If Napier City Rovers thought they were going to roll down to the Masterton Memorial Turf before hitting the highway back to Hawke's Bay with three points then they were in for a rude shock yesterday.

In trying to stave off relegation, Wairarapa United fought tooth and nail to share the points with the Thirsty Whale-sponsored Blues in the round 13 Central League encounter.

The Fergus Neil-captained visitors went up 1-0 at halftime, courtesy of a goal from midfielder Sho Goto but the hosts hit back through Paul Ifill in the 61st minute.

It was the same lament for player/coach Bill Robertson who disclosed his defending champions had created numerous opportunities but lacked the clinical tenacity to plant the ball into the net.


So is it a concern for Rovers, who will host arch rivals Western Suburbs in a fourth-round Chatham Cup (national knockout) clash at Bluewater Stadium in Park Island in a 2pm kick off next Sunday.

"No it doesn't worry me because we've been clinical at times during the season but not today," said Robertson. "It would worry me if we weren't doing that [creating chances to score]."

Conversely, Wairarapa United are sitting on the second last rung of the Central League ladder, above Wellington United who also have two points from as many draws although the former have played one fewer game.

The win-less hosts, who have adopted a no-import policy to move away from a history of signing up foreigners to win even a Chatham Cup crown, are adamant to ride out this turbulent phase under the likes of former Wellington Phoenix linchpin Ifill.

The Blues are the only Hawke's Bay flag bearers left in the country's most sought-after football competition. Miramar Rangers will host Wellington Olympic on Saturday in the other all Capital Football affair from among the Central League campaigners.

In other league games yesterday, Waterside Karori thumped Wellington United 4-1, Miramar Rangers kept Wellington Olympic at Bay with a 3-1 win while Lower Hutt City pipped Stop Out Sports Club 2-1.

Western Suburbs were playing third-placed North Wellington and, barring an upset, were expected to leapfrog the Rovers on the top of the table on 28 points if they won.

■ Building King Havelock North Wanderers walloped Hokowhitu FC firsts 7-0 on the road to remain unbeaten from 10 outings in the second-tier Central Federation League yesterday.