Did Hamilton Wanderers have a cause to remonstrate with referee Anna-Marie Keighley or did Hawke's Bay United get away with it to the tune of Mariah Carey's All I Want for Christmas today?

Amid all the howls, appeals, crude challenges and yellow cards, the most controversial moment was undeniably when Thirsty Whale Bay United goalkeeper Ruben Parker Hanks had convinced the three-point rule at Porritt Stadium that the ball hadn't completely crossed the line in the 29th minute.

Keighley, apparently in consultation with her assistants, Sarah Jones and Ashley Wilson, concurred and that's all that mattered as the sides were scoreless in the first half although the home side skipper, Jake Butler, and shot taker Derek Tieku had confronted Keighley during the break, according to TV commentators.

Tieku had drilled a ball that had clipped the upright and rolled across the face of the goal mouth as Hanks scurried back, gathered the ball and took a convincing stride to sell his rescue in the absence of goal-line technology.

Advertisement

Hamilton got the three points with a 2-1 a tempestuous affair in week eight of the national summer league but had they drawn, never mind lost, it would have made for interesting post-match responses.

"I don't want too say much but the officials make decisions on what the tempo of games will be," lamented co-coach Chris Greatholder as Bay United will face Team Wellington at David Farrington Park in the capital city on Sunday, January 12.

Asked if his troops had got drawn into a niggly encounter to detract from their game plan, Greatholder said he and Butler had accepted the physicality stakes were high and had revved up male egos to a platform of pride and passion.

"It was a niggly, hard-fought, ill-tempered game," he said, reflecting on three matches on the trot on the road as they slipped to third place, behind leaders Auckland City FC and Team Wellington.

Co-coach Chris Greatholder says they'd picked a bad day to play the Wanderers but it's not a crisis. Photo / file
Co-coach Chris Greatholder says they'd picked a bad day to play the Wanderers but it's not a crisis. Photo / file

To put things in context, Keighley had flashed enough yellow cards to decorate an office variety Christmas tree by the end of the 90-plus-minute match but one has to question the players' motivation. Ihaia Delaney's challenge on Brock Messenger early in the second half and then the right back's retaliation not long after comes to mind.

Fellow Bay United striker Ahinga Selemani, already on a yellow card, flirted with an early shower not long after in an aerial challenge although, in his defence, the Canadian-born American was unsighted when his opponent came in from behind.

The TV commentators seem to have trouble differentiating between Tieku, of Ghana, and Tommy Semmy, of Papua New Guinea, but needless to say the foragers were creating a havoc.

"We didn't play very well today," said Greatholder, changing his 3-5-2 shape in the second half to, what he believed, had led to putting a leash on Hamilton's better players.

Advertisement

With all the possession and shots at goal two-match-old hosts coach Kale Herbert would have been disappointed they hadn't gone into the changing sheds at least a goal up.

Tieku broke the deadlock, 1-0, after Semmy surged into the box but adroitly went to Xavier Pratt on the right flank who turned the ball into the near upright to Tieku. Hanks again thwarted the Ghanaian before repelling Semmy's serving at goal only to find Teiku had risen to nod the deflection into the net in the 74th minute.

Bay United countered from the restart but one has to ask whether that was reactionary rather than concerted drives that lacked quality meaningful passes when they mattered most on a sublime a day and on an artificial surface that Greatholder isn't a fan of.

Captain Hanks put his body on the line against Semmy in the 12th minute and then cleared off the goal line from a goalmouth melee in the 40th minute as the Bay defence failed to mop up adequately.

New veteran signing Adam Cowan, from Palmerston North, asked Matt Oliver how good his reflexes were and the Wanderers goalkeeper Matt Oliver had responded with a great parry in the 52nd minute.

Dylan Sacramento took exception to a challenge from Brock Messenger in the 85th minute as the American midfielder wagged his finger at the defender. Keighley showed Sacramento the yellow card but enigmatically let off Messenger.

However, Messenger's rush of blood to the brain cost them two points when Selemani scored the equaliser, 1-all, from the ensuing free kick with a scissors kick with his back to the goal in the 87th minute.

Cowan collected a yellow card after trying to put Messenger through a chiropractic manoeuvre via the jaw line in the 91st minute. Two minutes later Butler grabbed Joshua Signey by the chin and then proceeded to simulate a head-butt.

However, the skipper had the last laugh when he curled a beauty around Hanks' reach in the 94th minute for the winner.

"He's made a career out of scoring those goals," Greatholder said, not long after Herbert received a hug from father and former Wellington Phoenix/All Whites mentor Ricki Herbert.

He said it again was an indication of how tough the premiership would be this summer although hitting the road on a four-hour bus trip didn't help their cause.

"We've picked to play them on a bad day but it's not a crisis so we'll evaluate and go again because we're always trying to get better as a proud team," he said not long afterwards.

No doubt, Greatholder said, Bay United would be looking at turning the tables on the Wanderers when they make the trip down to Bluewater Stadium, Park Island, but that will have to wait until March 22, the penultimate week 19 of the league.

RESULTS
Canterbury United 2 (George King 72', Aaron Clapham 74') Tasman United 0. HT: 0-0.

Waitakere United 1 (Dane Schnell 60') Team Wellington 1 (Hamish Watson 90 + 4'). HT: 0-0.

Southern United 0 Auckland City 0. HT: 0-0.


Eastern Suburbs 2 (Martin Bueno pen 55', Reid Drake 74') Wellington Phoenix Reserves 2 (Ben Waine 9', Gary Hooper 40'). HT: 0-2.