Team Taranaki looking to take advantage of late season lapses

Gavin Hoy could return from an ankle injury this weekend for Team Taranaki.
ANDY JACKSON/Fairfax NZ

Gavin Hoy could return from an ankle injury this weekend for Team Taranaki.

With the top and bottom sides in the Central League football competition found with two rounds to play, you might find teams just going through the motions to wind the season down. 

Team Taranaki will not be one of those teams. 

The side reached the points total they had targeted at the start of the season with a 1-0 win over Wellington United their last time out.

Now, with 20 points in the bag and sitting seventh on the ladder, Energyworks Team Taranaki coach Ian McGrath said their last two matches provided a great opportunity to improve their position. 

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Team Taranaki host Lower Hutt at Merrilands Domain on Sunday in their final home game of the season.

When they met earlier in the season, the sides played out a goalless draw, with a penalty save from Taranaki goalkeeper Santiago Fernandez late in the piece securing a deserved point. 

"These fixtures have a habit of throwing up strange results as teams are very often motivated or not by the dead rubber tag, but for us there is everything to play for," McGrath said. 

"We have already exceeded our best ever points tally for a season at this level and we should be keen to add to that total as we enter the final straight. Coming off back-to-back wins, we are in good form and confident, but enforced breaks to fixtures and disrupted training sessions due to weather never help."

Because of Chatham Cup fixtures last weekend, Team Taranaki did not have a match. However, a number of players were able to suit up at club level.

Instrumental forward Josh Smith will make a full return to the squad this weekend following an impressive second half display off the bench against Wellington United, while McGrath was hopeful the ever-attacking Gavin Hoy would be fit for the match.

Hoy has been a great acquisition for the side this season, and looks to overcome an ankle injury sustained against Wairarapa three weeks ago. 

"It will be a case of putting the disruption to the back of our minds and staying focused on each opportunity. No sense of drifting to the end of the season and everything to gain from picking up more wins.

"We have settled nicely back into a groove that suits the way we play and the players can enjoy the run in now with the confidence of Central League football secured for the 2018 season. We need more points and want to push on."

Team Taranaki will end their season next weekend away to Napier City Rovers. Western Suburbs claimed the Central League title with two rounds to spare, while Palmerston North Marist will drop out of the league next season. 

At a glance

Team Taranaki v Lower Hutt. Merrilands Domain, Sunday August 13, 1pm kick-off. 

 - Stuff

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