Oh the pain and it wasn't just the loss which was inflicting hurt within the Napier City Rovers' camp last night.

Striker Angus Kilkolly was red-carded during Conroy Removals Napier City Rovers' 5-0 Lotto Central League round 16 loss to Miramar Rangers at Napier's Bluewater Stadium yesterday. He may miss the remainder of the season as he only recently returned from suspension.

"Angus will definitely miss next weekend and we will have to wait and see if that's his season," Rovers coach Bill Robertson said afterwards.

Kilkolly and Rangers player Ryan Mathews were both given their marching orders by Wellington referee Peter Linney after kicking each other as they sat on the ground in the 29th minute. The hosts lacked the necessary discipline, composure and experience to compete with Rangers. They were outclassed in their third consecutive loss, simple as that.


While Rovers had as many shots on goal in both halves, seven, as Rangers the visitors had much more intent with theirs. Rovers often struggled to retain possession for more than three passes while Rangers' attacks were better constructed which meant their passes stuck.

Tourists among the spectators would have found it hard to believe Rangers went into the match in sixth place on the points table, one spot below Rovers. A couple of long-time Rovers supporters had to admit Super 8 champions Napier Boys' High School, have been playing better football than Rovers did yesterday.

Considering the conditions were ideal more was expected from the Fergus Neil-captained Blues. Only veteran midfielder Chris McIvor produced the necessary urgency on defence.
This bloke is 38 and this season is his first at this level since 2008. It's a pity the enthusiasm he displayed yesterday wasn't contagious.

At one stage he yelled out for more chatter but the call went unanswered. Matt Bruin was gutsy and impressed with his workrate as did fellow defender Jim Hoyle before he was forced off with an ankle injury.

"Miramar are a good side and almost all of their goals came from national league players," Robertson lamented afterwards.

He was pleased his troops matched Rangers in the shots-on-goal department.

"They were more clinical in front of the goal and made better decisions in the final third," Robertson said.

Robertson has adopted a strong development policy this season and he was thrilled to have started 17-year-old Lindisfarne College 1st XI midfielder Karan Mandair yesterday. Fellow schoolboys Jorge Akers and Ethan Ladd took the field as substitutes.

"Hopefully they can learn from these opportunities given," Robertson said.

With two games remaining and title hopes well and truly out of reach Robertson might as well give these youngsters plenty of exposure during the remainder of the season. This could pay off in the future.

The educated Rovers fan won't mind sacrificing a spot or two on the table this season if it means a serious assault on a top-three finish can be made next year. This club has too proud a history not to be regular top-three finishers in this league.

Former Rovers forward Andy Bevin, who played alongside Robertson for Team Wellington last summer, opened the scoring with a goal from an indirect free kick just outside of the box which required a slight deflection to beat keeper Ruben Parker. Five minutes later fellow Team Wellington forward Tom Jackson scored after receiving a superb long-range pass from workaholic defender Taylor Hough.

Parker made a brilliant stop of a Rangers attempt in the 36th minute but Lewis Jackson was handy enough to slot in the deflection and the visitors led 3-0 at halftime.

Robertson's troops defended better in the second half and it wasn't until the 80th minute that substitute Eric Malloy scored Rangers' fourth goal. Fellow substitute Richard Bott scored the fifth goal, a soft one, in the 89th minute.

Bevin, Tom Jackson and another Team Wellington forward Joel Stevens displayed the benefits of their vast experience up front while Hough and keeper Phil Imray marshalled the visitors' defence well.