They may have signed half a dozen new players during the transfer window last week, but that wasn't enough to help Waikato FC's cause in a massive defeat to competition leaders Waitakere United yesterday.
Waikato were belted 9-1 by the defending champions in their round nine ASB Premiership clash at Porritt Stadium in Hamilton.
Waitakere, who have won eight and drawn one of their games this season, piled on the goals early and remarkably led 6-0 after only 27 minutes.
While it would have been a herculean effort for Waikato to have even got a point from the contest, they did only lose to Waitakere 1-0 earlier in the season in Auckland.
But, in perfect conditions yesterday, the visitors put on a master class of skill from the outset.
The vastly experienced Allan Pearce opened the scoring with a snorter of a goal in the 10th minute, as he curled the ball into the top corner and that paved the way for more.
Waikato goalkeeper Matt Upton made a mess of a corner and Brian Shelley smacked home a loose ball to double the lead, before Pearce made Upton parry a shot, with the ball played back for Chad Coombes to score.
When Jack Hobson-McVeigh's pass back to Raymond How wasn't dealt with, Roy Krishna stumbled round Upton and slotted home.
Krishna then set up the next two.
His back heel sent Aaron Scott down the right, who fired a cross for Ryan De Vries to flick in at the near post, then a Krishna cross had Pearce behind the defence for a simple tap in.
Following a rev-up from coach Mark Cossey at halftime, Waikato got themselves on the board in the 60th minute, with new recruit Sunny Singh calmly finishing after a great through ball from Rory Turner.
After holding Waitakere out in the second spell the floodgates opened at the finish, with three goals coming in the last seven minutes.
Pearce fired in for his hat-trick before Krishna powerfully finished and then collected his third when his shot was deflected in.
Cossey was left to reflect on some "silly mistakes" which cost his side dearly.
"They've got the players, obviously, that can punish," he said.
At halftime Cossey was forthright in his message to his players.
"I said to the boys it's a disgrace really. They're letting themselves down, not so much anyone else.
"It's embarrassing, I said it's a franchise where you've got to really try and have some heart, otherwise you shouldn't be there."
Cossey felt his team played "a lot better in a lot more patches" in the second spell, but overall knew the performance was tremendously below par.
"This standard is not good enough, and these boys need to go on now and start having a bit more pride.
"At the end of the day they're playing to get into the likes of Waitak and Auckland City. And I'd say at this stage none of them can. Basically we're going to have to dig deep, we're taking it on the chin and we will obviously hope to bounce back next week."
The heavy defeat pushes Waikato to second-to-last spot on the ladder, with their goal difference now a horrendous -20.
They are on the same points as Otago United, who were downed 3-1 on the road by Auckland City yesterday, and ahead of only Youngheart Manawatu, who were defeated 5-1 at home by Hawke's Bay United.
Waitakere maintain their five-point buffer at the top of the standings, though second-placed Auckland have a game in hand.
In yesterday's other match Team Wellington beat Canterbury United 2-0 in Christchurch.
AT A GLANCE
Waitakere Utd 9 (Allan Pearce (3), Brian Shelley, Chad Coombes, Roy Krishna (3), Ryan De Vries) Waikato FC 1 (Sunny Singh)
- Waikato Times
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