Sport

Fierce battle for sides

by
August 12, 2017

Do or die: Tatura midfielder Tristan Zito will be hoping to help his team claim all three points against rivals Shepparton United tomorrow.

Seven points separate Shepparton United and Tatura on the Bendigo Amateur Soccer League table and, with five rounds left, the Ibises will be doing everything to close the gap tomorrow.

The regional rivals go head-to-head in a must-win game, with United sitting one point clear in the fourth and final play-off position, while the Ibises are two places worse off.

At Central Ave, the hosts will aim to break a recent run of form and playing coach Roven Shaholli is confident his side can do that, despite facing his own injury cloud.

‘‘It is a huge game, we want to win and need to win to create a little buffer between us and the rest of the teams,’’ Shaholli said.

‘‘As a squad we are in a pretty healthy position at the moment, we have James Kalafatis out because he is on holidays, Kadhim Al-Hilfi is suspended and I have a sore knee.’’

The experienced campaigner is yet to recover from a knock to his right knee in his side’s 5-4 loss to Epsom last week.

‘‘We need to bounce back and I believe we will, I am confident in our ability and the depth of our squad,’’ Shaholli said.

The two sides were involved in a heated 2-2 exchange earlier this season, but Ibises’ coach Brent Mathers, like Shaholli, believes the clubs have put that behind them.

‘‘The history has been a little bit tarnished, the two clubs have put what happened aside and I believe we have a good relationship,’’ Mathers said.

‘‘The game is shaping to be huge and one that we are looking forward to play — it is a must win.’’

Tariq Nikoi-Kotey will be expected to cause problems offensively for visitors with the Milton Keynes born footballer having netted 13 goals this season, while Tristan Zito has scored 12 from midfield.

David Turkovic was pivotal off the bench last week for the visitors and Mathers has not ruled out using the veteran again tomorrow.

‘‘You never know, he has a pretty good record at United,’’ Mathers said.

‘‘However, if it is Turko or anyone else leading the line we need to work as a team and aim for a win, every game is do or die for us.’’

Ben Gannon has been in sublime form of late for the visitors, while Mathers is also looking forward to the return of composed midfielder Nathaniel Amartey.

The Englishmen has been forced to miss due to suspension and is likely to slot straight back into the midfield.

‘‘There is competition for spots at the moment, earlier in the week we probably had one of our best training runs for a long time,’’ Mathers said.

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