Callan Elliot, centre, on the attack for Wairarapa United in the Chatham Cup fixture with Napier City Rovers. PHOTO/DUNCAN BROWN
By Gary Caffell
Wairarapa United’s defensive structure will come under the spotlight when they play Napier City Rovers in a Central League men’s football match at Memorial Park, Masterton on Sunday, starting at 12.30pm.
Coach Phil Keinzley raised a few eyebrows when he switched Seule Soromon from his usual attacking role into defence for the clash with Wellington United last weekend but it proved to be an inspired move.
Soromon was one of the most influential figures in a first half which saw Wairarapa United score five goals and completely shut Wellington United out of the game.
Unfortunately, however, what was deemed by the referee to be a dangerous tackle by Soromon just before the break saw him yellow carded for the second time in the game, a situation which turned that yellow into a red, and left Wairarapa United playing the rest of the match with 10 men.
And even worse, it meant that Keinzley would not be able to try the same experiment again this Sunday because of the automatic one game suspension which went with it.
Soromon’s pace and assertive approach could have come in very handy at the back against a Napier City Rovers side which will come to Masterton desperate to gain revenge for the 5-4 extra time loss they suffered to Wairarapa United in a Chatham Cup third round match just a couple of weeks ago.
The visitors have the most prolific scorer in the league, Angus Kikolly, as the spearhead of their attack and just how Keinzley will rejig his defensive line-up to cope with him and the other dangerous NCR forwards is open to debate.
Will he place faith in one of his two youngsters, Alex Cox or Liam Heard, to replace Soromon or will he move the more experienced Cameron Lindsay from midfield and bring in another talented youngster in Callan Elliot to fill the role vacated by him?
In a match where winning is vital if Wairarapa United is to continue its bid for its first ever CL title, the latter option would probably be the safest but Keinzley has never been afraid of taking risks if he deems it worthwhile so all bets are off at this stage.
It will be interesting too to see if Wairarapa United look to play on Sunday with the same early intensity as they did against Wellington United when their “in your face” approach on both attack and defence often caused huge confusion in the opposition ranks, and allowed forwards Paul Ifill, Sam Mason-Smith and Ermal Hajdari the chance to display their considerable attacking skills on a regular basis virtually from the word go.
Tactics of that type can go awry at times of course because of the emphasis they put on the speed and accuracy of the pass and the tightness of the support play and with Kilkolly and Co capable of taking full toll of any counterattacking opportunity any mistakes here have the potential to prove very costly in the end result.