The ground looked heavy underfoot after three days of rain but it didn't seem to bother Auckland City FC as they comfortably beat Hawke's Bay United in Napier today.
The ISPS Handa Premiership leaders and multiple-time champions beat the Thirsty Whale-sponsored Bay United 3-0 at Bluewater Stadium, Park Island, in round 15 of the national summer soccer league.
The city slickers simply had too much time, space, territory and possession for the hosts who have now lost any sliver of mathematical chances of making the playoffs with three rounds to go.
The individual skills and sixth sense on the foundation of simplicity through passes and use of width on attack slowly, but surely, stifled Bay United captain Bill Robertson and his men.
Auckland City went up 1-0 in the 23rd minute after right winger Alfie Rogers crisply stabbed the ball into the back of the net from his flank of the 18m box after latching on to a shot from centre-mid Callum McCowatt had clipped the left upright and deflected to the goal scorer.
The visitors extended the lead to 2-0 in the 29th minute header from striker Micah Lea'Alafa after a jaw-dropping move that silenced the home fans when leftback Takuya Iwata surged down his flank to the goal line before curling a text-book cross back to the Solomon Island international near the penalty spot for a finish that left Bay United goalkeeper Mack Waite stranded.
Bay United coach Brett Angell pulled out centre-mid Sam De St Croix and right wing Wesley Cain to inject youngsters Ben Lack and Jorge Akers at halftime.
Auckland City counterpart Ramon Tribulietx substituted Iwata with Dan Morgan.
The visitors made it 3-0 in the 52nd minute, this time McCowatt scoring after Waite parried a shot from Rogers courtesy of a Lea'Alafa cross.
Waite again thwarted Lea'Alafa in the 61st minute as Angell went to his bench, replacing Wakino with Jordan Lamb.
Tribulietx also was taking advantage of the lead to give his bench a run, pulling out Rogers to inject Liam Graham in the 79th minute.
It was rightback James Hoyle's turn to play saviour in the 81st minute, coming deftly from behind to steal the ball from Tade's feet about 5m in front of the goalmouth with just Waite to beat after another clinical cross from Lea'Alafa.
Tribulietx continued his substitutions, this time taking off McCowatt to give Reid Drake a run in the 85th minute.
Lamb had the first shot on target for Bay United in two minutes of the referee's added time.