Meisha Boone … vital cog for Wairarapa United. PHOTO/FILE

FOOTBALL

CHRIS COGDALE
chris.cogdale@age.co.nz

Today’s W-League clash with North Wellington at Trust House Memorial Park is a step into the unknown for the Tumu ITM Wairarapa United Women.

North Wellington won promotion from the Capital premier league last season, but Wairarapa United coach Paul Ifill was reading little into that given North’s narrow loss to Western Suburbs in the first-round last weekend.

“They’ve definitely improved. We played them last season in the Kelly Cup when they were in a league below but having lost only 1-0 to Wests, they must be pretty decent,” he said.

“We played Wests the week before, and it was very tough game so what I’m hearing is they are very good defensively, so we’ll set up so we can try and break them down.”

United, who have been runners-up in the W-League to Wellington United Diamonds for the past two seasons, lost 4-2 to the defending champions in the opening round after failing to overcome conceding two early goals.

Ifill said the players needed to learn from that loss.

“Having watched a video from last week, we give the ball away a lot, and we’re not really under pressure when we do it,” he said.

“We’re not really like that and we are normally better than that. I want us to move the ball more quickly and make better decisions.”

The game is United’s first home game of the season on the Memorial Park artificial turf and Ifill saw that as a distinct advantage.

“We’re a little bit precious we don’t like playing on grass anymore.

“I think we’re so lucky, our turf is so good here and so true we sort of take that for granted and it’s a little more difficult when we go and play away on grass, so it will be a lot easier for the girls this weekend.

“The way we try and play, we like to knock it around and move the ball quickly and it definitely suits us with a faster pitch.

“Being at home, generally we get something on the turf, and I’m expecting us to get back to winning ways.

Ifill has close to a full squad to choose from for the match.

The experienced Kelsi Rutene is still not ready for play after undergoing knee surgery, however, young defender Michelle Bgoni has been cleared of concussion and may get some game time.

With Meisha Boone, Sam Whyte and Amber Phillips, if she is used in a more forward position, and with a strong midfield including Under-17 international Nina Kondo and Dani Turton, United have the firepower to create scoring opportunities, and should have too much quality across the pitch for the newly promoted North Wellington.

The match starts at 11am today at Trust House Memorial Park.



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