Having collected maximum points on the opening day of the season, New Plymouth Rangers faces a testing challenge on Saturday when it hosts Lotto Federation football neighbours Wanganui Athletic.
The visitors will come to Merrilands for the 2.45pm match – to be refereed by New Plymouth’s Daniel Gallo – bouyed by a 5-2 derby win over old rival Wanganui City at Wembley last weekend.
Rangers and Athletic produced some titanic battles last season and spectators can expect more of the same on Saturday.
The visitors have former Team Taranaki striker Josh Smith in their ranks and he was on the scoresheet last weekend.
Rangers have a new look under coach Mal Bourgoise. English import Sam De St Croix has signed for North Shore, and both Sam Adeyinka and Anmol Shergill have also headed north to work in the City of Sails. Liam Dungey (Christchurch) Lee Conley (overseas), Mustafa Can and Callum Bourgoise (playing in the Taranaki competition) are the other notable absentees from the 2018 squad.
Bourgoise has bolstered his squad with skipper Wade Randle, Dom Squatriti and Joel Willetts, who last season played for Team Taranaki in the Central League. With the demise of TT, Rangers carries Taranaki’s flag in the Federation competition as the top club side in the province.
Squatriti sealed the points in Palmerston North last weekend, scoring from the penalty spot mid-way through the second half against Red Sox.
His coach will be hoping his side can turn more chances into goals from open play this weekend.
Taranaki Daily News readers will have noticed today they ran a preview of our match against Red Sox. The error was ours – we sent the wrong file to our local newspaper