Likely lads have a job to do

By ANENDRA SINGH sports editor

Try as hard as they may, the boys just can't put a finger on it.

Needless to say, Conor Tinnion and Stephen Hindmarch agree they will have to get cracking big time on Sunday if Kinetic Electrical Hawke's Bay United will find form to spark up their season.

"I can't put my finger on it but we all need to start producing results in a short season," 20-year-old left winger Tinnion says ahead of the 1pm kick-off at the Bluewater Stadium, Napier, in the stop-start ASB Premiership football this summer.

Centre-mid Hindmarch, 22, agonises over a sluggish season, too, but feels the sudden departure of coach Matt Chandler just three games into the premiership and the injection of stand-in coach Chris Greatholder is possibly a factor.

"There are a few little changes and we're getting used to Chrissy so, hopefully, we'll be more settled," he says after the Bay franchise have registered a win and a draw from four outings to date this summer.

It's a cross not just for Tinnion and Hindmarch to bear but an entire squad as apathy envelops a province fast becoming disillusioned about ever making the play-offs in the eight-season history of the premiership.

"On paper we look good enough personnel wise ..." Tinnion says but pauses mid-sentence, frightfully aware games are won and lost on the paddock.

After a 2-2 stalemate against YoungHeart Manawatu at Park Island on November 6 and a 2-0 victory over Canterbury United again at home a weekend later, the Bill Robertson-captained side have struggled to find cohesiveness and continuity.

In their away matches, they lost 3-0 in the opening round to Waitakere United and 2-0 to Otago United on November 27.

It didn't help, because of Waitakere United and Auckland City's commitment to the O-League and inclement weather, that the stop-start nature to the premiership has left other non-O League teams bankrupt of continuity.

The lowest point of the season for Bay United came at Crown Park, Taupo, on December 3 when a youthful Declan Edge-coached Waikato side ran rings around them with a crisp passing game for a 2-0 victory in the inaugural White Ribbon Cup match.

New Zealand Football introduced the cup round as a minor competition within the premiership this summer for non-O League sides to keep playing while Waitakere and Auckland play their Oceania rivals.

A smarting Bay outfit have been itching to avenge their Taupo loss but the premiership match set down for December 18 against Waikato was rained off and another water bomb left the Porritt Stadium in Hamilton ground under water last Sunday.

"It's another weekend we've got through undefeated so we'll take that," a cynical Greatholder had lamented, as some of his players face taking time off work in a mid-week catch-up game.

Tinnion and Hindmarch are under no illusions of the enormity of the task of beating Team Wellington on Sunday, who boast former Hawke's Bay and New Zealand Under-23 World Cup representative Dakota Lucas.

Fundamentally, the Bay, who have called in the old cavalry of Stu Wilson and Leon Birnie, must find the common denominator of rapport among their own fragmented ranks of capable individuals who tend to lack urgency at the height of battle.

"There's been more pressure [to win at home] but we can't think like that although Team Wellington are a good team, no doubt about that," says Tinnion, who is dealing with a niggly hamstring.

Ironically the one-winter-season-old Western Suburbs pair of Tinnion and Hindmarch were also in the equation to play for the Matt Calcott-coached Team Wellington and, Tinnion claims, Manawatu had sounded them out through the Suburbs club too.

The difference was former coach Chandler and Bay franchise general manager Anthony Floyd had aggressively targeted the young men who hail from England's Lake District, near the Scottish border, about an hour's drive from Newcastle.

"Matt and Floydy seemed to be more keen. They came to Wellington, took us out for lunch and seem to be doing all the running around," Tinnion reveals.

Says Hindmarch: "It was nice to be wanted so we decided to play for Hawke's Bay."

Adds Tinnion, who was only intending to play for Western Suburbs for four months in the English off season: "If I'm here for one year I might as well experience a new place."

The former one-season Carlisle United League One professionals left their hometown when they became surplus to requirements.

Tinnion went to the lower-tier Conference North to tie his boot laces for Workington Reds while Hindmarch cut a track to League Two outfit Shrewsbury Town, where he met his girlfriend, Beth Williams, before joining Workington Reds.

"You get used to it [the disappointment of losing contracts] when you are not wanted or when they consider you not to be good enough.

"Professional football in England is pretty hard to break into back home," says Hindmarch, who coaches schools here between playing while his girlfriend waits at the Thirsty Whale pub in Ahuriri, Napier.

The pair had their share of shock here, too, with Chandler's sudden departure to Queensland, Australia.

"It was a bit of a shock but those things happen in football," says Hindmarch, who has given up on people even in his own country for religiously misspelling his surname as "Hindmarsh".

The pair enjoy the Bay weather and playing environment when compared with Wellington and England.

In their country the game is "more intense" but Hindmarch reckons the balmy weather now will be a good challenge for them.

"I'm not sure right now whether we'll stay in New Zealand or go to Australia after this season.

"I also have Beth to think about but we'll be staying on this side of the world for now," he says as the couple have turned the trip into their big OE and hope to "do things well" before returning to England.

Tinnion, who "tagged along" with the pair to Western Suburbs after a flurry of emails with the Wellington club, hopes to return to the Lake District to give his hamstrings time to recuperate.

Having struck a chord with Greatholder, Tinnion hopes to return to the Bay franchise next summer "if they want me back again".


Where: Bluewater Stadium, Park Island, Napier.

When: Sunday, Kickoff at 1pm.

Referee: Chris Kerr.

Head to head: Played 18 - HB Utd 4 wins, Wellington 10, 4 draws.

Hawke's Bay United form: LDWL

The players: After two postponements Bay United will look to kick-start their campaign when they face Wellington at Bluewater Stadium - Chris Greatholder calls upon Stephen Hindmarch and Leon Birnie, who return to their ranks after injury layoffs alongside Tom Biss, Dale Higham and Stuart Wilson. Richard Gillespie (medial ligaments), Milos Nikolic (knee ligaments) and Matt Gould (shoulder) are all injured.

The vital statistics: The Bay have never beaten Team Wellington in the ASB Premiership on home soil. In nine previous encounters, the Bay have drawn four and lost five dating back to 2004.

Squad list: 26- Shaun Peta (GK), 2- Fergus Neil, 3- Alex Barlow, 4- Stu Wilson, 5- Bill Robertson (c), 6- Stephen Hindmarch, 7- Matt Hastings, 8- Adam Cowan, 9- Leon Birnie, 10- Sam Margetts, 11- Conor Tinnion, 12- Dale Higham, 14- Danny Wilson, 15- Rudi Bauerfiend, 16- Reilley O'Meagher, 17- Tom Biss, 18- Hamish Watson, 19- Chris McIvor, 21- Josh Margetts - four to be omitted.

Coach: Chris Greatholder.

Team Wellington form: WLLWL

The players: The capital city side are without concussed defender Nick Branch. Wellington back-up goalkeeper Scott Basalaj is in the UK trialling with a professional club. Solomon Islands attacking midfielder Michael Fiifi and Daniel Clarke will bolster their ranks.

The vital statistics: Wellington have dominated the Bay away since the premiership started in 2004. Unbeaten in nine matches in the Bay, Wellington have also won four matches on the bounce at Bluewater Stadium - 3-2, 2-0, 2-1 and 3-0.

Squad list: 1- Phil Imray (GK), 2- Tim Schaeffers, 3- Jamie Duncan, 4- Michael Eagar, 6- Darren Cheriton, 7- Wiremu Patrick, 9- Patrick Fleming, 10- Dakota Lucas, 12- Ethan Galbraith, 13- Karl Whalen, 15- Sam Mason-Smith, 18- Michael Fiifi, 19- James Musa, 20- Luke Rowe, 22- Justin Gulley, 23- Louis Fenton, 24- Daniel Clarke - one to be omitted.

Coach: Matt Calcott.




- Hawkes Bay Today

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