Cory Chettleburgh. PHOTOS/FILE

FOOTBALL

CHRIS COGDALE
chris.cogdale@age.co.nz

It doesn’t get any easier for Wairarapa United as they head into one of the toughest away trips in the Central League.

Defending champions Napier City Rovers have started the season with three victories and will be hotly favoured to make it four in a row against an inexperienced Wairarapa United at Bluewater Stadium this afternoon.

Wairarapa United player-coach Cory Chettleburgh will be looking for more consistency from his team.

In all three games this season, United have looked good and played well for a half. Even in the 10-0 loss to Olympic, United held their own in their first half despite conceding three goals.

In the 3-2 defeat to North Wellington, United dominated the second half and were unlucky not to get a draw.

Last weekend against Waterside-Karori, they conceded four second-half goals after leading 2-1 at halftime.

Individual errors at crucial times and in dangerous positions have been United’s undoing and Chettleburgh wants more concentration from his players.

“It’s a big learning curve for the young players, but if we stick to our structures, cut out the individual mistakes and be patient, we will get results.”

Captain Daniel Allen will be key to Wairarapa United’s chances against Napier City Rovers

Much of United’s play revolves around their experienced quartet of midfielder Chettleburgh, Paul Ifill, who is always a threat when given the chance to roam freely, captain Daniel Allen [defence], and Cameron Lindsay in midfield.

French midfielder Hugo Delhommelle also showed enough last week to suggest that he can be a major attacking weapon for United.

Napier City Rovers coach Bill Robertson will no doubt be aware of the threat these players pose, and will surely put in place plans to restrict their time on the ball.

Rovers do boast a powerful line-up, including a large contingent of players with National League experience.

One player United will need to shut down and limit his time and space is prolific goal scorer and last year’s Golden Boot winner, Martin Bueno.

The Uruguayan scored 26 goals in 18 games for Rovers last season.

On top of that, he scored 12 goals in 15 games for Hamilton Wanderers in the National League, taking his overall tally to 38 goals from 33 games over the winter and summer seasons.

A familiar face, former Wairarapa United goalkeeper Alex Britton, is likely to be the custodian for Rovers.

Last season, Napier City Rovers won both fixtures, winning 2-1 at home to seal the championship and coming from behind in a 7-5 thriller in Masterton.

The Bob Hullena Memorial Trophy, contested between the two clubs, is also up for grabs.

Rovers hold the trophy and United must win to bring it home.