YoungHeart Manawatu reverted to their old selves as another poor display saw them go down 3-2 to Waikato FC in Wellington yesterday.
Manawatu have shown promising signs this season but a poor first half at Westpac Stadium gave Waikato their first win of the season.
YoungHeart captain Adam Cowan was disappointed with such a poor performance but was not sure what the problem was.
"They're a good side and have got some decent players," he said.
"I think they exposed us in areas.
"We need to get back and start training, do something on our shape, get a sense of what's going wrong."
Waikato had Manawatu under the pump in the first half with plenty of opportunities to score, as they did not look like a side hunting for their first win.
Down 1-nil early Manawatu levelled things in the second half with Tom Mosquera scoring from a free kick just outside the goal box, but then straight away they let Waikato in down the other end.
Waikato added another for good measure before Mosquera scored a consolation goal in injury time.
Rory Turner and Sam Margetts' goals were both top drawer from outside the box but Ryan Thomas should not have added the third as a poor touch by the Manawatu defence gave him a free run into the box and he drilled the ball past Matt Borren in goal.
Too often the last pass would go to a Waikato player or they would lose possession.
While it was not as bad as their 5-0 loss to Waitakere United two weeks ago, Cowan said they were awful in the first half.
He said YoungHeart had a problem whereby they switched off and conceded goals. "We had a very poor first half.
"We didn't work hard enough, gave too much time on the ball and nothing went right."
Nothing was said in the changing sheds after the game as they all knew it was an unacceptable performance.
It had been an odd feeling for him playing in the empty Westpac Stadium, which was a home game for Manawatu and the curtain-raiser for the match between the Wellington Phoenix and Western Sydney Wanderers.
The pitch was a lot faster than they were used to and Cowan said they had to adapt some of their passing to get the ball to players' feet.
On the bright side was Mosquera's hot streak with his two goals taking him to the top of the golden-boot charts with seven.
Manawatu did create a few chances but could not capitalise as they put shots over the bar or would lose the ball in the box.
Assistant coach Steve Burnley echoed Cowan's feelings that their first half was not good enough.
"We just passed the ball to them rather than to our own players," Burnley said.
"Just a lack of movement off the ball from some of our players."
YoungHeart will need to bounce back quickly with their next game against the second-placed Canterbury United in Palmerston North.
Waikato FC 3 (Rory Turner 18', Sam Margetts 69', Ryan Thomas 80') YoungHeart Manawatu 2 (Tom Mosquera 68', 90'+2) HT 1-0.
Other results: Canterbury United 4 Hawke's Bay United 0, Waitakere United 4 Otago United 1.
- The Manawatu Standard