The question was asked in the previous round - who are going to beat Napier City Rovers this winter?

The answer came quite emphatically from defending champions Advanced Electrical Western Suburbs after they pipped the Thirsty Whale-sponsored Blues 2-1 in Napier yesterday.

The visitors struck early through striker Matthew Garbett in the 14th minute and didn't lose their composure when English import defender James Wilkinson equalised in the 71st minute from a cornerkick.

Elijah Just's winner came in style in the 78th minute in round four of the Ultra Football Central League soccer match at Bluewater Stadium.


It was the second stunning result from the weekend after undefeated Wellington United succumbed 3-2 to Wairarapa United on Saturday to leave Western Suburbs as the only unblemished side in the premier winter league.

Perhaps what stuck out like a sore thumb was the hosts' taking a sentry post deep in their half from the first whistle to enable the Wellingtonians to take control of a vacant midfield with dazzling speed and skills.

Western Suburbs' plucky approach wasn't always pretty but it was enough to cast doubts in the minds of player/coach Bill Robertson's hesitant men.

Without doubt, some of coach Declan Edge's boys were playing more like men even if they had a youthful appearance about them.

Rovers captain Joshua Stevenson, who also found himself rubbing shoulders with his backline for the most part of the first half, said Suburbs were a good side and a lot more physical than they had been in previous seasons.

"They're not the kids that they used to be," said Stevenson of a side who hit the highway with not only three points to inflict the first loss on the Blues but the O'Brien Challenge Shield, which the hosts had wrenched off Wellington Olympic the previous round.

While the post-mortem on yesterday's game with Robertson was pending, he said the Blues hadn't reflected on why they sat so deep in the first half but had done their pre-match research to have a better grasp of what shape Western Suburbs had on the park.

"Their fullback joins in with their front pack while the central midfielders pick up the pocket from the centrebacks and that did work," he said but emphasised the Rovers had tweaked a few things to ensure Suburbs didn't have everything their way.

Trailing 1-0 at halftime, Robertson had emphasised the need to stop the opposition from working the short, sharp passages of play to force Suburbs into playing long and that was how the Blues had scored the equaliser .

"We started to win a couple of headers and picking up the bits in between but obviously it didn't last the full 90 doing that."

Stevenson said the boys were disappointed but were now looking at the Anzac Day match against Stop Out at Hutt Park on Wednesday.

The Blues will keep the faith in their system rather than adjust to Stop Out who are likely to bring a different brand of football.

"We'll try to take the game to them down there."

He agreed had Canadian speedster Wesley Cain, who is away visiting family in his hometown, been here the Rovers might have had a different result.

"But we needed to get the ball in the first place which we struggled to wide out to our players," said Stevenson, unsure whether because Suburbs were adriot out of possession or the Rovers were poor in possession.

On reflection, the police officer felt it was a bit of both.

Referee Jason Marshall gave Edge the marching orders from the coaching box to the tune of Steam's song, Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye, from parochial home fans after the former New Zealand international got into a slanging match with Rovers assistant coach Stu James before signing off with an audible expletive.

Centreback Erik Panzer, who made probing runs through the rib of the park to provide his foragers with goal opportunities, said Suburbs expected a tough affair, in keeping with a demanding road trip.

His mainly young teammates came out to play with some discipline.

Panzer agreed had they had more lacquer in their finishes they would have scored more goals.

"In the end we held strong from No 1 to 11 so we'll take the three points and the shield home with us," he said.

A grinning Panzer said they were aware their coach had been banished to the grandstand.

"We know what Declan's like. We do the job on the field and he does that off it and that's football so we'll just kept doing our thing on the field to keep our discipline."

Building King Havelock North Wanderers lost 5-2 to Lower Hutt City FC in Wellington on Saturday.