Top four gun for Nelson rivals

After 15 weeks of battling their local rivals, Marlborough's top four club football teams will face Nelson opposition for the first time this season, when they square off against the best four division two sides from the other side of the Whangamoas, in Top of the South League action tomorrow.

Interestingly, all four Marlborough sides have drawn the Nelson outfit ranked in the same position as them, with two games in Blenheim and two on the other side of the hill.

First up at A&P Park is the 2pm clash between leading Marlborough side Blenheim Valley Development and Nelson frontrunners FC Nelson Locomotive, on the No 1 ground.

Development have won all but one of their 15 games so far in 2012, while FC Nelson are not far behind, losing just two, with one draw.

Although he admitted it might have been nicer to met the top Nelson side later in the competition, Development assistant coach Wolfie Waechter said since they had their whole squad fit and available at the moment, it probably worked out for the best. Player-coach Dave Turner returns to the fold after missing last week's game and Waechter said they were looking forward to facing the Nelson teams.

On the No 3 ground at 3pm, third-ranked Marlborough side Central host counterparts Wakefield 1st XI.

The Blues are still without injured players Chris Nott and Darren Simpson, while Matt Metcalf is out and Jason Donehue has shifted to Melbourne. Despite those omissions, the return of Julian Adamson and Dicky Hayward bolsters their squad.

Both Rangers sides have an away game, with Pirates up against Nelson Suburbs second XI at Saxton Fields, and Saints off to Memorial Park to face Motueka's first XI.

Midfielder Brendan Lang is the only player not travelling for Pirates and, though player-coach Aaron Hayes is expecting a tough contest, he noted Suburbs were a side whose playing lineup you could never be sure of.

It is not such a positive story for Saints on the player front. Goalkeeper Billy Rayner is still unavailable, while injured players Ian Lusty and Nick Ferdinando are out, and Matt Neal is doubtful. Manager Warwick Tempero had 10 names confirmed yesterday but was optimistic they would get at least 11 for the match against the fourth-best Nelson team.

The Marlborough Express