Buoyant Waikato could turn up trumps in south

IAN ANDERSON
Last updated 05:00 02/02/2013

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A trip to Christchurch is usually a daunting task for Waikato FC at the best of times. Yet Mark Cossey's side may surprise by having their spirits up when they fly south to meet Canterbury United tomorrow.

Waikato now appear to be a side that performs better away from home in the ASB Premiership since their only points in the 2012/13 campaign have come in away wins over Otago and Manawatu.

They should also be buoyed by last weekend's effort, when a trip to the capital had them almost gaining a point against the playoff-chasing Team Wellington.

A late winner from the hosts came after a vastly-improved performance by a team that had taken three hammerings earlier last month.

To add to Waikato's confidence, tomorrow's rivals haven't been the usual force in their home surroundings so far this season. Last weekend's 4-1 victory over Otago United was the first win at home in four matches for Keith Braithwaite's men.

However, the visitors will still have to beat recent history to get a result: when Canterbury scored a 5-0 win over Waikato at Ngaruawahia on November 25, it was their third successive win in matches between the two sides.

Waikato's lineup from that day has changed markedly, mostly following the departure of coach Declan Edge.

It's likely that fewer than half the side who played in Edge's final game in charge, will start tomorrow.

Meanwhile, their hosts will be without Michael Fifii, Tom Batty, Chris Murphy and Dan Terris.

Danny Knight is likely to take over in goal from Batty, while Josh Smith and Cory Mitchell join a squad still spearheaded by Aaron Clapham.

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- Waikato Times

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