Napier City Rovers bounced back straight into a winning habit today following a gut-wrenching defeat to Western Suburbs last Sunday but they didn't have it all their way.
The Thirsty Whale-sponsored Blues were characteristically down 1-0 at halftime to Miramar Rangers but hit the highway with three points thanks to a brace from striker Martin Bueno Wellington in round seven of the Central League match at David Farrington Park, Wellington.
Table-topping Blues assistant coach Stu James said the hosts were predictably stronger than their seventh place on the 10-team table suggested with the return of four Team Wellington players.
"We were sluggish in the first half," said James of ideal autumn conditions at the park. "I think it was the long bus trip which took us all of the first half to get going."
He felt the visitors seemed to find more time to play, bringing the ball down to dictate terms.
It was Miramar Rangers who reminded the Rovers it was their turf and they would have to toil for any points when wing back Fin Moore made the visitors pay in the 40th minute after the Blues lost possession in midfield and yielded a through ball for the 1-0 lead.
"We told them don't panic," said James of captain Fergus Neil and his men. "They are talented so all they have to do is to believe in themselves and just get the ball down rather than going direct."
The pep talk worked because last season's golden boot, Bueno, levelled terms 1-all when he drew a foul in the penalty and planted the ball into the net from the spot.
The Uruguayan extended the lead to 2-1 after earning a free kick and then curling the ball over the wall to beat the goalkeeper as well in the 77th minute. He now has 11 goals so far this winter.
"We're still not clinical enough but we're still creating opportunities, if not taking them," James said although emphasising the goals came form set pieces rather than the field.
Lippy Hastings-born striker Angus Kilkolly had an early shower when referee Peter Minnel, of Wellington, saw red after the Team Wellington player picked up his first yellow for dissent in the first half and then a second one for his verbal serve to the whistle blower when his appeal for a penalty fell on deaf ears in the 80th minute.
"He appealed for a penalty after going down," James said. "He got up and gave the referee a serving who then sent him off."
Robertson picked up a yellow card within five minutes of the game kicking off owing to two robust challenges, said James, and so did fellow centre back Kaeden Atkins.
James was proud of the Blues because it wasn't an easy gig to board the bus at 7am for a 2.30pm kick off.
"Most people don't leave Hawke's Bay to get off the bus in Wellington and are expected to play top-class football."
He said the players were patient and put their trust in what Robertson and he were trying to impress on them.
In other results today, Stop Out Sports Club thumped Wellington United 12-0, Western Suburbs had a fight on their hands against Wairarapa United before edging home 2-1, Waterside Karori pipped Lower Hutt City 2-1 and Wellington City eked out a similar outcome against North Wellington FC.
The Rovers play lower-tier Central Federation League campaigners Palmerston North Marist on the road in round one of the Chatham Cup next weekend before hosting Lower Hutt on Sunday, May 19, in the league.