WaiBOP United has returned from a long day out in Wellington after finding themselves on the end of another away defeat. The match, played at Westpac Stadium, was a perfect pre-Christmas opportunity for both teams to push themselves right back into play-off contention. The hosts made the most of this opportunity while United fell just short and we now find ourselves looking at a worrying gap to the play-off places.
A back and forth first half saw the sides level at 2-2 come half time. Maksim Manko was central to both goals, forcing Adam Cowan to concede an OG for the first then scoring the second himself. Team Welling scored the decisive third through Cory Chettleburgh on the hour mark.
United head coach, Peter Smith, was naturally disappointed with the result. “We played well at times, particularly during the first half,” he said. “To peg a side like Team Wellington back twice, away from home, showed we were competitive, but we couldn’t carry on an force the win. That’s a shame and it now leaves us with a mountain to climb.”
The Christmas break could be both a blessing and a curse. “We have to wait three weeks now until we play again,” said Smith. “In some respects you want to get straight back on the horse after a defeat like that, but in other respects I think the break will do us good. A couple of the lads have serious looking injuries so we have a chance to see how they shake up and the break also gives us a timely opportunity to analyse the first half of the season. Hopefully we can come back stronger after Christmas.”
It was a long day out for the Team in Wellington, with Smith not making it home until 2am on Monday morning. “It was our first proper away trip and it’s not a nice feeling to travel that far and get home so late after a defeat,” he said. “Hopefully we can learn from that. It was, however, great to get a run out on Westpac Stadium.”