» Preview: Waitakere United v Loaded WaiBOP United

After getting our 2015/16 ASB Premiership campaign underway against Team Wellington at the weekend the Loaded WaiBOP United squad heads north for their first Thursday night game of the season. Our opponents, Waitakere United, will need no introduction as, alongside Auckland City, they are one of the ASB Premiership’s best performed clubs.

Loaded WaiBOP United head coach, Peter Smith, is looking for his team to rebound quickly after Sunday’s last minute defeat by the Wellingtonians. “Sunday’s result was annoying because I don’t think we deserved to come away from it with nothing. The boys played well, we led twice and were a little unlucky at times,” said Smith prior to the Waitakere game. “But that’s the way it goes. We pick ourselves up, take the learnings and go again.

“It’s a quick turnaround with the game being on Thursday night, but it’s the same for both sides so we’ll see who backs up the best. We’ve got a couple of knocks after Sunday’s game, but nothing too serious.”

Smith is keen for another good showing and wanting a result. “Yeah, we need something to get our season going. We played Waitakere a couple of weeks ago [a 2-2 draw in Auckland] so we know a bit about them and the way they’ll be trying to play,” said Smith. “I’m confident, as always, but it’ll be a tough one. They’ve recruited well and have a strong group of players. They got a good result down in Dunedin on Sunday so will be buzzing.”

Smith is a little concerned about the state of the surface his team will be playing on. “It doesn’t look like the surface at QBE is in the best of condition, which will be in stark contrast to the carpet at Gower Park,” he said. “That’ll make things interesting but it’s just another challenge we’ll have to overcome.”

Up to four ex-Loaded WaiBOP United players could line-up against us tonight. Aaron Scott was our captain for our first two seasons, while Chad Coombes, Craig Wylie and Sam O’Regan all played important roles during our 2014/15 campaign. “It’ll be great to catch up with a few familiar faces,” chuckled Smith. “These guys did superbly well for us last season, and Aaron as our captain during our first two seasons, but things move on quickly in football. I wish them all the best, but just not on Thursday evening.”

Our own Dylan Stansfield played for Waitakere United during the 2013/14 ASB Premiership, while Maksim Manko has been involved with Waitakere in several ASB Premiership campaigns.

The two sides had a couple of tight encounters in 2014/15, with a 1-1 draw at Links Ave early in the season followed by a 2-1 win to Waitakere United, courtesy of a late, late winner, at the business end. This is our second consecutive match to be played in front of the Sky Sport cameras.

Our record v Waitakere United: P: 4, W: 0, D: 2, L: 2, GF: 3, GA: 7.

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