Alex Cox, in doubt with niggly injury. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV
By Gary Caffell
Two matches, six points.
That’s the wish list for Wairarapa United Central League football coach Phil Keinzley over Easter weekend, and nobody understands better than him that it will take some doing if his squad are to deliver the goods.
After all it would mean having to beat two of the very much best teams in the league, Western Suburbs at Memorial Park tomorrow night (kick off 5.30pm) and Napier City Rovers at Park Island on Monday.
“Yes, it’s a big ask but there’s no reason why we can’t manage it, “Keinzley said.
“It’s the old story, if we play to our potential it will happen, if we don’t it won’t.”
It’s not unreasonable to think that if Wairarapa United do come up with the maximum points they will find themselves at, or very near, the top of the competition table.
Remarkably, in a 10-team series not one of the teams picked up two wins from their opening two games.
Right now Stop Out, Lower Hutt City, Wellington Olympic, Western Suburbs and Taranaki all have 4pts from a win and a draw, Wairarapa United and Wellington United have 3pts from a win and a loss, Napier City Rovers have 1pt from a draw and a loss and Palmerston North Marist and perennial title contenders Miramar Rangers are yet to open their account.
If Keinzley had to nominate which of the two opponents he fears most over Easter he says he would probably lean towards Wests which started their season with a 1-1 draw with defending champions Wellington Olympic before edging out Napier City Rovers 2-1 last weekend.
He sees Wests as having a good mix of experienced and young players who will look to keep the ball moving with the idea of utilising their fitness to take the sting out of their opposition.
“They are a very hard team to stop when they get on a roll so it’s important for us to try and upset their rhythm early on.
“Taking the initiative away from them is vital.”
With that in mind the focus for Wairarapa United at Tuesday’s training session was to enhance their defensive structures so as to eliminate the problems exposed there during the 4-3 loss to Olympic last weekend.
“The plain truth is that if you get three goals it should be enough to win, we did that and lost so it’s obvious we have to be better defensively, especially in the area of communication.
“We have to make sure that everybody is aware of what is going on around them and acts accordingly.”
Whether the Wairarapa United starting line-up will remain the same as that for the Olympic match was still a question mark yesterday with defender Alex Cox battling a niggly injury and being bracketed with Liam Heard, who made a favourable impression coming off the bench in the opening two games.
There is also some doubt as to whether Seule Soromon will be on the bench as he has a stomach upset.
As to the Napier City Rovers match on Easter Monday perhaps the biggest test for Wairarapa United there will be to beat the Park Island hoodoo.
NCR have amassed a very impressive record at home in recent seasons and they are certain to have a vocal band of supporters behind them on a day which is a holiday for most.