#SSPremiership preview

Hawke's Bay United will look to finish the Stirling Sports Premiership in strong form to make the playoffs.

There is plenty on the line in the Stirling Sports Premiership this weekend as we wrap up Round 17 and begin Round 18. The minor premiership is on the line as Auckland City FC host Eastern Suburbs at Kiwitea St. Hawke’s Bay United are looking for a strong finish at home to make the playoffs and Waitakere United are looking to back up their impressive win last week over Auckland City when they take on the Wellington Phoenix U-20s at QBE Stadium.

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Hawke’s Bay United vs Southern United
Bluewater Stadium, Napier
Saturday 4 March, 12pm
#SSPremiership #HBvSU

Referee: C Kerr
Assistant Referees: T Pedley, M Stoneman
Fourth Official: A Riley

Squads

Hawke’s Bay United: 1. Joshua Hill (GK), 2. Sean Liddicoat, 6. Alex Palezevic, 7 Corey Chettleburgh 9. Facundo Barbero, 10. Sam Mason-Smith, 11. Saul Halpin, 12. Ross Willox, 13. Ethan Dent, 14. Martin Canales Ramos, 15. James Hoyle, 16. Angus Kilkolly, 17. Fergus Neil, 22. Daniel Mulholland, 26. Ruben Parker (GK)
Coach: Brett Angell

Southern United: 1. Josh Dijkstra (GK), 2. Conor O’Keeffe, 5. Stephen Last, 6. Danny Ledwith, 7. Eric Molloy, 8. Michael Hogan, 9. Harley Rodeka, 10. Danny Furlong, 11. Andy Mulligan, 12. Sam Cosgrave, 13. Hamish Cotter, 14. Ross Howard, 16. Tom Stevens, 21. Riley Anderton, 24 Jack Pirie 25 Ben O’Farrell
Coach: Paul O’Reilly

Lowdown

In fifth place and four points off the top four, Hawke’s Bay appear to be the dark horses in the four-way race for the three remaining play-off spots. But if you dig a little deeper, their prospects increase dramatically. Brett Angell’s side have a game in hand on two of their play-off rivals – Waitakere United and Eastern Suburbs – and, with their final pair of matches against the two lowest-placed teams in the league, have a very favourable ending to the regular season. In a further boost, both of those games are at home while the Bay will also have the benefit of Angell being back on the sidelines after serving his four-match ban. With so much in their favour, Angell will be hugely disappointed with his men if they fail to claim all six points, especially as they are currently on a good run of form. A 2-1 reversal at Canterbury United two rounds ago was their first defeat since a narrow loss to Waitakere in early January, a spell which included memorable wins over title contenders Auckland City and Eastern Suburbs. Southern United coach Paul O’Reilly can only dream of such a run and, despite showing great signs of progress this season, his side have won just three matches. They desperately need a positive outcome here as they look to inch away from bottom spot.

Quotes

“We need to win both of our final games. We can only control what we can control. Southern on Saturday is our next game and we need three points so that is what we are going for. Whatever else happens is out of our control.” Hawke’s Bay United Coach Brett Angell

“Hawke’s Bay are a good side but on our day we can beat anyone, we’re aiming for an upset. We can battle and make chances, but the quality of our set-up play and final strike at goal needs composure. We can do it at training, now we must apply it on Saturday.” Southern United coach Paul O’Reilly

Listen to audio from an interview with Hawke’s Bay United coach Brett Angell

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Wellington Phoenix U-20 vs Waitakere United
QBE Stadium, Auckland
Saturday 4 March, 4.45pm
#SSPremiership #WPvWU

Live on SKY Sport

Referee: A-M Keighley
Assistant Referees: H Tutbury, M Batoor
Fourth Official: C Mills

Squads

Wellington Phoenix U-20: 20. Lewis Italiano (GK), 12. Adam Parkhouse, 15. James McGarry, 24. Logan Rogerson, 25. Sarpreet Singh, 26. Jack-Henry Sinclair, 29. Liam Wood, 30. Oliver Sail, 31. Sam Philip, 32. Jake Williams, 34. Benjamin Mata, 36. Oliver Whyte, 37. Liberato Cacace, 38. Ruairi Cahill-Fleury, 39. Matthew Conroy
Coach: Andy Hedge

Waitakere United: 1. Pirmin Strasser (GK), 2. Scott Hilliar, 4. Ethan Galbraith, 5. Julyan Collett, 6. Chris Bale, 7. Stefen Thelen, 8. Rory Turner, 12. Dan Morgan, 13. Ryan Cain, 14. David Parkinson, 15. Pascal Reinhardt, 17. Jake Butler, 19. Dylan Manickum, 20. Keegan Linderboom, 23. Jake Porter, 28. Liam Anderson (GK) Coach: Chris Milicich

Lowdown

With this being their last fixture of the round robin, it’s do or die for Waitakere here and they must chase all three points if they are to make sure of a play-off berth. Depending on other results, they may still be able to sneak into the top four with a loss but coach Chris Milicich won’t want to run the risk of leaving his side’s fate in the hands of others. Despite being the away team, Waitakere will have home advantage in a way as the match is being played at Auckland’s QBE Stadium – a venue very familiar to Waitakere from last season – due to it being a curtain-raiser for the Wellington Phoenix first team’s game against Perth Glory in the A-League. The ‘visitors’ will also be going in on a high after earning their biggest ever Super City derby victory against Auckland City and completing a rare double over their cross-town rivals in the process. With the Phoenix eleven points off the top four and not eligible to take part in the play-offs anyway, Andy Hedge’s youngsters have only personal development to play for but that is the main purpose of the team anyway. Hedge has not been happy with several of the side’s performances in the second half of the season, particularly in their most recent match – a 7-2 humbling by Hawke’s Bay. He felt the squad’s more senior players did not step up to the task in that damaging defeat and will be expecting much more from them this weekend.

Quotes

“We need to win. Because if we get anything less, and Hawke’s Bay and Suburbs win then we could end up fifth. If we win then we can win the league and if we don’t win then we could come fifth so this is the tightest league for many years. We know that we need to win and even a draw won’t be good enough because we don’t have a good head to head record with Hawke’s Bay.” Waitakere United coach Chris Milicich

Listen to audio from an interview with Waitakere United coach Chris Milicich

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Auckland City vs Eastern Suburbs
Kiwitea Street, Auckland
Sunday 5 March, 3pm
#SSPremiership #ACvES

Referee: P Linney
Assistant Referees: S Merriman, P Zhang
Fourth Official: A Maharaj

Squads

Auckland City: 1. Enaut Zubikarai (GK), 2. Marko Dordevic, 3 Takuya Iwata 4. Mario Bilen, 5. Angel Berlanga, 6. Cameron Howieson, 7. Reid Drake, 10. Ryan De Vries, 13. Alfie Rogers, 14. Clayton Lewis, 15. Mario Ilich, 16 Daewook Kim, 17. Joao Moreira, 18. Danyon Drake (GK), 19. Micah Lea’alafa 20. Emiliano Tade, 21. Harry Edge, 22. Abdulla Alkalisy, 25.
Coach: Ramon Tribulietx

Eastern Suburbs: 12. Silvio Rodic (GK), 2. Hayden Johns, 4. Ross Haviland, 7. Tim Payne, 8. Moses Dyer, 11. Armin Pasagic, 13. Jordan Vale, 14. Andrew Blake, 15. Henry Chikere, 17. Charl Compaan, 18. Tristan Prattley, 20. Derek Tieku, 22. Ross Langworthy, 24. Calvin Opperman, 25. Michael O’Keeffe (GK), 36. Fabien Kurimata
Coach: Malcolm McPherson

Lowdown

The outcome of this contest will have a huge bearing on this year’s honours as a win would give Auckland City the minor premiership title while Eastern Suburbs are likely to need at least a point to ensure their campaign extends past the regular season. Suburbs are currently holding that fourth and final play-off spot but will be fully aware that fifth-placed Hawke’s Bay are just four points behind and have two games left against theoretically weaker opposition. Needing to keep their season alive at the home of the competition’s most successful club is not an ideal scenario for Suburbs but they are at least meeting Auckland at a good time with three members of the hosts’ regular starting line-up out due to suspension. Fabrizio Tavano, Albert Riera and Darren White all saw red as the Navy Blues lost a bad-tempered Super City derby 4-1 to Waitakere last weekend and they will need to regain their composure as the season enters a crucial phase. After an excellent start to their debut campaign, Suburbs hit a few speed wobbles mid-season but have put themselves back on track in recent weeks by winning three of the last four games.

Quotes

“We had a good chat regarding what happened on Sunday and obviously that is a situation we can’t afford to get through again because if we do we give ourselves no chance of winning the game. We have to make sure we focus our energy on our football and accept the things that we can’t control as they are part of the game. I believe we have learned the lesson.” Auckland City FC coach Ramon Tribulietx

“We are looking forward to it. It is a good way to finish the minor premiership. You are going to visit the best side in this competition for the last decade. They are probably hurting as well. We are preparing properly this week for what will be an exciting game of football.” Eastern Suburbs coach Malcolm McPherson

Listen to audio from an interview with Eastern Suburbs coach Malcolm McPherson

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