By: Anendra Singh, Hawke's Bay Today
Rovers striker Angus Kilkolly keeps Palmerston North Marist midfielder Graham Craven at bay
Sometimes good things simply take time and Napier City Rovers lend credence to that when they slowly but surely ground down Palmerston North Marist in Napier today.
It wasn't until early in the second spell that the Conroy Removals-sponsored Rovers found the rub of the green in their 3-0 victory in the Lotto Central League game played in ideal conditions on a sunbathed Bluewater Stadium, with just a soft breeze making the blue flags flutter on the wooden stand.
The Fergus Neil-captained Rovers had numerous chances to draw first blood in the first 45 minutes but came up shy.
Charlie Yexley, Jean-Marie Paulin, Chris McIvor, Joshua Stevenson, Angus Kilkolly and Ross Willox all had chances to open the hosts' account but the finishing lacked a little urgency, composure and quality at Park Island.
Of course, Marist goalkeeper David Luke must take some credit for his anticipation for keeping the visitors in the game in the first half.
Marist, who also had created scoring opportunities but lacked the killer instinct to find the net, played a few minutes of the latter part of the first half with 10 players after Rhys Janes hobbled off with an injury as the sides went to the changing rooms scoreless.
The Shane Rufer-coached Marist almost did the unthinkable in the 55th minute but, fortunately, an army of blue shirts got in the way of a crisp finish during the melee in front of the goal mouth.
In the 61st minute, striker Michael Sheridan had a chance to break the deadlock but, with Jamie Lambe unmarked on his right shoulder, Sheridan drove the ball into the defenders.
However, it was Kilkolly who struck two minutes later, 1-0, on the other end when he received a deft drop from the top of the box from Willox near the left upright to slip the ball into the net to spark off long-overdue celebrations.
The floodgates opened when, in the 65th minute, Yexley, as he did early in the first half, made a surging run down the right flank to cut the ball across to find Kilkolly on the far upright to make it 2-0.
Stevenson, with all the time in the world and cool as a cucumber, drove the ball into the net from an oblique angle from inside the box on the right flank in the 75th minute to put the hosts up 3-0.
Willox, who had a solid presence in the engine room, clipped the inside right upright in the 83rd minute with the keeper beaten but, to the dismay of Blues faithful celebrating prematurely, the ball glanced across the face of the goal mouth for keeper Luke to retrieve safely.
It was mentally a good thing for coach Bill Robertson and his assistant Stu James before they host Wairarapa United in round three of the Chatham Cup (national knockout) campaign next Sunday here.
The second-placed Wairarapa are the Rovers' only other threat this winter, after leaders Western Suburb.
It was national volunteer week so Sport Hawke's Bay sports capability manager Tina Haslett, amid accolades, today saluted stalwart Malcolm Wilson who received a gift bundle on the recommendation of club chairman Phil Doran.
Wilson, who also is ground announcer during winter, saved the club more than $2700 in doing some repair and refurbishment to the corporate boxes and media booth after the weather damage following last month's flooding, Haslett said.
"There's a group of us and we're all retired," said Wilson who has dedicated close to 40 years to the club and whose wife Jill still serves as club secretary. Their sons, Stu and Danny, are still playing in the top two divisions.
The 67-year-old, who has coached players at myriad levels and also served as team manager up to the flagship Blues team, is the club captain.
His repair job, with a loyal club working bee, included fitting 20m-plus external metal flashing along windows using a ladder.
Wet carpet was pulled, floor painted in five rooms to ensure they were ready for entertaining VIP guests.