WaiBOP United has registered our first points of the ASB Premiership season with a 3-1 victory over Wanderers SC at Links Ave in Mt Maunganui.
After dropping our first two matches against Canterbury United and Team Wellington, we made a quick start against a Wanderers team also searching for their first points of the new season.
Local Tauranga lad, Sam O’Regan, headed in the first goal inside three minutes, from a Chad Coombes corner, and with the visitors still absorbing that early blow, Coombes powered home WaiBOP’s second just seven minutes later. His shot from the edge of the area was placed to perfection.
The visitors made the unusual move of making three subs just after the half hour mark, such was our sway in the match. Their changes helped as the lead in to half time was a bit more even.
That two-goal advantage lasted until just after the hour mark when Liam Higgins finished off a move which saw Coombes and Federico Marquez combine well. Higgins lashed home his second emphatic strike in two weeks to lead the team’s golden boot race so early in the season.
Wanderers pulled one back with 15 minutes to go, Clayton Lewis rifling home after a swift counter attack but that was as close as the visitors were able to get, despite a couple more threatening moments late on, and they fell to their fifth consecutive defeat to open the 2014-15 ASB Premiership season.
For our part, the three points, off the back of a good footballing performance, were a massive boost and have got our season underway at the third time of asking.
Head coach Pete Smith was naturally delighted with the win. “I thought our performance was good today. We moved the ball around well and were tidy in possession,” said Smith after the match. “I was pleased with the way all the lads played. Chad [Coombes] controlled the point and took his goal well. Aaron [Scott] and Sam [O’Regan] were strong at the back. It was good to see Sam score on his home debut at Links Ave.”
When prompted, Smith had a special word of praise for left back Liam Higgins, who had his performance rewarded with the third goal of the game. “Yeah, Higgie took his goal well. He’s playing with confidence…we’ve got him eating the porridge so it’s obviously working.”
Goal scorer Coombes was pleased with the result on his home debut. “We knew how important this game was, especially at home. So it was pleasing to put a couple away early,” Coombes said. “It was nice to score. Everyone says I shanked it went where it was meant to go.”
Coombes is already looking forward to our next match, in a fortnight, when we return to Links Ave to host Waitakere United, his old team. “Yeah, it won’t be hard to get up for that one. We’ve got our structures right so I think it will be a pretty even game.”
We don’t play next week as we have our official bye. We return to Links Ave in a fortnight when we host Waitakere United on Saturday December 6. Kick-off is at 3pm.