• Hawke's Bay United dealt to at Bluewater

Hawke's Bay United dealt to at Bluewater

Hawke's Bay United co-coach Chris Greatholder attributed fatigue as a key factor in today's 4-0 New Zealand Football Championship defeat to Auckland City in Napier.

"We looked flat. We've got to freshen up this week," Greatholder said after the ISPS Handa Premiership 10th round loss at Bluewater Stadium.

"We were a little bit off and didn't move the ball quick enough to move them out of shape," Greatholder explained.

"We didn't have enough of the intensity and aggression we had in recent weeks ... we didn't hit the numbers. But in saying that Auckland City are a good side," Greatholder added.

Thirsty Whale Hawke's Bay United certainly didn't hit the numbers. Auckland City had 19 shots on goal, 14 more than the hosts. The visitors forced 11 corners, 10 more than Hawke's Bay United.

In fact Auckland City could easily have hit double figures had Bay keeper Scott Morris not shone again with some gutsy saves. Hawke's Bay United defender Kaeden Atkins (pictured above) had his best game of the season while captain Jim Hoyle and fellow experienced defender and co-coach Bill Robertson also had some scrambling defensive moments to be proud of.

French midfielder Hugo Delhommelle again had a phenomenal workrate and this increased after he failed with a 33rd minute penalty kick. Had he converted this and forward Jorge Akers succeeded with a shot on goal after getting around the last defender 26 minutes into the second half the hosts could have snatched a draw.

After the final whistle many Hawke's Bay United fans claimed referee Kelvin Berg should have given Auckland defender Brian Kaltak a red card rather than a yellow after he brought down United midfielder Karan Mandair in the box in the 33rd minute.

There was some validity to their call. Auckland opened the scoring in the 31st minute with a goal to forward Dre Vollenhoven after some clever buildup work and the visitors led 1-0 at halftime.

Kaltak beat Morris with a header from a corner 17 minutes into the second spell and Auckland City led 2-0. Hawke's Bay United's defence functioned well for the next 16 minutes but the 34th minute saw classy forward Alfie Rogers extend the visitors lead.

With a couple of minutes remaining another of the Auckland forwards, Yousif Ali Al-Kalisy beat the tiring Hawke's Bay United defenders with ease to complete the drubbing.All of the Auckland players oosed class. Their composure under pressure was top shelf and their cohesion on attack is without doubt the best in the comp.

Hawke's Bay United have a 4pm away match against the Canterbury Dragons next Sunday.