Putting games to bed requires a certain breed of players and a certain mentality but Hawke's Bay United yesterday showed in Napier those attributes had again proven elusive for them this summer.
The Thirsty Whale-sponsored Hawke's Bay franchise team showed a lot of ticker to draw first blood in the second half but didn't have the tenacity to at least take a point off Canterbury United Dragons in the 2-1 loss at Park Island, Napier.
Substitute Sam De St Croix broke the deadlock in the 64th minute, not long after coming off the bench, following some dazzling footwork from another transfer-window signing, Tinashe Marowa on the right flank to square a cross which striker Samuel Adjei had teased through to the far post to the midfielder to slip past lanky Dragons goalkeeper Coey Turipa for a 1-0 lead.
Former Napier City Rovers striker Stephen Hoyle, who had missed a rash of opportunities in front of the goalmouth, soothed the nerves of coach Willy Gerdsen and captain Gary Ogilvie with an equaliser, 1-1, in the 78th minute before left wing Futa Nakamura sealed the victory in the 87th minute.
"It was a really tough game," Marowa said, revealing the hosts were aware the visitors were in the hunt for three points to move higher up the ISPS Handa Premiership table to secure a home semifinal.
"We didn't win the game but we knew it was going to be tough coming into it."
The 21-year-old, who arrived here last month from Tasman United via the transfer window, said the plan was to sit back in the opening 10 to 15 minutes to see if the Dragons were going to come at them, which they had, but some tenacious defending kept the sides scoreless in the first half.
Marowa said unfortunately they had conceded two goals.
"We did well but it's just one of those things so, hopefully, we'll pick up three points now away against Waitakere United," said the midfielder, who grabbed the opportunity from Bay United coach Brett Angell to revive his playing career after his attitude took a hiding when he failed to secure a contract with the Wellington Phoenix.
Marowa said they were told before the kick off that there was no playoffs pressure on them but it would be nice to finish as high up the table as they could.
"I think we showed today that the boys are happy," he said. "It's game we could have and should have won but, unfortunately, we came away without three points."
Angell played several youth players, starting with three, as Bay United still seek a victory at home this summer.
Their only chance now is beating Southern United here on Saturday, March 17, which also will be the end of their campaign.
Marowa said they had no excuses about yesterday's heat because it was the same for both sides.