Canterbury keeper wary of Waitakere's attack
Goalkeeper Adam Highfield has warned Canterbury United to be wary of Waitakere United's potent attack when they host the national league leaders in a crunch clash tomorrow.
Canterbury lost 1-0 at Hawke's Bay United last weekend and must beat Waitakere for the first time at English Park in three years to claw their way back into premiership playoffs contention.
The Canterbury Dragons' defence has conceded only one goal in their last four games and just five all season, but Highfield knows they will get a real workout from Waitakere.
The four-time champions put eight goals past Highfield on two visits to Christchurch last season and have continued to set the scoring pace this term with 14 goals in their first six games.
Highfield, consistently one of the best keepers in New Zealand in the last five seasons, hasn't had to bend his back to fish the ball out of his net very often, but he is preparing himself for a testing examination tomorrow.
"Waitakere have got a pretty potent attack. Richie Cardozo, their Australian striker, is one of the top scorers in the league."
Cardozo and former All Whites midfielder Chad Coombes return from suspension after missing Waitakere's 3-0 win over WaiBop United last week.
But Highfield has hailed the displays by his defensive unit, captain Dan Terris, centreback Tom Schwarz and fulbacks Pablo Moya and Danny Boys this season.
Moya, the Canterbury right back, could face a daunting duel with Waitakere's electric ex-Celtic junior Jordan Lowdon.
Canterbury coach Keith Braithwaite has watched Waitakere on television twice this season and said winger Lowdon had extreme pace and would have to be shackled.
Highfield said the Canterbury back-four had gelled well, but Canterbury - who have netted eight times in six games - need to start scoring more goals.
Waitakere lost of clutch of key players in the off-season, including strikers Roy Krishna and Ryan de Vries to crosstown rivals Auckland City and some premiership pundits were predicting that their stranglehold would be broken.
But Braithwaite said the west Aucklanders had plenty of depth and had been able to bring in quality players. He said Waitakere were solid at the back where player-coach Brian Shelley organises the defence. All White Jake Butler is Waitakere's midfield general and will seek to shut down international teammate Aaron Clapham, the Canterbury playmaker.
Braithwaite said striker Russell Kamo, who missed the Hawke's Bay match with a hamstring strain, had trained well on Thursday and was expected to be fit to play Waitakere.
Schwarz returns to the starting lineup after taking last weekend off to get married. He will replace Julyan Collett, who is overseas.
In other round seven matches tomorrow, Oceania champions Auckland City return from Club World Cup finals duty in Morocco to host Hawke's Bay, Team Wellington are at home to WaiBop United and Otago entry Southern United are looking to beat Wanderers SC in Auckland to avoid an unwanted tag - a league record 12th consecutive defeat.
Canterbury United (from): Adam Highfield, Pieter Bierma (gks), Pablo Moya, Dan Terris (c), Tom Schwarz, Danny Boys, Dan Schwarz Kris O'Neill, Stu Kelly, Aaron Clapham, Steve Morrison, Cory Mitchell, Chris Murphy, Shawn O'Brien, Ken Yamamoto, Michael White, Russell Kamo, Federico Marquez, Chris Bacon, Luke Marsland
Waitakere United: Danny Robinson, Sean Dowling (gks), Alec Solomons, Tim Myers, Brian Shelley, Jordan Lowdon, Chad Coombes, Sam French, Richie Cardozo, Ian Hogg, Sam Mathews, Sansern Limwhatthana, Dan Morgan, Jake Butler (c), Dylan Stansfield, Jarrod Young, Jack Hobson-McVeigh, Harshae Raniga. Kickoff: 2pm at English Park