The two northern ASB Premiership round three fixtures bring together teams at the opposite ends of the points table and with it the prospect of a couple of decent early season scraps.

Leaders Auckland City, ahead only on goal difference, go into tomorrow's game at Kiwitea St with Hawkes Bay United wary on two fronts.

The Bay have enjoyed their best-ever start to a season and, led by four goals from golden boot co-leader Sean Lovemore, pose a threat to a City side which coach Ramon Tribulietx admits has yet to fully hit their straps.

"We are looking pretty good but there are still some things we need to improve. We are creating a lot of goalscoring opportunities but have yet to really convert as we would like," said Tribulietx. "Having some new players in the squad makes a difference.


"The biggest difference for the players who have come in is to adapt to the way we want to be patient and not necessarily rush on to attack whenever we have the ball. Also, we defend a little bit differently when we are out of possession."

Tribulietx has had a look at a couple of Hawkes Bay's earlier games and is impressed with their approach.

"They are very similar to how they were last season but they are especially good on defence. They have also shown they have a player like Sean Lovemore who can hurt you on the counter-attack which is something they are good at."

While he was happy to reflect on the 3-1 win over Otago United, Tribulietx said he would have been far happier had his players spared him the anxiety of leaving their run so late.

Down by a goal and with the home team reduced to 10 players, City rallied with three goals in the last seven minutes to claim the victory.

Of the non-appearance of regular goalkeeper Jacob Spoonley, Tribulietx said Spoonley had been studying for his law examinations and that he had decided to play Tamati Williams in the meantime.

"We have decided that Tamati will start in the next few games as we feel Jacob is not as mentally well-prepared as we would like. Tamati has done very well but we will reassess as time goes on. Obviously Jacob is not happy as he has been our No1 goalkeeper for three years but he accepts the situation and continues to train with us.

"He has been a great professional and his attitude has been fantastic. He is still very much part of the squad we will take to the Club World Cup."

While City and Hawkes Bay will scrap for top spot, in the earlier game at Porritt Stadium, Waikato and Team Wellington, two of three teams yet to claim a point, will have a different battle.

Neither have scored a goal in two outings this season, but have defended well which bodes for a tight contest and an early chance to get away from the lower echelons.

Waitakere United, one of three teams with a perfect two-from-two start, are away to YoungHeart Manawatu.

Waikato FC v Team Wellington

Porritt Stadium
Tomorrow 1pm
Referee: Matt Conger

Auckland City v Hawkes Bay United

Kiwitea Street
Tomorrow 2.30pm
Referee: Mark Hester