Pivotal game for semis spot

IAN ANDERSON
Last updated 05:00 09/11/2012

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The Waikato-Bay of Plenty side could go a long way towards securing a semifinal spot in the ASB Women's League with a victory on Sunday.

Peter Smith's side heads to St Peter's College in Grafton to meet Auckland Football, with the two sides and rivals Northern Football all chasing the two playoff spots available in the Northern Region.

Smith admitted that the match, on artificial turf, was a crucial one.

"This is a big game for both teams, however I wouldn't say there is any added pressure at this stage," Smith said.

"We've got a good relaxed atmosphere in the squad and are focusing on our own performance. We know if we play well, everything else will take care of itself."

The WaiBop side garnered confidence from their first victory of the new season last weekend when they beat the Northern-based New Zealand Football under-17 side 6-2 in Cambridge.

"We're encouraged by the way the team played last Sunday. The girls knocked the ball about and looked very comfortable with players playing to the best of their ability," Smith said.

The squad features two changes from last weekend, with forward Jackie Pretswell and young defender Trudi Greig replaced by midfielders Katherine Robinson and Laura Phillips.

"The changes are purely for player rotation. We're looking to develop the players in our squad so we have to keep giving players opportunities," Smith said.

"The more opportunities we can give to players at this level then as a federation we're the benefactors. It's also important for the culture of the squad that players are given opportunities."

WaiBop striker Helen Collins will again be a key performer for the visitors - she tops the Golden Boot standings with five goals from two games.

"Helen's in a fine vain of form. She's a huge player on and off the field. In the game she is constantly supporting the younger players, which is invaluable for the team," Smith said.

"For a young player you just can't buy that sort of support."

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- Waikato Times

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