50-game players to be honoured
Four Canterbury United national league footballers will be honoured for reaching the "50-match" milestone at tomorrow's South Island derby at English Park.
Goalkeeper Adam Highfield and defender Nick Wortelboer reached a half-century of appearances against Team Wellington last weekend and All White Aaron Clapham and striker Russell Kamo will mark their 50th games in tomorrow's clash with Otago United.
The quartet have some way to go though to catch Canterbury's appearance record-holder, captain Dan Terris, who has made more than 100 national league appearances since 2004.
Terris has started the new campaign in vintage form after a "nightmare season" last year marred by four injuries.
"I pulled my hamstring twice . . . then just as I was about to get back, I rolled my ankle in training. Then I had an Achilles injury after that."
Terris worked hard on his fitness during the off-season and had turned out for Christchurch Technical in the Mainland premier league "to get some game-time".
The 31-year-old is a master of the right-back arts and has forged a good understanding with English import Darren White.
But despite being the skipper, Terris said he would "have to continue to play consistently to keep my spot in the team".
Nor is he taking Otago United for granted. The southerners have lost their first two ASB premiership games this season but both Terris and Braithwaite noted that Otago led last year's minor premiers Auckland City until the 85th-minute mark last weekend before losing 3-1.
"Our head-to-head record against them has always been pretty tight," Terris said. "They've still got [Aaron] Burgess up front and some experienced guys around him who can score goals."
Braithwaite is keen to maintain the momentum from last week's 1-0 win over Team Wellington. "We got three points last week, and if we can win [tomorrow] and then we can get a result against Waikato up there, all of sudden you're not in too bad a position."
Braithwaite has a fully fit squad and will name his starting line-up after training today. Tomorrow's derby is Canterbury fans' first chance to watch live Bulgarian brothers Vladimir and Dimitri Bayrev.
Ash Welbourn impressed on his debut off the bench last week and Braithwaite said the Coastal Spirit striker was another frontrunner option.
The Mainland Pride women's football team face Capital Football at English Park tomorrow in a top of the table clash.
Gareth Turnbull's unbeaten Mainland team lead the southern conference with seven points - two more than Wellington-based Capital. The women's match kicks off at 4.45pm after the Canterbury United-Otago United national men's league game.
Squads - Canterbury United: Adam Highfield, Tom Batty (gks), Dan Terris (c), Tom Schwarz, Vladimir Bayrev, Julyan Collett, Nick Wortelboer, Darren White, Aaron Clapham, Josh Smith, Michael Fifii, Dimitri Bayrev, Russell Kamo, Ken Yamamoto, Ash Welbourn, Aaron Spain.
Otago United: Liam Little, Peter Evans (gks), Jake Morrison, Craig Ferguson, Tristan Prattley (c), Ben Fitzpatrick, Matt Joy, Seamus Ryder, Ant Hancock, Sam Mepham, Tom Connor, Scott Gannon, Andy Ridden, Joel Stevens, Morgan Day, Aaron Burgess.
Kickoff: 2pm at ASB Football Park (English Park).
Mainland Pride: Lily Alfeld (gk), Meikayla Moore, Emma Proctor, Emily Jensen, Maia Vink, Monique Barker, Juliana Los, Melanie Cameron, Lauren Dabner, Aimee Phillips, Mikayla Weiblitz, Ashleigh Ward, Dayna Napa, Bridget Milne, Briar Guyan (res.gk).