Soccer: Points of difference

By Anendra Singh


They both came away with a point each so why were the soccer coaches feeling like their players had short-changed them?

The melancholic mood of Grant Hastings and Brendan McIntyre came predictably on the heels of a 1-1 stalemate between Bluewater Napier City Rovers and Lower Hutt City in the Central League match in Napier yesterday.

"We're disappointed not to get something out of it at the end of the game," Hastings lamented, giving his men an appraisal of "improved" after the second round of the league at Park Island.

Echoed McIntyre: "I think we dropped two points."

Hang on, hang on ... both the teams got a point and, the pragmatic may well argue, that's all they deserved because the visitors dominated in the first half and the hosts in the second.

Hastings: "Yes, we came away with a point but you don't like doing that at home. We want three here."

McIntyre, relishing playing on a pristine Bluewater Stadium rather than the "tupperware" [astroturf] in Wellington, was more circumspect: "I think if Napier had gone up 2-1 we wouldn't have got back in the game."

Furthermore, the Lower Hutt coach counted his blessings to have played here before defending champions Rovers start finding some traction later in the season.

Therein lies the rationale behind what's eating the coaches.

Having started with a crisp passing game, Canaries centreback James Craughwell broke the deadlock when he nodded in a goal a minute before halftime from an Andrew Coad cornerkick.

When play resumed, Rovers responded to Hastings' pep talk to heighten the pace to create movement and rapid interchanging passes.

Rovers centreback Aaron Jones came close to scoring but so did Lower Hutt striker Nathaniel Hailemariam a minute later although Blues goalkeeper Jonty Underhill made a brilliant save off his volley.

In the 62nd minute, Harley Rodeka had a chance to equalise but keeper Scott Basalaj prevailed although left winger Rodeka put in another cross from the parried ball but Argentine Ezequiel Dondiz, making an outstanding debut, arrived too late on the far post.

The equaliser came in the 66th minute when referee Anthony Riley ruled a hand ball in the 18m box. Cole Peverley had Basalaj diving the wrong way to level 1-1.

In the 88th, striker Fane Morgan, also on debut, could have given the hosts an edge but Basalaj again parried from point-blank range.

Hastings said it was taking his men too long to bed in although a musical chair of positions over two matches didn't help.

"In the first half we defended well but to give a cheap goal from a corner at close to halftime was really disappointing.

"We're a work in progress and we'll keep getting better."

McIntyre bemoaned Lower Hutt City's lack of clinical fortitude in front of the goal.

In the changing rooms, the eloquent Scotsman impressed on them a 1-0 lead wasn't enough but he felt his youthful charges didn't heed his warning.

McIntyre lauded both keepers for keeping their sides in the game but felt his team had lost the art of deft football in the second spell because they strayed from the basics and forgot to play for each other.

"Unfortunately when you become individuals it becomes very hard to keep any sort of structure," he said, highlighting their inability to get behind the Blues in the second half to put through crosses.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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