YoungHeart Manawatu are still trying to put together a decent performance over a full game, and will need to figure out how pretty quickly.
After four losses in a row, YoungHeart face another stern test against the red-hot Canterbury United at Memorial Park tomorrow.
In all four of their losses YoungHeart have switched off for a half, costing them games against Hawke's Bay United, Waikato FC and Team Wellington, which is becoming a problem for Manawatu coach Stu Jacobs.
"I guess it could be," he said. "But I think the difference this year compared to last year is that when we had a poor patch we tended to pay big time for it.
"The difference this year is we have the ability to come back into games. Last year once we'd folded, we folded big time."
He said if they start a game well they have to carry it on, and will have to tomorrow against a formidable Canterbury side.
"Last week's performance in the first half, as the players indicated, was pretty much down to our attitude. In the first half we didn't give ourselves many chances to get into the game.
"In the second half they showed what they can do if they're prepared to knuckle down and work hard."
Canterbury have a good record of late against Manawatu, having scored 23 goals from their last five games including a 9-1 humiliation last year.
They are coming off four wins in a row and it has been three years since they lost to YoungHeart.
Jacobs believed his side haven't lost faith but know it will be a tough job tomorrow.
The hosts can ill afford to repeat their first-half effort against Waikato during the 3-2 loss last week where they turned the ball over too easily and were dominated in midfield. If they do, Canterbury will tear apart Manawatu's sometimes fragile defence.
Manawatu do have their own scoring weapon though, with golden boot frontrunner Tom Mosquera still leading the league for goals, with seven this season and he will need to keep finding the back of the net to get up over Canterbury.
In the casualty ward, Lewis Cumber is sick, Sam Redwood has a groin strain and Khair Jones is still battling an ankle problem.
Manawatu's record against Canterbury: Played 20, won 10, lost seven, drawn three. YoungHeart Manawatu: Matt Borren, Liam Higgins, Wade Randle, Kade Schrijvers, Andy Frampton, Nathan Cooksley, Seule Soromon, Adam Cowan (captain), Tom Mosquera, Tyson Brandt, Jordan Martens, Dale Higham, Ben Wilkes, Grant Robson, Billy Scott. Canterbury United: Dan Terris, Vladimir Bayrev, Nick Wortelboer, Tom Schwarz, Darren White, Aaron Clapham, Russell Kamo, Dimitar Bayrev, Andy Barton, Josh Smith, Julyan Collett, Ashley Wellbourn, Louie Bush, Ken Yamamoto, Tristan Nicol, Adam Highfield. Kickoff is at 2pm.
- © Fairfax NZ News