By David Gearey / asbpremiership.co.nz
NAPIER - If Hawke's Bay coach Matt Chandler wants to change the course of history his side must grab points when they face highflying Canterbury United on Sunday.
Hawke's Bay have never made the ASB Premiership playoffs - an astonishing record for a province synonymous with domestic football success.
Last week's disappointing 2-2 draw with YoungHeart Manawatu left a sour taste in the mouth for Chandler, exemplified when Chandler awarded his Man of the Match to substitute Matt Hastings who had only played eight minutes.
“We had a talk after the game and before our training on Tuesday. We have been frank and honest and back to basics on our values and goals. The players know that 100% is required and nothing less” Chandler said.
After coming away last weekend with the solitary point, the Bay know they need to stay with the lead pack if they want to have a chance of making the playoffs for the first time in their history.
Matt Chandler is demanding his players give 100% for the full 90 minutes.
He said: “The squad are focused and very determined this coming week to gain three points and to perform for each other and the team”.
With experienced players such as Richard Gillespie, Chris Greatholder and Milos Nikolic still out injured, he will need his young but talented squad to be at their best to beat a Canterbury side who have already scored nine goals and are still yet to concede.
Canterbury coach Keith Braithwaite said: “The whole coaching staff are very happy with our first two results but we know there is still a long way to go in the season and there is still a lot of things for us to work on, and if we work hard enough hopefully we can get the results on the field."
The southern franchise are making the most of a dream start but know complacency against a side as fresh and capable as Hawke’s Bay could be calamitous.
Braithwaite is confident he has his finger on the pulse.
“We know every trip to Hawke’s Bay is always hotly contested and always very difficult to get a result, so like every other game we will approach the game to win but we will be very cautious of Hawke’s bays strengths," he said.
A win for Canterbury would hand them an eight point advantage over Hawke's Bay, an already significant lead even this early in the campaign.
Striker George Slefendorfas has been in deadly form and there is no reason to suggest he won't find the open expanses of Park Island to his liking.
If selected the evergreen Hawke’s Bay captain Bill Robertson will make his 49th ASB premiership appearance and George Slefendorfas just his third.
The Bay skipper will need every ounce of that experience if he is to win the personal duel that could set the tone for the match and Hawke's Bay's immediate short term prospects.
The match is scheduled to kick off at 2pm Sunday at Park Island, Napier.
Hawke's Bay United
Geoff MacINTYRE is drafted into the squad along with Francis de VRIES.
Milos NIKOLIC medial ligament injury leaves him sidelined with goalkeeper Richard GILLESPIE. Chris GREATHOLDER is also missing with a knee injury.
Dan TERRIS and Nick WORTELBOER remain sidelined with hamstring injuries. Goalkeeper Tom BATTY and Te Atawhai HUDSON-WIHONGI aren’t selected
Bill ROBERTSON will make his 49th ASB Premiership appearance.
Canterbury won the corresponding fixture last season - a brace by Russell KAMO cancelled out a Jarrod SMITH strike to give the Dragons the points.
Picking a winner between these two sides at Park Island isn’t easy – nine matches in the Bay have produced four wins for the hosts and five for the visitors. Hawke’s Bay’s last win over Canterbury at home was a 2-1 success in 2010.
Canterbury holds the edge over Hawke’s Bay in this fixture with five wins and four defeats in nine visits to Park Island.
Hawke's Bay United
26- Shaun PETA (GK)
22- Adam HIGHFIELD (GK)
2- Fergus NEIL
3- Mark JOHNSTON
3- Alex BARLOW
5- Tom SCHWARZ
5- Bill ROBERTSON (c)
6- Geoff MacINTYRE
6- Stephen HINDMARSH
7- Darren WHITE
7- Matt HASTINGS
8- Aaron CLAPHAM
8- Adam COWAN
9- George SLEFENDORFAS
10- Sam MARGETTS
10- Russell KAMO
11- Connor TINNION
11- Matt THOMAS
12- Adam CHANDLER
12- Andy BARTON
13- Luke CHAPMAN
13- Francis de VRIES
14- Danny WILSON
14- Josh SMITH
17- Tom BISS
15- Julyan COLLETT
18- Hamish WATSON
16- Joe MURRAY
19- Chris McIVOR
17- Cole PEVERLEY
21- Josh MARGETTS
20- Ken YAMAMOTO
30- Matt GOULD (GK)