Was it right to have moved the round two Chatham Cup match from pitch No 1 to No 2 at Guthrie Park in Hastings today?
The jury's out on that one but it goes without saying the weather bomb did Building King Havelock North Wanderers more favours than it did Advanced Electrical Western Suburbs, who nevertheless beat the hosts 3-0 to progress to round three of the national knockout competition.
The Wellingtonians, who as defending Ultra Football Central League champions had trounced the villagers 9-0 on the No 1 ground in ideal conditions last Saturday, persevered today, heading into the changing rooms at halftime up 2-0 before adding another late in the second spell.
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"It was tough. We knew it was going to be harder in a different competition and they moved it to the second pitch to make it harder for us so fair enough, to play it into their hands, but we got the job done and we're into the next round," said Western Suburbs captain Owen Parker-Price.
"It was very heavy [underfoot]. Everyone had their long studs on but they were still slipping so we just happy to get out of there with a win," said Parker-Price, who felt they did their best to move the ball but the final pass became laboured.
Co-assistant coach Dion Adams, standing in for head coach Chris Greatholder, said while it was controversial it was nothing more than a simple exercise to preserve the No 1 field for their remaining home games when the weather improved.
"We're looking at four weeks at home ... we need to keep the No 1 in good [shape] but we have a problem now on No 2 where we train so it looks like we'll be indoors for at least a month," Adams said as the Wanderers host Wellington United this Sunday in a 1pm kick off before hosting games on alternate rounds.
He said the ball was in Central Football's court this morning to find an alternative venue but, after inspecting Marewa Park in Napier and the HB Regionals Sports Park in Hastings, they found surface water was dictating terms.
Adams said his troops were mainly 17 to 18-year-olds today but to turn the game from 9-0 to 3-0 in seven days was a plus.
"We were really pleased with how they battled and showed some intensity."
He said if the Wanderers reproduced those fighting attributes they would be more competitive, although only time would tell if it would be enough to keep them in the Central League.
With Integration Works Waterside Karori beating leaders Thirsty Whale Napier City Rovers 3-1 in Wellington yesterday Havelock North's home game against the victors in round 15 would have a cup intensity about it.
"We'll need another three to six points on top of that so, on the face value, I would say Karori is definite [win] and Lower Hutt City here is a must and then get a point somewhere else," he said of the round 13 game on July 1, after facing Miramar Rangers away at David Farrington Park on June 16.
The Wanderers played without midfielder Jorge Akers today because he was "cup tied or something" and Ben Foxall was serving a match suspension on accumulated yellow cards.
"The style of game today would have really suited Jorge so that was a bit of a blow."
Adams said Greatholder, a midfielder, was training but last Thursday he had picked up a head knock so "he's got white lights on the side of his vision and getting headaches quite bad".
"He's sort of under house arrest with no work, football or anything so he might be dodgy for a couple of weeks but, hopefully, we'll get him back this week."
He thanked the Guthrie Park faithful for turning out because Havelock North had embarked on a Central League crusade that wasn't easy.
"We've put the boys in and they deserve to have the chance to play at this level."
Callum McCowatt opened the account for Western Suburbs when he surged with the ball towards the goal line on the right flank, swivelled before drilling the ball past Havelock North goalkeeper Shaun Peta.
The difference was in the engine room where the hosts lacked presence. Che Jesson-Bentley, in particular, tended to drift too deep to give the likes of Parker-Price and McCowatt too much space and time to dictate terms.
Kenny Willox also looked isolated and exposed on the left wing before Adams moved him into the middle to shadow Parker-Price in the 31st minute for better dividends.
However, Suburbs went up 2-0 from an elementary Ihaia Delaney tap-in goal next to the right upright after mercurial winger Mohamed Awad had deftly run into an oblique channel on the right for the pinpoint cross to the unmarked scorer on the far post.
The Wanderers had created a great opportunity to pull one back in the 57th minute when Solomon Islands striker Gagame Feni surged to the right upright to cut a ball back about 7m in front of the goalmouth. But veteran centre-mid Jared Bloor wasn't quick enough to capitalise as the youthful Suburbs defenders shut him down.
Adams took off Jesson-Bentley for Guy Reeves in the 60th minute before replacing Bloor in the 70th minute with Solomon Islander Ian Paia.
The next chance arose two minutes later courtesy of a blunder by Suburbs goalkeeper Liam McGrath, who had pushed a clearance ball cold at the feet of Feni about 20m out. The striker looked surprised but recovered quickly enough to try to go around the glove man on the right as he narrowed his angle. However, two defenders thwarted Feni's attempt at goal for a cornerkick.
Winger Liam Shackleton had a 25m worm burner from the parried ensuing cornerkick into the hands of a relieved McGrath.
Jackson Ralph picked up a yellow card for what appeared to be an outburst at referee Andy Parker in the 77th minute.
Adams replaced Havelock North skipper Ethan Dent who was nursing a knee injury soon after.
McCowatt also left the field minutes later with Matthew Garbett running on in the 78th minute.
In the 85th minute Frankie Walkington made way for Ryan Feutz before Awad made room for Xavier Green two minutes later, soon after Elijah Just latched on to a through ball 30m in front of the left upright to surge into the box, before threading the ball into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.
Keeper Peta stood out for the hosts, putting his body on the line several times from one-on-one situations to blunt the goal count.
For the visitors, right back Michael Faber was calm under pressure although he got away with some shirt grabbing and arm wraps.