When the physicality stakes hit a crescendo in any match it pays to keep one's head.
The best thing to do is to let officials take control of the proceedings on the football park because it's quite easy to forget there is the major matter of eking out a result during an encounter.
It seems Thirsty Whale Hawke's Bay United and Southern United discovered that after the first half although to the detriment of the hosts who went down 4-3 in the week 16 national summer league match in Napier on Saturday.
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Bay United went into the changing rooms 2-0 up at the break but returned after the final whistle with a body language that spoke volumes of a calamity.
Put another way, the Chris Greatholder and Bill Robertson co-coached Bay United had a meltdown on a day when a steady breeze had kicked in to counter the humidity of 30C at Park Island.
On the other hand, promoted Southern United coach Terry Boylan was left wagging his finger at referee Ben O'Connell at the entrance to the tunnel during the interval after the official had flashed three yellow cards but at the end of 90-plus minutes the mentor was exchanging big bear hugs with his "boys".
"Look, it was more frustration than anything else because I wasn't sure if a few things were being looked at properly but that is part and parcel of everything when the emotions run high," Boylan said, revealing he had apologised to the ref but had asked for some consistency.
Whether O'Connell had read the riot act to his troops or whether Bay United had let their guard down hardly mattered as the steely Southerners walked off with three points to justify their sixth position, a rung above Bay United on the premiership ladder, before the kick off.
The visitors had pulled one back through Cody Brook to 2-1 in the 47th minute with the promise of a more thrilling entertainment. It certainly wasn't a false dawn for them.
"We're extremely disappointed because for the first 60 minutes we were the dominant team by a country mile," lamented Bay United forager Ihaia Delaney after drawing first blood, 1-0, in just the fourth minute.
He had latched on to a deflection from Southern United goalkeeper Liam Little's body after fellow striker Ahinga Selemani had asked the initial question.
Delaney, who was substituted in the second half, was at a loss to ascertain whether it was their legs, a lack of stamina or a loss of shape on the park that had robbed them of a glossy finish.
"It all fell apart and never mind what we tried it just wasn't coming off but they were clinical and everything was coming off, especially in the second half," he said.
Delaney felt they "bullied" Southern United in the first spell with bone-jarring tackles but in the second half the opposition seemed to be claiming "every second ball". The guttural urgings from centreback Robertson and Greatholder lent credence to that.
"It's not often we go in with a 2-nil lead," he said. "We were perhaps more relaxed at halftime but I don't think we were complacent at all."
Delaney agreed a porous defence, especially in the second half, was the issue but didn't want that to detract from the victors' hunger for goals.
He felt the match was a "deal breaker" so Bay United would be clutching at straws to make the playoffs after adopting a must-win mentality before the clash.
O'Connell had to reach for his yellow card after an aggressive tackle from Liam Schofield on Southern United central midfielder Daniel Ledwith who continued to remonstrate, showing a gash on his left thigh.
For what it was worth, the Bay United left wing back had apologetically raised his hand to acknowledge he was culpable in the 15th minute.
"It was definitely red card there although that is only my opinion though," said Boylan who claimed he was instead left to digest the difference between a bent and straight leg tackle.
However, it was Ledwith's turn to collect one in the 27th minute. Bay United centre back Adam Cowan joined the club three minutes later with a mindless tackle on Southern United go-to man Garbhan Coughlan.
Bay United centre midfielder Sho Goto made it 2-0 from a goalmouth melee after pouncing on the ball inside the penalty box to drill it crisply into the net in the 35th minute.
Ironically the goal came a few passages of play after Delaney had copped some howls from the Bluewater Stadium faithful for conceding possession near the goal line when he was under no duress.
It was Brook who had ignited the Southerners into believing in themselves although Goto had them back in the mind swamp when he claimed a brace for a two-goal buffer (3-1) in the 52nd minute.
Nevertheless the visitors didn't drop their shoulders. They picked themselves up to narrow the deficit to 3-2 from Coughlan in the 64th minute.
Southern United weren't done. Adam Hewson had found the net in the 68th minute but referee's assistant, Dominic Barry had his flag raised for an offside.
They didn't despair, emphatically nailing the equaliser, 3-all, from a Coughlan brace — following a deft pass from Cam McKenzie on the left flank to find the playmaker inside the box in the 76th minute. The hosts were still reeling from the effects when Hewson drove a stake into Bay hearts a minute later.
Boylan said Southern United had travelled early in the morning to Napier from Dunedin and were fuelled a little on raw emotions.
He was proud of how his men had shown character and resilience to claw their way back into the game.
"It just shows how dynamic this group is and they want the desire and work hard so I can't speak highly enough of these guys because they really want to play," says the mentor who took over, as assistant, from Irishman Paul O'Reilly a fortnight ago.
Boylan agreed his men were getting drawn into the physicality and he could see that from a player's perspective but he expected Southern United to manage it better.
At the break he had reminded them of their goals and re-focusing on what had worked in the previous two games.
"We had to have belief in each other and we often talk about individual characters and what they bring to the team for the dynamics and the collective responded really well today."
Boylan paid tribute to O'Reilly for establishing a structure. The lads also have developed better cohesiveness in the past four years with a core group setting the frame work.
"That's three games on the trot for us," he said. "Are we going to get ahead of ourselves and smell ourselves thinking we're above everyone else? No."
The focus, he said, was on Team Wellington next rather than entertain thoughts on playoffs.