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Absolutely thrashed — that was the only way to describe Southern United’s loss on Saturday.
The side slumped to a 5-0 loss against Tasman United in Blenheim.
Defensively, Southern resembled a sieve more than a wall.
On attack it never fired a shot, struggling to hold the ball and creating very few chances.
It lacked spark and mentally looked distant.
At the same time, Tasman was energetic and its several quality additions since the last meeting of the two sides made a big impact.
Jean-Phillipe Saiko took just six minutes to give the host the lead.
Saiko used his pace to beat Erik Panzer one-on-one, creating space from nowhere to score past Liam Little.
Fox Slotemaker added a second from a corner not long after.
A save from Little resulted in the corner and after Panzer did well to block the first shot, Slotemaker slotted home on the rebound.
It nearly became 3-0 when a header back from Southern defender Stephen Last missed Little and trickled narrowly wide of the goal.
Southern had its best chance in the 35th minute when a shot from Stephen Lawless was saved.
It was the only positive to emerge from the half, as Little was forced to make another quality save and a further Tasman shot went just over the bar.
The second half was no better for the Southerners.
Ben Watson forced a turnover on halfway, ran 20m and buried a brilliant shot from outside the box to make it 3-0.
Jesse Randall made it four when he finished a cross from Corey Larsen, who had been well played into space by Watson.
Corey Vickers scored a fifth to cap the day — latching on to a goal kick from Nick Stanton which bounced several times and was left by the Southern defenders.
Coach Paul O’Reilly dubbed it Southern’s poorest game in some years.
He felt the team had lacked spark both physically and mentally.
The team was hurting from the performance, although he said it did not deserve any more than it got.
While the travel to Blenheim had not been ideal — involving two flights and a two and a-half hour bus trip totalling seven and a-half hours of travel — O’Reilly was not using that as an excuse.
He said he had
attempted to counteract the extensive travel by changing the structure of training during the week.
That was something he felt had backfired.
"Physically, I think we went into the game drained," he said.
"I have to take responsibility for that as head coach.
"We made the decision to change it up this week and ultimately it didn’t work at all."
O’Reilly acknowledged there had been some social media backlash following the loss.
He added the side agreed the performance had been poor.