It will be their second trip to the Hawke's Bay in the space of 14 days, and Versatile Wanganui City are changing up the battle formation for tomorrow's Lotto Federation League road game with the Havelock North Wanderers.

City were buoyed by their 4-1 victory over Hokowhitu FC on Easter Saturday, but were brought back to reality this week after reading reports of their upcoming opponent's dynamic 4-3 win over Palmerston North Marist.

In the battle of the League winners from the previous two seasons, the 2017 champions Havelock North got the duke over the hosting and defending champions during a rapid fire exchange of goals in injury time, breaking the 2-2 deadlock.

Liam Shackleton scored two of their goals, while Marist's Nicholas Carrick also got a brace to extend his lead in the golden boot tally with seven.


City's Zane Robinson introduced himself into that equation with his quartet of goals against Hokowhitu, having been moved up front as player-coach Anthony Bell transferred his pace over to the wing.

However, given Bell says his travelling squad will be at about "80 per cent" strength for this matchup at Guthrie Park, with just one 17-year-old on the reserves bench, City are likely to reshuffle their starting lineup.

"It's going to be different again," Bell said.

"Obviously going to Havelock North, sitting near the top and beating Marist, who won the comp last year, they're going to be tough at home.

"Every team, I think, you've got to do a little bit of homework on them. We're looking at changes to rectify what they do.

"They'll be No1 or No2 in the League this year, for sure.

"Even if we do come out with a loss, it's taking positives from each game."

City are still missing the injured Adam Gill and Alex Judd-Nuttall with injuries, and while Jordan Joblin-Hall, Kyle Graham-Luke and Max Davidson were strong in the midfield against Hokowhitu, they're unlikely to get as many attacking opportunities as that game presented.


"We did play it well in patches, but I'll stick with patches," said Bell.

"The boys still felt there were a lot of goals left out on the pitch."

Bell said a study of the League schedule showed his team is the only one looking at a consecutive long-distance away games, however he is hoping this will work in their favour for the second round when they get the home matchups during the time they want to peak and "make a few surprises".

Avoiding surprises and more importantly delivering a decisive thrust is foremost on GJ Gardner Homes Wanganui Athletic's minds as they host Massey University FC at Wembley Park tomorrow.

Having again tripped up against boogey team North End 2-1, while a bum ref call cost them in the 1-1 draw with Red Sox, Athletic have just not converted pressure into points to have maintain a safe lead before giving up goals in the back end of matches.

Normally, an early season Massey side would be the kind of team to provide Athletic opportunities to weed out the gremlins from their game, but given the student club is coming off a 3-0 win over Palmerston North Boys High, coach Jason King has no reason to feel encouraged.

"They've still got a game in hand, you just never know with Massey.

"They're like a school team – they tend to wind up through the season, got a few new faces in there.

"We saw from the reserves game they handed our guys a football lesson [8-1 on April 6]."

"They'll be coming here with every intention of taking three points. They'll see we've had a shaky start.

"We'd be doing well if games were five minutes shorter."

Jude Hiri and Steve Burney have been the team's sole goal scorers so far this season, so King is wants the side to set up the opportunities for the likes of Ryan Holden and Scott Burney to have more chances in front of goal, because they are too talented not to eventually make it stick.

"Just dig a little deeper.

"We know we're missing a few players, but it's not like we don't have the players there who can do it."

Coming off the bye, the GJ Gardner Homes Wanganui Athletic Reserves head to Skoglund Park tomorrow to face the PN Marist Reserves.

The Women's Federation League resumes after the Easter break on Sunday with Team Ritesh Football Whanganui travelling to Timona Park for their first away game against Taradale AFC.