With the onset of the duck shooting season, it was never a question of three points but more a case of how many goals in the bag when Napier Marist played Hokowhitu FC today.
As it turned out, the Alexander Electric-sponsored Marist side found the visitors from Palmerston North to be sitting ducks as they crushed them 6-0 in round five of the Central Federation League match at Park Island, Napier.
The Ethan Dent-captained hosts scored three goals in each half but they should have been plucking a few more with the black dabbling ducks "locked up" in their own half for the most part of the game.
Dent said they were trying to make up for the 8-2 loss in the opening round of the league away to defending champions Palmerston North Marist.
"For us today it was obviously about getting the job done and getting the three points to make sure we keep pace with Havelock North and Palmy Marist so we've done that," Dent said of the two league favourites trying to gain promotion to the top-tier Central League next winter.
The 29-year-old felt Napier Marist could have played better than what they had done today on a balmy autumn's day with a slight breeze but a game which had several stop-starts due to injuries. Referee David Mason, of Napier, could have prevented it with a couple of yellow cards following blatant repeat crude tackles.
Harry Mason claimed a hattrick of goals on a day when Hokowhitu goal keeper Robert Hoek had his work cut out and denied the Marist foragers a few times.
Mason opened the hosts' account in the 11th minute following a counterattack from a Horowhitu cornerkick. Some crisp passes later the striker received the ball in the middle of the attacking third before taking it around Hoek to make it 1-0.
Four minutes later Hokowhitu striker Mohammed Eltayab had a golden chance to equalise but veteran Marist keeper Ryan Todd showed he hadn't lost his composure or reflexes in denying him during the one-on-one stand off. Todd went on to do the same to substitute James Robinson late in the second half.
Dent extended the lead, 2-0, when fellow centre mid Josh Murphy did the hard yards to the goal line before cutting it back in an oblique angle for his skipper to place past Hoek from the top of the 18m box in the 22nd minute.
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Murphy missed a one-on-one sitter in the 35th minute but Mason was clinical when he latched on to a ball, worked up the right flank, before surging into the 18m box to slip it past Hoek for a 3-0 margin in the 38th minute.
It wasn't until the 61st minute, after Vince MacKirdy had clipped the upright in the 54th minute, that Mason claimed his hattrick when substitute Tai Barham set him up for the 4-0 lead.
The flood gates opened with substitute Luis Toomey finding the net in the 65th minute and Thomas Tidy joining the party three minutes later with a header, as Marist coach Jamie Dunning rolled his substitutes.
Dent said his men were far from the finished article but felt that would begin when they would go up a gear in the next couple of rounds.
"We've sort of got our eyes fixed on a couple of important fixtures in a couple of months."
He said Napier Marist weren't about to concede anything just yet so a couple of title contenders needed to keep them bracketed in their equation.
"I don't want to say who'll clamp their hands on the title at the end of the year because, you know, it's only five rounds into the season but, I think, we need to be taken seriously as well as we'll be there or thereabouts come the end of the season," Dent said, adding Napier Marist would play a part in deciding who would claim the bragging rights.
Marist play fellow one-win Fed League campaigners New Plymouth Rangers in round one of the Chatham Cup next before hosting Palmerston North Boys' High School First XI in round six on Saturday, May 18.
"The Chatham Cup is a special competition in this country so the boys have the option to put their hand up to go out, with the Federation Cup, to have a crack," he said, seeing the national knockout competition as a good yardstick to gauge their worth.
A grinning Dent said goalkeeper Todd, who is 40 and raises the youthful team's average age with a couple of other teammates, is a pivotal player with regular keeper Wilson McCullough still recovering from injury.
"It isn't an easy position to be a goalkeeper but he's a great voice in the changing rooms as well and keeps us young boys pretty honest so it's great to have him as part of the team and good culture."