Wellbourn in hopeful mood
Super-sub Ash Wellbourn hopes to push for a starting place after grabbing a brace of goals off the bench in Canterbury United's 5-0 rout in Waikato.
The 22-year-old Coastal Spirit striker opened his ASB premiership account with the last two strikes at Ngaruawahia yesterday.
He had been on the pitch barely a minute before he slotted Canterbury's fourth goal in the 77th minute and then chimed in with the fifth four minutes later.
Russell Kamo started the spree for Canterbury and also claimed three "assists". He was fouled for a 55th penalty converted by Aaron Clapham and supplied the final ball for Darren White's superb strike in the 74th minute and for Wellbourn's second goal.
Braithwaite said White showed great skill. "It's good for his confidence [to score in consecutive matches] and good for the team and we are really pleased with what Ash is doing.
"We always knew he had the ability, and he wants to do it now, which is the key thing."
Wellbourn said the national premiership was "a big step up in the speed, physicality and quality of the game" from the Mainland premier league.
"I'm just happy to be playing and proving a point. I just want to get on whenever I can and do my job.
"Hopefully, I can push on from here. I set myself a goal to break into the starting lineup and hopefully I can do it."
Wellbourn might get his chance on Wednesday night when Canterbury United host the Wellington Phoenix reserve team at English Park.
Braithwaite plans to "mix and match" his team with "some regulars and some younger lads". That could mean starts for Wellbourn, midfielder Chris Murphy, who impressed in the final stages yesterday and academy player Louie Bush, who deputised ably at right back.
That would enable Braithwaite to rest some key regulars for next Sunday's vital home game against co-leaders Hawke's Bay United.
Hawke's Bay are unbeaten after 2-0 win yesterday over Otago United, with Sean Lovemore slotting his sixth goal of the season.
The Canterbury Dragons have three wins from their first four games and are in third place on nine points, one behind champions Waitakere United and Hawke's Bay and one ahead of Auckland City. Waitakere conceded their first goal of the season yesterday in a 1-1 derby draw with Auckland.