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United, Jags out to redeem themselves

FOOTBALL

RESILIENCE and redemption are key words for Gisborne football teams United and Thistle as they aim to rebound.

United lost 2-1 to Napier City Rovers Seconds in Hawke’s Bay and Thistle lost 2-0 to Port Hill at Childers Road Reserve last weekend.

Tomorrow, Heavy Equipment Services United play Western Rangers, of Hastings, at Harry Barker Reserve at 2.30pm.

Gisborne Vehicle Testing Thistle play Maycenvale at Hastings Sports Park at 3pm.

Thistle will be without right midfielder Sam Patterson and rightback Emerson Araya, who were sent off on Saturday.

Thistle coach Garrett Blair said Araya had been suspended for three weeks, but the initial sanctions for Patterson had him missing seven weeks.

“However, that has since changed and his case is being put forward to the disciplinary committee,” Blair said.

“We are appealing his case based on the information we’ve received from spectators as well as club members.”

United coach Corey Adams said he gave his team some hard work in training this week, but “nothing too crazy”.

He was happy with the second-half performance last weekend after he pushed Dane Thompson and Malcolm Marfell from defence into midfield and Josh Harris from midfield into a striking position.

Last night he was still mulling over his options. His rightback, then centreback, from last week, Steven Husband, will be out of town but Jarom Brouwer is back and likely to feature in the midfield or up front.

As well, the squad will be strengthened by the addition of Eastern League 1 midfielder Craig Christophers. The United League 1 team are playing Lytton High School, who are coached by Christophers, so it’s one game the United stalwart doesn’t mind sitting out.

Instead he’s offered to stand by for the Pacific Premiership team, and Adams has gratefully accepted the offer.

Sweeper Kieran Higham is a doubtful starter for tomorrow after a hamstring injury curtailed his training this week. Christophers could probably do a good job at sweeper if called upon. He reads the game well, tackles strongly and can organise the players around him. On top of that, he has a midfielder’s passing ability.

Harris, who has been troubled with a groin injury this season, trained well this week and appeared to be untroubled by the injury.

At Thistle’s Tuesday training, the message was that this weekend was about redemption, and that the players needed to recover quickly if they were to stay in the title race, Blair said.

“This had them raring to go, and Tuesday’s session was one of the sharpest we’d had.”

Blair said Daniel Venema could move across to rightback in place of Araya, while Ema Martos could drop into a central defensive role.

Options for midfield included the use of either Ashley McMillan or Charlie Morris alongside skipper Nick Land.

Brandon Josling could shift from the left flank to his favoured right side and a new player, Justo Rodriguez, from Argentina, could play on the left.

Blair said that young players Travis White and Janai Randall would both be away so the Thistle bench would look “a tad different”.

“Last year in this fixture Maycenvale beat us 1-0 and ultimately that cost us the league,” Blair said.

“The boys don’t want a repeat and are looking to forget last week and come out firing this weekend.

“The measure of a team is how well they can bounce back from defeat and with this group of lads I think we can do that.

“Last week we lost all over the park but we lost the midfield battle first.

“That’s absolutely key to a game — winning that midfield battle.”

COMMITTED: Gisborne United’s Jarom Brouwer (right) contests a tackle with a Napier City Rovers Seconds player at Harry Barker Reserve last year. After a week away, Brouwer will be back in the United line-up tomorrow. File picture by Liam Clayton