Otago United produced better form but still lost 2-0 to
Hawkes Bay United at Napier's Blue Water Stadium yesterday.
Regan Coldicott returned to Otago's ranks after a one-week
suspension, while Hawkes Bay's Harley Rodeka was missing for
The first half had both teams feeling each other out
cautiously, but it was not long before there was goal-mouth
Tristan Prattley suffered a slight head injury in a melee
created by a Bay free kick, but the defender was able to
Scott Gannon earned a start against his old club and the
opposition's golden boot contender, Sean Lovemore, showed his
pace on a run that threatened Otago's goal.
In to replace regular keeper Liam Little, who was a late
withdrawal, veteran Peter Evans mopped up the danger and had
a steady match for Otago.
Coldicott showed his class with a darting run that found
space in the Bay penalty area, and was unlucky when his firm
shot rebounded off keeper Richard Gillespie's upright.
A flurry of activity had Morgan Day in referee Matt Conger's
book for a late tackle on Gillespie, then Lovemore hacked a
shot over Otago's crossbar. Joel Stevens hit a neat half
volley over the Bay woodwork as halftime approached.
The start of the second spell was disastrous for Otago as
Lovemore's pace earned space and his far post cross was
headed in by Rudi Bauerfiend to put the home side ahead after
The game opened up as Connor Tinnion hit a rasper at Evans in
goal, then Coldicott replied with a shot for Otago, just
before being subbed by Sam Mepham with 25 minutes to go.
Benjudah Fitzpatrick replaced Day as Otago gambled to
introduce some physical pressure but, as it chased an
equaliser, gaps were left at the back.
Lovemore took advantage, using his speed to slice through and
beat Evans with a shot into the bottom left corner in the
77th minute for a 2-0 scoreline.
The goal kept Lovemore at the top of the golden boot race
with six goals, and virtually ended any hopes of Otago
gleaning something from the game.
In a final flurry, Aaron Burgess flicked a header goalwards
but the ball hit the post and left coach Richard Murray
musing that 12cm of wood had cost his side two goal-scoring
chances that could have drawn the match.
In other matches, Canterbury hammered Waikato 5-0, Wellington
beat Manawatu 3-1, and the Waitakere-Auckland derby finished
Hawkes Bay United 2
Rudi Bauerfiend, Sean Lovermore
Otago United 0