Otago United faces another stepping stone to maturity when it
hosts Waitakere United tomorrow.
Waitakere has breezed past second-placed Auckland and now
leads the ASB Premiership by a margin of seven points, while
Otago United only has a total of six points.
Missing from the Waitakere line-up in Dunedin is the injured
Roy Krishna, who has 48 goals from 72 appearances.
Other non-starters through injury are David Mulligan and Dan
Morgan. Chad Coombes will also be absent through suspension,
and coach Paul Marshall will call on Matt Cunneen and Sam
Mathews to compensate.
But the depth in Waitakere's squad shrugs off those minor
changes, and the northerners will still be tipped to add
another intimidating chapter to its existing record against
Otago, which has beaten the champion just once in 21
Waitakere has bulldozed its way to the top of the league in
uncompromising style this season. An away win against Otago
and a defeat for Auckland City in the capital will seal the
minor premiership title for the West Aucklanders.
So, it could be a character-building match for coach Richard
Murray's young Otago side, which has its usual group of
walking wounded waiting to be rubbed and strapped by physio
Dusty Quinn for what is sure to be a physical encounter as
well as a tough mental exercise.
''We still have a few wee injury worries with Matt Joy (toe),
Victor Da Costa (ankle), James Govan (hip), Andrew Ridden
(dead leg) and Scott Gannon (hamstring).
''So things could be worse,'' Murray said with a wry smile.
Otago is also without inspirational striker Aaron Burgess,
who suffered a fractured leg during the 4-1 loss to Hawkes
Bay last weekend.
To a degree, the Otago youth team's midweek 1-0 win over the
previously unbeaten Wellington may have helped improve the
senior side's team selection. Taylor McCormack's impressive
display and well-taken goal may earn the young striker a
gallop against Waitakere.
Otago's youth team plays bottom-placed Manawatu in the
curtain-raiser at 10am. Other youngsters in the reckoning are
utility Andrew Ridden and the injury-plagued James Govan. Ant
Hancock could also aim at a return as target man.
Otago's main scoring hope is quicksilver striker Regan
Coldicott, with five goals already in his locker this season.
He will need to fire if Otago is to end the dismal run of 15
winless games against Waitakere. Otago last beat Waitakere in
the 2005-06 season, and a win tomorrow would equal the
northerners' club record of eight wins in a row.
In a flash of French inspiration, midfielder Da Costa scored
his first goal for Otago last week, after a mazy run through
trailing defenders and a superb curved shot into Hawkes Bay's
Murray could this week use the simple advice of ''encore'',
knowing the ebullient Parisian is capable of scoring against
The possible return to Dunedin of a recent Waitakere signing,
left back Tristan Prattley, could produce an interesting duel
with former team-mate Tom Connor, who likes to shunt forward
in attack. Simply put, it is a Goliath and wee Davey
confrontation, with Waitakere odds-on favourite and Otago
still searching for slingshot ammunition.
Otago v Waitakere
Forsyth Barr Stadium, tomorrow, 1pm
Otago United: Liam Little, Jude Fitzpatrick, Matt Joy,
Regan Coldicott, Seamus Ryder, Victor Da Costa, Ant Hancock,
James Govan, Scott Gannon, Sam Mepham, Tom Connor, Aajay
Cunningham, Tim Horner (captain), Andy Ridden, Zayne Officer,
Morgan Day, Taylor Mccormack, Craig Ferguson.
Waitakere United: Danny Robinson, Aaron Scott, Jack
Beguely, Tim Myers, Brian Shelley, Matt Cunneen, Milos
Nikolic, Allan Pearce, Luiz Del Monte, Tristan Prattley, Jake
Butler (captain), Sam Mathews, Ryan De Vries, Dylan
Stansfield, Masaki Nomoto, Alex Carr.