Was it a case of super boots or suspect defending after Napier City Rovers out gunned Wairarapa United in a high-scoring affair in Masterton tonight?
The Thirsty Whale-sponsored Rovers pipped the hosts 7-5 at the Masterton Memorial Turf under floodlights in round nine of the Ultra Football Central League.
"I think it was a combination of both things," said Blues player/coach Bill Robertson on the way back home after the James Hoyle-captained side came from 4-3 down at halftime to claim three points for the league leaders enjoying a five-point buffer.
The Phil Keinzley-coached Wairarapa United found themselves on the back foot shortly before halftime when winger Shakille Belle picked up a red card for a sprigs-up tackle.
"We didn't defend as well as we've done previously," said Robertson before emphasising the Callan Elliot-captained Wairarapa United had welcomed back quality players after the O-League season.
While the Blues had scored in the first half they had struggled to find their shape defensively but had countered with a bit more structure in the second spell.
Canadian import winger Wesley Cain struck in just the seventh minute before compatriot centre midfielder Patryk Misik made it 2-0 in the 12th minute.
Keinzley Agvet-sponsored Wairarapa hit back with Cameron Lindsay and former Wellington Phoenix supremo Paul Ifill to level 2-2 before Ifill pushed the hosts ahead 3-2 with a penalty kick.
Blues league golden boot pace setter Martin Bueno, of Uruguay, pulled it back to 3-3 before Vanuatu international defender Brian Kaltack, returning from his campaign with O-League losing finalists Lautoka (Fiji), nudged the green army ahead from a tap-in freekick scramble shortly before halftime.
Spurned Wellington Phoenix striker Hamish Watson gave Keinzley some hope when he extended Wairarapa United's lead to 5-2 in the 52nd minute but the Rovers didn't lose their composure.
Japan import centre-mid Sho Goto struck twice to level terms at 5-5 before Misik claimed a brace with 10 minutes to go for a 6-5 lead.
Bueno was not to be denied either for a brace when he made good another penalty kick, for a handled ball, with a minute to go for the final outcome.
Robertson said his troops capitalised on a lion's share of possession in the second half as Wairarapa United opted to sit deep a man down.
"It made it quite easy for us to get the ball and turn it into quicker possession to score four goals in the second half for a good victory."
Even though the hosts had gone 5-3 Robertson said his men's belief didn't waver in eking out a victory.
"They sat deep and allowed us to have the ball so it was about us breaking them down and, obviously, we did that."
He felt Wairarapa United would cause a few sides problems in their remaining games this season if they maintain their quality players and discipline on the park.
"We're on the top of the league now at exactly the halfway point and we have a five-point lead.
"We've also score 38 goals from nine games, which is not a bad return."
Like any savvy side, Robertson said they were going to work on putting up the storm shutters a lot smarter.
"We're pleased with where we're at and today we've obviously had a big win against a good side."
He said Bueno was offered two penalty kicks on the heels of a couple or so more that he had tucked away safely this winter so it made sense to capitalise on his wave of confidence.
But it pleased Robertson that the likes of Misik and Cain got on the referee's scorecard to show the Rovers were quite adept at foraging at the coalface rather than dependent on one player.
Last-placed Building King Havelock North Wanderers host defending champions Advanced Electrical Western Suburbs in a 1pm kick off tomorrow to see if they still have the giant-killing rub off the green at Guthrie Park in the village.