Na­tional league look to Marist

Manawatu Standard - - SPORT - By Tony Cof­fin

Marist coach Steve Green is con­fi­dent his new mid­field will be the cat­a­lyst to move his team away from the threat of rel­e­ga­tion in the Cen­tral League.

Marist takes on third-placed Lower Hutt City at Me­mo­rial Park to­mor­row, but with the ad­di­tion of three YoungHeart Manawatu play­ers, Marist looks a more for­mi­da­ble side.

With key na­tional league play­ers Ian Sand­brook and Ian Robin­son join­ing na­tional un­der-17 in­ter­na­tional Cory Chet­tle­burgh in the cen­tral mid­field, Marist looks as strong as any other side in the com­pe­ti­tion.

And with the ad­di­tional nev­er­say-die at­ti­tude of Adam Cowan – who will play on the right, join­ing Yuki To­mo­matsu on the left of mid­field – Marist has a com­plete na­tional league mid­field.

‘‘I don’t think any­one will be able to match us there,’’ an ex­cited Green said. ‘‘The guys who have been play­ing there for us have done well, but the three new­com­ers give us a lot of strengths, de­fen­sively and at­tack­ing.’’

Green said even just hav­ing Sand­brook last week made an enor­mous dif­fer­ence to his team, which led 2-0 be­fore al­low­ing Welling­ton United back into the game to draw 2-all.

‘‘Play­ers like Ian Sand­brook just have so much time on the ball and de­liver qual­ity balls to the strik­ers,’’ he said.

‘‘Hav­ing Ian Robin­son as well will give us even more strength – and they can both score goals.’’

Cowan will give Car­pet Court Marist more scor­ing strength with Green adding that his ae­rial abil­ity will be im­por­tant at both ends of the pitch.

How­ever, Green is also cau­tious. Hav­ing the new play­ers won’t au­to­mat­i­cally re­sult in his side get­ting away from the rel­e­ga­tion zone.

‘‘We’ve been un­der pres­sure all sea­son to get points and that hasn’t changed at all,’’ he said.

‘‘We’ve got bot­tom-placed Taranaki in four weeks, but we need to get clear of them now and take the pres­sure off when we play them.’’

Taranaki is on five points, but is al­ways dan­ger­ous on its home New Ply­mouth pitch. Marist is a point ahead, while Stop Out is also flirt­ing with dan­ger on just eight points.

The last time Marist met Lower Hutt it lost to a late goal, and apart from two big losses, it hasn’t been far be­hind any op­po­nent this sea­son

In the West­ern Premiership, lea- der North End can put paid to Wan­ganui Ath­letic’s out­side chances of win­ning the league at Skoglund Park.

With just three games re­main­ing, Red Sox-Manawatu will then be the only side which can hunt down North End, but it will first need to beat Lin­ton Army at Skoglund Park on Satur­day.

Red Sox-Manawatu will still need to beat North End in their next clash and hope North End also trips up else­where.

In other games, Massey Univer­sity has had its game with Wan­ganui City de­faulted by Cen­tral Soc­cer af­ter not pay­ing team fees.

Among the 10 other Massey teams de­fault­ing will be Massey’s Cen­tral League women’s side, which was to host Seatoun.

In the last game, Marist Re­serves meet Palmer­ston North Boys’ High School.

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