When Ngongotaha AFC travelled to Northland with just 12 players, coach Ron Cane told them the match would be a test of character which would define them as players and as people.
His players responded in a big way yesterday, fighting for a 1-all draw and their first competition point of the season.
Northland opened the scoring through Scott Burgess in the 43rd minute, a tough blow for Ngongotaha minutes before halftime. However, the away side backed themselves and in the 61st minute, after a goal mouth scramble, Luke Barker poked the ball home to equalise.
Cane said his side were "terrific".
"Their goal came from a counter-attack after we had been on the attack, so we went into the break 1-0 down. But the mood wasn't down at halftime, the boys knew they had played some really good football and I was really pleased with the effort.
"With only one substitute, there were players on the field struggling badly but I couldn't do anything. But, we kept attacking and creating chances, their goalkeeper made a couple of great saves.
"Rather than settling for a point after the equaliser, we kept attacking, which was good to see," Cane said.
He said drawing away at Northland would be a "massive confidence booster" for the Ngongotaha players.
"It was a true test and now we're looking forward to the next game. We've been close in the other games, it's not as though we've been playing badly, in fact we've played quite well in patches this season. But we haven't scored the goals which reflect that and of course when you're not scoring, it only takes a mistake or two at the back and the other team capitalise.
"All we're lacking really are the goals to reflect how well the guys are playing at times."
Man of the match for Ngongotaha was Josh Haua who Cane said was one of the unsung heroes in the side.
"He plods away in midfield and does his job. While there are other guys who catch the eye with the flashy stuff, they wouldn't be able to without him providing that stability. Every team needs two or three players like that, he does a great job for us."
Next week Ngongotaha play Claudelands Rovers at home.
NRFL Division Two results
Saturday, April 14
Northland 1-1 Ngongotaha (HT: 1-0)
NOR: Scott Burgess 43'
NGO: Luke Barker 61'
Metro FC 2-2 Franklin United (HT: 1-2)
MET: Jonathan Workman 20', Isaac Deans 91'
FRA: Daniel Billot 3' 40'
Albany United 1-3 Bucklands Beach (HT: 0-1)
ALB: Lee Robinson 85'
BUC: Daniel Culpan 22', Keegan Bishop 55', Josh Kingston Smith 72'
Onehunga Mangere 2-4 Cambridge FC (HT: 1-3)
ONE: Stefan Van Der Heijden 15' Own Goal 88'
CAM: Daniel Clarkin 8', Josh Clarkin 42', Dylan Blair 45' Jason Walker 86'
Takapuna 3-1 Claudelands Rovers (HT: 0-0)
TAK: Tommy Miller 54' 76', Matther Chant 56',
CLA: Dan Finlay 58'
Papakura City 1-4 Te Atatu (HT: 0-2)