By Anendra Singh, Hawkes Bay Today
Rovers Joshua Stevenson (centre) receives a hug from Angus Kilkolly as Jean-Michel Paulin approves of the equaliser against Olympic in Napier. PHOTO/Paul Taylor
Napier City Rovers showed no respect for rankings when they thrashed Wellington Olympic in Napier today.
The Conroy Removals-sponsored Blues led 2-1 at halftime before absorbing everything the Greeks threw at them to prevail 4-1 at the final whistle of the Lotto Central League match at Bluewater Stadium, Park Island.
The Bill Robertson-coached hosts, ranked No 8, were simply more clinical in the final third than the No 4 Olympic and should have scored more goals.
The visitors were reduced to 10 men in the last five-plus minutes when the referee sent off former Hawke's Bay United player Mario Barcia - his clumsy challenge resulting in two yellow cards and an early shower.
It was Olympic who drew first blood, 1-0, when an elementary through ball from the rib of the field got through to Sam Blackburn in just the fourth minute in a game where a film of steady drizzle persisted to make the surface tricky.
The striker casually pushed it past an advancing Blues goalkeeper Ruben Parker Hanks.
But that just stung the Fergus Neil-captained Rovers into action when vice-captain Joshua Stevenson equalised two minutes later.
Prolific scorer Angus Kilkolly displayed some magic, dribbling the ball through three defenders towards the goal line before cutting it back to roving attacking midfielder Stevenson who fired past goalkeeper Scott Basalaj.
Two minutes before halftime, the Blues took the lead for the first time, 2-1, from a Kilkolly penalty kick when Olympic centreback Blake Weston unnecessarily gave Stevenson a shove as he surged into the box but had lost control of the ball.
Both sides played an attractive passing game although the Greeks were more pinpoint in finding white shirts while the Rovers often couldn't keep possession for long.
The turning point for the Wellingtonians could have been in the 53rd minute when Blues' Canadian import defensive midfielder Oliver Coren coughed up possession from an unforced error in the box.
Olympic forager Daniel Mulholland pounced on the ball and beat the diving Hanks but his shot agonisingly clipped the right upright and deflected kindly back into the arms of the spreadeagled keeper to the relief of the Blues' faithful.
It wasn't until the 76th minute that Rovers went up 3-1 when Kilkolly's attempt at goal was not cleared effectively and midfielder Matt Bruin gleefully drilled the ball past Basalaj.
Wellington coach Guillermo Schiltenwolf could only watch in the 85th minute as Barcia had a brain fade in stealthily taking out Blues veteran centre-mid Chris McIvor from behind.
That's all the Rovers needed as they went for the jugular in the very next passage of play from the free- kick.
Stevenson got up to glance a header from a cross, which found Kilkolly in a great position to drive the ball home and leave Olympic totally deflated.
The Greeks will reload when they return to Park Island for a round two Chatham Cup clash on Queen's Birthday Monday.
The Rovers also host Lower Hutt City in a 2pm Central League kick off on Saturday.
- Hawkes Bay Today