Time now to get serious

By Craig Stephen

Wgtn 1 HB Utd 3


A first half that resembled a training session, endless substitutions and goals that in competitive matches would have the coaches fuming at lax defending: welcome to the pre-season friendly.

And yet, while little will be read into the encounter at David Farrington Park in the capital, Hawke's Bay United's 3-1 win against perennial ASB Premiership contenders Team Wellington was a timely confidence booster ahead of the league's kick-off this weekend.

Hawke's Bay looked cohesive but their opponents are clearly getting into the swing, and if their first-half performance is replicated when the competition gets serious, then their coach may have to consider his future.

It was only when the home side brought on big-hitters such as Hamish Watson, Dominic Rowe and Andrew Abba at the start of the second half, that they seemed to take this match with a pinch of reality. Hey guys, the season starts in a few days.

To be fair to Team Wellington, coach Matt Calcott has to merge players from various different clubs, mainly Miramar Rangers, Olympic and Lower Hutt, while Hawke's Bay can use the bulk of the Central League-winning Napier City Rovers team with the odd star from Maycenvale getting some game time.

Yet, it was a player from neither of those clubs who struck the first blow - Connor Tinnion, who found himself with plenty of space after some hard work by Stephen Hoyle. Cole Peverley finished off an aggressive attack early in the second and Angus Kilkolly pounced on a goalkeeping error to add the third a few minutes before the final whistle. Watson - one of the Wellington Phoenix's development players - gave the home side a chance with an easy goal three minutes earlier.

Bay assistant coach Perry Cotton was happy enough with the workout.

"We're trying to make ourselves a hard team to beat, we have a lot of technical ability but we conceded 35 goals last season and you can't make an impact in the league by doing that. So that's what we were concentrating on today, being solid in defence and midfield.

"The boys have been working hard, we have a fitness trainer with us, so it's about looking after people and making sure we're ready for the first league game."

Cotton was standing in for coach Chris Greatholder, who was obtaining a coaching certificate, and the team will also be able to call up Jarrod Smith and Dakota Lucas, both of whom are nursing minor injuries.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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