The region’s premier football team will make their one and only appearance in Marlborough this season on Saturday.
Tasman United, who compete in the ISPS Handa Premiership, which involves the nation’s 10 leading provincial teams, will take on Dunedin-based outfit Southern United at Lansdowne Park, traditionally Marlborough rugby headquarters.
Tasman made a slow start to the season, languishing near the foot of the standings, but have worked their way up to fifth position after downing Eastern Suburbs 2-0 at Saxton Field on Sunday.
Tasman goalkeeper in that match was Marlborough man Nick Stanton, making his starting debut this season. After coming away with a clean sheet Stanton hopes he will get the nod to start as Tasman’s campaign rolls into his home territory this weekend.
Tasman played Southern in the first game of the 2019-20 campaign, producing a sub-par effort to lose 4-0 but then having the match awarded to them when the Dunedin side was ruled to have fielded an ineligible player.
“It’s going to be an interesting game on Saturday, especially after what happened last time,” suggested Stanton. “Hopefully I train well and get the start again this week.”
“They will be out for blood after losing the points last time which is always good … it means we will have to fight harder … it steps us up, makes us a better team.”
He says the league is shaping as a much closer affair this season. “There are just two teams [Team Wellington and Auckland City] out on their own … everyone else is within one point of each other.
“Last season it was more a top-of-the-league, bottom-of-the-league divide whereas this year it is the two top teams, with everyone else in the mixer.”
He has relished the Tasman United culture since returning to the region from Wellington. “I am enjoying it, it’s different [to Wellington] with the sunnier days and harder grounds and we have a great bunch of lads this season, they are easy to get along with … it’s all going well.”
Kick off on Saturday is 4pm, with entry free.