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Coach content with Waikato 'apprentices'

IAN ANDERSON
Last updated 05:00 27/02/2012

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Waikato FC coach Declan Edge was far less frustrated than his players and the small gathering of home fans when the hosts couldn't find a winner against Manawatu in Hamilton yesterday.

Edge's side dominated proceedings but couldn't produce more than Tyler Boyd's goal late in the first half, which came eight minutes after Nathan Cooksley took advantage of a defensive lapse to head in a long-throw.

Waikato had almost all of the play in the second half of their ASB Premiership clash but some wayward finishing and a number of fine saves by visiting goalkeeper Ben Wilkes meant Manawatu grabbed just their fourth draw of the season and denied the hosts their first home win for 2011/12.

However, Edge was far more pleased with what he witnessed than in last weekend's 4-2 home loss to Hawke's Bay United. "I'm nowhere near as frustrated as I was last week," he said. "It would have been a lot better for everybody if we had got a win, but people have to realise what's going on with this team.

"I thought our movement and passing and control was excellent. We got the ball out from the back, got it over midfield and got it round the back.

"But what people who watch the Brisbane Roar do the same and then score, have to realise is that the two guys who do that for them are Albanian and German. Could homegrown Australian players do the same? That's what we're trying to do here.

"The difference in having that awareness and ability to set players up when defenders are diving in is the difference between a $60 million player and a $20 million player. Our players are still apprentices learning their trade."

Without the injured Jason Hicks, Edge made some personnel and positional changes which mainly paid dividends.

Michael Mayne played at the back with Josh Greene pushed into midfield, while Jesse Edge started up front.

The hosts dominated possession and territory but gave away the lead after 32 minutes. Tyler Lissette briefly spared their blushes by blocking Tom Mosquera's effort after he rounded Waikato keeper Mark Fulcher, only for the resultant long throw to pass by Waikato's defence for Cooksley to nod in from five metres.

Boyd levelled matters by skipping through on the left flank and beating Wilkes, and it seemed likely a second would come in the second half, with Adam Thomas' pace causing problems down Manawatu's right flank.

While Fulcher was called upon to deny Josh Chettleburgh after an hour, the rest was all Waikato after Michael Fraser was sent off following his second yellow card. Boyd went close twice to a winner; substitute Harry Edge astutely set up fellow sub Adam Wallis only for Wilkes to make an excellent stretching save; and then Harry Edge blazed wide as time ticked away.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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