Hectic schedule awaits Nelson Suburbs in Mainland Premier League

Sam Ayers is Nelson Suburbs' top goal-scorer this season with three strikes.
PHILLIP ROLLO/FAIRFAX NZ

Sam Ayers is Nelson Suburbs' top goal-scorer this season with three strikes.

Nelson Suburbs will juggle their small squad around as the deal with the challenge of two Mainland Premier League matches in three days.

Fifth placed Suburbs host MPL leaders Coastal Spirit at Saxton Fields on Sunday, before backing up against third placed Ferrymead Bays in a catch-up game at the same venue on Anzac Day on Tuesday.

The fixture, which was supposed to be played on Good Friday, was rescheduled because of bad weather brought about by Cyclone Cook.

Suburbs co-coach Steve Bignall said with only 14 healthy players in their squad, playing two matches in such a short space of time would be difficult.

READ MORE:
*Nelson Suburbs drop more points as Mainland Premier League challenge looms

"It's going to be a big stretch for us this weekend. Playing on Sunday and Tuesday. I don't know whose idea that was. 

"It's a huge ask for us because we've lost a few players this year with them going up to the Wairarapa and playing up there."

Suburbs were searching for additional players for the remainder of the campaign. They would be bolstered once several Nelson products on football scholarships in the United States returned, including classy midfielder Ross McPhie at California State University-Fullerton.

Bignall said the depth of the squad would be tested over the two game span. Omar Guardiola is unavailable for the Bays match and veteran striker and co-coach Ben Wright "can't play two games in three days".

Suburbs are desperate for a result against Coastal after earning a last gasp 2-2 draw against Nomads United in their last clash. In the previous match, they suffered a surprise 1-0 loss to lowly Universities.

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They had been slow to start in both games and Bignall was calling on the players to fire from the opening whistle.

"For some reason we struggle on that [English Park] turf. It takes us a while to get used to it. That shouldn't be an excuse at all.

"We'll be looking to start better than we have in the last couple of games. We finished both of those games battering teams, but it's the first halfs we're struggling with."

Boosted by English imports Jordan Ball and Sam Orritt, Coastal have made a strong start to the season, winning five of their six matches.

Bignall hadn't seen any footage of Coastal, but heard from several spies in Christchurch they were looking sharp.

"There's a bit of money about there isn't there?," he quipped.

"We'll have to improve to get anywhere near them, I think. We'll need to improve. The boys are pretty excited about playing this game. I think they'll be up for it."

Bignall was pleased with how Suburbs' recruits, Northern Irish age-group duo, goalkeeper Corey Wilson and centre back Kristian Gibson had started the campaign.

"The two Irish lads are exceptionally nice lads. They're working hard for the club and are both good players. Corey ,he's not as big as [former Suburbs stopper] Coey [Turipa], but he's a quality keeper and of course Gibson was at Glasgow Rangers [youth system]."

Tasman United travel to Christchurch in the women's Mainland Premier League on Saturday taking on Waimak United at the Kendall Park turf. Kickoff is at 12.30pm.

AT A GLANCE:

Nelson Suburbs v Coastal Spirit

Sunday 1pm; Saxton Fields

 - Stuff

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