The past came knocking on the door of the beautiful game at Havelock North today and the hosts at the village in Hastings made the mistake of answering the call.
Stop Out Sports Club didn't need a second invite, counting their blessings to walk away with three points from the round 10 of the Ultra Football Central League clash at Guthrie Park.
The second-placed Wellingtonians snuck home with a 2-1 victory against the Building King-sponsored Wanderers who not only kept the visitors honest against the run of play but also led 1-0 into the changing rooms at halftime.
The Chris Greatholder and Dion Adams-coached Havelock North side were solid after a 9-0 hiding at the hands of defending champions Western Suburbs in the previous round, especially the defenders, but regrettably they got sucked into playing Stop Out's game of physicality.
That is not to say the Steven Gulley-captained Stop Out played dirty but, evidently, they were more adept at mixing it up, especially at the coal face with Miroslav Malivuk, Jerram Tuck and Gulley. Throw in evergreen veteran striker Luis Corrales, with his deft touches and speedy bursts, and you start getting a clearer picture.
In their debut season, captain Ethan Dent and his troops would also have learned today that under Greatholder, who was unwell and not at the sideline, the long-term highway project is to build a template of cohesiveness and stability.
Today the Wanderers couldn't resist the temptation to react to on-field niggles, which saw them stray from the blueprint and eventually lose the plot.
The last-placed Wanderers should have come away with at least a point for frustrating Stop Out but, alas, they ended 90-plus minutes with four yellow cards to none for Stop Out.
The Wanderers of yesteryear, when Adams and team manager Bruce Barclay called the shots, were more savvy when it came to physicality.
Oddly enough the yellow cards are a testimony to that and an endorsement for the brand of footy the incumbent coaching stable are instilling in their young charges.
The other glaring aspect of today's game was that Solomon Islands import striker Gagame Feni needs to understand that he cannot single-handedly lead the villagers out to permanent residency in the promised land of Central League.
Besides, they would have cringed hours later on finding out that league leaders Thirsty Whale Napier City Rovers had succumbed 3-1 to newly promoted Integration Works Waterside Karori in Wellington.
As dazzling as his foot work is, it would pay for Feni to know dribbling is a potent weapon so reaching into his tool kit at every touch of the ball is unwise because oppositions tend to quickly work him out.
The striker took too many gambles with the ball when a simple touch and pass would have sufficed. Instead he added to the loss of already mounting loss of possession through unforced errors until the penny dropped around the 75th-minute mark.
The youthful Wanderers won't become better players because Feni will eke out victories but when he and compatriot Ian Paia, who came off the bench in the 84th minute, become integral cogs in the blue-and-gold machine.
Stop Out, compared with Suburbs, were functioning at a more sedate pace which enabled Havelock North to make a better fist of the game.
However, Dent disagreed with the assertion that they had lost the plot but felt it was more a case of two lapses in concentration that cost them goals.
"They are a very big physical side but I wouldn't say we got sucked into it. It was more inexperience but, yes, we probably needed to keep playing more football which we didn't do in the second half because we needed to play for 90 minutes to win at this level."
Both sides traded freekicks in an even arm wrestle that saw Wanderers goalkeeper Shaun Peta go down for treatment after a collision with Tuck in the 22nd minute.
Liam Shackleton came close to scoring in the 34th minute after the first string of prolonged and purposeful passes but the Wanderers left winger's crisp ground shot zipped past the right upright from inside the 18m box.
It was new striker Jorge Akers who had Stop Out goalkeeper James McPeake diving to parry the ball in the 39th minute but Feni, driving back into the stock exchange after the villagers had recycled the deflection, picked up a penalty kick when he was tripped. Akers stepped up to drill the ball into the bottom left-hand corner for a 1-0 lead.
Stop Out were creating numerous chances but a lack of composure, unnecessary physicality and tidy collective defence kept them at bay.
Cherbel Khouchaba made a delightful cross from the right flank across the face of the goal. Peta missed the ball but so did Corrales and Tuck as a goal went begging in the 43rd minute.
As the referee blew his whistle for halftime Stop Out coaches confronted the match officials following a spell punctuated by howls of protest over offside calls and allegations Wanderers players were fouling when not milking it. Three host players trying join the brainstorm but were called away.
The equaliser looked ominous when Peta fumbled in the 51st minute from a cornerkick but, luckily, Khouchaba's shot clipped a defender for another cornerkick. This time Corrales celebrated a 1-1 stalemate when he poked in the ball from point-blank range although it appeared as if the Malivuk header already had goal written all over it.
The rash of head-clutching fouls crept in from the 55th minute with Shackleton and Stop Out defender Amitesh Lal holding up play before James Sutcliffe came off second best against Akers.
But it was Akers' turn to go down with a headache after colliding with keeper McPeake in the 60th minute.
Adams pulled out veteran midfielder Jared Bloor and injected Ben Foxall in the 63rd minute.
However, it was teenager Akers who had a rush of blood in the 66th minute when he went down in a tussle with Lal but took exception, standing up to kick the defender who was already rolling on the ground while clutching his shin. Akers got a yellow card for his troubles.
A minute later midfielder Harry Fautley got on the ref's booklet for a yellow card when he stomped Malivuk although the leap in the air and fall from the veteran striker would have impressed a few gymnastics coaches.
Adams responded by subbing off Fautley for Che Jesson-Bentley.
It was Foxall's turn to collect yellow card for holding Lal on attack before a stern talking to from the ref in the 71st minute for pushing the same player.
Feni could have changed the momentum in the 78th minute when he collected a great oblique cross on the right flank to work it into the 18m box. The islander lost possession in trying to thread the ball between McPeake's legs when perhaps passing to Akers on the far upright might have been a better option, to prove an earlier point.
Instead it was Corrales again celebrating a goal on the counterattack a minute later for a 2-1 lead.
Stop Out immediately made a few tactical changes in pulling out Malivuk to inject fresh legs on defence.
Wanderers defender James Barclay picked up a yellow card in the 89th minute for a crude tackle on Gulley.
Dent said while they were disappointed not having come away with at least a point they also were very proud.
"They [Stop Out] are second in league for a reason but we showed a lot of character and desire to come back from last week's — I won't sugarcoat it because it was a embarrassing — a hiding to lose 2-1 to a very good side."
During the week the Wanderers had worked hard on finding their shape, he said, saluting Greatholder.
Gulley said they knew it was going to be tough at the village after the hosts' previous round result.
"I'm just stoked with how our boys who took it on the chin and got on with the game. Not one of our boys got booked, which was a huge positive so we'll take the three points and go home happy," said the midfielder, lauding Havelock North for having a game plan to put them under pressure.
"We've been behind a few times this season but we know that even when we're behind we have the ability to come back to get a win because we have good goal scorers at the top who will do the business for us," said Gulley.
The Wanderers host Western Suburbs in a 1pm kick off in round two of the Chatham Cup on Monday.