Loaded WaiBOP United make the trip north to play Auckland City this Sunday for what will be the franchise’s final ever game.
While the team may seemingly have little to play for, having missed the play-offs while also knowing they can’t finish any lower than fifth, head coach Peter Smith is looking for one final performance. “We really want to finish well,” said Smith. “I guess I’m not too concerned whether that’s with a win or not, because it’ll be pretty tough ask, but I do want the lads to play well. We want to put as much pressure as we can on the top team in the league and yes, aim for a win, while also knowing Auckland City are on a pretty good run and it will be a very, very tough place to visit.
“Basically we want to go out with a bang, rather than a whimper. With fire in our bellies, heads held high and any number of other such clichés. If we can put on a good show for the cameras and the fans then I’ll be happy.”
As always, Smith is looking forward to his latest visit to Kiwitea Street. “The things that make them so good don’t just begin and end on the field,” explained Smith. “They do everything right and that’s why they’ve been so successful for so long. Sure, given their position, you want to go there and beat them, knock them off their perch and gain a bit of glory, but there’s a reason – well, heaps of reasons – why that doesn’t happen too often.
“I’d love to finish on what would be the ultimate high, taking three points up there, but Ramon’s such a focused coach…I know he’ll be expecting the same of his lads. He’ll be wanting to keep his run going into the play-offs then the O-League and we’ll be viewed as just one more step on their road to success.”
Smith is aware of the sense of finality surrounding the game. “I’ve already said it’ll be a little sad and there will be some regret, not just for us but for all the people involved with our predecessors Waikato FC,” said Smith. “But it is what it is and the game moves ever on. I’d like to wish Mark [Cossey] and Wanderers all the best for next season and beyond.”
The match is live on Sky Sport and you’ll also be able to follow along at our dedicated Match Centre, which will be posted on the website over the weekend, and via our Twitter account.