If ever there was a good time to play Team Wellington, rookie Luis Toomey reckons tomorrow is the day in Napier.
"They are going through a bit of a slump in form themselves so, I think, it's a good time to play them," says Toomey before the Thirsty Whale Hawke's Bay United host the O-League campaigners in week 15 of the ISPS Handa Premiership match at Park Island, Napier, in a 1pm kick-off.
The 17-year-old centre-mid/defensive midfielder is hoping a bumper crowd will turn out in the balmy weather to help them claim their second victory of the new year.
The hosts and visitors are coming off stalemates — 4-4 and scoreless, respectively — but Bay United's OK Coral-type showdown against the Hamilton Wanderers eclipses the capital side's inability to overwhelm Southern United.
Fourth-placed Wellington have lost captain Justin Gulley who Wellington Phoenix have signed as a defender in their A-League campaign. However, former All White Joel Stevens returns to their fold.
As thrilling as the Bay clash was last weekend, Bay United coach Brett Angell was at his wit's end in the lackadaisical defence of his troops, despite reciting the mantra of consistency this season.
The teams also drew 2-2 at David Farrington Park in the capital city on November 18 to give Bay United a psychological boost.
No doubt, Wellington coach Jose Figueira is transparent in stating his men are eager to put things right tomorrow against a Bay United who fall back as a unit on defence and have a tendency to strike on counterattacks with Birhanu Taye as skipper.
Toomey is enjoying the challenge in footing it at the higher echelons from the national youth stage.
"Obviously in the first couple of games you're going to be slightly nervous. But, for me, I was so excited to make the step up to play against the older, more experienced guys in the league," he says.
The former Reignier Catholic School pupil found, in his 70 minutes to date off the bench, the 15-minute stint against Auckland City FC was the most trying.
"Coming in for the last few minutes you have to catch up with the game quite quickly," he says, revealing the first touch and stringing a pass to teammates can test his resolve.
Toomey agrees Bay United defence against set pieces in Hamilton should have been tidier.
"If we try to keep a clean sheet we're definitely going to get results," he says, emphasising enjoyment in the remaining games for the seventh-placed side is vital.
Toomey says it's the last few times the lads will play together until the next summer so it's imperative to cherish their time together before the playoffs.
That sense of collectivity and cohesion has enabled them to break down teams, bar Auckland City.
Loyalty to a club is entrenched in his system. He has been a member of Napier Marist FC since he was 3.
In fact, his father, Chris Toomey, was one of the founding members of the club's junior programme.
"I've always, from a young age, have been surrounded by football," he says, adding he used to wake up early hours of the morning to watch games on TV with his father or watch him play in the Bay.
He has never been shy on self-belief so having added the hard yards Luis Toomey isn't surprised to have got as far as he has today.
"You try to do as many good things as possible to impress that when you get your chance you've got to make the most of it."
He believes homegrown talent, in the mould of Karan Mandair and Jorge Akers, have paved the pathway for others to follow.
■ Hawke's Bay United: 1. 26. Alexander Britton (GK), 4. Cameron Lindsay, 5. James Marsh, 7. Cory Chettleburgh, 9. Sam Mason-Smith, 10. Sho Goto, 11. Maxime Oliveri, 12. Ben Lack, 14. Birhanu Taye, 16. Gavin Hoy, 18. Tai Barham, 19. Luis Toomey, 20. Josh Murphy, 22. Karan Mandair, 23. Jorge Akers, Mackenzie Waite (GK).
Coach: Brett Angell. Ast coach: Jamie Dunning.
■ Team Wellington: 1. Scott Basalaj (GK), 3. Scott Hilliar, 4. Mario Ilich, 5. Liam Wood, 6. Taylor Schrijvers, 7. Eric Molloy, 8. Henry Cameron, 12. Andrew Bevin, 14. Jack-Henry Sinclair, 15. Joel Stevens, 16. Angus Kilkolly, 17. Alex Palezevic, 18. Aaron Clapham, 19. Ross Allen, 21. Hamish Watson, 22. Marcel Kampman (RGK).
Coach: Jose Figueira.