Flo MacIntyre will miss today’s game against Wharfies. PHOTOS/FILE

FOOTBALL

CHRIS COGDALE
chris.cogdale@age.co.nz

Tumu ITM Wairarapa United Women’s coach Paul Ifill is fuming over having to play a potential championship winning game against Waterside-Karori [Wharfies] away from Memorial Park today.

The game has been shifted to Hullena Park to make way for the Wairarapa-Bush-Wellington Samoans Heartland Championship warm-up game on Memorial Park.

Ifill said playing on grass negated any home advantage his team would have had playing on the artificial turf.

“We’ve never played on Hullena Park and the Wharfies play on grass for their home games, so that swings the game in their favour.”

United share the W-League lead with Wellington United Diamonds but have an inferior goal difference of 24 compared with 31.

If the Diamonds beat Western Suburbs, United must win big to lift the trophy. A United loss would open the door for Wharfies, who have a game in hand, to claim second place.

If the Diamonds draw, or are beaten, a United victory would see the trophy come to Masterton.

Ifill said his team would be taking a positive attitude into the game.

“We’ve agreed as a group to have a real go at scoring as many goals as possible and see if we can do it.

“Obviously, I’ll keep an ear on what’s happening in the Wellington game and if they’re a few goals ahead, we’ll do what we have to and stay in second.

“I think everyone who has seen us would say we’re better than a third-place team.”

Ifill expects Wharfies to set up defensively and try and catch United, who won the first round game 3-2, on the counter.

Veteran striker Meisha Boone and midfielder Flo MacIntyre will miss the game with other commitments.

The game will kick off at Hullena Park at noon.

Regardless of the result, Ifill will head almost immediately to Memorial Park to prepare for the Jaycar Wairarapa United men’s last game of the Central League against Lower Hutt City.

Ifill has been struggling with symptoms of concussion suffered in the 1-1 draw with Napier City Rovers on June 29, which was United’s last home game.

However, he was confident of going the distance in a game which could decide United’s future in the Central League.

United are jointly camped at the bottom of the table with Wellington United on three points but with a vastly superior goal difference of minus 56 compared with minus 109.

Jonty Roubos has been in outstanding form for Wairarapa United.

If Wellington lose to Miramar Rangers, as would be expected, United would be safe.

But if Wellington pull off a major surprise with a win or draw, United would need to match that result to stay in the Central League.

How United approach the game could depend on proceedings in the Wellington-Miramar game.

With that game starting 45 minutes before theirs, United will have a fair idea on what they need to do before they kick-off.

United coach Cory Chettleburgh is looking for the side to continue their better form shown in recent weeks.

“We targeted the second half of the season to improve our results.

“We got a few hidings in the first round, 10-0 to Olympic and 9-0 to Napier and Miramar, but we’ve improved on those results in the second round, with a draw to Napier and a couple of close losses.

“We’ve got young guys like Jonty [Roubos], Josh [Rudland] and Connor [Turton], who have made huge strides, and we’ve been playing some good stuff,” Chettleburgh said on Thursday.

“We lost to Lower Hutt 6-1 away and we’ll be looking to improve on that result. If we play the right way for the full 90 minutes, we’re capable of winning.”

The Eva Francis Memorial Trophy will also be up for grabs. United are the holders and Lower Hutt need to win the game to take the trophy, named in honour of the late wife of former Masterton mayor Bob Francis.

The match is scheduled to kick off at Memorial Park at 3.45pm.