Hawke's Bay United
NZFC - Round 6,
Park Island, Napier
December 14th, 2008
Graham Fyfe 63-pen
Michael Fifii 14
Halftime: 0-1 Referee: Michael Hester Crowd: 300
by Anendra Singh at Park Island
You can entice talented players, have top-class coaches and back it up with a loyal following but sometimes even that's not enough.
Indubitably there's no substitute for passion.
It's not so much that Hawke's Bay United lacked it in their 1-2 loss to Canterbury United this afternoon but more so that the visitors’ desire to win was perhaps a little stronger in Napier.
Asked if they felt confident about winning, Canterbury coach Korouch Monsef said the Dragons had a desire to reverse their fortunes after a sluggish start to this New Zealand Football Championship.
“I had a very, very good feeling. We have been progressively improving. We've never really been more than a goal away from any opponent,” a delighted Monsef said, beaming from ear to ear, reiterating their away stalemate against Waitakere and a well-deserved draw against Team Wellington at home.
"It's long overdue and we've been waiting for this win for a while and it's a big boost for the players."
Pivotal to Canterbury's success today was their midfield four who simply outnumbered their Bay counterparts of Cole Peverley, Graham Fyfe and Leon Birnie.
What complicated matters was the hosts started off with Chris McIvor dropping back a little to join the trio and leave striker Andrew Abba roaming in the front, but then at times both skipper McIvor and his deputy Birnie pushed up with Abba leaving Fyfe and Peverley floundering in defence.
Explained Monsef: "We play with a very compact four of midfield players and that is designed to put pressure on the opponents and also share the workload.
"On such a big pitch you also have to keep the distances close so I think we did that very well tactically today. We were able to stop Hawke's Bay's key players from playing and getting into the game."
Often Fyfe found himself marking Solomon international striker Michael Fiifi who left the defence flatfooted.
One such incisive surge yielded a goal in the 16th minute when Fiifi profited with his agility after a succession of corner attempts led to goalmouth scrambles. Sliding into the keeper's box, the 21-year-old dreadlocked one beat a valiant Mitchell O'Brien to the left upright.
The Bay spearheaded some opportunities but poor finishing from Abba, who often looked a little overawed and out-muscled, and some spectacular saves from Dragons goalkeeper Michael O'Keefe took the heat off the visitors in the spring-like conditions at the Bluewater Stadium.
The score was unchanged into the breather but things didn't any better for the Bay into the crisp northeasterly in the second spell.
Twenty-two minutes into the second spell, striker McIvor conceded an own goal after a superb curler of a cornerkick from the left flank saw McIvor's header hit the roof of the net. Play was halted for a couple of minutes after referee Mike Hester ordered the net be secured.
Two minutes later Vanuatu international Seule Soromon came in for Solomon Islander Abba and David Gearey for a frustrated McIvor.
In the 70th minute, Fyfe calmly slotted a penalty to reduce the deficit to 2-1 after defender Matt Boyd fouled midfielder Greig Henslee in the 18 yard box.
Referee Mike Hester flashed yellow cards at Bay centre back Daniel Kirkup and Che Bunce too in the second half but most of the offences were out of sheer frustration rather than malicious intent.
At the end of the day, the Bay simply didn't deserve to draw let alone win the match in one of their more enigmatic outings.
Highlighting Fiifi's prowess, Monsef said: "He threatens an awful lot ... and he has enough pace and physical presence and power to cause defenders that second of indecision."
Canterbury play Auckland City next weekend and Monsef expects his troops to dig deep for similar passion for their first win at home before the Christmas break.
"We're not going into matches fearing anybody. We've played some good football and we're not too far away.
Even though we were at the bottom of the ladder today I don't think that's a reflection of the strength of the league.
"It's been a difficult time for us because we got off to a poor start but I'm very proud of a very young group who kind of stuck together."
The hapless Hawke's Bay outfit, with head coach Jonathan Gould away in Tahiti with the New Zealand U-20 side, missed the opportunity to go top of the table.
Ironically, Canterbury’s points keeps the table congested and see-sawing for a tight scramble for four semi-final spots as five points separate contenders in the eight-team competition.
The Bay's next hurdle is away against last-placed Otago who drew 1-1 against Team Wellington today.
Photos: John Cowpland www.alphapix.co.nz
Hawke's Bay United
1 Mitch O'Brien
1 Michael O'Keefe
2 Chris Davies
2 Dan Terris
4 Greig Henslee
3 Matt Boyd
6 Che Bunce
4 Bill Robertson (c)
7 Cole Peverley
5 Andy Pitman
8 Chris McIvor (out 61)
7 Ryan Faichnie (out 74)
9 Daniel Kirkup
8 Garry McDermott
11 Graham Fyfe
9 Tom Lancaster
12 James Oxtoby
11 Gareth Turnbull (out 74)
13 Leon Birnie (c)
12 Michael Fifii (out 50)
19 Andrew Abba (out 61)
19 Darren Overton
5 Campbell Parkin
10 Jamie Smith (in 50)
10 Seule Soromon (in 61)
15 James Reichwein (in76)
17 David Gearey (in61)
16 Nick Wortelboer (in 74)
21 Woo-Jae Kim
22 Chris Sinclair
23 Shaun Peta
=2 yellow cards
= red card
Description: Ideal 20 C conditions, crisp nor'easterlies
Andrew Abba tries to score from inside 18yard box but Bill Robertson clears sliding tackle.
Cole Peverley corner but Daniel Kirkup fails to nod it in.
Abba gets anothers chance but hits into keeper's hands
GOAL! Cantabs raid from goalmouth but ball cleared for corner but ensuing corner sees another scramble and striker Michael Fifii finds the net.
Cantab Gareth Turnball has a shot at goal after beating two defenders but feeble shot
Abba outpaces defence to goal line left flank, crosses but McIvor unable to get high enough for the header in front of face of goalmouth
Graham Fyfe crosses from left flank to 18yard box as Abba's sliding effort doesn't have enough impact for a crisp finish.
Turnball latches on to a floating cros from right flank but feeble finish
Peverley cross from 15m inside Cantab territory to Kirkup, who flicks ball to Leon Birnie on the defensive line but airborne keeper O'Keefe equal to occasion with mid-air parry
Fifii crosses but Ryan Faichnie, with no one in front of him duffs shot
Birnie inside box lays one for McIvor but he does a Dan Carter over crossbar
Kirkup yellow card for tackle from behind on Turball outside 18m box but ensuing free-kick comes to nought; soon after Jamie Smith for Fifii;
McIvor scores own goal after cornerkick header finds roof off net. Game halts for net repairs; soromon on for Abba and Gearey on for mcivor
Matt Boyd yellow carded for foul on Henslee; fyfe scores from penalty spot 2-1 canterbury
Wortelboer on for Faichnie; Che Bunce gets yellow-card for booting off field
Reichwein on for turnbull
Davies shot from inside 18yard box but O'keefe again great diving savepast right upright
McDermott great opoortunity to increase lead but slow reaction sees Oxtoby put foot in to save despite rolling in injury from impact of kick
Ref warns Kirkup for crude tackle on Robertson as frustration boils over
Game over Cantabs win 2-1.