Hawke's Bay United
NZFC - Round 7, Waikato Stadium, 16 December 2007
Rob Gill (pen) 87
Greig Henslee 19
Halftime: 0-1 Referee: Stephen Fletcher Crowd: 350
by Bruce Holloway at Waikato Stadium
Penalties are keeping alive Waikato FC’s dogged challenge for a top-four berth in the New Zealand Football Championship.
Waikato came from behind to snatch a 1-1 draw with Hawke’s Bay at Waikato Stadium after substitute Stanley Waita crumpled under a tackle from Ian Hogg in the 85th minute and Rob Gill expertly converted the resultant spot kick.
"I don’t think I’ve ever played in a team where we’ve had five penalties in seven matches," skipper Gill said after the game. "But it was a definite penalty."
Hawke’s Bay coach Jonathan Gould saw it differently.
"It looks as if there is a doubt," he said. "What upset me more was the linesman claims he didn’t see it, and he was just 15 metres away.
"But overall I though the referee (Stephen Fletcher) had a super game. Besides, in the end it was not the penalty that cost us, but our inability to be clinical in front of goal."
Waita, a Solomon Islands international, had only been on the pitch three minutes when he received the ball from Gill.
"I saw two of them running at me, so looked to go between them," he said. "He (Ian Hogg) has clipped my right knee and I have fallen. It was a definite penalty."
A video of the incident suggested the point of contact was either right on the line or centimetres outside it, with Waita coming to rest a couple of metres inside the box.
Earlier Hawke’s Bay went ahead in the 19th minute after sloppy Waikato defending led to a penalty-box pinball situation, which Greig Henslee finished off with a half-stopped shot that crept over the goal line. Waikato keeper Dan Robinson got a hand to it, but not enough to stop the ball’s momentum.
It was due reward for Henslee who had a fine game in midfield, and along with Graham Fyfe, made some great runs. Gould was particularly pleased with Henslee, as he believed he should have scored in his last three games.
Minutes earlier Jonathan Taylor rammed a powerful header home from a Jeremy Brockie cross only to have it cruelly flagged for offside.
"A perfectly good goal was disallowed," Gould said.
Hawke’s Bay were always dangerous up front, with Jarrod Smith turning in some bullocking runs.
Waikato coach Roger Wilkinson had no doubts about the merits of the penalty.
"It was a clumsy tackle," he said. "They can’t have any complaints."
Both coaches believed their teams should have won.
"I’m disappointed," Wilkinson said. "I thought we have three very good chances, one to Gill and two to Holloway, that we would normally finish.
"But a draw is a draw. If we had drawn our home matches with Wellington, Waitakere and Auckland we would have been right up there. We’ve done all right. This gives us some breathing space."
"I thought we had the edge," Gould said in noting the dominace of his midfield. "But we just weren’t edgy enough in the end."
He described Waikato as "dogged opponents" that most teams would struggle to beat.
"They are resolute and in Gill, Holloway and Waita they offer a threat at the top end of the park."
For Waikato, Aaron Scott turned in a good effort in midfield, while Dan Robinson had his best home game of the season.
Hawke’s Bay go the Christmas break in fourth place, three points clear of Waikato.
Photos: Tony Whitehead www.wildlight.co.nz
Hawke's Bay United
GK Dan Robinson
GK Mitch O'Brien
2. David Samson ( 46)
3. Cole Peverley ( 53)
3. Hone Fowler
4. Greig Henslee
5. Aaron Scott
5. Campbell Parkin
6. Sam Wilkinson
6. Ian Hogg ( 89)
7. Joe Simpkin ( 82)
7. Stu Wilson ( 68)
10. Luke Findley
10. Jeremy Brockie
12. Rob Gill
11 Graham Fyfe
15. Steven Holloway ( 63)
19. Jonathon Taylor
17. Stu Watene
20. Sam Jenkins
25. Jeff Sole
25. Jarrod Smith
4. Tom Edwards
2. Chris Davies ( 89)
8. Nathan Holten
9. Sam Messam ( 68)
9. Jakub Sinkora ( 63)
22. Stuart Hogg
14. Shaun van Rooyen ( 46)
16. Jimmy Cudd ( 53)
18. Stanley Waita ( 82)
23. Jonathan Gould
19. Junya Nakahashi
= Sub On
= Sub Off
=2 yellow cards
= red card