The word is the Greeks are smashing plates in Wellington as Stop Out out thought Napier City Rovers 5-3 in Napier today.

In a game that saw two teams bravely decide to go head to head in a season-defining Lotto Central League football clash at the Bluewater Stadium, the weather had thrown down the gauntlet but it was always going to be a test of anyone's mettle.

Logically one would have assumed the Wellingtonians should have had a huge advantage on the waterlogged pitch and they did, as the Conroy Removals-sponsored Blues eventually warmed up to playing the game in patches of the field that provided traction.

Stop Out goalkeeper Chris Campbell was easily the man of the match with countless saves in a fearless approach that saw him put his body on the line.

Advertisement

Conversely, Rovers counterpart Ruben Parker Hanks cannot say the same although not every ill was of his making for the hapless hosts whose league dream has faded even more.

If anything, it showed the Blues the importance of having a playmaker, such as Saul Halpin, in the engine room to conduct and dictate play.

Instead Halpin was reduced to a spectator in the hospitality booth of the pavilion after a recurrence of a hamstring injury.

The visitors scored in just the third minute when goalkeeper Hanks fumbled a ball as former Rovers player Andrew Abba popped it into the net, 1-0.

Stop Out struck again, 2-0, in the 13th minute, this time Micky Malivuk took the ball into the 18m box from a Steve Guley pass in the middle of the park towards the goal line before pirouetting to put a lob wedge-like shot in front of the goalmouth where right wing Luis Corrales had all the time in the world to not only nod the ball in but say hello to the earthworms doing laps in the generous puddles.

It was 3-0 when defender Lewis Francis popped in the ball in the 23rd minute in what appeared to be a soft goal, the floater freekick sailing towards the top corner of the goalmouth as Hanks helped it into the net.

In the goalkeeper's defence, the shot from just inside the halfway mark near the main pavilion sideline should never have eventuated following a dumb foul from four blue shirts ambushing a red one.

The hosts raided Stop Out's goal for the next five minutes but goalkeeper Campbell denied first Tom Biss and then Stephen Hoyle.

Advertisement

However, Campbell came close to becoming an unchalleneged hero, whatever the outcome of the game, in the 29th minute when he parried a penalty kick from Hoyle but the Blues striker followed it up to narrow the lead to 3-1.

The spot kick arose after referee deemed Stop Out skipper/centreback Jason Tipping to have pushed a player in a cornerkick melee seconds before.

It was the odd frustrated Blues fan left screaming to anyone who cared in the 39th minute when Stop Out centre midfielder Martin Packer pushed a ball wide on the right flank to Corrales as defender Danny Wilson failed to intercept.

Seasoned winger Corrales deftly took the ball into the box, drew out keeper Hanks and defender Finlay Milne before scoring the goal of the season, 4-1, from almost a flatliner position along the goal line. He put enough top spin on the ball to leave Rovers defenders helplessly watched it roll almost in slow motion into the net at the far post.

In the second half the hosts lifted the tempo as the conditions seemed to favour the side attacking from the hockey stadium end.

In the 62nd minute, Joshua Stevenson drilled a ball to make it 4-2 from about five metres out after midfielder Ryan Tinsley did all the hard work on the left flank to put a deft chip in from the goal line.

Another golden chance went begging in the 67th minute when a Tinsley cross went behind Biss to stop in a puddle from a point-blank range in front of the goalmouth as a Stop Out defender casually ran the ball out of harm's way.

In the 74th minute, Guley put in a deflected cornerkick from the left flank as keeper Hanks ruffled golden-boot contender Malivuk enough to miscue his attempted header.

However, the Blues beefeaters were reduced to spectators as Guley followed it up to stab the ball into the net as the keeper tried to find his feet. Stop Out surged into an unassailable 5-2 lead.

With a Chatham Cup mentality required, Rovers defender Milne gave the Bluewater Stadium faithful something to cheer about in the 86th minute when he turned in front of the goalmouth from about 8m out to hoof the ball into the net, 5-3, after defensive midfielder Rob Pearson returned a cornerkick clearance with some intent.

Stop Out, understandably, seemed simply content with just killing time.

They thoroughly deserved their three points, confirming their ascendancy with home-and-away victories.