Soccer: Crowded among family of keepers

By Anendra Singh

Upper Hutt v Rovers

Central League soccer

When Jonty Underhill metaphorically looks up at the already compact prime real estate in front him, he can be excused for thinking it's fast turning into a squatter settlement.

The 18-year-old Bluewater Napier City Rovers soccer goalkeeper must feel like he's going around the congested Stortford Lodge roundabout in Hastings with several motorists at the crossroad exit points itching to dart through.

Those myriad "motorists" in Hawke's Bay include fellow goalkeepers such as Matt Gould and, as of last week, former Central League and ASB Premiership quality player Shaun Peta.

If that's not bad enough, Underhill's brothers, Dylan, 20, and Connor, 16, are also goalkeepers in the Bay first division league for Eskview United and the Rovers, respectively.

For the record, Jonty slipped on the gloves first as a 10-year-old before Connor followed four years ago and Dylan joined the goalkeeping brigade two years later.

The goalkeeping brothers are sons of Bay referees Dorothy and Darin Underhill, of Napier.

"Yes, we're a family of goalkeepers. It is a bit crowded, but I'm okay with it and wish them all the best," says Jonty, who is loathe to say who's the better gloveman of the three but thinks "Connor's looking good" before adding they are all good.

Gould is the son of former Scottish international and English Premier League goalkeeper Jonathan Gould, who is back as goalkeeping coach for the Wellington Phoenix after a stint with Perth Glory in 2011-12 in the Hyundai A-League.

The former Bay United coach and franchise academy boss started helping Underhill as a Taradale juniors 12th grader and three more years through the age-group academy squads.

"Jonny's been training me and Matt for the past ... the last four weeks," Underhill says before today's 1.30pm kick off against Upper Hutt City on the newly laid astroturf at Maidstone Park in the CBD.

The prospect of having Matt Gould nipping at his heels doesn't daunt him although he takes some comfort in seeing Peta training as a field player after his short stint up field with last-placed Western Rangers in the ComputerCare Premiership.

"Matt's keeping me honest, so he makes me better and work much harder."

Needless to say, the Underhills have some interesting soccer conversations around the dinner table.

Refereeing parents mean the boys are well versed in the rules of the game.

With their lanky father playing for the second division Rovers side, the 1.8m tall Jonty says the boys often took turns in goal to hone their prowess.

The Lattey Civil & Precasts apprentice was as striker but he became an accidental goalkeeper when his 11th grade coach one day asked him to guard the sticks.

The former Taradale High School student agrees the thought of taking more hits than a tequila bar was initially intimidating.

"I just love everything about it now," says the teenager, who harbours hopes of playing in the national summer league some day and "taking it as far as I can".

Having come under some pressure to be more assertive in his goal box from captain Bill Robertson last Sunday in their 3-1 loss to arch-rivals Wairarapa United, Underhill accepts he's a little wet around the ears and has still a lot to learn.

Midfielder Rudi Bauerfeind returns from injury today while Sam Lawson slips back to the Bay premiership side.

Policeman Josh Stevenson will start on the left wing.

"Upper Hutt will be another plastic pitch," Rovers coach Grant Hastings says of the former cricket park that is in the first astroturf season with the club relocating there from Harcourt Park in the outskirts.

Chilean Pedro Garcias is the Upper Hutt coach, while former Rovers coach Charlie Howe is his assistant and sons Peter and Rhys Howe are playing.

Hastings says it's hard to replace composed striker Jarrod Smith, who used to knock in goals with ease last winter for the defending champions who are without nine players form the title team.

"Fane [Morgan] is developing and [Andy] Bevin was looking sharper at training the other night.

"We saw the difference when he came in the last game," he says of the West Virginia University Mountaineers attacker who made his first appearance at halftime in their 3-1 loss to Wairarapa United in Napier last Sunday.

Hastings bemoans the inability of his troops to build pressure that yields a rash of corner kicks as opposed to sporadic intensity.

"We haven't been able to build pressure like last season," he says, although it was evident in the second half of the last match, but there was dire need to do it more consistently.

While Underhill copped a verbal or two on the field last Sunday, Hastings hastens to add he didn't concede any goals because of his lack of assertiveness.

"Sean Peta's approached us to return rather than us doing it, so we're waiting for his transfer," he says of the former Rovers goalkeeper, who frequently found himself playing second fiddle to more seasoned campaigners.

Upper Hutt won promotion to Central League from the Capital Premiership last winter after Central qualifiers Wanganui Athletic chose not to go up because they weren't "financial".

Garcias, 35, of Concepcion, an hour's drive from Santiago, started playing for Lower Hutt City a decade ago before transferring to Upper Hutt.

"My children are born in Chile but they live here all life [sic] and they speak better English than me," he says with a laugh.

Garcias is attempting to inject some South American flair to his side with the help of a seasoned Louis Corrales and Peter Howe but is also thankful he can pick a more experienced Charlie Howe's brains.

"I want to play sometimes but I'm looking at the future so that I can get as much experience as possible. I'm very lucky to be a fulltime coach."

Impressing Upper Hutt isn't about individuals, Garcias says it isn't easy to coach a team to play a style of game when training twice a week, unlike Chile where they train most of the week.

NAPIER CITY ROVERS: Bill Robertson (c), Jonty Underhill (GK), Regan Cameron, Aaron Jones, Scott Henderson, Ezequiel Dondiz, Fane Morgan, Andy Bevin, Harley Rodeka, Josh Stevenson, Danny Wilson, Patrick Pilz, Rudi Bauerfeind, Regan Josh, Matthew Gould (RGK).

Coach: Grant Hastings.

UPPER HUTT CITY: 1 Chris Campbell (GK), 2 Maher Parker, 3 Richard Henderson, 4 Rhys Howe, 5 Simon McCarthy, 6 Rodney Mays, 7 Phil Patterson (c), 8 Peter Howe, 9 Wayne Rooker, 10 Luis Corrales, 11 Adam

Church, 12 Dan Luby, 13 Andrew Setefano, 14 Liam Higgins, 15 Adam Brown, 16 Javier Montalba, 17 Stephen Thomas, 18 Pedro Garcias.

Coach: Pedro Garcias. Asst coach: Charlie Howe. GK coach: Dave Burcher.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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