Football: Rampant Waikato give Otago lesson

Waikato's Chilean striker Eder Franchini leaps over sliding Otago midfielder Sam Mepham as referee Matt Conger looks on during the ASB Premiership match at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin yesterday. Photo by Rab Smith
Waikato's Chilean striker Eder Franchini leaps over sliding Otago midfielder Sam Mepham as referee Matt Conger looks on during the ASB Premiership match at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin yesterday. Photo by Rab Smith
Waikato administered six of the best to a below-par Otago United in the national league match played at Forsyth Barr Stadium yesterday.

While it was not quite as bad as Otago's worst loss, an 8-0 drubbing by Waitakere in the 2006-07 season under Terry Phelan, the scars are sure to remain for quite some time.

Otago's last home win over Waikato was eight years ago, in round six of the inaugural revamped league season - a 2-1 victory. The full home record is not good and reads played 10, won one, drew five and lost three.

Waikato confirmed there is life after deposed coach Declan Edge, and the players who defected with him.

''That's nine goals scored in two matches,'' said a jubilant Mark Cossey, who took over from Edge last week.

''The media said that we are in disarray. Maybe we should stay that way, if we keep playing like today, and banging goals in.''

A brilliant hat trick by Rory Turner spearheaded Cossey's Waikato side that played with style, control and penetration.

''We stuck to the game plan, and played with a passionate belief that we were going to win,'' he said.

It took 19 minutes before Jack Hobson laced a bendy free kick past a rickety Otago defensive wall, and beat keeper Liam Little.

Nine minutes later, Chilean Eder Franchini jinked past weak tackles through a crowd of defenders and picked his spot with a driven shot that keeper Little got near, but could not stop.

Trailing by two goals at halftime, Otago coach Richard Murray appealed for improvement, but the yellow machine continued to slice through Otago like Christmas ham, as Turner did a give and go with Franchini that gave him a simple tap-in for 3-0 after 48 minutes.

Then Turner did it again as he converted a low left win cross that looked like an unopposed training exercise. It was 4-0 and counting.

The fifth goal was all class, as Hone Fowler capped an authoritative midfield game by arriving late in Otago's penalty area and, like Superman, horizontally dive-heading past Little.

Unbelievably, Otago was still on the field, still defending and even creating chances in front of goal.

Young Joel Stevens was the equal of Waikato's athleticism and raced clear several times, but assorted quality of crosses brought no reward. Defender Craig Ferguson also raised local spirits with some determined runs up the wing, but without success.

On the hour, Otago's reward did come. From a free kick, captain Tristan Prattley crisply drove the ball past keeper Matt Upton, and the local crowd managed a plaintive cheer for the 6-1 scoreline that was finalised by Turner's last goal just before fulltime.

Otago coach Murray was desolate.

''We played poorly. It was another Jekyll and Hyde performance. We made a few chances but we did not convert them, and we made some defensive blunders that Waikato happily took advantage off,'' Murray said.

The ASB Premiership now goes into summer shutdown. The next full round of the league is scheduled for January 13, when Otago travels to play Manawatu.


ASB Premiership
The scores

Waikato 6
Rory Turner 3, Jack Hobson-McVeigh, Eder Franchini, Hone Fowler

Otago United 1
Tristan Prattley

Halftime: Waikato 2-0.