Tui Dugan scored in United’s win over Seatoun. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

FOOTBALL

CHRIS COGDALE
chris.cogdale@age.co.nz

Wairarapa United player-coach Cory Chettleburgh is staying positive despite his team suffering another heavy defeat in the Central League.

United slumped to a 9-0 loss to Miramar Rangers on Saturday, the third time this season the team has conceded nine goals or more in a game. They remain rooted to the bottom of the points table behind fellow-strugglers, Wellington United.

Not for the first time this season, the opening goal came after an individual mistake.

Within a five-minute period in the first half, United conceded three goals and Chettleburgh said that was a worrying trend.

“Once we fall behind and it gets a little bit hard, we tend to fall to pieces, we don’t know how to manage a game yet.

“We seem to be most vulnerable when we have the ball, and that was how the first goal was scored when a mistimed pass was picked off and Miramar scored within one pass” he said.

United were without Paul Ifill, away at the Hong Kong Masters, and captain Daniel Allen, away overseas, but Chettleburgh said the team need to learn to cope when the experienced players are missing.

“The boys are disappointed how the season is going but feel that they’re doing their best.”

“On Saturday, there were only two or three guys who had started a Central League game before this season, now we have eight or nine guys who are playing their first-ever season, and they’ve showed improvement, and if they’re given the opportunity they will keep getting better.”

Chettleburgh is determined to stick with the philosophy of promoting local talent.

“A lot of other clubs get in players from elsewhere, and I could call on some other players for a favour, but I think we’re good enough and I think we’ll stay up.”

He said he isn’t worrying about what other clubs are doing. “It’s more about us, we’ve got to believe in what we can do, it’s about learning to control what we can control.”

“These kids have high aspirations and we need to keep giving them the opportunity to improve. I believe we can do it.”

Although United remain at the bottom of the Central League, the Masterton-based team remain a realistic chance of avoiding relegation.

Just one point separates United from Wellington United, who have also failed to win a game but have a significantly inferior goal difference.

United’s goal difference is minus 35 while Wellington’s is at minus 46. That could prove to be decisive in the final relegation wash-up.

While the men continue to struggle, the Tumu ITM Wairarapa United Women carry on their ruthless march at the top of the W-League.

Sydnie Williams, Amber Phillips, Meisha Boone and Tui Dugan found the back of the net as United comfortably beat Seatoun to retain their unbeaten record and a three-point lead in the championship over Palmerston North Marist and defending champions Wellington United Diamonds.

United will face one of their sternest challenges of the season on Saturday when they travel to Palmerston North to play Marist.