Block­buster lo­cal clash

UNITED, TATURA READY FOR A FIERCE CON­TEST

Shepparton News - - SOCCER - By Alex Mitchell

WE’RE FULL OF CON­FI­DENCE — AGAIN WE’VE MAN­AGED TO HAVE THE SAME TEAM FOR THE LAST THREE OR FOUR WEEKS AND IT HAS SHOWN. — SEAN GRANT

Two of the Bendigo Am­a­teur Soc­cer League’s most in-form sides clash to­mor­row in a gen­uine How­ley Oval block­buster.

Sec­ond-ranked Shep­par­ton United will make the trip to bat­tle Tatura hav­ing won its past five games, hav­ing kept four clean sheets in that stretch.

But the Ibises have fought through a mid-sea­son slump and re­turned to their high­scor­ing best, un­de­feated in four games scor­ing 17 goals in the process.

Head­ing to the mas­sive con­test, Tatura coach Sean Grant ac­knowl­edged the enor­mity of the task in front of his side.

‘‘De­fen­sively they work very well, so that’s why we have to be pa­tient in the build-up,’’ he said.

‘‘They’re good at break­ing teams down with their de­fen­sive struc­ture, and very de­fen­sively-minded.

‘‘But we know they’ve got some fire­power as well. I feel they’re def­i­nitely the team to beat this sea­son, they’re fly­ing high but hope­fully we can get the win.’’

United en­ters off a 1-0 derby tri­umph against Shep­par­ton, a less­con­vinc­ing win than ex­pected against the strug­gling Reds.

The Ibises on the other hand flew through their round 13 clash, thump­ing Golden City 6-0.

The con­test shapes a clas­sic at­tack-ver­sus-de­fence bat­tle, the Blues hav­ing only con­ceded eight times this sea­son.

When the sides met in round three they took the choco­lates, with Er­mal Marku and Su­ley­man Tonc scor­ing in a 2-0 win.

‘‘We’re full of con­fi­dence — again we’ve man­aged to have the same team for the last three or four weeks and it has shown,’’ Grant said.

‘‘We’ve won pretty con­vinc­ingly and played a good kind of foot­ball.

‘‘The last time we played United we had a few key play­ers miss­ing who we’ve got back, so we def­i­nitely are con­fi­dent.’’

Tatura does not ex­actly share the goals around, but has three dan­ger­ous stars up front in Lewis Coyle (12 goals in 11 games), Grant (12 in 11) and Thomas Leech (11 in 12) — col­lo­qui­ally known as ‘the big three’.

‘‘It’s just the ca­ma­raderie; off the pitch is a big part of it, it sounds cliche but it’s brother-like,’’ Grant said.

‘‘We love to have a laugh and we’re al­ways to­gether, be­fore train­ing, af­ter train­ing, be­fore games and so on. Ev­ery­one gets along and that’s a huge pos­i­tive.’’

But de­spite two clean sheets in three weeks, im­prov­ing de­fen­sively re­mains a fo­cus with only four in 12 games this sea­son.

Tatura has set­tled on a de­fen­sive line-up of Ricky Lu­vara, Ma­son Smith, Jar­rod Back­way and Emre Ce­lik, which is start­ing to have some suc­cess.

‘‘They’re im­prov­ing well, we’re work­ing a lot on our de­fence in train­ing, they’re get­ting to know how each other play and what suits them,’’ Grant said.

‘‘Hav­ing the same back four is mas­sively im­por­tant.’’

Room to move: United’s Walid Cheire pa­trols the mid­dle of the park last week­end against Shep­par­ton and will look to do the same against Tatura.

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