Tawa 0 Rovers 1
Napier City Rovers sneaked past lowly Tawa 1-0 in Wellington on Saturday but the talking point was a penalty so clearcut even the visiting coach admitted Tawa were hard done by.
On the attack, Tawa defender Aaron Magill chased the ball as it headed away from goal. Napier goalkeeper Jonty Underhill was snapping at his heels, then in a moment of madness blatantly shoved Magill off the ball, and on to the ground.
The referee, David Beattie, must have been thinking of what to have for his tea that evening, as he waved play on, the only person in the ground to think it wasn't the proverbial stonewaller.
Time for some good old fashioned honesty from Napier coach Grant Hastings:
"Yeah, he pushed him all right, right out of the way. I'm pleased the referee wasn't looking at that."
Surprisingly, young Tawa coach Daniel Wood wasn't all fire and brimstone at the incident.
"It was a very similar penalty shout to the one Napier got earlier in the first half. Fair enough, I felt that was a penalty; our claim was pretty similar but was a push in the back. I thought it was a pretty inconsistent performance [by Beattie].
"I thought there were a number of contentious decisions made. I don't mean to bag the referee but I thought a lot went against us, especially in those 50/50 calls," Wood said.
Harley Rodeka took Napier's penalty but the Hawke's Bay Utd player failed to outfox goalkeeper Lance Ramaekers, who also managed to prevent Napier going ahead several times.
Neither team looked convincing, but with Tawa coming off the back of a 7-1 home defeat to Petone, Hastings' troops would have been expected to saunter to the three points. Instead, it took a close-range shot from Rodeka with 10 minutes remaining to settle this intriguing, if rather lame, affair at Redwood Park.
For all that, Napier had the clearer chances, notably when Sam Lawson squeezed the ball past the post in the first half; Danny Wilson and Patrick Pilz headed just wide and Fane Morgan was also marginally off target.
Alas, the name of David Beattie crops up again as he mysteriously called a foul on Josh Stevenson who had the ball at his feet and was tearing at the defenders ready to unleash a shot. It was difficult to determine what his misdemeanour was as the defenders were in front of him, and there was a little distance between him and them.
It may have been a closely-fought match but Hastings thought the better team won.
"We dominated the match possession-wise and it was a good performance by us. We left it pretty late, and there was an element of luck to our win but we had the greater of the chances. They barely troubled our keeper."In the other Central League games, Petone beat Upper Hutt City at home, while Miramar Rangers showed their title credentials with a 4-1 home win against last season's Chatham Cup finalists, Lower Hutt City.