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Sun 16 Mar, 2.35pm, 2014
Kiwitea St, Sandringham

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Hawke's Bay United

Waitakere United


NZFC - Week 8,
Park Island, 
Sunday 20 December


Leon Birnie 11 (pen), 63

Allan Pearce 24
Neil Sykes 28


Halftime:    1-2                 Referee:   Michael Hester                         Crowd: 450


Birnie double snares crucial point for Bay

by Ryan Majstrovic at Park Island

A Leon Birnie double was enough to secure Hawke’s Bay a valuable point and tightened the race for the NZFC minor premiership at Park Island today.

In an eventful match where it was the goalkeepers that shone it was little wonder that virtually nothing separated the two sides, with seven cards being shown, a penalty, numerous free-kicks on the edge of the area, and a line-call to boot.

Waitakere, entered the fixture severely depleted through injuries and suspension but started the match at a fierce pace with an equally dominant wind at their backs.

But Hawke’s Bay weathered the opening and took the early lead through a Leon Birnie penalty after Jason Rowley brought down Joachim Rande in the area.

Rowley – enjoying his first consistent and extended run in the Waitakere line-up since the retirement of Danny Hay - was forced to leave the field through injury resulting from the challenge, causing further disruption to an already makeshift Waitakere defence.

The disruption for the visitors defence was offset by a midfield rich with the talent and experience of Allan Pearce, Brent Fisher, and Roy Krishna in attack. Add to this the hard work and tenacity of Martin Bullock and Neil Sykes in midfield, and they were by no means short of inspiration.

Hawkes Bay native and Mount Albert Grammar School product Dakota Lucas caused a host of problems to the Bay defence with his power and raw pace, while Jake Butler was instrumental in driving his side forward.

The Bay bubble finally burst in the 24th minute, where despite an athletic attempt and strong hand from Richard Gillespie Allan Pearce’s curling strike met the far post and ultimately the corner of the net.

Clearly disheartened by conceding after a determined start, Hawkes Bay suffered a second setback mere minutes later when failing to clear their lines – Sykes with the final touch.

To their credit, the home side pushed on in the final stages of the first half making several meaningful forays into their attacking third but failing to produce a goal.
Hawke’s Bay’s positive attitude placed Matt Chandler’s side on the front foot straight away as the second half got underway.

Only minutes into the second spell, Danny Robinson  produced a string of saves to match the efforts of his former team mate in Gillespie and deny the home side a goal.

Midway through the second half Chandler introduced Matt Hastings and the energetic Sam Jacob into the fixture, a move that produced an almost immediate result.

From a curling Hastings corner - assisted by a fierce and prevailing wind - Leon Birnie rose through a pack of players to head the ball into the crossbar and the Waitakere defence to hook clear.

To Waitakere – and particularly Robinson’s – surprise, the referee signalled a goal and scores were again even. Robinson, adamant the ball had not crossed the line, pursued the referee in animated protest – but the decision stood.

Only minutes after conceding the leveller Robinson produced the most crucial intervention of the match off a deflection off his own defender.

With Andrew Abba breaking down the right and bearing down on goal, Robinson closed his angle to force Abba into attempting to finish at the far post. Waitakere defender Tom Edwards slid in to stop a rolling ball Robinson had already shaped to cover – and inadvertently forced  a save from Robinson that required supreme agility to hook away from the net and an embarrassing own goal.

The match lost its frenetic pace in the closing stages with the best chance falling to Waitakere substitute Dimas da Silva, who drove straight at Gillespie from ten yards on the angle.

Da Silva was in the thick of the action again when a strong and well-timed challenge from Hawke’s Bay captain Jonathan Taylor prevented Da Silva from sneaking a last gasp win for the visitors.

Post-match, both coaches seemed happy with the result.
Neil Emblen, himself on the Waitakere injured-list, made special mention of Rowley’s early replacement in 15 year-old Luke Adams.

“That Luke slotted in so seamlessly speaks volumes of the maturity and ability he is showing as a footballer” Emblen said.

“The second half was the longest 45 minutes of my life. Admittedly the wind helped us in the first, but I believe it got even stronger in the second.

“It was a really good, entertaining match to watch. I don’t think that [Hawkes Bay United] could have bemoaned a win to us, and I think they could say the same.”

Hawke's Bay coach Matt Chandler did indeed say the same – “we could’ve won it, but I’m definitely happy with the draw. The difference today from previous weeks was that we were clinical in the final third.”

Hawke’s Bay double goal-getter Leon Birnie showed he has plenty of confidence to match his impressive form. With a tongue-in-cheek sense of humour local fans will be sure to welcome, Birnie said of his performance,” I don’t write a cheque with my mouth the body can’t cash”.

Although Chandler was satisfied with the result, wins to Canterbury and Wellington over Otago and Waikato respectively now see Hawkes Bay in seventh place going into the break and work ahead of them to push for a play-off spot.

Waitakere on the other hand are three points clear at the head of the table, though Auckland City in second have two matches in hand.

After a break for Christmas and New Year, NZFC action recommences with YoungHeart Manawatu hosting Otago United on Saturday 9 January.

On Sunday 10 January, Team Wellington make the trip to Canterbury while Waikato FC host Waitakere United.
Hawkes Bay United can look forward to a trip to Auckland City’s Kiwitea Street, following their impressive efforts at the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2009. 


Team Sheet

Hawke's Bay United


Waitakere United

23. Richard GILLESPIE [gk]

1. Danny ROBINSON [gk]


2. Jason ROWLEY (off 14')

4. Chris GREATHOLDER (off 59')

4. Tim MYERS

6. Jonathon TAYLOR (c)

7. Martin BULLOCK

8. Leon BIRNIE   

8. Brent FISHER (off 78')

10. Joachim RANDE

10. Allan PEARCE  (off 84')

11. Andrew ABBA

11. Neil SYKES

16. Marama THOMPSON  (off 90'+1)



17. Jake BUTLER (c)

21. Stuart FERGUSON

19. Dakota LUCAS

22. Fergus NEIL (off 59')




1. Shaun PETA [rgk]

13. Dimas DA SILVA (on 84')

3. Phil CLARKE (on 90'+1)

18. Zane SOLE (on 78')

7. Matt HASTINGS (on 59')

22. Liam LITTLE [rgk]

12. Sam JACOB (on 59')

24. Luke ADAMS (on 14')

18. Andrew BEVIN

26. Jason HICKS


=yellow card

=2 yellow cards

= red card


Play by Play


Welcome to sunny Hawkes Bay for today's fixture.

There is a strong, gusting westerley sweeping across the pristine surface, with nearly cloudless skies above.

Waitakere will start with the wind, Hawkes Bay to kick off.


Dakota LUCAS beats his man down the right to find Brent FISHER, whose lays off to Allan PEARCE, whose shot is blocked

Andrew ABBA finds room in the Waitakere area, but can not get a shot off

PEARCE is free on the left, but shoots wide and without power


Roy KRISHNA is clear, but tracked well by Fergus NEIL and the shot is wide

Jake BUTLER has time to shoot, but fires straight into the hands of a calm Richard GILLESPIE 



#2. Jason ROWLEY is beaten for pace by Joachim RANDE down the left, and receives a yellow card



#8. Leon BIRNIE slots the penalty low to Robinson's left


FISHER again has space in the area, but shoots high

Waitakere #2. Jason ROWLEY succumbs to injury, and is replaced by #24. Luke ADAMS 


FISHER again has space in the area, and lays for BUTLER whose strike is high

Jonathan TAYLOR makes a great covering tackle on Dakota LUCAS, and Waitakere win a corner.

GILLESPIE punches well to clear the corner, and recovers to his far post to parry the ensuing cross clear

GILLESPIE saves well low this time, at the far post from another corner


LUCAS uses his pace to get a cross in from the bye-line on the right, and KRISHNA acrobatically finds the side netting with a left-footed scissors-kick



#10. Allan PEARCE has space from 15 yards on the angle, and despite a miraculous outstretched hand from Gillespie brings Waitakere level off the far post


Play is stopped momentarily for ABBA to receive some attention after wearing the ball in his...[tender region]

After the restart, Krishna turns sharply but shoots wide

Martin BULLOCK attempts to curl his shot inside the far post



#11. Neil SYKES gets the last touch on a goalmouth scramble to put Waitakere in the lead


ABBA is one-on-one with Robinson, but drags his shot across goal for the Waitakere defence to clear


#6. Jonathan TAYLOR enters the book for a 'professional foul'


Marama THOMPSON wins the ball well in his own area, and finds ABBA down the right for RANDE to beat Sykes and have his crossed cleared for a corner

BIRNIE rises well at the far post from Sam HALLIGAN's corner, but his effort scrapes the crossbar


ABBA goes on a mazy dribble into the attacking third, only to shoot wide


#17. Jake BUTLER receives a yellow card for blocking ABBA wide on the right


GILLESPIE catches a high cross well through traffic

Waitakere showcase some impressive attacking movement for SYKES to get a cross away, but it ends in a goal kick

#8. Leon BIRNIE receives a yellow card for bringing down BULLOCK on the edge of the area

BUTLER's free-kick is straight into the wall

-- 2 minutes added time --



The second half is underway, with no changes to either side


Hawkes Bay get numbers into the Waitakere area, forcing two sharp saves from ROBINSON - the first from NEIL, then ABBA


RANDE forces another save from ROBINSON down to his left from a speculative curling effort

NEIL has space to shoot, but elects to pass to BIRNIE who forces a shot resulting in no danger

Hawkes Bay seem to have the ascendance with the wind at their back


KRISHNA uses his pace well to be clear on goal, but squares to FISHER whose flicked finish goes wide

#24. Fergus NEIL makes way for #12. Sam JACOB, and #4. Chris GREATHOLDER is replaced by #7. Matt HASTINGS


Stuart FERGUSON makes an authorative challenge on a speedy LUCAS 



A Matt HASTINGS corner finds #8. Leon BIRNIE whose header is judged to have cross the line before being cleared, to the vehement protest of Danny Robinson in particular


#12. Sam JACOB enters the book courtesy of a sliding challenge


#21. Stuart FERGUSON brings down LUCAS on the edge of the area, resulting in a yellow card

SYKES' free kick hits the back stanchion


ROBINSON rises well through traffic to catch a HALLIGAN corner at the far post


ABBA evades the Waitakere defensive line to slide a finish which Tom EDWARDS slides to clear, only requiring a sprawling save from ROBINSON to hook the ball clear


#2. Sam HALLIGAN earns a yellow card for a sliding challenge on Roy Krishna


#18. Zane SOLE replaces #8. Brent FISHER

PEARCE squares for LUCAS, who misses the target from close range

George BARBAROUSES lets fly from distance, but his dipping strike clears the crossbar

HASTINGS plays RANDE through, but ROBINSON is out well to smother


#16. Marama THOMPSON is the latest to enter the book


#10. Allan PEARCE makes way for #13. Dimas DA SILVA


BARBAROUSES brings down BUTLER when into space arond half-way, who rises to his feet and shoves Sam JACOB in the chest


HASTINGS strikes a dropping high ball at the far post, for ROBINSON to save with his legs

DA SILVA is through on goal down the right, but shadowed well by JACOB for his shot to be saved by GILLESPIE


TAYLOR makes a vital challenge on DA SILVA, who had an open goal from the penalty spot

-- 3 minutes added time --


#3. Phil CLARKE enters the match for #16. Marama THOMPSON


KRISHNA has only Gillespie to beat at the far post, but shoots across goal