People always talk about a family-like culture in team sports for rapport and cohesiveness.
You can't go past Tawa AFC who have two sets of brothers - goalkeeper Lance Ramaekers and midfielder Michael Ramaekers as well as captain/defender Stephen Romijn and midfielder Karl Romijn.
Add to that Tawa matrix father-coach Maarten Romijn and you start getting the picture of why they operate with some conviction even when the chips are down.
Suffice it to say Cru Bar Maycenvale United would have killed for that sort of stickability and understanding in their short-lived Central League campaign but they are injecting homegrown youth into their dysfunctional squad.
Despite Tawa's dominance yesterday Vale had every chance to come away with a point, if not victory.
They lost 2-1 but were in no way disgraced at Flaxmere Park, Hastings, after torrential rain at midday left the Hawke's Bay Regional Sports Park ground waterlogged.
Referee Peter Linney, of Wellington, had no hesitation in relocating the match which kicked off about 2.15pm on a surface that held together quite well for most of the match, enabling both sides to commendably play a crisp passing game.
Nippy right winger Ramaekers made the visitors' intentions clear when he clipped the crossbar in just the third minute after a deft cross from left winger Drew Wild.
But centre-mid Scott Cameron didn't make any mistakes 10 minutes later for a 1-0 lead when Ramaekers took the ball and the orange defenders to the goal line before turning an acute angle pass back to Cameron to beat goalkeeper Lucain MacDonald.
Striker Jone Salauneune, grappling with the heavy underfoot conditions, could have put the visitors up after 17 minutes when rightback Nick Lucas miscalculated his pass back to captain Sam Stove. But the Fijian Under-23 international slipped with just the keeper to beat.
A minute later MacDonald parried a Salauneune header and Karl Romijn pounced on the ball to smash it from point-blank range but the Vale keeper again thwarted a goal.
In the 42nd minute, MacDonald collected a yellow card after diving on a pass back into his 18m box with Salauneune breathing down his neck but nothing materialised from the ensuing freekick not taken indirectly amid a howling objection from the Vale wall of defence.
In the 49th minute Stove took a body blow to deny Wild as the keeper lay on the ground after parrying the first attempt.
Substitute Jamie Sharp, in for Salauneune, emulated Stove in the 60th minute when he deflected Joshua Margett's freekick after Michael Ramaekers fouled BJ Christenson.
Vale equalised 1-1 seven minutes later in what can best be described as a soft goal but it did not deter from the fact that substitute premiership right winger Joel Willett did all the hard work before the ensuing cross from about 5m out off an oblique angle as the ball deflected into the goal off a defender's leg.
Stung into action, Tawa claimed back a stunning 2-1 lead a minute later from Ramaekers who used the momentum of a bullet cross to flick it past MacDonald.
Tawa substitute Richard Bott walked the ball into the Vale goalmouth in the 79th minute after Ramekaers and Cameron linked up from the halfway mark to relay the ball but the offside flag prevailed.
Vale missed the services of Tom Biss, away in India for the Wellington United's A-League pre-season build up, but the hosts were also guilty of lacking peripheral vision, opting for through balls up front when yawning width beckoned.
Stove said they had to throw the kitchen sink to keep their mathematical chances alive of staving off relegation.
``It didn't turn out that way but there's a little bit of finishing to go.''
He said moving the game to Flaxmere Park had upset a few players but the ground held up well to offer them to carry on adopting a passing game after halftime.
``With young guys getting ready for the [annual national] under-19 tournament [in Napier] and it has given them an
experience at a higher level than the prems.''
Maycenvale are blessed with two outstanding keepers in MacDonald and Matt Gould, son of former
Scottish international and Wellington Phoenix goalkeeping coach Jonathon Gould.
With Vale effectively relegated, it'll be interesting to see where the youngsters would go to continue playing at an
elite level to hone their skills.
With Kinetic Electrical Hawke's Bay United coach Chris Greatholder at the ground yesterday, it'll be equally
interesting to see if Gould is in the squad for this summer's ASB Premiership.
Skipper Stephen Romijn said his men had a good but Vale came back at them.
``At one nil if we would have got a second or third we would have killed the game but to be fair to them they deserve to be at halftime at least one all,'' Romijn said.
In the second half, he said Tawa failed to exert ample pressure on the hosts despite the ground
holding up well, enabling both teams to make good passes up to 5m.
Having established a three-point lead and leapfrogged over Western Suburbs, who have a superior goal difference, Romijn said seventh-placed Tawa were looking forward to the ``derby'' this weekend.
``If we get a draw we'll stay ahead of them but we want win that game to finish on a roll. We just won the last three games and if we win the next one to finish seventh then it's not a bad season,'' he said.