Southern United relishing chances against top sides

A tough run in to Christmas looms, but Southern United is viewing that as an opportunity, rather than a road block.

Games against Team Wellington and Auckland City in consecutive week presents an enormous challenge.

The top two sides in the national football premiership each boast quality squads which have shot to the top of the table six rounds in.

Team Wellington will be first of those challenges tomorrow, at David Farrington Park.

Southern coach Paul O’Reilly acknowledged the quality both teams posses. However it was something the side would look to embrace.

"You’ve got an opportunity to test yourself against the best young players in the country," he said.

"They’ve got some quality imports, they’re big clubs, traditionally very strong and they’ve been at the top for a while.

"But we’ve instilled a great bit of belief and we’ve instilled a real workman-like attitude and a real willingness to fight and scrap for everything.

"So as much as it’s an opportunity to test ourselves, I’d like to think they’re in a position where they’re not looking forward to playing us."

O’Reilly was thrilled with how the team had started the season.

It had picked up 10 points in its opening six games — three points of which were lost in the protest from Tasman United.

He felt if the side could pick up 10 points in every block of six matches, it would give itself a good chance of making the top four.

Its attack in particular has been lethal, something Southern has emphasised this season.

"That’s been pleasing the players have stuck to that," O’Reilly said.

"We’ve had spells in games we’ve been really good in possession and we’ve been a threat.

"It’s definitely more pleasing to the eye and it’s definitely more attractive and enjoyable to be part of.

The experienced players had had a big part to play in that, but so, too, had some some youngsters who had come in.

Youngster Cam McKenzie had been outstanding, forming a strong front three with Joel Stevens and Garbhan Coughlan.

Defenders Jordan Spain and Tim O’Farrell were another young pair O’Reilly felt had impressed.

The squad was in good health and lively attacker Andy Mulligan is back, having had his transfer cleared.

The Irishman has returned to Dunedin and is working as a barber.

He had played for Southern in 2016-17, but left after rupturing his ACL in the following season’s preseason.

After living in France and having a stint in Ireland with Waterford FC, he reached out to O’Reilly, feeling he had unfinished business.

O’Reilly was thrilled to have him back and said he would add plenty of spark to the team.


National premiership

Southern United v Team Wellington
David Farrington Park, Wellington
Tomorrow, 2pm


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