Soccer: Bay shake monkey off back

By Anendra Singh


The beers were put on hold for about two hours after the final whistle went shortly before 4pm yesterday following a crucial game that ended in a 1-1 stalemate.

For Kinetic Electrical Hawke's Bay United coach Chris Greatholder and his men their mind was on what was unfolding at David Farrington Park where Team Wellington were hosting Auckland City to keep their hopes alive.

Needless to say when Greatholder slid behind the steering wheel of his car, Wellington and Auckland were locked 2-2 in the 81st minute.

Momentarily Greatholder, who was a player then, would have had flashbacks of the heartache of missing out on the 2010-11 play-off berth to Canterbury United when the southerners pipped already qualified Auckland City 1-0 at Kiwitea St in the 88th minute to clinch fourth place.

Not yesterday, though, as Auckland nailed a winner in the 88th minute to seal Wellington's fate for the Bay franchise to create history with its maiden play-off berth in eight seasons of trying in the history of the ASB Premiership.

"The kids are still awake but when they get to bed I'll go out to buy a bottle of wine so the missus and I will quietly celebrate," he said last night soon after confirming the victory on the website at his Havelock North home.

Ironically video analyst Tim Motu had some of the clips from that gut-wrenching Thursday evening in 2011 which the coaching stable were privy to.

"The clips were conveying some powerful and emotional moments. I was a player then and Jonny Gould's commentary was coming through the speakers at the park from the radio while we trained.

"Gouldy said something like, 'It's the 88th minute and Canterbury have scored'.

"I remember all the lads dropped to the ground in unison."

Yesterday, before the 2pm kick off against Canterbury, Greatholder and Co decided against showing the squad the agony captured on the video in case it came across as "too negative" but the players would revisit the footage some time in the next few weeks as a reminder of the pain of missing out to spur them on to create more history before the premiership dust settles.

While mindful the Matt Calcott-coached Wellingtonians would have been gutted on a Groundhog Day-like back-to-back defeats to Auckland, Greatholder felt his men deserved their top-four placement.

"When they have drunk their three litres of water - good stuff they drink after a two hours on a hot day like today - they can have a couple of cheeky ones [beers]," he said, satisfied Bay United showed character recently especially with 10 men against Otago United in Dunedin in the previous round.

Akin to playing cup matches, he believed his troops were coming of age in coming first in tackles, headers and loose ball.

"You just have to roll up your sleeves to die for the cause."

It didn't bother him whether Bay United play table-topping 2012-13 minor premiership champions Waitakere United in the semifinals or second-placed Auckland City.

Having played Auckland twice and not lost and battled tirelessly in their 3-1 defeat away to Waitakere on December 9 with 10 men, Greatholder felt the premiership was about self-belief on beating any team on their day.

"We now have players who are hungry and competitive," he said, adamant his players won't rest on their laurels after making the cut but aspiring to secure an O-League berth in breaking down new barriers in a killer season to break the shackles of perennial underachievers.

Yesterday, it would have been quite easy to miss the point following the 1-1 draw.

That the Dragons huffed and puffed in the first half before leaving with one point from Bluewater Stadium must have felt like kissing one's sister after an entertaining night out with her best mate.

"Aah ... yeah, yeah," said Greatholder after a momentary lapse of seconds on agreeing he would have taken a point before the kick off.

"It's always disappointing when you hit the woodwork twice in the second half so there's still a few what-ifs on my mind but ..." he said, believing neither side played to their ability.

His next remark is something Wellington Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert would have dearly loved to have echoed after about this stage of a mediocre A-League season as an escape clause from dreary matches.

Said Greatholder: "You get to a stage of the season where results are more important than performance so maybe that's one of those games today."

He revealed after 10 games, Bay United coaching stable had taken stock.

"The play-offs have always been our goal but, you know, you start getting a little greedier when things start going your way.

"You start reassessing your ambitions and we've shown we can beat any team on our day so we're not fearful of anybody.

"We're looking at the next few weeks to see what it brings play-offs wise."

Striker Darren White could have scored from the acutest of angles in the 14th minute after appeals for an offside fell on deaf ears from Bay United defenders.

26th minute Stephen Hoyle was lucky to not receive a yellow card for shoving Canterbury defender Julyan Collett off the action following a legitimate bone-crunching tackle seconds earlier.

In the 31st minute, golden boot contender Sean Lovemore was stretchered off from the goal line after coming off second best from a Collette challenge.

The speedy striker, who didn't receive much ball, didn't return with Rudi Bauerfeind moving into the midfield while Hoyle striking.

Midfielder Cole Peverley crossed from the right in the 43rd minute but a defender cleared Conor Tinnion's oblique-angle shot from the line.

But a minute later Tinnion drove a speculator from about 25m out which grazed the left upright to beat goalkeeper Adam Highfield for a 1-0 lead.

But the silence was deafening almost two minutes into added time when a well-timed cross from Russell Kamo found striker Aaron Clapham in the 18m box for a header that beat an advancing goalkeeper Richard Gillespie for the equaliser, 1-1.

Four minutes into the second half referee Nick Waldron rightly flashed White a yellow card for diving.

Two minutes later captain Bill Robertson took a body blow, keeling over with watery eyes, after Peverley made a defensive error on the right flank before Canterbury were denied three shots at goal.

In the 69th minute, Gillespie parried a drive before Peverley headed the ensuing shot off the goal line from the deflection to deny the southerners again.

In the 72nd minute, Hoyle glanced his header wide from the near upright of the right flank after a pin-point cross from Rodeka.

Three minutes later Robertson's flick from a cornerkick caught the left upright and ricocheted into play amid groans.

In the 80th minute, Tinnion's speculator from about 35m out had fans on their feet as the ball beat keeper Highfield to bounce off the left top-right corner.

While Canterbury were to play Youngheart Manawatu this weekend the Bay are hosting table-topping Waitakere.

Regardless of the aberrations on Lovemore's x-ray plates, it's unlikely he'll be playing at 2pm this Sunday.

Complicating matters is midfielder Stephen Hindmarch who picked up his fourth yellow card yesterday.

"We'll reassess our situation because the physio [Jess McIvor] has been working overtime because there are a few tired bodies and aching limbs out there."

Otago coach Keith Braithwaite had mixed emotions.

"We're a bit disappointed because we had some very good chances in the first half.

"Then we went 1-nil down and then immediately bounced back to get back into the game so it was a great team effort."

He felt Bay United relied on long shots to score whereas Canterbury got behind their players.

"Gillespie's made a couple of good saves and one or two were cleared off the line so at the end of the day I'm happy with the points."

"One's better than none because when you're coming to Hawke's Bay you know you're doing well to get one."

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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