The only thing Palmerston North Marist coach Simon Lees could say about his team's first-half effort in their 3-0 loss to Wests at Wellington on Saturday was that it was the worst half of the season.
After an abysmal first-half effort, the Marist players trudged off the pitch 3-0 down and about to get a blast from the usually quietly spoken and calm Lees.
"It was embarrassing," Lees said. "I don't know if it was the right thing to do, but I let rip at them during the break.
"There wasn't one player who stood up and said ‘I'm playing well'."
Three comical pieces of defending stood out. Twice in the first half the same Wests striker was given acres of space for a free header and another when a Marist player cleared the ball out wide, booting it straight into Marist's own goal area to a Wests players standing on the penalty spot.
"We've conceded eight goals in the last two games through poor defending, but that first 45 minutes was the worst this season," Lees said.
Marist created chances in the second spell, but Lees admitted he wasn't sure Wests were playing with the same intensity.
"We created chances but without Tomas [Mosquera], opposition teams are marking Jerram Tuck pretty tightly, though he still created a couple of chances."
Lees agreed every game is a step up from the Federation League and some players needed to look at themselves.
"You could get away with not being on top of your game last season, but not in the Central League where the pace is quicker and each team have players who can hurt if you drop your concentration for just a second."
With four games left this season, including three relegation-threatened teams, Upper Hutt, Lower Hutt City and Tawa, as well as against second-placed Napier City Rovers, things won't get any easier for Marist.
Napier will be keen to finish second in the league with the other three sides fighting for their Central League lives.
- Manawatu Standard
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