Smith wants more from WaiBop

IAN ANDERSON
Last updated 05:00 24/02/2014

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WaiBop United got a rude reminder of what's needed to take the next step at Premiership level in Cambridge on Saturday.

The hosts at John Kerkhof Park were beaten 5-0 by playoff-bound Team Wellington, ensuring WaiBop finished the 2013/14 ASB Premiership season in sixth place in the eight-team competition with 14 points from as many matches.

That's an improvement from Waikato FC's tally last season, when they also finished ninth but with nine points, and the nine points collected in the 2011/12 Waikato FC campaign which saw the side finish seventh.

Coach Peter Smith has been able to make the most of limited resources this season with the newly-founded franchise to mold a competitive outfit that hadn't been given a spanking until the last 45 minutes of their season on Saturday.

"We went in at halftime thinking we were still in it," Smith later said of the home side that had fallen 1-0 behind to a Joel Stevens goal shortly before the break.

However, goals came from Henry Fa'arodo, an own goal, Cameron Lindsay and Sam Mason-Smith in the second spell as a wafer-thin squad crumbled in the heat.

"We were second best against a top team that'll be tough to beat in the playoffs," Smith admitted.

"It could have been more, although we could have had a couple too."

Smith said injuries and unavailability had finally taken their toll on his players.

"They were not at that top mark of where they've been. We've been getting the most of them week-in and week-out until now."

Smith said the display and result emphasised the need to seek improvement next season, should he again be given the reins.

"We need a stronger pool of players - players that are there for the full campaign," Smith said at the end of a season which saw him finish with a notably different squad than he began with.

"We've set a good foundation this year - we've shown that with a bit of heart we've been able to compete with teams. We've been organised and we've tried to get a real professional environment, to get the standards and work ethic up there.

"Now we need to get some sponsorship involved if we're serious and want to take it to the next level. If we want to do the same thing again and come in the same place again, then let's just do what we've done."

"We've got a good core of players, we're starting to get the region behind us. Now it's about how do we get to the next level, and how do we get players into the region during the summer and keep them here for the winter, so we can help the Ngaruawahias, the Melvilles, the Wanderers and other clubs in the region by strengthening their teams so we're working together.

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"For that to happen, we need to get sponsors on board and make a good go of it."

Smith acknowledges that any aspirations to be able to compete with perennial title-contenders Auckland City would be a step too far.

"But we need to be able to compete with the Canterburys, Hawke's Bays and the Wellingtons - I think that's where we should be."

- Waikato Times

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