» Preview: Loaded WaiBOP United v Hawke’s Bay United

After getting our 2015/16 ASB Premiership campaign going with a famous 5-1 victory over Waitakere United under the QBE Stadium lights last week we’re back for another helping of Thursday night football. Our visitors, Hawke’s Bay United, are unbeaten after two games so this promises to be a telling early season encounter.

Loaded WaiBOP United head coach, Peter Smith, is looking for his team to continue with the form they exhibited last time out. “We had our first experience of Thursday night football last week and I don’t really think it could have gone any better. For me now it’s just a case of ‘more of the same, but better, please lads’,” said Smith in the lead up to the match. “We did pretty well against Waitakere, the lads were buzzing, the feedback from people in the game has been amazing… but that was last week.

“That win has filled us with belief. It was a good performance and an excellent result against one of the big boys. But if we hope to get anywhere near where we want to be then we have to take the Waitakere performance as our minimum expectation now. Other teams will improve so we have to as well.”

Smith has been looking forward to this match almost since the final whistle at QBE. “Our next challenge is the visit of a very good Hawke’s Bay United side and that’s all I’m interested in. The Bay secured an excellent result in their first game against Auckland City and a good win at the weekend [over Southern United] and I think they’ll be expecting more of the same on Thursday evening,” said Smith. “We played each other a couple of times during the pre-season and I had a good look at them against Southern on Sunday, so we have a pretty good idea of what they’re about. As, I’m sure, do they of us. That probably means the team that can execute on their game plan the best will win. So that’s what we’ll focus on.”

Smith had a little chuckle about the game being played in Taupo. “It’s almost a home game for Brett and his team. I’m sure they don’t mind having an away game so close to Napier,” he said. “We’re looking forward to playing on Owen Delany Park, though, and to being in front of the Sky Sport cameras once again. Hopefully both sides can get out there and play the sort of football that will keep the local fans, as well as the TV audience, enthralled.

“As coaches we now not only have a responsibility to get results but also to put on a good show for the fans at home. There’s nothing as captivating as an exciting game of football and the more of those we can get on TV the better for the league.”

While this is Loaded WaiBOP United’s first ASB Premiership match at Owen Delany Park, it’s a venue familiar with top level sport, including football. The Wellington Phoenix played NZ A in a pre-season friendly in August 2014, while the Football Ferns drew 0-0 with Brazil here in June 2014. The 2012 OFC Men’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament was hosted at Owen Delany Park in March 2012.

The two sides had a couple of entertaining encounters in 2014/15. The Bay won 4-2 at Rotorua International Stadium just before Christmas, while we returned the favour with a 1-0 victory at Bluewater Stadium in March. This is our third consecutive match to be played in front of the Sky Sport cameras this season.

Our record v Hawke’s Bay United: P: 4, W: 1, D: 0, L: 3, GF: 5, GA: 9.

Click on the image below to read the latest issue of The Range.

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