Akers sparks Hawke's Bay United comeback
Hawke's Bay United football forward Jorge Akers delivered a belated wedding present for his father and former All White Marty Akers today.
"I couldn't score a goal for him last weekend so it was good to get one for him today," 20-year-old Akers said as he reflected on his goal during Thirsty Whale Hawke's Bay United's New Zealand Football Championship eighth round 2-all draw with Team Wellington at Napier's Bluewater Stadium.
"That goal was a good turning point ... it gave the boys a bit of confidence," Akers said.
While he has been used in a variety of positions for the Bay over the last couple of seasons it's obvious Akers is enjoying the forward role.
"I'm not too fussed where I play but up front I see a bit more of the ball," Akers added.
His goal 20 minutes into the second half sparked the hosts comeback after they trailed 2-0 at halftime. French midfielder and Hawke's Bay United's player-of-the-match Hugo Delhommelle scored the equaliser from a penalty nine minutes later after substitute forward Cameron Emerson was brought down in the box.
Both of Team Wellington's goals were scored by former Hawke's Bay United players. Sam Mason-Smith scored the first after a quick counter attack saw the visitors capitalise on some sloppy defence from the hosts.
Fellow forward Hamish Watson scored the second when he collected a deflection from a superb save from Hawke's Bay United keeper Scott Morris. Five of the goals Hawke's Bay United have conceded this season have been scored by former Bay players.
Team Wellington finished the first half with seven shots on goal, three more than the hosts.
"I was impressed with our character in the second half. In the first half we were disappointed with our reaction," United co-coach Chris Greatholder said afterwards.
"We changed our shape at halftime and asked different things of the players and they responded really well. We won individual battles in the second half which we didn't in the first," Greatholder added.
New midfielder Manny Achol had a memorable debut for United with quality impact after taking the field as a replacement for Karan Mandair nine minutes into the second half. Mandair injured his shoulder during a challenge with Team Wellington defender Ben Mata.
Midfielder Ahmad Othamn had his best game of the season for the hosts. Defenders Bill Robertson and Kaeden Atkins also shone for a side which had no passengers particularly in the second spell.
Team Wellington showed why they are unbeaten this season with superb scrambling defence and plenty of pace and cohesion on attack. However they had every right to be disappointed with the manner in which they let the hosts secure the draw to remain unbeaten in their last three matches.
Hawke's Bay United will take on Hamilton Wanderers in an away ninth round ISPS Handa Premiership match next Sunday.