Jonty Roubos … back after three-match suspension. PHOTO/FILE
Wairarapa United’s prospects of retaining their place in the Central League are in their own hands with two rounds to play.
United are two points ahead of bottom-placed Stop Out, and a win over Lower Hutt City away today could be enough to avoid relegation depending on the outcome of Stop Out’s clash with the in-form North Wellington.
United will be safe if they win at Fraser Park and Stop Out lose against fourth-placed North Wellington, who are on a four-game winning streak. Even a United draw and a heavy Stop Out loss would boost United’s chances of avoiding relegation.
What the team looks like for today’s game is unknown, with injuries and unavailability affecting coach Davor Tavich’s selections.
Veteran playmaker Paul Ifill is doubtful with a minor knee ligament strain, midfielder Cory Chettleburgh has a groin strain, midfielder Noah Boyce has a minor knee strain, and striker Seule Soromon is unavailable with family commitments.
On the positive side, Tavich is hopeful that defender Ben Ravenwood has recovered from a groin niggle to take his place on the bench and midfielder Jonty Roubos is back from suspension.
“Jonty has that much speed and ability, and he’s a very young and energetic footballer,” Tavich said.
“He’s definitely a threat to any team we play against. I think he will be hungry after sitting out three games and I’m counting on him to play a big part.”
United won the first-round encounter with Lower Hutt 1-0, with a determined second-half defensive effort.
Comprising players from the Wellington Phoenix Academy, Lower Hutt play a similar possession-based to Western Suburbs, who they drew 1-1 with in the last round, and Tavich expected a difficult challenge.
“They are a very good team, and it depends how much pressure we can put on them while they’re in possession and what we can do with the ball,” he said.
“We need to keep the ball, which we are very capable of as long as we possibly can, and then pressing up high on the pitch.
“If we can be little bit more composed in the final third, we can cause some issues for them.”
Tavich said the team was well placed to stay in the Central League if the team focus was right.
“We have the quality, and if we have the commitment, we can get something out of it.
“If we do all we need to do in our last two games, then we should be okay.
“I am hoping the boys have that mindset as well rather than looking around at what other teams are doing.”