You could be forgiven for suggesting the Hawke's Bay United coaching stable should tap the shoulders of their Black Caps counterparts before they kick off this weekend.
While the national cricket men's team broke an eight-match losing streak on Wednesday the Thirsty Whale-sponsored Bay United will be hoping to stop their five-match rot against Canterbury United in the football premiership.
"Look, it's definitely an interesting one because we've had a positive start to our season where, I think, we went on a six-unbeaten spell," says player/co-coach Bill Robertson before they kick off at 1pm against the Dragons at Park Island in week 13 of the national summer league on Sunday.
Captain Ruben Park Hanks and his men have yet to claim victory in 2020, coming off a 3-1 loss on the road to Tasman United while the visitors led 1-0 at home up to the 86th minute of their match before succumbing 2-1 to Waitakere United at English Park in Christchurch.
In the statistical sandwich, little separates last-placed Canterbury — on nine points after a dozen outings — from seventh-placed Bay United on 12 points. The former have won two games compared with the latter's three and both sides have drawn three each.
"We've had a bit of a slump in form so we're trying really hard to come out of it," says centreback Robertson, feeling perhaps the results aren't painting a truer picture of their performances.
He reflects on the encounter against Wellington Phoenix here a fortnight ago when they created 26 chances to the visitors' eight but, despite their dominance, stumbled 2-0 on account of a couple of counterattacks.
"But the national league is of a good standard and can be quite unforgiving at times so if you don't take your chances than any team in the league can hurt you," he says.
Robertson, who mentors in tandem with Chris Greatholder in their debut summer at the helm, accepts the losses have dented the troop's morale a little.
However, they have picked themselves up off the canvas again in a bid to beat the count to keep their playoff hopes alive with six matches to go.
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"Canterbury, on paper, are a pretty strong side as well who have some very experienced national league players so it's certainly not going to be an easy game," he says, alluding to several narrow-margin losses after some videotape analysis.
The Tasman defeat was difficult to swallow, prompting Bay United to do some soul-searching there in the changing rooms.
"The general feeling is that the players and CG [Greatholder] believe they can still make the playoffs although it's obvious we haven't got too many lives left."
Robertson hopes his players have learned the lesson around competing against sides who sit below them on the table. While they had punched their cards out with decent shifts against high fliers — such as Auckland City FC, Team Wellington and Eastern Suburbs, albeit with defeats — they have fallen shy of the expectations of the Bluewater Stadium faithful in ticking the box against the names of some teams but not picking up at least one point, never mind three.
"It's amazing that their [Dragons] story is very similar to ours where it's becoming hard to get over the line in tight games so we're expecting another tough game, without looking too much into the league positions."
Bay United's desire, he says, remains to be a difficult team to dislodge at home, including the Dragons who don't fit into any particular mould of play, as such, but ooze versatility.
"We've had a reaction during training from the players as well so we're anticipating a positive reaction at the weekend so, hopefully, we'll see a team that's fired up and desperate for points to shift us back to the top of the table."
He agrees for him and Greatholder exorcising demons go beyond those of finding the net.
"It's not just about the finishing at all," he says despite apparently sitting on the top rung for sides who are creating the most chances.
Because they employ an attacking brand of footy, he believes, they commit to the number of bodies advancing higher up the park, which leaves them exposed defensively.
Consequently they have room to improve in numerous facets including scoring, conceding goals on set-piece play and to counterattacks.