We head to Links Ave, Mt Maunganui, this Saturday with our eyes on our first points of the new ASB Premiership season.
It’s been a tough start for the team. Despite a couple of decent performances we’ve been on the wrong side of the score line against both Canterbury United and Team Wellington. Last week’s 3-2 defeat in Wellington, in particular, was a tough one to take, not helped by the red card shown to Wade Molony with half an hour to go.
Head coach, Pete Smith, wasn’t in too much of a reflective mood, however, after last night’s training session. “I was raging on the inside after the Wellington game as I felt we were a little bit, er, hard done by, but there’s nothing we can do about it now,” he said. “It’s gone. What we can do is focus on what went well down there and look to do that again, while upping our consistency across the park. We’re getting better, stronger and more confident in what we’re doing. Hopefully being at home for the first time this season will help us finally break through for the win we need.”
Smith isn’t taking fellow winless side Wanderers SC for granted, however. “Wanderers are a much stronger outfit than last year and, from what I’ve seen so far, it’s clear they’ll present a stern physical test on Saturday,” said Smith. “Darren [Bazeley – Wanderers SC head coach] will have his team organised and I expect they’ll come here expecting to win. They need the points as much as we do so it should be a fierce encounter.”
Saturday’s squad is likely to feature two players who played their winter club football at Links Ave for Tauranga City United. Sam O’Regan and Jerahl Hughes, who both started against Team Wellington, were central figures in Tauranga’s NRFL Division 2 title winning campaign and, if selected, they’ll be hoping to put on a show for the local fans.
Smith, who coached Tauranga in 2010 and still lives locally, is pleased to be back on familiar territory. “I’m delighted we can bring ASB Premiership football to the Bay. Hopefully we can send everyone home happy and looking forward to our return in two weeks,” he smiled.
The match kicks off at 3pm on Saturday November 22.
If you can’t make it to Links Ave you can follow the game live from our match centre.