Waikato FC flag on hot day

IAN ANDERSON
Last updated 05:00 04/02/2013

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A failure to take their chances has proved extremely costly for Waikato FC.

The visitors created a number of opportunities against the higher-rated Canterbury United in Christchurch yesterday, but were left to rue their profligacy in front of goal in a 4-0 defeat.

The Mark Cossey-coached side displayed plenty of spirit in the first half before falling behind shortly before the halftime break, and the hosts then took advantage as Waikato flagged late in hot conditions.

Canterbury's victory kept them on track for a top-four playoff spot but Waikato have now lost five consecutive matches and must lift their game this Sunday when they host bottom side Manawatu.

Lively striker Sunny Singh missed Waikato's best chance at goal in the first half when he pulled his shot wide with just goalkeeper Adam Highfield to beat.

The hosts had also squandered chances before former All White Aaron Clapham put them ahead, tucking home the loose ball in the 41st minute after veteran Waikato keeper Neil Mouncher had initially saved Darren White's shot.

A controversial penalty awarded by referee Peter O'Leary in favour of the hosts - which seems to be a weekly tradition for Waikato FC to have go against them - when Mouncher and Canterbury striker Ashley Wellbourn collided in the 48th minute saw Clapham net from the spot-kick courtesy of the underside of the crossbar.

Highfield was again called into action to deny strikes from striker Rory Turner and midfielder Eder Franchini, but the hosts killed off the result when forward Russell Kamo scored a classy solo effort in the 62nd minute.

Ken Yamamoto made it four with seven minutes remaining, but Highfield denied Waikato a deserved consolation by pulling off a stunning fingertip save of a free-kick from midfielder Jack Hobson-McVeigh.

"The first half we did very well," Cossey told the ASB Premiership website.

"We just wanted to carry on what we were doing, but then that penalty so soon after. To be fair, Canterbury kept pushing and took their chances."

Defending champions Waitakere United lead the league by 10 points after beating arch rivals Auckland City 3-2 on Saturday.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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