Christmas has well and truly gone so Hawke's Bay United coach Brett Angell is tearing his hair out trying to figure out why his players keep gifting goals to the opposition in the national summer league.
"We're gifting goals again, as I keep telling the opposition, they don't have to work for them because we're giving it to them," said Angell after Waitakere United thumped the Thirsty Whale-sponsored Bay United 7-2 in week 18 of the ISPS Handa Premiership dead rubber at Trusts Arena this afternoon
The huff and puff from the residual effects of Cyclone Oma had threatened to steal the thunder from the game but there was no dispute who the victors were in the aftermath of the televised dead rubber in Auckland today.
"It's probably a little synonymous with not playing for three weeks but it's another very, very poor performance again," he lamented, ruling out the wind and rain as a factor, not willing to use that as an excuse for their mediocrity in slumping to 4-1 by halftime.
Angell said he wouldn't have had an issue if the Chris Millich-coached Waitakere had opened them up in attack because Bay United, like the hosts, had blooded full debutants - Josh Murphy and Luis Toomey.
"We got a little exposed at times out wide in fullback positions but, again, we look at the first two goals conceded so I mean to look at the video to see if the third one was a goal or just given," he said, filthy to have conceded four goals in the first half.
When referee Calvin Berg had finished sending players to the naughty corner the game eventually took some shape.
The hosts broke the deadlock, 1-0, after Bay goalkeeper Alexander Britton failed to punch the ball out of harm's way from a Sam Burfoot corner, although rain wouldn't have helped in the 19th minute.
Waitakere player Kris Carpenter pounced on the clearance to nod it towards the goalmouth where the ball had crossed the line but Oliveri, already on a yellow card, was lucky to be on the field for what was blatantly a deliberate hand-ball clearance as captain Birhanu Taye and defender Cameron Lindsay argued with Berg and an assistant on the sideline.
The hosts went up 2-0 in the 24th minute after Taye lost the ball to former Bay United and Napier City Rovers forager Andrew Abba who had surged towards the 18m box but, unselfishly, crossed it to Alex Connor-McClean on the left flank.
The ensuing shot beat Britton as defender James Marsh, running back, could do nothing but smash it into the gaping goalmouth with a sliding effort.
The blokes in red and white were slapping each other on the back with a 3-0 lead when Connor-McClean made them pay from a follow-up goal after Britton parried Oscar Browne's first attempt in the 27th minute.
Bay United made it 3-1 from golden boot contender Sam Mason-Smith after Hoy and Oliveri made one-two passes before Hoy cut the ball back to find the striker for the goal in the 39th minute.
But it was a cart-wheeling Connor-McClean who claimed his hat-trick a minute into three minutes of added time after latching on to Abba's mistimed volley to head it past the keeper for a 4-1 buffer.
Abba, always a thorn, almost ran the ball into the net for a 5-1 lead in the 67th minute despite wing back Jorge Akers leaning on him.
The visitors pulled one back to 5-2 from a Carpenter foul on Gavin Hoy inside the box near the goal line in the 70 minute where Mason-Smith coolly had goalkeeper Silvio Rodic diving the wrong way from the ensuing penalty kick for his 14th goal this summer.
However, the hosts reinstated the margin, 6-2, from a free kick when Murphy brought down Oliver Bassett just outside the 18m box, from an attack that began on a throw in ball in the Bay United half. Red-head Basset curled the ball over the grounded wall to leave Britton in despair.
But Waitakere weren't done. They rubbed salt in the wound with about 17 seconds left on the clock in regulation time with another feeble goal through the spine of the field.
Midfielder Ignacio Machuca Maturena surged through the centre of the field to thread the ball to captain Burfoot to slip the ball past Britton as the defenders arrived too late to close him out for the final result.
Angell said it would have been nice for Murphy and Toomey to have taken better memories of their full debuts with a victory rather than a flogging but it wasn't to be today.
Both teams are out of contention of the playoffs. Bay United, who boasted a proud playoff record, have missed out on the last two seasons to make the cull.
Waitakere, once heavyweights with Auckland FC, have four titles but are rebuilding.
Bay United host Tasman United in their last home game at Park Island, Napier, on Sunday next week.