Team Taranaki should get a good line on how good their form is when they host Western Premiership leaders Redsox Manawatu tomorrow.
Back-to-back wins over Wanganui Athletic and Palmerston North Boys' High School have given the composite side plenty of confidence heading into the match, even if the victories have come against sides at the foot of the table.
Team Taranaki coach Ian McGrath expects the match against the competition leaders and defending champions to be "intense", especially after the Manawatu side dropped two points after relinquishing a two-goal lead against Wanganui City last weekend to eventually draw 2-2. Making matters worse for Redsox was the sending off of experienced defender Abe McPherson after he received two yellow cards. His absence through suspension will undoubtedly help Team Taranaki's cause.
"That said, they are still a talented team who have been through the pressure of winning the title last season and they will draw on that experience," McGrath said.
Redsox will not have fond memories of their last visit north when they were dumped out of the Chatham Cup by Taranaki premiership side New Plymouth Rangers. They were lethargic for much of that game and will need to lift their intensity tomorrow to take three points home with them.
McGrath is in the fortunate position of having a full strength squad to choose from after the return of veteran Domenico Squatriti who missed last week's win in Palmerston North.
"We missed his energy last week. He just never allows the opposition defenders to settle and he has that knack of scoring important goals," McGrath admitted.
Squatriti is likely to partner Danilo Kuhl up front while Vincent Sharp, who is back from injury, is another attacking option.
Limiting mistakes has been a key message for the Team Taranaki squad this week.
"We have to have a go from the start, impose ourselves on them early and not allow them to settle into a pattern of playing possession football in areas of the park that make them dangerous," McGrath said. "We are more than capable of shutting down their midfield options early and disrupting."
Kickoff for the match at Western Park is 2pm.
- Taranaki Daily News
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