Callan Elliot on the ball for Wairarapa United. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV
It never rains but it pours.
That is pretty much the case for Wairarapa United leading into their Central League men’s football match with Miramar Rangers at Memorial Park today [kick-off 5.30pm].
As if the hefty defeats suffered at the hands of two of the lesser-rated sides, Havelock North and Lower Hutt City, and the non-availability of three of their more experienced players – Brian Kaltak, Cory Chettleburgh and Hamish Watson because of their O-League commitments – was not bad enough, Tuesday night’s training session brought further unwanted news.
Literally falling foul to hamstring injuries there were Barbados international striker Shaquille Belle and ever-reliable midfielder Aaron Spierling.
Coach Phil Keinzley said they were “very unlikely” to take the field this weekend.
“They will have physio but right now it is very unlikely they will play,” Keinzley said on Thursday. “They were both limping around, and it didn’t look good.”
If Belle is out, the probability is that he will be replaced in the starting line-up by another acquisition in the Wairarapa United squad, Vanuatu international Azariah Soromon who will be keen to show why he has been dubbed as “Oceania’s wonderkid” because of his goal-scoring exploits.
Pairing Soromon with the always mercurial Paul Ifill would be a move full of exciting possibilities if they are allowed the necessary time and space to showcase their skills.
Look too for the pacey Callan Elliot to be an attacking force.
It hasn’t so much, however, been the attack which has been the problem for Wairarapa United in their past couple of games, but a leaky defence who have conceded 11 goals – six against Havelock North and five against Lower Hutt City.
Defence is clearly the area where improvement must occur and a positive in that regard should be the return of New Zealand secondary schools goalkeeper Scott Morris, a youngster who has shown immense promise in that crucial position.
Keinzley said it was “absolutely crucial” that Wairarapa United’s defence were composed and disciplined against a Miramar Rangers squad whose confidence would be running sky high after their upset 1-0 win over defending champions Western Suburbs last weekend.
“It’s the old story – there’s not a lot of value in scoring a couple of goals at one end if you are leaking three or four at the other.”
Meanwhile the Wairarapa United women’s team will face easily their toughest assignment of the 2018 season when they play defending champions Wellington United Diamonds in a W-League match at Newtown Park today.
Wairarapa United have kicked off their latest W-League campaign in superb fashion with a couple of wins and a draw having them trailing the unbeaten Diamonds by just two points.
But as coach Paul Ifill is quick to point out, they are still to prove they can be competitive against a team as accomplished as the Diamonds.
“This is a huge step up for them and it will be interesting to see how they cope,” Ifill said.
“Everything is going to happen a lot quicker and they will need to adjust to that extra pace. It’s a big ask but they’ve kept on improving so who knows what might happen.”
Ifill said the game plan would be very similar to that which has served them so well in past weeks with the emphasis being on short, accurate passing, and retaining possession for long periods.
“We know Diamonds are the sort of team who will generally make the most of any turnovers, so we need to give them as few of those as possible.”