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United build for Central League

Scott Adams, left, clearing of the line against Napier City Rovers in 2020, will miss today’s Hilton Petone quarterfinal. PHOTO/FILE

FOOTBALL

CHRIS COGDALE
[email protected]

Wairarapa United coach Phil Keinzley is still treating the Hilton Petone Cup as part of his pre-season build-up, despite making the championship quarterfinals,

United will play Central League newcomers Wainuiomata, and Keinzley predicted a tough encounter against a team significantly changed from the side which won the Capital Premier League and beat Central Federation champions New Plymouth Rangers in the home-and-away playoff.

He said that Wainuiomata felt they couldn’t field a competitive team with the loss of their coach and their two best players.

The team are now totally run by the Porirua-based Ole Academy, who also run the Western Suburbs Central League side.

Although victory was important for team confidence, Keinzley said that this tournament is all about building for the Central League season.

“That’s totally what we’re doing,” he said.

“We’re still trying things out and playing players in different positions to see how well they start, and we’ve got a couple of new players we want to give a run.”

Among those are midfielder Harvey Parker, who played for Keinzley in the Local League championship-winning Greytown side last season.

Missing though are talented youngsters Harrison Dudley and Riley Grover, away with national Under-17 commitments, and experienced defender Scott Adams, who is out for two to three weeks with an injury.

The tournament has changed from three 30-minute periods and rolling subs used during the round-robin to the traditional 45-minute halves and usual substitution rules for the knockout phase.

The winners of today’s quarterfinal will play the winner of the Tawa-Stop Out quarterfinal in next weekend’s semifinal.

Meanwhile, Wairarapa United women’s coach Paul Ifill won’t be taking Brooklyn Northern United lightly in the first match in the defence of the Kelly Cup.

BNU play in the Wellington premier division, a league lower than United, who compete in the W-League, but Ifill was reading little into that.

“They probably won’t be the strongest, but we don’t want to be complacent, and we want to go out there and defend our title,” he said.

Today’s game at Wakefield Park is the first of the year for United, and the first outing for the club of their new recruits.

Samoan international centre-forward TJ Lyne-Lewis, Emma Megchelse, and Nicole Robertson have joined United from Palmerston North Marist, and all three will make their debut.

Their gain is offset with the loss of four players from last year’s squad – Dani Turton, Flo Macintyre, Ella Innes, and Gorgi van Lienen.

The winner of today’s game will progress to the next round of the Kelly Cup, with the loser dropping to the plate competition.

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