Creating opportunities is all good but putting the ball into the back of the net is what really matters in the end.
Both Hawke's Bay premier grade hopefuls in the Napier City Rovers Club-hosted annual National Under-19 soccer tournament yesterday failed to make the play-offs.
The Vincent Latham and Terry Parkin-coached Rovers lost two matches, drew two and won one in group B.
In arguably the toughest group C, the Dion Adams and Ritchie Howard-coached Maycenvale United outfit drew two and lost three on their debut of the premier grade of the "Football Central"-sponsored tourney at Park Island when the pool matches finished yesterday afternoon.
The Rilley O'Meagher-captained Rovers stung Three Kings (Auckland) into action with a first-minute goal to Cameron Emerson in their opening match on Saturday. The visitors equalised in the 21st minute.
"The draw was a fair result," assistant coach Parkin said yesterday.
In the second match, Wellington Olympic outclassed the Rovers for a lion's share of the match, creating numerous opportunities but failing to find the net.
The "Greeks" were often guilty of becoming too cute in the 18m box rather than trying to slip the ball past Rovers keeper Jonty Underhill in one-on-one situations.
"Jonty was outstanding," Parkin said, agreeing the keeper kept them in the game and the hosts were lucky to come away with a point.
In the last game that day, Waitakere United (Auckland) pipped the Rovers 2-1 after leading 1-0 at halftime.
The Blues pulled a goal back after a defender brought down Emerson in the 18m box. Luke Chapman scored from the penalty kick.
"They [Waitakere] had two lengthy injuries but there's no added time," Parkin said of the tourney matches that are played 25 minutes each way.
Yesterday morning, Albany United (Auckland) pipped the Rovers 1-0.
"We outplayed them and had better chances but if you don't take the opportunities then you simply don't win," Parkin lamented.
In the final pool match, the Blues pipped Tawa (Wellington) 2-1 after drawing first blood in the opening half.
Chapman again found the net from the penalty spot before Tawa equalised in the dying minutes.
However, Rovers' Josh Stewart struck straight back with the winner.
"We had to win probably at least three games with perhaps 11 points to get through."
Group A qualifiers Christchurch Tech thrashed Wellington Olympic 5-1 in the quarter-finals while Three Kings pipped the other group A quarter-finalists, Fencibles United (Auckland), 1-0.
The BJ Christenson-captained Maycenvale started with a sobering welcome to the premier grade on Saturday with a 4-0 whipping at the hands of defending champions Lower Hutt first up after trailing 2-0 at the breather.
"We started brightly and competed well but two mistakes in giving the ball away cheaply cost us," assistant coach Howard said, adding the Wellingtonians' transitional play was commendable.
Petone (Wellington) pipped them 1-0 in the next game, courtesy of what Howard described as a "fantastic free kick" struck from about 25m out which snuck into the top corner of the net.
"We had changed our formation and the lads worked really hard and it literally came down to the kick of the ball.
"We were much stronger and didn't deserve to lose it. A draw would have been a fair result," Howard said.
East Coast Bays (Auckland) beat the Hastings club 2-1 in the final game of Saturday after opening a 2-0 lead at the break.
On the heels of improvement, Howard said Angus Kilkolly pulled a goal back but the blokes in orange were also guilty of not making use of opportunities they had created.
"We had a goal disallowed but we responded well after that although, at times, we didn't compete well enough."
The debuntants' first point of the tourney came against Glenfield Rovers (Auckland) yesterday morning in a goal-less stalemate.
"We just couldn't buy a goal," Howard said, after Glenfield's keeper saved a penalty kick.
Controversy surrounded the incident when an opposition defender handled the ball which Howard said had gone into the net.
The referee sent the Glenfield player off but disallowed the goal.
In their final fling, Vale held Papatoetoe 1-1 after Kilkolly raised his fans' hopes of a maiden victory with the first goal but it was to no avail as the Aucklanders equalised.
Howard said he and coach Adams saw their campaign as a great learning curve although they felt Vale were stronger than the results reflected.
"The main objective was not to be demoted from the top grade in our first outing and the last time I looked at the board I think we were not the bottom two teams of relegation," he said, adding the youngsters now had a taste of what was required at that level.
Lower Hutt thumped North Shore (Auckland) 3-0 in their quarter-final while Birkenhead beat East Coast Bays 2-0 in the Auckland derby.
It's Christchurch Tech v Lower Hutt City on pitch 3 today in one semifinal at 9am while on pitch 4 Birkenhead play Three Kings, after their names were pulled out of a hat.
The winners will earn the right to play the final at midday at the Bluewater Stadium, the home of the Rovers who are the 2012 Central League (winter) champions.
In the lower satellite grade, none of the three Bay hopefuls made it into the play-offs. However, Havelock North, Napier Marist and Taradale all registered a win each - Kapiti Coast United 1-0, Wainuiomata 2-0 and Western Springs 3-1, respectively.
Eastern Suburbs beat Manurewa 2-0 in one semifinal and Hamilton Wanderers beat Oratia 1-0 to play in today's 10.30am final at the Bluewater Stadium as the curtain-raiser match to the top-grade clash with the promise of promotion to the premier grade next year for the satellite champions.