Cory Chettleburgh, key member of the Wairarapa United midfield. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

By Gary Caffell

Wairarapa United will be at full strength for their top-of-the-table Central League football clash with Taranaki at Memorial Park, Masterton on Sunday.

Reports earlier in the week suggested that captain Sam Mason-Smith, Alex Ridsdale and Coey Turipa could all be missing because of prior commitments but coach Phil Keinzley confirmed yesterday that all three would be in the starting line-up.

With Taranaki sitting atop of the competition ladder alongside Stop Out with 10 points and Wairarapa United just a point behind them, this is a mouth-watering clash for Wairarapa United’s army of supporters as a win for their side could actually catapult them to a clear lead on the points table.

Keinzley, for his part, is confident that victory is well within his team’s capabilities but at the same time he warns that a Taranaki side who earned promotion to the league at the end of last season had already shown they were a force to be reckoned with at the higher level.

“They have beaten Olympic and Olympic beat us — I think that’s a pretty good warning sign as far as we are concerned.”

The big test for Wairarapa United would be to break open a Taranaki defence which has conceded very few goals this season.

Keinzley believes that in forwards Mason-Smith, Ridsdale, Paul Ifill and Seule Soromon, his side have enough high quality attackers to take advantage of any opportunity they have to get in behind the opposition defenders and that would be a prime objective.

A key player in the midfield for United will be Cory Chettleburgh, who was right back to his best form last weekend.

Keinzley is also keen to see improvement in Wairarapa United’s own defensive structure.

Too many “soft” goals had been scored against them in their opening three games and Taranaki were a side whose hard, physical approach would test their solidity, and their discipline.

“They’ve won a couple of games through penalties, we don’t want that to happen again.”

The Wairarapa United starting line-up is: Coey Turipa. Carl Shailer, Cameron Lindsay, Daniel Allan, Liam Heard, Callan Elliott, Cory Chettleburgh, Paul Ifill, Alex Ridsdale, Sam Mason-Smith, Seule Soromon. Substitutes: Jeshal Kumar, Liam Kerr, Thomas Wagner, Alex Cox and Scott Morris.

The learning curve for the Wairarapa United women’s team in their Central League series looks sure to continue tomorrow when they play an away match against Wellington United Diamonds.

Wairarapa United have had a 3-1 loss to Seatoun and a 9-0 loss to Palmerston North in their opening two games while Wellington United Diamonds are sharing the competition lead after a 12-0 victory over Stop Out and a 2-0 win over Seatoun.

Coach Kim Nye was pleased with the competitiveness shown by her side in the first 15 minutes of the Palmerston North Marist match, a period where they got in the faces of their opposition and clearly upset their rhythm, and she wants them to sustain that sort of effort for much longer on this occasion.

“Obviously, we don’t have the experience or the depth of most of the other teams and so we have to go out there and make it as hard for them as we can possibly can,” Nye said.

“The whole objective is to keep improving, and hopefully we can pick up a few wins along the way.”