67 games for the Dragons.
Hawke's Bay United
ASB Premiership - Round 12
1- Richard GILLESPIE (GK)
22- Adam HIGHFIELD (GK)
2- Aaron JONES
2- Dan TERRIS
3- Josh MARGETTS
4- Nick WORTELBOER
5- Bill ROBERTSON (c)
5- Tom SCHWARZ
6- Stephen HINDMARCH
7- Darren WHITE
8- Cole PEVERLEY
8- Aaron CLAPHAM
10- Stephen HOYLE
9- Russell KAMO
12- Harley RODEKA
11- Michael FIFII
15- Ross HAVILAND
12- Andy BARTON
16- Sean LOVEMORE
13- Nathan KNOX
18- Dakota LUCAS
14- Josh SMITH
19- Rudi BAUERFIEND
15- Julyan COLLETT
20- Conor TINNION
16- Ashley WELLBOURN
21- Matt BRUIN
18- Andy PITMAN
22- Angus KILKOLLY
19- Louie BUSH
25- Danyon DRAKE (GK)
20- Ken YAMAMOTO