When the writing was on the wall about 10 minutes before halftime, Hawke's Bay United coach Brett Angell hollered at his bamboozled Beefeaters in the backline as they surged towards a comprehensive defeat to Team Wellington in Napier today.

"What's going on, eh?" Angell barked as the Thirsty Whale-sponsored hosts trailed 3-1 in week 15 of the ISPS Handa Premiership match at Park Island before succumbing 6-3 to the O-League campaigners this afternoon.

By all means, the Englishman had asked a pertinent question off his embattled defenders who looked bereft of ideas and, perhaps for the best, let the query slide, as they had goals into the net, as one would a rhetorical question.

The answer, as Angell would have been frustratingly aware of himself, was in the age of the blokes trying to put up the shutters against the relentless tide of black storm.


Here's how the Bay United backline stacks up - goalkeeper Alexander Britton, 19, Jorge Akers, 18, Ben Lack, 19, James Marsh, 23 and Karan Mandair, 18 - collectively they didn't even add up to 100 years when at least 140 is a given in any playoff side worthy of keeping their goal intact for a lion's share of the national summer league.

On the flip side, it was a conspicuous acknowledgement of blooding home-grown talent at the expense of a rapidly evaporating premiership playoff hopes, if it isn't already well and truly gone bar upsets of gargantuan proportions.

If there was any enigma surrounding the stalemates Wellington had posted coming into today's game, it had rapidly become a thing of the past as the visitors mesmerised with one-touch passes and switch plays to dictate terms on the pitch.

"They are very young but for us there are no excuses because most of them have played a whole season now and some of them two," said Bay United assistant coach Jamie Dunning of his troops, after acquiring his A licence in Hamilton last Sunday but pleased to be gleaning knowledge from Angell.

However, Dunning rightly stressed the defenders shouldn't have to carry the entire burden of the onslaught when other facets of play were questionable as well.

"It just sort of didn't stick for us today and we didn't get enough runners behind them," he lamented.

Dunning said gifting possession on transition to a quality opposition would always yield such yawning results.

"I don't mind if they score goals like we do," he said. "We have to play and cut teams open for some real good goals but, no, goals came from two long balls crossed into the box so, yeah, it was just poor decision making at the end of the day."


Lauding the emergence of teenage defensive midfielder Luis Toomey from his Napier Marist club, Dunning was sure the young brigade would mature mentally with time.

Team Wellington drew first blood when former All Whites striker Aaron Clapham rocketed a shot into the top of the net from just inside the penalty box past keeper Britton in just the 13th minute.

Golden-boot contender Sam Mason-Smith equalised 1-all with the easiest of quad flicks from a bouncer in the box the Wellington defence had failed to deal with in the 30th minute, after frustrating the hosts for the best part of the game before that.

But that joy was short lived when homeboy Angus Kilkolly, loitering unmarked inside the 18m box, headed in a Clapham cross from the right flank for an equally soft goal for a 2-1 lead two minutes later.

Cameron Lindsay had a chance to level the scores after a sloppy defensive clearance from Wellington in the 37th minute but his attempt deflected off a defender's leg.

Cruelly, it was Jack-Henry Sinclair who added salt to the wound when he calmly slotted in another goal, 3-1, to muted appraisal from the Bluewater Stadium faithful a minute later.

The rot had set in from there as another Team Wellington player with Bay roots, captain Andy Bevin, tapped the ball into the net past Britton at the far post from point-blank range for a 4-1 lead in the 41st minute.

Just four minutes into the second half, Clapham scored casually to shake hands with Kilkolly for a 5-1 margin.

Having had enough, Angell responded, pulling out Canadian import Gavin Hoy in the midfield and injecting Japan import Sho Goto, who had surprisingly not made the starting XI.

Bay captain Birhanu Taye picked up a yellow card for a crude tackle on Clapham but almost gifted a goal to Kilkolly while defending from inside the box, from the ensuing free kick in the 58th minute.

Team Wellington striker Aaron Clapham takes Hawke's Bay United skipper Birhanu Taye out of the equation during the premiership match at Park Island, Napier, this afternoon. Photo/Photosport
Team Wellington striker Aaron Clapham takes Hawke's Bay United skipper Birhanu Taye out of the equation during the premiership match at Park Island, Napier, this afternoon. Photo/Photosport

Wellington assistant coach Scott Hales, who Dunning also consults as coach, was so over the game, with coach Jose Manuel Figueira, they yanked off smiling red-headed assassin Clapham to inject Englishman Allen in the 71st minute.

But it was central midfielder Cory Chettleburgh who narrowed the deficit to 5-2 following a surging run and a nutmeg between the legs of Wellington goalkeeper Marcel Kampman in the 73rd minute.

Five minutes later two former Wellington Phoenix players, striker Hamish Watson (for Kilkolly) and midfielder Paul Ifill (Chettleburgh), came into the fray.

However, the game started going through it's niggly phase with Bay United players in the face of referee Ben O'Connell after he awarded a penalty which Allen slotted for a 6-2 lead in the 87th minute.

Kampman denied Goto from just outside the upright with a parry to the far upright but Frenchman Maxime Oliveri pulled one back to 6-3 on the stroke of fulltime.

"It's going to be hard now [but] it doesn't mean we're not going to go try to win the next four games," Dunning said of Bay United's playoff chances if they secure 12 points.

Hales said Wellington were pleased to have secured three points with some fans wondering why that had dried up as of late.

"The boys have maintained their standards throughout the campaign but they just couldn't put the ball in the back of the net," he said, happy they had found their mojo today.

Hales said it was a difficult call to make on O'Connell's penalty decision because the Bay defender's arm was "in a natural position".

"I wouldn't have given it and everyone on our bench didn't think it was but, hey, the referees have a better perspective so by the letter of the law it is a penalty.

"It's different when you're out there and you have a different angle so we're just on the sidelines and we guess more than anything," he said with a laugh.

Bay United play their final home game against Tasman United on Sunday, March 3, in a 1pm kick off.

They kick off next at 4.35pm against Waitakere United on the road on Sunday, February 24, in a televised affair.