Dubious penalty brings broadside from coach Edge
A controversial penalty that consigned plucky underdogs Waikato FC to defeat yesterday raised the ire of coach Declan Edge.
The outspoken coach was thrilled with how his young side matched last year's champions Waitakere United in a 1-0 defeat at Fred Taylor Park, but believed his team were not getting fair treatment from the officials.
Rookie ref Isaac Trevis awarded the hosts the match-winning penalty for handball in the 65th minute when the ball struck the arm of Waikato's Rory Turner, and former All White midfielder David Mulligan dispatched the spot-kick past goalkeeper Matt Upton.
"We are not happy," Edge said.
"We thought that it was a dubious decision at best - sometimes the ref will give it, sometimes they won't. It could have been inside the box, it might have been out, it was ball to hand with the guy facing away from the ball."
Edge believes Waikato have been harshly treated in the first two games, after a 2-0 home defeat in the season-opener against Hawke's Bay United.
"Me at my best has a conspiracy theory that they don't want Waikato winning games and making it into the O-League.
"That's the second game on the trot we've had a referee who has been in charge of his first Premiership game. I think we deserve better respect and top referees.
"There's not a lot I can do about that though - I have to leave it up to the people in my club."
Edge said along with the debatable penalty, his side was suffering from a number of professional fouls against them not spotted that were stopping Waikato from playing effective counter-attacking football.
On the positive side, he was thrilled with the effort of his injury-plagued team against vaunted opposition.
"We were right at them from the first minute - it was a great humdinger of a game."
While the dangerous home attacking trio of Roy Krishna, Ryan de Vries and Allan Pearce caused some problems for a Waikato defence that saw former Waitakere player Hone Fowler excel on his debut and Upton shine, the visitors also had chances to score.
Ryan Thomas came the closest when set free in the 37th minute and lobbed Waitakere keeper Danny Robinson only to see the ball bounce onto the underside of the crossbar and away.
"For Waikato to really beat Waitakere, I need all my best players. But I had Adam Thomas, Tyler Lissette and Harry Edge sitting alongside me all injured."
Edge believes his side will soon break their goalscoring drought and was pleased with the way the newlook side are gelling.
"We've made a nice little step-up from last week. We were more penetrative this week, more aggressive."
Waikato share bottom spot in the Premiership with Otago United, who conceded three late goals at home to Auckland City in a 3-1 defeat, and Team Wellington, who were upset 1-0 at home by Canterbury United. Hawke's Bay grabbed their second successive win, 4-2 over Manawatu, to share top spot with Waitakere and Auckland.