It was a question of not whether Napier City Rovers were going to lose but by how many in Napier today?

The sun was out, the ground had a greenish glow about it at Park Island and the Wellington United boys had come out to make the most of it.

But someone forgot to tell the Josh Stevenson-captained Conroy Removals-sponsored Blues, at least in the first half, when the Lotto Central League soccer match had started at the Bluewater Stadium.

With all the possession and dominance, it was just a matter of time before visiting captain Liam Wood and his adroit boys were going to score.


The first goal came from a free kick from Wellington Phoenix wonder boy Sarpreet Singh in the 14th minute as he curled the ball around the wall to clip the right upright before it ricocheted to the left side of the goalmouth.

Some fans disputed Hawke's Bay referee Mark Roil's "weak" decision for a "cheap free kick" from the challenge of a Blues defender.

The second, 2-0, came from striker Tinashe Marowa who turned to beat the entire flat-footed defence for a through ball from the spine of the field to drill it under goalkeeper Joshua Hill in the 25th minute.

Two minutes later, import defender Charley Yexley scored an own goal. Hill was coming across to cover a deftly crossed ball from right flank from right wing back Jack-Henry Sinclair but the screaming question was: "Were the lads talking to each other?"

Did Hill say to Yexley: "Leave it mate, I got it covered."

In the 29th minute Singh, who Phoenix appear to be clearly cultivating as a set-piece merchant, drilled a ball from just a couple of metres outside the top of the box to drive it into the top left corner for a 4-0 lead.

But the visitors weren't done. It was Marowa's turn to add to his tally, 5-0, when he latched on to more work on the right flank to stun the Bluewater Stadium faithful into silence in the 41st minute.

The burning question was what was coach Bill Robertson going to say or do to motivate his troops?

The season's prolific run scorer, striker Angus Kilkolly, put one into the net, 5-1, in the first minute when play resumed before pushing goalkeeper Keegan Smith aside to run the ball back to the centre spot on the park.

Wellington United coach Andy Hedge responded with bringing off lethargic-looking Ollie White and Thomas Raimbault and injecting Willem Ebbinge and Cacace Liberato.

Robertson also reached out to his bench a minute later, withdrawing Fahad Rwakarambwe and Stu Wilson to replace them with Jorge Akers and Bradley Perks.

In the 60th minute, Rovers leftback Ethan Ladd showed why Robertson rates him when he tackled to dispossess Ruairi Cahill-Fluery to deny him what appeared to be a one-on-one goal in the making against Hill.

Hastings Boys' High School pupil Ladd, playing out of his preferred rightback position, again came to the rescue in the 66th minute.

The hosts pulled another one back, 5-2, in the 81st minute when Kilkolly nodded in a precision cross from Akers on the left flank.

Marowa brought up his hattrick of goals to extend the lead to 6-2 in the 87th minute after Singh weaved his magic in and out of the Blues' defenders in the box to ease the ball behind the defence for the striker to push it past Hill.

Akers had a chance to narrow the margin in added time, after latching on to Kilkolly's thwarted attempt, but goalkeeper Smith made a great save before a defender headed the ballooning ball out of harm's way.