Waitakere look to seal three-pointer
There's no New Year hangover among the Waitakere United squad as the league leaders look to continue business as usual in the ASB Premiership against Waikato FC at Porritt Stadium on Sunday.
The round nine clash sees two sides with contrasting records do battle and Waitakere should leave Hamilton with an easy three points if recent results are anything to go by.
Waikato have bled eight goals in their past two matches with 4-1 and 4-0 losses to Auckland and Hawke's Bay this month and it doesn't get any easier against a red-hot Waitakere side on track to take a fourth consecutive title.
Waikato coach Mark Cossey admits it's been a tough few weeks for the club.
"We've had a lot of players attend the Ole Soccer Academy which has stretched us for numbers and we'll need to sign a few local players this week to deal with that.
"We have slacked off a little bit with our fitness over the Christmas period and we need to strengthen up our defence," Cossey says.
Waitakere are comfortable at the top with a five-point lead over Auckland City and have scored 23 goals in just eight matches.
Waitakere captain Jake Butler is confident heading in to round nine.
"We're looking for three points, for sure. It's tougher when we face teams lower on the ladder as they throw everything into it and play like it's a grand final.
"But in saying that we just need to worry about us and the result should take care of itself," Butler says.
Waitakere certainly did that last Sunday as they downed Team Wellington in tricky conditions in the capital.
Brian Shelley set the pace after scoring from a Waitakere corner just six minutes into the match.
But Luke Rowe helped put Wellington on level-pegging 10 minutes later after his shot was deflected into the Waitakere net by team-mate Darren Cheriton.
Wellington dominated the possession for the rest of the game but two goals to Roy Krishna in the second half put the result beyond doubt at 3-1 for Waitakere.
"Roy was class as usual. He used his pace really well and took both his opportunities," Butler says.
"The conditions were really tough. The wind levelled the game out and we didn't play very well. But we know how to win and it was a satisfying victory."