United and Thistle go head-to-head in Pacific Premiership

United's Josh Adams will be aiming to add to the 26 goals he has scored this season

United's Josh Adams will be aiming to add to the 26 goals he has scored this season

TIGHT TUSSLE: Gisborne Thistle defensive midfielder Olly Tilley (left) and Gisborne United striker Josh Adams give chase in the May 26 game at Childers Road Reserve. United came back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2. The teams meet tomorrow. Thistle are on a 10-game unbeaten streak, while United aim to add to their league-leading goals-for tally. Picture by Paul Rickard

SPEED on a football field is like gold in a vault. You can bank on it.

Gisborne United have it and Gisborne Thistle will try to nullify it when they meet in a Pacific Premiership derby at Harry Barker Reserve at 2.30pm tomorrow.

Heavy Equipment Services United striker Josh Adams has scored 26 of his side’s 54 premiership goals this season. They have scored more than any other team in the league, and he has scored more than any other player.

Blinding pace and a blistering left-foot shot are his main attributes. He has others but those two generally get the job done.

United sit third on the table, level on points with second-placed Napier Marist and fourth-placed Port Hill United. Goal difference separates them.

Thistle are two points back in fifth.

Napier City Rovers Seconds, eight points clear of the chasers, need to win just one of their remaining three games to clinch the title.

Realistically speaking, United and Thistle are playing for second place, pride . . . and the Challenge Cup, which United won off Eskview on May 5. The cup is at stake in every home game of the holders.

Thistle coach Garrett Blair would love his side to wrest the cup from United.

“We’ve got only one home game left (against Maycenvale next week) where we’d have to put it on the line, and if we got through that we could lock it away for the summer,” he said.

“United are playing some really good football, but if we can stop Josh (Adams) I think we have a strong chance of getting a result. Even if we do that, Corey (Adams, elder brother of Josh) is capable of scoring goals out of nothing and Dane Thompson can hit them from 30 metres.

“But we are playing with really good structure, and if we can bring that this weekend, it could be anyone’s game.”

Blair will be without midfielder Max Logan, who is competing in a martial arts competition, but he welcomes back defenders Liam Ryan and Daniel Venema, rested last week to clear injury niggles, and hopes to have Jake Robertson available.

Sam Hogan and last week’s man of the match Brad Reynolds have the versatility to do a job in midfield should Blair wish. Otherwise the Thistle side will likely have a familiar look.

“We know how they play,” Blair said. “It’s about knowing your opposition and coming up with a plan.”

United player-coach Corey Adams says his players are excited about the game and determined to keep the Challenge Cup.

It’s “not ideal” that they haven’t had a clean sheet all season (their goals against tally, 34, is the highest of the top six teams), but they are still third and winning games.

“If we score more than we concede on Saturday, we’ll be happy,” Adams said.

“They will probably look to man-mark Josh but we have other options.”

Adams said he was still mulling over his line-up but would focus more on the way United would play than on how to stop Thistle.

“We will play the way we have been playing,” he said.

Centreback Kieran Higham, having served his suspension, is again available, and Adams hopes Eastern League players Stu Cranswick, Aaron Graham and Jonathan Purcell will be available to at least go on the bench.

SPEED on a football field is like gold in a vault. You can bank on it.

Gisborne United have it and Gisborne Thistle will try to nullify it when they meet in a Pacific Premiership derby at Harry Barker Reserve at 2.30pm tomorrow.

Heavy Equipment Services United striker Josh Adams has scored 26 of his side’s 54 premiership goals this season. They have scored more than any other team in the league, and he has scored more than any other player.

Blinding pace and a blistering left-foot shot are his main attributes. He has others but those two generally get the job done.

United sit third on the table, level on points with second-placed Napier Marist and fourth-placed Port Hill United. Goal difference separates them.

Thistle are two points back in fifth.

Napier City Rovers Seconds, eight points clear of the chasers, need to win just one of their remaining three games to clinch the title.

Realistically speaking, United and Thistle are playing for second place, pride . . . and the Challenge Cup, which United won off Eskview on May 5. The cup is at stake in every home game of the holders.

Thistle coach Garrett Blair would love his side to wrest the cup from United.

“We’ve got only one home game left (against Maycenvale next week) where we’d have to put it on the line, and if we got through that we could lock it away for the summer,” he said.

“United are playing some really good football, but if we can stop Josh (Adams) I think we have a strong chance of getting a result. Even if we do that, Corey (Adams, elder brother of Josh) is capable of scoring goals out of nothing and Dane Thompson can hit them from 30 metres.

“But we are playing with really good structure, and if we can bring that this weekend, it could be anyone’s game.”

Blair will be without midfielder Max Logan, who is competing in a martial arts competition, but he welcomes back defenders Liam Ryan and Daniel Venema, rested last week to clear injury niggles, and hopes to have Jake Robertson available.

Sam Hogan and last week’s man of the match Brad Reynolds have the versatility to do a job in midfield should Blair wish. Otherwise the Thistle side will likely have a familiar look.

“We know how they play,” Blair said. “It’s about knowing your opposition and coming up with a plan.”

United player-coach Corey Adams says his players are excited about the game and determined to keep the Challenge Cup.

It’s “not ideal” that they haven’t had a clean sheet all season (their goals against tally, 34, is the highest of the top six teams), but they are still third and winning games.

“If we score more than we concede on Saturday, we’ll be happy,” Adams said.

“They will probably look to man-mark Josh but we have other options.”

Adams said he was still mulling over his line-up but would focus more on the way United would play than on how to stop Thistle.

“We will play the way we have been playing,” he said.

Centreback Kieran Higham, having served his suspension, is again available, and Adams hopes Eastern League players Stu Cranswick, Aaron Graham and Jonathan Purcell will be available to at least go on the bench.

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