It’s down to the wire
The “bad” news is that either Gisborne United or Gisborne Thistle will finish second in football’s Pacific Premiership.
The good news is the other team will be crowned champions.
The best news is that the winners will be from Gisborne.
United and Thistle play their final games in the 2019 Pacific Premiership in Hawke’s Bay tomorrow.
League leaders Heavy Equipment Services Gisborne United have their destiny in their own hands, as they play the hot-and-cold fourth-placed Eskview United at Petane Park.
Second-placed Gisborne Vehicle Testing Thistle play mid-table Napier Marist Reserves at Park Island.
In the only other Premiership game of the final round, red-hot Taradale — who in their past three games have scored 18 goals and conceded only two — are playing bottom side Hastings Western Rangers.
United player-coach Corey Adams is thrilled with his side’s performance this season. They have retained the Challenge Cup for another year, which means they did not lose a home match all season.
“To be one win away from winning the Pacific Premiership is an amazing achievement for everyone associated with our club,” he said.
He knows Eskview United away will be tough but he has faith in his players.
“Everyone in this team has played his part and lived up to expectations,” Adams said.
“I think we have played exceptional football and deserve to be where we are.”
United will need a reshuffle of their standard formation.
Malcolm Marfell is a huge loss to the team this weekend as he has commitments down south and cannot play the final fixture. Apart from Marfell, all other squad members will travel to Hawke’s Bay.
Adams paid tribute to his counterpart at Thistle, Garrett Blair.
“I give credit to Gaz (Blair),” he said.
“He brought in some quality young players and, with some more experienced older players, has built a solid squad.
“I’m a believer in the saying that results don’t lie and I think both teams belong at the top.
“I think it’s just good for Gisborne football that we have two teams fighting for the title.
“I wish Gaz and the Thistle boys all the best for their game this weekend.”
Adams is excited about the weekend. His side have trained well and are pumped for the challenge.
“It’s going to be a huge day for the club, and the boys want nothing more than to bring home silverware,” he said.
Thistle coach Blair knows all his side can do is win their final fixture and hope results go their way.
“I think, overall, the season has been good,” he said.
“We’ve played attractive football and held our own against some very good sides.
“The majority of our squad haven’t played in this league or at this level before, so to be sitting second and have the league go down to the last game is a tribute to the boys. They should be proud of their results, and the way they’ve played.
“We’ve brought in a new philosophy and a brand of possession-based football that we’ll look to continue with.”
Thistle have lost young English recruit Brandon Josling for the last game, due to ankle ligament damage suffered in the match with Western Rangers last Saturday.
A little reshuffle of the players will be all that’s needed to accommodate the loss of Josling.
Blair praised the achievements of Corey Adams and his United side.
“I have nothing but respect for Corey and the boys,” he said.
“I know all of the lads well and have huge respect for how they’ve gone this year. It really says something for football here when the two teams who can still win it are from Gisborne. United have quality across the park, and good team cohesion that they take on to the field.”
Both games will kick off in Hawke’s Bay at 3pm.