WaiBop rue 'tough ground'

Waikato-Bay of Plenty coach Peter Smith is delighted his side will not have to play at St Peter's College in Auckland again this season.

The WaiBop side went down 2-1 against the New Zealand Football northern-based under-17 team on the artificial turf to make their playoff goal harder than expected.

WaiBop still hold second spot in the four-team Northern Conference ahead of Auckland Football despite failing to lift their game against their skilful, young opposition, who they defeated 6-2 at home a fortnight ago.

"We've played two games back to back there and it seems to be a tough ground for us," Smith said.

"Even though we beat Auckland 5-2 there last weekend, we didn't play that well, and our performance today wasn't the best either," he said yesterday.

Smith said the team was let down in the basics of the game.

"We were sloppy against a well-organised, technically efficient team that we knew they would be," he said.

"We knew if we gave them time and space they'd punish us but we were second to every ball and were left chasing shadows. We never caught up with the pace of the game."

WaiBop's Helen Collins equalised in the 39th minute after Martine Puketapu put the under-17s ahead in the 26th minute but a 52nd-minute strike from Daisy Cleverley decided the match.

"Now we need to dig deep when we meet [conference leaders] Northern Football next weekend," Smith said.

Waikato Times