Preview: Loaded WaiBOP United v Wellington Phoenix

Tickets Adult $10, Student & Pensioners $5, Children free.

Loaded WaiBOP United is back in the bay this Saturday for one final home game in a season that has, ultimately, ended in another failed play-off bid. A run of three games against fellow play-off contenders led to a run of three defeats and now we look to bring the curtain down on the franchise’s existence with only pride to play for.

For head coach, Peter Smith, it’s a case of what could have been. “It’s disappointing to sit where we are now. I guess we’re playing for fifth, which would match last season’s efforts, by that’s not really much of a consolation,” said Smith. “We do want to finish strong, though, so it’s important we don’t drop our standards. We’ll be looking for a performance, some goals and hopefully another win. That would be the best way to finish in our final home game.”

Assessing his opponents, the ‘Wee Nix’, Smith is expecting an open game. “Their record this season shows they can score goals but they also let them in, so I think they’ll be coming here with no fear and nothing to lose,” explains Smith. “That’ll probably mean there are plenty of opportunities at both ends. We’ll look to keep things a bit tighter than we did at their place earlier in the season, while also getting the ball quickly to our lads in the attacking third.”

Smith has had some good times at Mt Maunganui’s Links Ave, the match day venue, during his time as Loaded WaiBOP Coach, WaiBOP Football’s Western BOP FDO and coach at Tauranga City United. “Yeah, I like Links Ave. It’s a nice little boutique football ground with great facilities, and the crowds are usually good,” said Smith. “It’ll be good to go back, catch up with a few familiar faces and  hopefully put on a good show for them.”

We have played the Wee Nix three times, for two away wins and a home defeat. With 14 goals in the three games a high scoring fixture is on the cards. The reverse fixture, at the beginning of January, finished 4-3 to us thanks to an added time winner from Ryan Tinsley, and that was after the first half was goalless.

Our record v Wellington Phoenix: P: 3, W: 2, D: 0, L: 1, GF: 8, GA: 6.

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.

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