Blockbuster local clash
UNITED, TATURA READY FOR A FIERCE CONTEST
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.