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Vital double header for Wai Utd

Jonty Roubos continues to impress for Wairarapa United. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

FOOTBALL

CHRIS COGDALE
[email protected]

Wairarapa United have their best chance of getting their first points of the Central League when they face fellow strugglers Wellington United at Memorial Park tomorrow.

The home team showed a lot of character after going down 2-0 early in the match to Stop Out on Easter Monday to come back and lose 3-2.

If they carry on in that vein, experienced player Paul Ifill believes the team will continue to improve and are capable of picking up points.

Defence has not been the strong point for either team. Wairarapa United have conceded 30 goals and Wellington United have let in 35 goals in their first five games of the league.

Wellington United did pick up their first point with a 3-3 draw against Waterside-Karori and on Easter Monday conceded a 90th-minute goal to go down 2-3 to Napier City Rovers, who had thrashed Wairarapa United 9-0 on Good Friday.

Ifill puts Wellington’s sudden improvement down to a change in playing style.

“They’re not being so expansive, they went 1-0 up in the games against Waterside and then sat 11 players behind the ball, in the box, so they’re being very defensive and trying to score on the counter attack.”

Ifill is confident such a defensive mindset won’t work against a Wairarapa side that has shown an intent to play flowing, attacking football.

If impressive young striker Josh Rudland and midfielder Jonty Roubos are given the same sort of space and time, they were given by Stop Out they could create havoc.

French midfielder Hugo Delhommelle also showed enough in that Stop Out match to indicate he will be a key component to Wairarapa United’s potential survival in the Central League, if he returns after his upcoming graduation from his American university.

And of course, there is Ifill, and enough is already known about his ability to turn even the slightest of chances into a goal.

Wairarapa United showed enough against Stop Out to win this game and they should be confident of picking up their first win of the season. Any repeat of the soft defence that has been evident in all five games would see them fall to their sixth straight loss.

The game kicks off at 3pm.

Meanwhile, that will be preceded by a blockbuster clash in the Central W-League when the Tumu ITM Wairarapa United Women, second in 2018, take on defending champion Wellington United Diamonds.

Wairarapa’s only losses in 2018 were to Diamonds and in 2019 Diamonds won their clash in the pre-season Kelly Cup 4-0 after Wairarapa lost their goalkeeper early in the match to injury.

Coach Paul Ifill is targeting winning the league but is reluctant to say this could be a decider.

“The league is a lot more competitive than last year. Western Suburbs, Waterside-Karori, Victoria University and Palmerston North Marist have recruited well, so it will be a lot tougher.”

Wairarapa’s preparation for the match has been hampered with players away, including Nina Kondo, Molly Woodhead and Anna McPhie attending national age group training camps. However, Ifill is confident they can push Diamonds.

“It will be a difficult game. They’re almost the same as last year and have picked up Emma Main, a national age group rep from Upper Hutt. But we’re good enough to get something out of this game.”

The game kicks off at Memorial Park at 12.30pm.

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