Josh Stevenson (left) and Angus Kilkolly plot a goal from a freekick as Surburbs' Josh Rogerson (left) and Owen Parker-Price organise a reception committee. Photo / Warren Buckland
By Anendra Singh, Hawkes Bay Today
It was a sobering lesson in preparation on the park after a youthful Western Suburbs showed consistency in training pays dividends after returning home with three points from Napier yesterday.
"We're a little disadvantaged with the overlap of the national league and the Central League," said Conroy Removals Napier City Rovers captain Fergus Neil after they succumbed 2-1 at Bluewater Stadium, Park Island, in their first home game of the Central League.
"We must try to kind of get to know each other's play so, I guess, that can only get better when we spend more time together," said Neil, echoing the sentiments of coach Bill Robertson who was plying his trade for Team Wellington in the 2-all draw with AS Magenta in New Caledonia.
The defender said the Blues had created numeorus chances which, on another day, they would have put away.
"We could have at least taken a draw from the game so it is about what's the point in creating chances if you're not going to take them?"
Neil said they were fortunate to have some players from the Stirling Sports Premiership level and they would be handy into winter.
"I think the boys did really well today in stepping up to become leaders but, unfortunately, we just couldn't get over the line," he said.
While vociferous fans vented their spleen on the players and referee, Robertson's pre-match views played out. The Blues need to find a degree of cohesiveness and sixth sense required to tilt results in their favour.
It took only 30 seconds for the visitors to jolt the Blues out of a slumber as Ihaia Delaney planted the ball inside of the left upright past talented goalkeeper Joshua Hill, after receiving a crisp wormburner from the same flank for a stunning 1-0 lead.
That set the tone of the match for the first 14 minutes, it was predominantly Suburbs raiding the Rovers' goalmouth and the Blues scrambling on defence.
But, against the run of play, Angus Kilkolly scored the equaliser, 1-1. The striker placed his shot in the right bottom corner, way beyond the reach of diving goalkeeper Reed Collingwood from about 20m out from the left flank of the box.
It took a tackle from Elijah Just on last man Neil in defence, almost 30m out from the Blues' goalmouth to push frustrated fans into yelling advice.
"Why don't you talk to each other," one of them screamed as others chorused in approval.
The second half started much the same, with the Wellingtonians showing composure beyond their teenage years.
Neil, Danny Wilson, Matt Bruin and James Hoyle in the back were critical in disrupting any concerted efforts from the Suburbs in the stock exchange.
A penalty kick from Owen Parker-Price broke the deadlock, 2-1, in the 73rd minute after a shot clipped Bruin's hand.