Things looking up for Waikato FC
A home win at last, a climb to sixth spot and the promise of a brighter future.
That's how Waikato FC's ASB Premiership season ended under a blazing sun at Ngaruawahia yesterday as the hosts beat Otago United 3-1.
The victory lifted Mark Cossey's side from a share of bottom spot to sixth in the eight-team league and the coachhopes he can continue to make progress as WaiBop United next season.
"We've won three games - that's not too bad with a squad limited on numbers," Cossey said after Waikato had broken a two-year losing streak at home.
"Hopefully they want me to stay on as coach, because teams are getting organised now for next season."
With a greater administration input from the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Federation, the franchise should receive news shortly that its premiership licence has been renewed after another season of battling at the wrong end of the table.
That should give the franchise a chance to stabilise, plan and recruit following an at-times traumatic campaign which saw initial coach Declan Edge sacked after four matches and a number of top-drawer players pull out of the squad following his dumping.
Even on the last day of the regular season, Waikato couldn't avoid further problems as four first-teamers withdrew on the morning of the encounter at Centennial Park.
Striker Sam Margetts and midfielder Eder Franchini drew the greatest ire for going awol, but the hosts still managed to see off fellow strugglers Otago, with striker Sunny Singh netting twice.
He put the hosts in front with a sharp finish in the ninth minute from a Rory Turner cross and he doubled the lead 14 minutes later when being quickest to react when Otago keeper Liam Little could only parry a shot from Alexi Caroama Varela.
Otago squandered chances to get back into the match before Singh produced the miss of the match when he broke free in the 49th minute, rounded Little but then stumbled over the ball in front of the open net.
The visitors took advantage soon after to pull one back as Aajay Cunningham tucked away a loose ball following a series of strikes on goal, but Varela killed the game off with Waikato's third, again with Turner involved, with 20 minutes to go.