Football: Suburbs resolve to deliver on promise
Nelson Suburbs have another opportunity to stop their slide down the Mainland Premier League table tomorrow, but which Halswell United side they will meet at Halswell Domain is uncertain.
With three wins and two losses, Halswell are in fourth spot, one position above AMI Nelson Suburbs, but their record reads like a scatter graph.
Halswell were thumped by Cashmere Technical 4-0 in their opening fixture, bounced back with a 2-1 win over Western and then creamed Coastal Spirit 4-1. Having seemingly righted the ship, they then inexplicably sank to a 3-0 loss against the newly promoted and previously winless Nomads.
To underline their yo-yo performances, Halswell promptly turned another corner and turned on the goals to trounce FC Twenty 11 by 5-0 in their latest outing, which leaves the form guide in tatters.
Suburbs, on the other hand, have been fairly consistent in their mediocrity, putting in solid performances each week without stamping their mark on the opening round of the competition.
With the quality of personnel on hand in Nelson, and a proclivity to play an honest and attacking brand of football, there is a feeling in the camp that their breakthrough performance is not too far away.
Good wins against FC Twenty 11 and Coastal Spirit were followed by close losses to competition leaders Ferrymead Bays and Cashmere, but a 2-2 draw at home with Western on Sunday has the points column reflecting an average start.
The situation isn't dire, with Suburbs still only five points behind Ferrymead Bays, but they have not had a win since round two.
"It is about time for a win," said co-coach Paul Brydon. "We try and win every game with the side we have got, so it is no different this week but it is important we get the result, because we are back in the also-rans."
Brydon pointed to some winnable games over the next few weeks, "so we can shoot up the table pretty quick, but three points on Saturday is crucial", he said.
Last season Suburbs started with a 1-1 draw at home against Halswell, then went down to the Domain and took a 3-1 win before returning to Nelson for a 4-1 triumph. Overall, the two sides have met on 27 occasions, with Suburbs winning 13 and Halswell eight, and the points shared six times.
"We normally do pretty well against them down on their home ground," said Brydon.
"They have always been a hard-working side - nothing flash, but they are quite well organised at the back. But we are fairly confident."
Suburbs have floated the idea of moving to a more compact 4-4-2 formation, in which case Peter Whyte is likely to come into the midfield in place of Neil Connell.
Wes Olea and captain Mark Johnson have not been training this week due to illness and niggling injuries but both are likely to take their place in the starting side. Kickoff is at 2pm.
Nelson Pine Industries Division One football continues this weekend with leaders Nelson College visiting AMI Nelson Suburbs First XI at Saxton Field.
College have been in irresistible form so far, scoring six goals in each of their two starts. Last week's win over the top FC Nelson side was a statement to all comers that College are the team to beat.
Also unbeaten this season, Richmond First XI will look to continue that run against a Wakefield side who are going into the match at Wakefield Domain on the back of their maiden first division victory, over Colts.
The FC Nelson derby is likely to be played in a fairly forgiving spirit, with the young NBS Colts team looking to continue their positive development. However, with the defending champions' egos still slightly bruised, FC Nelson Sprig & Fern will want a good win at Guppy Park.
All first division matches kick off at 3pm tomorrow.
The Nelson Mail