Waitakere United are in danger of finishing their domestic soccer season without a trophy for the first time since 2006.

If the champions don't pick up three points against Canterbury United at Fred Taylor Park tomorrow, they will miss the top-four playoffs for the first time in the 10-year history of the ASB Premiership.

A Waitakere loss could also have a devastating effect on the club's future. For the first time they would miss out on next year's OFC Champions League, and the chance of pocketing US$500,000 ($602,000) for qualifying for the Club World Cup, and could also lose some top players to rival clubs.

But a win would put them back on track, creating a likely mouthwatering semifinal over two legs against inter-city rivals Auckland City. For a team that hasn't lost a playoff tie in four years, who recently beat their Super City neighbours, they might fancy their chances.


So how did it come to this for one of the league's aristocrats?

"It's been a combination of things," said Waitakere skipper Jake Butler, who has played for the franchise since the inception of the league in 2006 and played under five coaches, winning 12 trophies.

"The last three or four years we had the same players around the club and we all understood how each other played. This year it was a complete overhaul with new players and it has just taken a bit longer than we thought it would to gel together.

"Apart from (Richie) Cardozo, who has done his bit goal-scoring wise we have probably just missed another out-and-out goal scorer, and that's been our big issue this year, putting the ball away."

After Paul Marshall resigned at the end of last season, Waitakere employed Paul Temple and Brian Shelley as the side's co-coaches and immediately lost their pacy front three of Roy Krishna, Ryan De Vries and Allan Pearce. It has seen the goals dry up and Waitakere have scored just 27 from 13 games this season compared to 48 from 14 in their last campaign.

"Early on we struggled a bit for pace to break teams down like we used to. But now we have Allan Pearce back and Jordan Lowdon, so high right and high left we have pace. But we probably miss having Roy Krishna and his pace up there, that's been a big difference.

"Everyone is still pretty confident we can do the job. We've played teams off the park, we just need to have a little bit of luck go our way. We have the quality in the squad to go on and win the championship, but we just need to make it gel on match day."

Waitakere will be without Chad Coombes, who was sent off against WaiBOP, but otherwise have a clean bill of health. Canterbury have a couple of niggling injuries to clear up, with industrious midfielder Stu Kelly among those under a cloud.

In today's other final round fixtures, the top two face off as Auckland City travel to Hawke's Bay United while Team Wellington face WaiBOP in Cambridge. Southern United and SC Wanderers will compete for the wooden spoon tomorrow in Invercargill.