WaiBop edged again in capital clash

19:55, Dec 22 2013

Peter Smith is acutely aware he's starting to sound like a stuck record.

The WaiBop coach had another tale of woe to tell yesterday after his side lost 3-2 to Team Wellington in their ASB Premiership match in the capital.

Smith felt his team was deserving of taking a point from their last match before the holiday break but some defensive woes didn't help. The visitors twice came from a goal down in the first half to draw level but couldn't manage that feat a third time despite some close shaves late.

"We conceded two soft goals in the first half but managed to twice score to get ourselves back into it," Smith said.

"We gave away a reckless free-kick on the edge of our own box that they scored from too, meaning we had to chase the game."

The defeat means WaiBop have fallen behind the pack in the pursuit of a top-four playoff place. After seven matches of the 14 scheduled in their 2013-14 campaign, WaiBop have gained seven points from two wins and a draw.

They sit in sixth spot, handily ahead of Southern United and Wanderers SC, but are now four points adrift from the three teams sharing third place on the table - two which have games in hand on Smith's troops.

"It's like we're getting to the biscuit tin, getting our hand there and just as we do, someone puts the lid on," Smith said.

The hosts took a lead in the fourth minute when Henry Fa'arodo burst onto a through ball and rounded WaiBop goalkeeper Andy McNeil to roll the ball into the net.

WaiBop equalised just before the half-hour when Alexi Varela put through striker Jack McNab to tuck past Wellington net minder Jacob Spoonley.

A well-struck Cole Peverley free-kick restored Wellington's lead four minutes later but the visitors went into halftime on level footing with a carbon copy goal to their first, with Masaki Nomoto this time the provider for Maksim Manko four minutes before the break.

Cory Chettleburgh ended a fierce spell of Wellington pressure on the hour with a goal that completed the scoring, although the hosts did have defender James Musa to thank for clearing a Manko header off the line with 11 minutes left.

The visitors, without the injured duo of top scorer Milos Nikolic and left back Liam Higgins, lost Higgins' replacement Marcel Corbera to a hamstring injury just before halftime and centre back Takahiro Yokota with a shoulder injury shortly before the final whistle.

"I can't fault the lads for their effort," Smith said.

"The league at least knows now no one is going to get an easy game from WaiBop."


Waikato Times