Connor Turton … returns for Wai United after serving one-match suspension. PHOTO/FILE

FOOTBALL

CHRIS COGDALE
chris.cogdale@age.co.nz

Wairarapa United can take an important step up the Central League points table with a win over Waterside-Kaori [Wharfies] at Karori Park this afternoon.

The teams are locked together on eight points, one ahead of Lower Hutt City, Stop Out, and Petone.

Wharfies have beaten North Wellington, who thumped United 6-0 three weeks ago, and Napier City Rovers, who United drew 1-1 with when reduced to nine men.

Last Sunday, United displayed an impressive defensive effort while beating Lower Hutt 1-0.

Coach Davor Tavich was thrilled with the second strong defensive showing in two games but said there was still a long way to go.

“I thought we were a bit messy on the ball, so I’m hoping this Saturday we can put the two together and be better on the ball and as resolute on defence as we were for the last couple of games,” he said.

“The midfield really have to take a little bit more care maintaining the possession and playing us out of our half because we have enough quality in this team to create some danger for the opposition.”

Injured fullback Riley Grover will miss the match, and veteran striker Seule Soromon is doubtful with a leg injury.

Striker Josh Rudland and centreback Connor Turton are available having served one-game suspensions after their red cards against Napier, but Rudland is unlikely to play because of a continuing quad injury.

Americans Scott Adams and captain Ben Watson were outstanding at the back in the win over Lower Hutt and their influence on the team is beginning to shine through, while Cameron Lindsay has made a marked difference in the midfield and on defence with his cool head under pressure.

Veteran playmaker Paul Ifill has also found a new lease of life and is becoming a constant threat to opposition defensive lines.

If United show the same determination as the past two weeks, they should be confident of coming away with an important victory.

Ifill’s role doesn’t stop with the men’s team. Before he laces up the boots at Karori Park, Ifill will coach the Tumu ITM Wairarapa United women’s side in a vital W-League game away to Petone at 11am.

United are fifth in the standings, one point behind Petone, and a win would keep them on track for a top-three finish, a target Ifill said is achievable.

“I think if you look at the games we have to play, we still have to play everybody, and we have to play Petone twice, and if we win every game from now and the end of the season, we’ll probably finish second,” he said.

Ifill will only have a squad of 14 for todays game, with injury ruling out veteran midfielder Meisha Boone [knee], midfielder Michelle Bgoni [concussion], and fullback Flo Macintyre [back], however he was confident there is enough depth to beat a Petone team he does not know much about.