Further misery for Waikato FC
The black cloud hanging over the future of Waikato FC's summer existence darkened in Ngaruawahia yesterday.
The home side were thumped 5-0 at Centennial Park by Canterbury United, a day before a key meeting to discuss the continued existence of the franchise in the ASB Premiership in coming seasons.
While on-field performances won't be the deciding factor as to whether the franchise gets a mandate to apply for a three-year licence renewal, this season's results haven't helped raise encouragement for the immediate future.
Coach Declan Edge's side is young, with players who may go on to be influential. They also can't be accused of a lack of effort.
But they are constantly plagued by errors, naivety, an inability to score and a concerning softness.
Having 11 men on the park for 90 minutes would significantly help them too.
For the second consecutive outing, Waikato lost a defender to a yellow card while the match's outcome was still to be decided. As with the previous weekend against Team Wellington, the result was quickly determined in the visiting side's favour after the hosts found themselves outnumbered.
Mikey Kramer's return from injury lasted 55 minutes. He was booked for dissent after a free kick was awarded against him by referee Nick Waldron and just minutes later was adjudged to have hauled down Canterbury striker Russell Kamo when Kamo was through on goal, producing a second yellow card, immediately followed by a red.
Former All White schemer Aaron Clapham comfortably converted the spot-kick and while Waikato did respond with their best period of the match, they fell apart late to concede a goal to Darren White and two from substitute Ashley Welborn to make it nine goals conceded in their last two home games.
They were also left to rue a missed penalty from Rory Turner in the first half that would have lifted spirits and drawn them level after Kamo put Canterbury deservedly ahead in the 18th minute with a header from a poorly-defended corner.
Sixteen minutes later, Waldron ruled Jesse Edge had been pushed while trying to head in Ryan Thomas' free kick, but the out-of-form Turner, who has yet to score in this campaign, sidefooted weakly to the right of keeper Adam Highfield, who pounced and parried the ball to safety.
Canterbury again squandered good chances either side of the break, as Josh Greene and Sam Jasper defended manfully, but once Kramer departed the writing was on the wall. It was the fourth defeat on the trot for Edge's troops, who have scored just once and share bottom spot with Otago United.
Eder Franchini stood out for the hosts, while Clapham was a composed and crucial figure for the visitors.