The three points were never in doubt for the hosts but the frivolity of the opposition had well and truly robbed the Federation League football match of its sheen at Guthrie Park in Hastings today.

"Last goal scorer wins the game," said a Peggy Gordons New Plymouth Rangers player as captain Dom Squatriti yelled out to gather for a huddle after a 4-1 loss at the hands of Building King Havelock North Wanderers this afternoon.

Now if the visitors' robust three cheers and equally loud fluorescent pink strip were the yardstick of success than the villagers wouldn't have had a show in their blue and gold colours.

Alas, the result in round two of the second-tier winter league in the Central Football region came down to what was evident - or perhaps, more so, the lack of it - on the park that was going to resonate with the smattering of fans who had braved the bone-chilling southerlies to watch Wanderers open their account with aplomb in the league, after a bye in the opening round last weekend.

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The Chris Greatholder-coached Villagers were a class above Rangers under the tutelage of Brazilian mentor Juliano Schmeling, posting a 2-0 halftime lead into the stiff wind blowing the length of the field, from the Hastings end towards Napier.

As it tends to happen, when the quality of the opposition is inferior then it's inevitable the superior side's biggest task becomes the challenge to refrain from letting their standards slip. With a blown-out scoreline beckoning, individualism creeps in and the overriding desire to dazzle with footwork or seek glory through hit-and-hope chances to score goals become endemic.

Regrettably for Havelock North skipper Jerome Groot his troops couldn't arrest the slide as silly fouls crept into their game and their structure, which was pleasant to the eye, started looking a little wobbly.

For the predominantly youthful Wanderers, relegated at the end of the Ultra Football Central League last year after one season, the composure to recover at crucial times and not get sucked into schoolboy footy was admirable.

Even more pleasing was the smarts in generally keeping the ball on the ground to counter the vicious wind to dictate play, quite often from all the way back to the goalkeeper, Frederic Haidekker.

Take away the mindless calls for "hand ball" (it's only when the intention is to deliberately stick one's hand out to interfere with the ball constitutes a free kick, not ball to hand) and raising the arms to indicate the ball is out of play (the entire ball has to be over the white line) and you can argue the game is of Federation League standard.

It is harsh first up but it becomes difficult to justify New Plymouth's presence in the league, if that's the best they can do this winter.

Wanderers midfielder Charlie Bayly (left) and Che Jesson-Bentley (right) congratulate Kenny Willox after he scored the opening goal at Guthrie Park, Hastings, today. Photo / Paul Taylor
Wanderers midfielder Charlie Bayly (left) and Che Jesson-Bentley (right) congratulate Kenny Willox after he scored the opening goal at Guthrie Park, Hastings, today. Photo / Paul Taylor

Wanderers central midfielder Kenny Willox drew first blood, 1-0, when he curled a free kick around the defensive wall from just outside the penalty box in just the 23rd minute.

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Rangers goalkeeper James Boroughs hollered to referee Gordon Harris about how his vision was impaired but that only just accentuated how the visitors' weren't football savvy.

"That's your problem," snapped back Harris and, not surprisingly, although it should have been done sooner - Schmeling went on to substitute Borough with Kieran Bignell in the 80th minute.

Striker Bjorn Christensen extended the lead to 2-0 after latching on to a ball that Boroughs had failed to bring under control, following a worm-burner of a shot from midfielder Charlie Bayly in the 31st minute.

It wasn't until the 63rd minute when veteran Jared Bloor made it 3-0, drilling the ball into the net past Boroughs following an adroit reverse pass from Groot.

Rangers striker Kieran Sturrock had a golden opportunity to put his side on the score card but he got cute, dribbling once too many in trying to go past Havelock North glove man Haidekker in the 82nd minute.

Painfully Wanderers winger Liam Shackleton made New Plymouth pay when he followed up a ricocheted free kick shot from 35m out which had hit the crossbar in the 88th minute for a 4-0 lead. Newbie striker Lapalapa Toni had earlier drawn the foul, proving to be a handful with his squatty presence.

However, Sturrock made amends in the 90th minute when he deftly slotted a penalty kick after defender Kurtis Maney had fouled him in the penalty box to make it 4-1, for what it was worth.

Schmeling said their lack of knowledge on the hosts' composition didn't help although it was always going to be tough against a team who had tasted Central League last winter.

"We made too many mistakes in the first half and in the second half we tried to use a different strategy but the Wanderers were still too dominant," he said, lamenting his men gifting "three easy goals" but satisfied they had claimed three points against Ray White Hokowhitu firsts in the 4-2 win in round one.

Greatholder agreed the Rangers were disappointing and seemed content to park 11 players behind the ball for the most part of the game.

"Even when we were 3-nil or 4-nil up they kept players protecting the edge of the box," said the coach, who felt the Wanderers had to be better at adapting to those situations if they wanted to return to Central League.

He felt the second half was a little bit scratchy although he was pleased with promising signs that punctuated the match.

"We needed to keep our intensity and to keep the ball moving at a quicker pace than we did so we did drop our standards.

"But it was very windy and we were playing against an opposition who had no intentions of trying to get into our half."

All said and done, the Wanderers will have to be on their A game when they kick off away against Watsons Palmerston North Marist next Saturday at 2.45pm.

HHavelock North Wanderers player/coach Chris Greatholder calls for adjustments from his troops in the Federation League match at Guthrie Park, Hastings, today. Photo / Paul Taylor
HHavelock North Wanderers player/coach Chris Greatholder calls for adjustments from his troops in the Federation League match at Guthrie Park, Hastings, today. Photo / Paul Taylor