Gutsy midfielder Dan Allan will miss the remainder of the Hawke's Bay United football team's campaign this summer.
Two days out from Thirsty Whale Hawke's Bay United's ISPS Handa Premiership round 13 clash against unbeaten leaders Auckland City at Napier's Bluewater Stadium tomorrow head coach Brett Angell confirmed Allan had left the country to link up with the Lautoka club in Fiji.
"Unfortunately to be eligible to play in their league Dan had to be there this week. We appreciate what he has done for us and he goes with our blessing," Angell said.
Allan's departure is a huge blow to the side and it will be interesting to see who becomes the defensive rock in his absence. Auckland City have scored 25 goals while conceding eight in their 10 wins to date and the visitors will provide a stern test for the Bay's defensive systems.
After displaying considerable improvement during December on their round 4 2-0 loss to Hamilton Wanderers in November Bay fans were concerned Angell's sixth-placed troops may have taken a big step backwards with last weekend's 5-2 loss to Canterbury United.
However Angell pointed out the score didn't reflect the game.
"We've got a little bit of a problem when we are on top we don't take the opportunities we create. We still give away very soft goals and against Canterbury we were 1-0 down within two minutes which made it tough. Then there was that penalty against us and penalties change games. It was a bad one I didn't think we deserved and we didn't get one in our favour I thought we should have got ... fine lines.
"Unfortunately conceding too many goals is a big fault. We've got to be stronger defensively and that will give us more scoring opportunities."
Angell believed his players were starting to understand the right combinations required to get the balance between attacking strengths and defensive weaknesses right. He agreed his team's defensive transitions are still not as accurate as they should be.
"One individual makes a poor decision and the second person tries to rectify that with a poor decision. By the time the fourth person doesn't make the right decision the ball is in the back of the net," Angell explained.
He was right when he said the fans who do come and watch his team enjoy what they attempt on attack.
"We're not going to trade that. But we do need better decision-making with our defensive transitions ... our defence has to be solid.
"We frightened Auckland City earlier in the season [a 2-1 loss in round three] and while we know they are going to be difficult we're going out there with the aim of being the first team to beat them this season. The match is on television and it's a good opportunity for us. When we play well we can match any team in the Premiership and we are a decent team to watch."
Angell pointed out time together was a key factor in the team's improvement before the Christmas holidays. He described his team's loss to the Hamilton Wanderers as the worst display during his five seasons at the helm.
"Bit by bit we've become stronger and more cohesive. When we get our transitions better that will give us a platform to build more consistent wins and our scorelines will be better," Angell said.
"There's no doubt we have the ability to score goals as we are third equal with the number of goals scored on the points table. But we are second highest on the number of goals conceded and the team above us [Wellington Phoenix Reserves] haven't had a win," he added.
Hawke's Bay United have played 11 games to date. They have recorded four wins, two draws and five losses and scored 23 goals while conceding 27.
Teams for the 4.35pm match:
Hawke's Bay United: 1. Mackenzie Waite (GK), 3. Liam Schofield, 4. Cameron Lindsay, 5. Josh Murphy, 7. Cory Chettleburgh, 9. Sam Mason-Smith, 10. Sho Goto, 11. Maxime Oliveri, 12. Ben Lack, 14. Birhanu Taye, 19. Luis Toomey, 21. Bjorn Christensen, 22. Karan Mandair, 23. Jorge Akers, 26. Alexander Britton (GK)
Coach: Brett Angell.
Auckland City: 1. Enaut Zubikarai (GK), 4. Mario Bilen, 5. Angel Berlanga, 6. Brian Kaltak, 7. Cameron Howieson, 9. Javier Lopez, 11. Fabrizio Tavano, 12. Dylan Manickum, 14. Jordan Vale, 15. Daniel Morgan, 16. Yousif Ali, 17. Reid Drake, 18. Ruben Parker (GK), 19. David Browne, 22. Patrick Lundemo, 23. Alfie Rogers
Coach: Ramon Tribulietx.