Stuart Whitaker is a sports reporter for the Bay of Plenty Times and a general reporter for the Bay News.

Football: Confidence sinks after another loss

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Tauranga City United's Harry Gawrty (blue) battles with Onehunga Sports' Sean Cooper at Links Avenue on Sunday. Photo / Stuart Whitaker
Tauranga City United's Harry Gawrty (blue) battles with Onehunga Sports' Sean Cooper at Links Avenue on Sunday. Photo / Stuart Whitaker

Confidence is low in the Tauranga City United camp, and Sunday's defeat to Onehunga Sports will have done little to turn that around.

Onehunga's 2-0 win avenged the defeat Tauranga had inflicted on the Auckland side on the opening day of the season.

The absence of central defenders Sam O'Regan and skipper Ray How, both suspended after having received five yellows, was exacerbated when left back Cameron Grieve suffered a recurrence of a groin injury in warm-up.

Coach Duncan Lowry was down to one member of his first choice back four - stand-in captain skipper Nathan Farey.

Mark van der Salm, Logan Crawford and Will Clague were drafted into the makeshift defensive unit.

But it was at the other end where the City's problems continue to manifest themselves.

It was 18 minutes into the second half before Onehunga keeper Tim Allen had to make any kind of save when he dropped on to a shot from Crawford.

April 17 was the last time Tauranga won, a 2-1 league success over Bay Olympic, and the club now sits last in the Northern Premiership.

"The run that we've had, I think confidence obviously is low, and you try and build that up and say we need to string a few results together, but at the end of the day, it's confidence and belief - you've got to get that self-belief back," said assistant coach Andy Birchenough.

"We're just not winning games and we're not sticking the ball in the back of the net.

"The last two games, Bay Olympic [in the Chatham Cup] and today, I think we've probably created one or two chances in both those games. At least before then, Hamilton Wanderers and Glenfield, we were creating the chances and we were causing a few problems."

Tauranga had two up front, Andrew Cooper and Colm Kenny, in contrast to Onehunga's lone striker, Max Mata who grabbed the second of his side's goals.

"They played with one guy up front, but every time they played it up to him it stuck and they just played off it - we're not holding anything up, so how can we build? I don't think we strung four passes together all afternoon. We're playing with two up front and we're still getting behind them, we didn't get crosses in and we didn't get out wide."

The player most likely to turn things around for City, Jerahl Hughes, is still struggling with a foot injury, Birchenough's assessment being that he is "probably only at three-quarter pace".

He said the side also missed the long balls normally delivered by the suspended central defenders.

Tauranga travel to Birkenhead on Saturday, and supporters now have a long wait for the next home game, against Three Kings United on July 10.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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