» Back in the Bay!

Loaded WaiBOP United, the Bay of Plenty and Waikato’s representative in the ASB Premiership, hosts the Wellington Phoenix at Mt Maunganui’s Links Ave this Saturday in their final home game of the season.

This is an opportunity for Bay of Plenty football fans to get a taste of the highest domestic level of football available in the county, while continuing their traditionally excellent level of support for the round ball game. The Phoenix squad, which is the A-League franchise’s reserve team, includes some of the country’s best young players and has been a stepping stone for players now performing in the professional game.

The match is set for a 1pm kick-off at Links Ave, one of the country’s best boutique football grounds, and will be a perfect lead in to what promises to be a transformational season for local football fans. Host club Tauranga City United will compete in the 2016 Northern Regional Football League, the country’s highest winter league after gaining promotion at the end of last season.

Having lived in Tauranga for a number of years Loaded WaiBOP United’s head coach, Peter Smith, is pleased to return home. “Links Ave holds a lot of special memories for me, not only with Loaded WaiBOP United but also through my time at Tauranga City United,” said Smith. “I hope we can turn up and put on a special show in front of the many, many people I know so well here in Tauranga.”

Smith, who is now based in Auckland due to his role as Director of Football at Mt Albert Grammar School, is happy his team’s final home game will be at the venue he knows so well. “It’s an excellent ground and we usually get a good crowd in – a crowd that knows and enjoys the game – so I’m hoping for more of the same on Saturday. I expect the conditions will be excellent so we’ll want to reward our fans and sponsors with a good performance and an even better result.”

Links Ave is a lucky ground for Loaded WaiBOP United, having been unbeaten on the field in the three matches played there over the past two seasons. The team beat Wanderers SC 3-1 in both 2013/14 and 2014/15, while drawing 1-1 with Waitakere United in 2014/15.

This match will also be Loaded WaiBOP United’s final ever home game after the decision was made at the end of 2015 to hand the franchise’s licence to Hamilton Wanderers for the expanded 2016/17 ASB Premiership.

Match Details:

Loaded WaiBOP United v Wellington Phoenix
ASB Premiership
Saturday February 20, 2016
Links Ave, Mt Maunganui. Kick-off: 1pm
Entry: Adults – $10, Students & Pensioners – $5, Children – free.

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