By RabSmith / asbpremiership.co.nz
DUNEDIN - Otago United eye a golden opportunity to notch back to back wins when a patch work Waikato FC visits Dunedin on Sunday.
Otago's optimism is far from misplaced. Waikato FC are in disarray after eight players walked out on the club just two weeks after former coach Declan Edge was shown the door by the club's board.
Waikato FC coach Mark Cossey has added Robbie Greenhalgh to his depleted squad in an attempt to offset the losses of Jesse Edge, Harry Edge, Ryan Thomas, Matt Oliver, Dan Looker, Bailey Webster, Harley Tahau, and Mohammed Awad.
The eight players ceased attending training last week - ironically, in the wake of Waikato FC's first win of the season - allegedly without any communication with the club.
With Waikato FC in turmoil, can Otago United take advantage?
History suggests there is still doubt, since the home side's record against Waikato is far from remarkable at home.
It's been two seasons since Otago United managed a win over Waikato FC when a Stu Kelly goal gave the southerners a rare 1-0 win triumph.
Even more astonishing is the fact Otago's last home win over Waikato FC was eight years ago in
Round 6 of the inaugural ASB Premiership season - a 2-1 victory. The full
home record reads played 9, won one, drew five and lost three.
Yet this season, both teams have experienced consistently wretched form - which suggest Richard Murray and Cossey believe this is a winnable match.
Perhaps a slight advantage belongs to Otago that has, despite five defeats, maintained a semblance of stability with Murray naming the same squad that edged a critical 1-0 win over Team Wellington at the Cake Tin last Sunday.
Murray said: "We needed a change of fortune, and last weeks result has certainly lifted morale. For so long our best efforts were not rewarded."
"And while the lads poured their hearts into last weeks win, we have certainly played better and lost. So we want to consolidate with continual improvement - and the team is certainly capable of that."
With Waikato FC gripped by turmoil in terms of selection, Murray isn't taking anything for granted.
"Waikato's changed playing squad is not our concern, and I am sure they will be competitive," said Murray.
Otago needs to keep up the concentration levels that succeeded last week, and will again be looking for another match winning performance from youngster Joel Stevens who scored Sunday's winner and saw another effort hit the woodwork.
It may also be time for striker Aaron Burgess to regain his scoring touch. Still a canny performer, Burgess creates space and still gets into good positions that earned him a cupboard full of Southern League Golden Boot awards.
At the back, Craig Ferguson and Matt Joy have inspired with gritty form, and Murray will be looking for his underperforming midfield to show its true potential.
Robbie GREENHALGH and Mike KRAMER.
Harry EDGE, Mohammed AWAD, Jesse EDGE, Ryan THOMAS (injury), Dan LOOKER, Harley TAHAU, Bailey WEBSTER and goalkeeper Matt OLIVER have all decamped.
Coach Richard MURRAY names an unchanged squad from the one that notched a memorable 1-0 win over Team Wellington in the capital last Sunday.
The big talking point of the week for Waikato FC coach Mark COSSEY was the departure of eight players before the January transfer window kicked in. Veteran Robbie GREENHALGH is signed as a stop-gap measure.
Itís been two seasons since Otago United registered a win over Waikato FC when a Stu KELLY goal gave the southerners a rare 1-0 win triumph. Otagoís last home win over Waikato FC was eight years ago in Round 6 of the inaugural ASB Premiership season Ė a 2-1 victory. The full home record reads played 9, won one, drew five and lost three.
Waikato FC are on a five match unbeaten run over Otago United a record that includes two wins and three draws. They are also undefeated in their last eight visits to Dunedin, notching three wins and five draws, with the solitary defeat registered eight years ago.
ASB Premiership - Round 7
Sunday 16 December, 2012
1- Liam LITTLE (GK)
1- Matt UPTON (GK)
3- Tristan PRATTLEY (c)
4- Josh GREENE
4- Ben FITZPATRICK
5- Eder FRANCHINI
5- Matt JOY
6- Sam JASPER
8- Seamus RYDER
7- Ryan THOMAS
9- Victor da COSTA
8- Robbie GREENHALGH
10- Ant HANCOCK
9- Rory TURNER
12- Aaron BURGESS
11- Jack HOBSON-McVEIGH
14- Sam MEPHAM
12- Neil MOUNCHER (GK)
15- Tom CONNOR
14- Sam MARGETTS
18- Alexi CAROAMA VARELA
20- Andy RIDDEN
22- Jordan SHAW
21- Joel STEVENS
23- Hone FOWLER
23- Regan COLDICOTT
24- Adam WALLIS
25- Craig FERGUSON
21- Ray HOW
27- Morgan DAY
13- Mike KRAMER