Coach Jose Figueira believes his team are keeping positive ahead of Sunday’s fixture against Hawkes Bay United despite last weekend’s disappointing 1-2 loss at home to the Wellington Phoenix reserves.
“The boys have bounced back really well from the weekend’s result. We’ve had a good week of training and things are coming together. We are hopeful that they can get a result that’s deserving of the hard work they are putting in at the moment”
The two teams have developed a strong rivalry in recent seasons having played each other twice in semi-finals over the past two national premiership seasons.
Matches between the teams are generally high-scoring affairs, with Team Wellington enjoying recent success including a pre-season victory and a crucial 3-1 semi-final victory in the 2015/16 ASB Premiership at Napier.
Hawkes Bay United are coming off a 0-1 loss to Eastern Suburbs and will be equally desperate for a win.
Team Wellington midfielder Andy Bevin is under no illusions as to the challenge ahead against his former club.
“They are a difficult team to breakdown as they are a very well organised- where each individual player knows their role. It is always a tough place to go and win as it’s always hot and it’s a big pitch. It is always a battle”
Bevin believes his team must be wary of the counter-attacking ability of Hawkes Bay United.
“They have a recognised style, generally a drop deep and counter approach where they will try to thwart attacks and snatch a goal on the counter attack”
“We have to make sure we don’t over-commit on attack and also recognise their threats as they have a couple of fast players who will try and get in behind our defence especially with the long ball”
Overall, Figueira remains happy with his team’s progress as they continue to adjust to a new philosophy and style of play.
“Despite the (last week’s) result, I think the first-half display was getting towards how we want to play and on another day we probably could have been out of sight if it wasn’t for those missed chances and some fine goalkeeping”
“But, the most pleasing thing is that we are starting to begin to see some of our concepts and philosophy come to life”
Team Wellington’s Goalkeeper James McPeake reinforced his coach’s views.
“We have had a really good week in training this week and Jose is really emphasising to the players to be brave and buy into what we are trying to do”
Bevin emphasised the importance of patience as the team adjusts to the injection of new players and coaching panel, particularly given the short pre-season.
“Obviously we have had a couple of disappointing results but I think that’s to be expected with change. We’ve got half a new squad and new coaching staff. The coach is trying to embed his philosophy and that going to take time”
“I think for us, you can see it is coming together in patches right now and I have been saying that once we get it right we will be absolutely fine.”
- Rory Milne