Top-of-table clash eagerly awaited

JULIAN RAETHEL
Last updated 07:40 14/12/2012
Waitakere V HB
SHANE WENZLICK Zoom
Sean Lovemore gets the edge on Waitakere's Chad Coombes.

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As the Christmas break looms the ASB Premiership fans could not ask for a more crucial game heading into round seven.

The much-anticipated clash of the Titans takes place on Sunday when Waitakere United head south to play Canterbury United in Christchurch.

Both sides have won five of their six league games from 2012 and Canterbury sit only one point behind the West Aucklanders on the league table.

Waitakere is still undefeated after a rousing 3-1 victory over Hawke's Bay United at Fred Taylor Park last Sunday.

The only blip this season has been the 1-1 draw with home town rival Auckland City in round four.

Canterbury was hammered in round one by Auckland City 5-2 but is now five on the trot after dismantling Manawatu 2-0 in Palmerston North on Sunday.

Canterbury coach Keith Braithwaite says his side are looking to snatch the top spot from the West Aucklanders heading into the summer break.

"It should be a very entertaining match," Brathwaite says.

"Waitakere has set the benchmark and has danger all over the park.

"We're at full strength and are looking to maximise home advantage."

But the visitors will be keen to spoil the party despite coach Paul Marshall's concerns about the artificial pitch at ASB Football Park.

"Artificial pitches are always tough to play on, you can't do as much with the ball compared with grass.

"But we'll head in with a similar gameplan and it should be a tough game," Marshall says.

Waitakere is ticking along nicely but need to capitalise on their goal-scoring chances, where a lot went begging in round six.

The home side looked like it was heading for a resounding victory as it led a shell-shocked Hawke's Bay 2-0 after 20 minutes with Brian Shelley scoring his first goal for the club in the 11th minute followed up by a David Mulligan finisher from a clearance only three minutes later.

Stephen Hoyle pulled the game back for the Bay moments later to make it 2-1.

But it was striker Sean Lovemore's red card after two yellows for some dubious calls which left Hawke's Bay fighting an uphill battle with 10 men that will be remembered most in the first half.

The final blow came in injury time when Milos Nikolic scored to make it 3-1.

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