Hawke's Bay United gain revenge in style
Talk about drama in the New Zealand Football Championship!
Thirsty Whale Hawke's Bay United's ninth round 4-1 ISPS Handa Premiership victory against Hamilton Wanderers in Hamilton today had it all. In the process Hawke's Bay United proved how much they had improved since their first round 3-0 loss to the same side and more importantly with their third victory from four outings after being zero from five United have put themselves in playoff contention.
There were two red cards in the clash. Hamilton Wanderers former Hawke's Bay United midfielder Josh Signey was marched in the 29th minute after a dangerous challenge on his United counterpart Sam Pickering.
Hawke's Bay United's goal keeping coach Jonothan Gould was ejected from the stadium in the 36th minute after being overzealous when questioning a yellow card issued to Pickering after a challenge on Hamilton forward Jordan Lamb.
Hawke's Bay United forward Jorge Akers (pictured above) opened the scoring in the 14th minute with a clever left footer following good buildup work from Pickering and fellow midfielder Manny Achol who earnt a starting XI berth after a memorable debut off the subs bench the previous week.
Another of the visitors hard working midfielders, Ahmad Othman, scored in the 29th minute after Akers and Pickering featured in the buildup. It was during this sequence of play when Signey challenged Pickering and was marched.
Hamilton's only goal came in the 33rd minute from a superb free kick from midfielder Joe Harris. Hawke's Bay United led 2-1 at halftime.
After having a header go over the cross bar in the previous play Akers made no mistake with another from a corner in the 59th minute. United captain and defender Jim Hoyle celebrated his return after a two-week injury spell with a 74th minute header from a corner.
Once again French midfielder Hugo Delhommelle was outstanding for Hawke's Bay United and his accuracy with corners was spot on. Keeper Scott Morris was again classy as he dealt with 18 shots on goal from the hosts.
Hawke's Bay United had 11 shots on goal and forced five corners, three less than Hamilton.
"We're pleased with the three points and we are now starting to look at the playoffs as a genuine possibility," United co-coach and centre back Bill Robertson said as his squad boarded their bus for the trip home.
"But we will still treat things one game at a time. We're thrilled with our tight squad and we're adding composure as we go along. We're a little bit better in front of goal and players from the bench are providing good impact," Robertson said.
He pointed out Hoyle's co-captain and fellow defender Fergus Neil was a late withdrawal with a groin strain and forward Gavin Hoy missed the match with an ankle injury. No new injuries were collected from the match.
Lamb and fellow forwards, captain Derek Tieku and Tommy Semu, who took the pitch as a second half replacement, all had memorable moments for the Blue Army. But the going was always going to be tough for the hosts after Signey was red carded.