John Kerkhof Park is set to host a national league double header this Saturday, with the two games scheduled having massive play-off implications.
In the ASB Premiership, we host defending champions, Waitakere United. Waitakere sit on the play-off bubble and know three points are a must if they’re to keep the fate of their defence in their own hands.
WaiBOP United’s head coach, Peter Smith, is looking forward to the challenge with something bordering on excitement. “Naturally enough, we enter this fixture in great heart after picking up a couple of good victories,” said Smith. “Last Sunday’s trip to Dunedin was particularly special for the team. Any time you can score six goals in a game is great, but more than that I was pleased with the performance. We played really well and got our reward.”
WaiBOP lost the reverse fixture somewhat harshly earlier in the season and there is a sense of wanting to put things right this weekend. “We were smashed on the score board up there, but not on the field, in what I thought was a highly competitive match,” explains Smith. “This Saturday we want to prove that. It will, of course, be an entirely different challenge to what we’ve faced over the last couple of weeks, though. They’ve got an unmatched history behind them and they’ll be desperate for points to make the play-offs.
“Unfortunately our play-off chances are gone, but the most exciting thing about our final couple of matches is that we can still help influence who does make the final four. The squad also has a couple of extra goals we want to achieve. It’s great to still have something to play for.”
The ASB Premiership fixture is preceded by the ASB Youth League match between Bay SportsMed WaiBOP United and Auckland City. We lost the reverse fixture in Auckland in what has been WaiBOP’s only Youth League defeat to date. Auckland has a 100% record this season and are the hot favourites to retain their ASB Youth League crown. A win to Auckland City could secure their place in the ASB Youth League final.
WaiBOP youth team coach, Paul Drake, is looking forward to the challenge. “For us it’s about being competitive and finding out how far the squad has come since the first round defeat in Auckland,” said Drake. “We’ve played well in the last few weeks so hopefully we can perform well on Saturday and get something from the match.”
Both games will be played at John Kerkhof Park in Cambridge on Saturday February 15. The ASB Premiership match between WaiBOP United and Waitakere United kicks off at 5pm. The ASB Youth League match between WaiBOP United and Auckland City kicks off at 12.30pm.