Football: Otago seeks to break drought

The hurt from last week's result continues for Otago United, with Regan Coldicott suspended for tomorrow's ASB Premiership match against Canterbury United in Christchurch.

Coldicott was sent off in the 3-1 loss to Auckland eight minutes from the final whistle, when Otago United was leading 1-0.

Otago will miss the pace and penetration of Mosgiel's flying winger, and coach Richard Murray's midfield will also be without Victor da Costa due to a knee problem, and striker James Govan is unavailable.

Into contention come Benjudah Fitzpatrick and Sam Mepham, whose combative attributes could be handy in a South Island derby which usually creates gushes of adrenalin both on and off the field.

Otago United has now gone 11 premiership matches without a win but can view a derby match with its nearest neighbour as the ideal chance to end that barren run.

It has been three years since Otago had success in Christchurch when two goals by Aaron Burgess gave the blue and golds a 2-1 win.

Perhaps that in itself is an omen, with Burgess back in the Otago strikeforce.

Last week, against winless Wellington, Keith Braithwaite's Canterbury side enjoyed Julyan Collett's 13th minute goal - after a mazey run into the box beat two players - which was enough to produce a 1-0 win, giving Canterbury its first points of the season.

The victory leaves Canterbury in fifth place on goal difference behind Manawatu, which lost 4-2 at Hawkes Bay United.

Braithwaite has new additions to his squad this season: Ricky Hulbert, Chris Murphy, Ash Welbourne, Michael Fifii, Danny Knight, Vladimir Bayrev and brother Dimitar, and he was confident they would perform well for the Christchurch side.

Aaron Clapham and Russell Kamo will play their 50th games for Canterbury United tomorrow.

Otago looks a bit sparse compared to Canterbury, but teams can only field 11 men, and with spirit and organisation, great things can be done - as was shown for 95% of last Sunday's game.

Even after a couple of games, players such as Matt Joy and Joel Stevens have found a new level of form, and Liam Little has already made some top class saves that could turn games in Otago's favour.

In fact the whole defence, with a hard-working shield in midfield, is capable of making life difficult for any opposition.

The pattern worked against Auckland, with a several classic breakaways, and will be a major key for tomorrow's match.

Murray said it was important to keep the defence in tact and not concede early.

"We've just got to dig deep and do it again. This is a derby match we want to win."


Otago United v Canterbury
Christchurch, tomorrow, 2pm

Otago United: Liam Little, Sam Mepham, Jake Morrison, Thomas Connor, Tristan Prattley (captain), Scott Gannon, Benjudah Fitzpatrick, Andrew Ridden, Matt Joy, Joel Stevens, Seamus Ryder, Peter Evans, Ant Hancock, Craig Ferguson, Aaron Burgess, Morgan Day

Canterbury United: Tom Batty, Dan Terris (captain), Vlad Bayrev, Nick Wortelboer, Tom Schwarz, Darren White, Aaron Clapham, Russell Kamo, Dimitar Bayrev, Michael Fifii, Josh Smith, Julyan Collett, Ashley Wellbourn, Ken Yamamoto, Aaron Spain, Adam Highfield

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