Loaded WaiBOP United heads to the sunny Hawke’s Bay on Sunday for one final crack at keeping our 2015/16 ASB Premiership play-off hopes alive. If our previous match against Canterbury United was considered a ‘must-win’ match then the pressure’s been doubled down ahead of this encounter.
For head coach, Peter Smith, it’s quite simple. “Well yeah, we win and the door stays ajar for at least another week. Lose and we’re gone,” he said during the week. “It can’t be any more straight forward than that. The old ‘cup final’ cliché was doing the rounds a few weeks back… I think this week there’s no doubt it’s for real.”
The Canterbury United result was a very disappointing one for Smith, given its importance, but he’s moved on now with Hawke’s Bay his sole focus. “We contributed to our demise, to a certain extent, by not being better at the things we could control during the first half,” said Smith. “Some of the individual defending should have been better. After the break, well, my feeling is we were done by things out of our control. That wasn’t a nice experience, but I’m sure we’re not the only side to be on the receiving end this season. So we move on.
“At the very least the boys want to finish the season strongly. That’s our focus now. It means doing what we can to get a result on Sunday, then doing the same the following week, and so on. League standings will take care of themselves and, ultimately, if we’re good enough we’ll be where we want to be.”
Smith has the utmost respect for what Hawke’s Bay United coach, Brett Angell, has achieved in two seasons at the Napier-based club. “Brett’s basically built two different play-off quality sides in two seasons down there and we know, from earlier in the season, what a good, competitive, hardworking team he has,” said Smith. “So we’ll need to perform very, very well. If we doze off we’ll get done.”
The match is not live on Sky Sport but you’ll 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.