Friday, July 17, 2009

Metro must be at their best to retain 3-point margin at top of Division One

Metro must beat third-placed Beachside at home at North Chigwell on Saturday if they are to retain their 3-point lead over second-placed Taroona on the southern Division One ladder.

Metro will miss striker Steve McClung, who has returned to Scotland for family reasons after only a couple of appearances.

They still have their three other Scottish imports and striker Ricky Orr should be fit to resume his goalscoring spree which has seen him hit 21 goals in 11 matches.

Metro president Jim Mackinnon is reported to have stepped down, while Darrin Chaffey and Mathew Gasparin are expected to resume playing shortly.

Beachside will have Colin Wain, Sebastian Milford and Craig Pitt in their side, but Sam McDonald is out because of an ankle injury.

“Our last encounter with Metro was our best performance of the year and so we are confident of getting a victory that would cut their lead to three points,” said Beachside coach, Nathan Robinson.

If Metro do falter, Taroona can move level on points with them by defeating fifth-placed Northern Suburbs DOSA away at the Showgrounds on Saturday.

DOSA will miss centre-forward John Visentin, who is Melbourne for work, and goalkeeper Jeremy Parry.

Justin Farrugia returns to goal after several weeks out with a broken nose sustained against Hobart United, while 16-year-old Michael Langshaw retains his place in the side after a promising debut last weekend.

Steve Swift, normally a striker, played successfully as a man-marker last weekend and will be used in this role again, while 16-year-old Nick Butt will make his debut as a striker.

Taroona coach Ben Horgan is delighted that goalkeeper Tom Shepperd will be back, while Darragh Carey returns after suspension and will play at left-back to allow Chris Cox to resume in a striker’s role.

Horgan has not decided who Cox’s partner will be up front, but Toby Dove, Hamish Macgregor and Duncan Carey are all candidates.

“Last time we played them there we had a lot of possession but struggled to create many clear cut chances as it is a very small pitch and they defended very well,” said Horgan.

“We’ll need to be a bit quicker and more incisive with our passing and movement and more clinical in front of goal this time around.

“We will be strengthened defensively by the return of goalkeeper Tom Shepperd. We’ve been very unsettled in that position for the last few years really.

“Nathan Meyers is a great keeper when fit but really only intended to coach the keepers this year until I asked him to play and he’s struggling now with injuries.

“Rob Hortle and Jon Burridge have done well at times when called upon but both are still learning and it is asking a lot to expect them to hold down such a key position week in, week out.

“Provided he can stay injury-free, Tom will give us some stability there as he is a confident, unbelievably athletic shot-stopper, who is quick off his line and strong overhead.

“He played in goals for the first time in probably two years in the reserves last week and looked very sharp, like he’d never been away really.

“We’ve gotten away with some defensive lapses this season which might otherwise have proven costly. but I expect Tom will help us to improve in that area.

“I haven’t decided yet on who the striking partner will be for Chris Cox.

“I’ve got some good options in Toby Dove, Hamish Macgregor and Duncan Carey, who can all be dangerous around goal, but overall this season we’ve been poor at finishing the chances we create and these guys need to start finding the back of the net regularly to cement a spot in the side.”

The remaining match of the round us at Sherburd Park on Saturday, where second-last Christian United host fourth-placed Nelson Eastern Suburbs.

Christian will be anxious to win this game and put four points between it and bottom-side Hobart United, who have the bye.

Christian trained on Thursday night with a beach run at Blackman’s Bay because the surface at Sherburd Park was very wet.

Christian will miss Ash Page because of an ongoing knee injury which could see him out for the rest of the season and he may be replaced by Brodie Whayman, who did well after coming on as a second-half substitute last weekend.

There is an air of confidence around the Christian United camp and Nelson must be wary.

“We are very confident of a result against Nelson this week despite our numerous injury concerns,” said Christian’s Jesse Arnold.

“We felt we were very unlucky to only come away with one point in our last encounter.

“With the way the ladder sits at the moment, we have every belief in ourselves and that we can finish in fourth place.

“Currently, Nelson occupies that position with 9 points and we firmly believe we can knock them off.

“I have no doubt Taroona were shocked with the way we came out against them last week.

“We know as a group that we are improving and now it's time to show it to the rest of the division.”

Nelson will have captain and midfielder Adam Mills, as well as defender Lewis Gibbs, back this week, but Tom Roach and Nick Roberts are out through injury and illness, respectively.

Ben Gibson retains his spot in goal, and Natsuki Futumura will again be used wide on the left flank.

Centre-back Rick Chew has a knee injury that may have ended his season.

“It was a good comeback by us last week from 2-0 down against Hobart United,” said Nelson coach, Michael Roach.

“This will be another difficult match away for us, but if we can play with the intensity we showed in the second half of last week’s match, we should be able to get a good result.

“It’s good to have Adam Mills back and that will add a bit of quality to the team.

“We look as if we might be ready to show some form now, and we'll see on Saturday, I guess.”

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