A miserable start to the 2014/15 ASB Premiership campaign by Waitakere United was turned around in very promising fashion. In the first half of the season, Waitakere could manage just two wins from seven matches but in the second half they won five from seven.
This late charge, led by player coach Brian Shelley, was enough for the former powerhouse to force their way into the play-offs before bowing out at the semi final stage.
It’s not what Waitakere United has become used to over the years but all teams have their time in the wilderness. The important thing is to see progress on the road back to the top, with a period of comprehensive rebuilding.
After an off-season of change, an essentially new team were going to take time to find their feet. They did, and came back a much improved outfit over the last seven games. The highlights of this run included a pair of high scoring wins over the two capital based sides, Team Wellington and the Wellington Phoenix Reserves.
That late season form gave Shelley’s side momentum going into the two-legged semi-finals but they were handed a tough assignment in meeting local rivals Auckland City, who were defending champions and had finished third at the FIFA Club World Cup just weeks earlier.
Auckland proved too strong in the home leg at Fred Taylor Park in securing a 2-0 win that left Waitakere with a mountain to climb in the second leg. It proved too big an ask with Auckland again showing their class to claim the tie 7-1 on aggregate.
There were many positives to be taken from the season, such as the progress of a raft of promising young players. These included Damien Mosquera, Jake Porter, Benji Roberts, Jack Caunter, Jonathan Quinn, Sam Copp and Joshua Armitt who were all involved in the first team at some point.
On the goal scoring front, Derice Richards earned the squad’s golden boot with his eight strikes while Tom Biss found the net six times. Special mention must also go to the youth team, who led the ASB Youth League for much of the season under the guidance of coach Mark Holt but fell just short to be pipped for the title by Nelson Marlborough Falcons.
It all points to Waitakere being well and truly on the comeback trail and if they lead-off next year in the way they finished this season, we can dare to believe they can end up back where they belong; as ASB League champions.
Photo by Phototek