An unruffled Napier City Rovers have regained their lead in the Lotto Central League after a so-so first half against Petone FC in Napier today.
The Conroy Removals-sponsored Rovers, who won 4-1, had briefly lost their top-rung perch to Wellington Olympic and shared second place with first-round slayers Stop Out before the match kicked off at Bluewater Stadium, Park Island, at 2pm.
But it was the Wellingtonians today who set the match alight with an early goal. The Blues kept their cool to ensure the three points belonged to them after taking control in the second half.
Petone made their intentions clear when they went ahead 1-0 in just the fourth minute from striker Jack Morrisey who seemed to have all the time in the world to crisply drill the ball past Blues goalkeeper Kyle Baxter.
In the 22nd minute midfielder Tom Biss had asked the question after some sublime footy from the right flank with Fergus Neil and Stevie Holye but the ensuing drive from the middle of the park curled away from the right upright in round 13 of the league.
Five minutes later, Morrisey showed he could be a thorn in the Blues' defence when he pounced on a through ball into the 18m box but, although he appeared to have all the time again, didn't react quick enough as centreback/coach Bill Robertson denied him another goal.
In the 36th minute, Ryan Tinsley and Harry Morton had shots at the Petone goalmouth but goalkeeper Shea Stapleton parried back into play before recoiling for another palming action down the left upright.
Tha Blues' persistence paid off in the 43rd minute when Biss latched on to the ball on the right flank, showed his class with a few touches, turned defender Jordan Pickering inside out twice before jobbing the ball in the narrowest of spaces between keeper Stapleton and the right-hand upright to level terms, 1-1.
The players have made a good fist of the first half, considering persistent rain for the past three days had left some surface flooding on the pitch that made the ball move a bit slicker if the foot's too heavy.
It took only 14 minutes for the hosts to go up 2-1 through captain Danny Wilson after he pounced on a Hoyle freekick that the Petone defenders fail to take care of.
The Blues have threatened the goal a few more times but lacked composure to finish it off.
It was Tinsley's turn to fist the air in the 70th minute when he coolly jumped up to nod the ball into the net to put Rovers up 3-1 following a cornerkick from defensive midfielder Rob Pearson.
Five minutes later, Blues assistant coach Chris Greatholder started rolling out substitutes with Daniel Ball in for Biss.
Teenager Ross Willox had come in earlier for an injured Morton, fitting into the engine room like he never left it the last time he ran on to the home turf.
The Rovers went up 4-1 in the 84th minute when keeper Stapleton charged out for a ball at the top edge of the box but the ball slipped under his arm.
Hoyle didn't need a second invite to steer the ball around the keeper before depositing it into a gaping goalmouth.
A minute later, Computercare Pacific Premiership defender Ethan Ladd came on for workhorse Neil, to make his league debut.
Soon after Josh Stevenson missed a certain goal when Tinsley hit the goal line and cut a pass back to him but the dodgy surface robbed the right winger of another goal as the ball bobbled and his leg settled for an airshot.