Hawke's Bay United
NZFC - Week 8,
Sunday 20 December
Leon Birnie 11 (pen), 63
Allan Pearce 24
Halftime: 1-2 Referee: Michael Hester Crowd: 450
by Ryan Majstrovic at Park Island
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.
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.
“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.
Hawke's Bay United
23. Richard GILLESPIE [gk]
1. Danny ROBINSON [gk]
2. Sam HALLIGAN
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)
12. Roy KRISHNA
17. George BARBAROUSES
17. Jake BUTLER (c)
21. Stuart FERGUSON
19. Dakota LUCAS
22. Fergus NEIL (off 59')
25. Tom EDWARDS
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
=2 yellow cards
= red card
Welcome to sunny Hawkes Bay for today's fixture.
Dakota LUCAS beats his man down the right to find Brent FISHER, whose lays off to Allan PEARCE, whose shot is blocked
Roy KRISHNA is clear, but tracked well by Fergus NEIL and the shot is wide
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
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
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
#8. Leon BIRNIE receives a yellow card for bringing down BULLOCK on the edge of the area
-- 2 minutes added time --
HALF TIME: HBU 1 WTK 2
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
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
Stuart FERGUSON makes an authorative challenge on a speedy LUCAS
#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
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
#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
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
FULL TIME: HBU 2 WTK 2