Throwing the monkey off one's back has an air of inevitability about it, akin to a team with an unbeaten run waiting to lose.

For Thirsty Whale Hawke's Bay United it wasn't a case of if but when they were going to do it in the ISPS Handa Premiership this summer.

This afternoon they didn't just toss the primate off its perch but chucked it out of the park when they thrashed Waitakere United 4-0 in Napier.

In doing so, the Birhanu Taye-captained side ended a drought of victories at the Bluewater Stadium, Park Island, dating back to a winless spell last summer. However, it's imperative to note Bay United had won a "home game" at Memorial Park, Palmerston North, last season when they beat Eastern Suburbs but the venue isn't the official home of the Hawke's Bay franchise team.

Advertisement

"It was obviously a great feeling for us to win 2-0 but especially to keep a clean sheet which we have failed to do from the beginning of last season," said a beaming Taye after his troops led 1-0 at halftime.

The midfielder, who has no qualms in falling back to defend to help the collective cause, said sometimes teams toiled but things didn't always fall their way.

Taye felt a sense of togetherness provided the necessary cohesiveness and impetus Bay United had been lacking but the season's first victory was the ideal tonic to build on confidence.

"The only way we can get out of this is to come together and work hard for each other and today we did that," said the 23-year-old nursing student from Wellington.

Taye said Bay United still had the self-belief to make the premiership playoffs but it was important to carry the momentum into the remaining 12 games with a similar intensity.

"Anything is possible in the league so you can't give up," he said.

Midfielder Sho Goto (missed header 13th minute) and Oliver Bassett (25m drive in the 16th minute) came close to breaking the deadlock in the first half.

However, Canadian import centreback Joe Saverio Zupo eventually drew first blood, 1-0, in the 22nd minute with a header at the far post on the left flank following a deft cross from midfielder Cory Chettleburgh on the opposite flank when Waitakere failed to clear an initial wave of attack.

Advertisement
Waitakere United midfielder Matthew Conroy beats Hawke's Bay United French import counterpart Maxime Oliveri to the ball at Bluewater Stadium, Napier, today.
Waitakere United midfielder Matthew Conroy beats Hawke's Bay United French import counterpart Maxime Oliveri to the ball at Bluewater Stadium, Napier, today.

Whatever coach Brett Angell said in the changing room, Bay United came out playing a more open and attacking brand of game in the second spell.

Striker Sam Mason-Smith became the beneficiary of that co-operative effort when he patiently drove the ball into the roof of the net past Waitakere goalkeeper Nicholas Draper from point-blank range after collecting a pass from Goto to extend the lead to 2-0 in the 54th minute.

Mason-Smith reloaded six minutes later after Draper had thwarted a Cameron Lindsay drive from just inside the 18m box to make it 3-0. Minutes earlier rightback Lindsay had picked up a yellow card from referee Cory Mills for some unwelcome advise mixed with some colourful language.

Defender Anders Eriksson got on the delirious wagon when fellow substitute Bjorn Christensen headed a free kick across the face of the goalmouth for the Swedish import to poke it into the net for an unassailable 4-0 lead in the 85th minute.

Unwanted home boy Bill Robertson, in his debut season with Waitakere United, denied Taye a goal in the extra minute of added time when he cleared from the line with the goalkeeper out of the picture.

"I wasn't supposed to be out there. I should have been in the back but I felt a little bit on my leg so I went up for some adventure," said a grinning Taye. "It would have been good had I scored but I was more than happy because the team got three points."

He thanked the fans for their support and was proud of the way Bay United players had responded to a frustrating patch in the season.

Waitakere centreback Bill Robertson wins this tussle but Bay United striker Sam Mason-Smith scored twice in Napier today. Photo/Paul Taylor
Waitakere centreback Bill Robertson wins this tussle but Bay United striker Sam Mason-Smith scored twice in Napier today. Photo/Paul Taylor

Robertson said the visitors were disappointed with the result when the first half was "pretty even" after Waitakere missed a few chances to score.

"Big Mac [Waite] made a fantastic save earlier on and both teams had chances in the first half.

"In the second half the game opened up and we got stretched and they've taken their opportunities," said the centreback from Napier, revealing Waitakere United were missing key players in captain Jake Butler, former Bay United striker Andrew Abba (the leading scorer who is coming off the bench) and David Parkinson who withdrew due to illness.

"All these things tend to come all at once, unfortunately, and with those senior players away that showed today," he said.

Bay United kick off against Tasman United at Trafalgar Park, Nelson, at 2pm on Sunday.