United could be peaking at just the right time, says Ian Palmer

2008-04-03 00:00

Maritzburg United coach Ian Palmer expects Bay United to come to Pietermaritzburg with an attacking game plan for the crucial NFD Coastal Stream "decider" at Harry Gwala Stadium tomorrow at 3 pm.

With Bay a point ahead of United on 42 points, the PE team might have been expected to play for a draw in Pietermaritzburg tomorrow to preserve their lead, then wrap up the stream with a win over third-placed Nathi Lions in their final game.

But, for Bay, there is also the incentive of putting matters beyond doubt with a victory over United, and the PE side are more likely to have a counter-attacking gameplan.

"I definitely don’t expect them to play for a draw," Palmer said yesterday. "Their coach, Vladislav Heric, is a Serbian and everyone knows they like to play attacking football.

And they can’t afford to defend, because that will give us too much space to attack them."

While United have ground out single-goal victories in their last four games, Bay have been winning by two, three, or, in the case of their last fixture against Ikapa Sporting, even four-goal margins.

Asked if that is a concern for United, Palmer said: "Definitely not. Most of our last games have been away, and Bay have been playing mostly at home.

"Then there is the opposition. When we played Ikapa they had a full-strength team and we beat them 1-0 at home, and against Bay in PE they had an under-strength side, and Bay won 4-0."

Bay United’s ex-Manning Rangers striker, Linos Chalwe, is the Coastal Stream’s top goalscorer with 11 goals this season.

"Top scorers are always danger men, and he will be coming here to be positive and to try to ensure that he remains the top scorer," Palmer said. "But he seems to have scored most of his goals at corners or from free-kicks, so we have to come up with a plan to guard against that."

Asked how United’s preparations have gone, Palmer said: "Not bad at all. We have had quite a few friendlies, including against AmaZulu on Tuesday where we drew 0-0, and I have been quite impressed with what I have seen. Watching the guys, it has occurred to me that, after a slump, we could be peaking again in our last four games."

The last four games Palmer refers to, in quietly confident fashion, are the last two Coastal matches against Bay then Durban Stars at Harry Gwala on April 12. And then the NFD final against the Inland Stream winners on May 10 and 17. First, though, United will have to beat their PE opponents tomorrow.

o Due to the number of buses used to transport fans to tomorrow’s game being changed from 20 to 15, some pick-up points in the Northdale-Raisethorpe area have changed. The bus will now stop at Copesville High School at 12.30 pm, Citi Meats in Raisethorpe at 1 pm and Taj Bottle Store in Northdale at 1.30 pm.

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