Hawke’s Bay United 3 Tasman United 2

Memorial Park, Palmerston North
Sunday 29th January
Att : around 100

National League football in the Manawatu - not something that happens that often!
Manawatu United had a season in the National League in 1979 and then again in 1986. They merged with Rose City in 1987 and competed in the National League as Manawatu AFC until 1988, when they were relegated.

The next time the Manawatu had National League football was in 2005 when they won a place in the new franchise competition, with an entity that sounded more like an over 35’s team not really accepting they were actually over 35, Youngheart Manawatu!  

It looked as if they would pick up where the previous Manawatu teams had left off, when they finished bottom of the league in the 1st season. However, the next 4 seasons saw them finish 2nd in the league twice and 3rd once, and while they had no luck in the finals they still remain one of only 4 New Zealand teams to compete in the Oceania Champions League. Then the wheels fell off and 3 consecutive bottom places saw them dropped from the league. They continued in the National Youth League (and changed their name to Manawatu United) but when that league was aligned with clubs in this season’s Stirling Sports Premiership, the only National League representation for the region is the Central Football women’s team.

As the only team from the Central Football Federation in the National League, Hawke’s Bay United decided they would take a game on the road to help promote the game and hence the reason they were in Palmerston North to take on league newcomers Tasman United.

After last weeks antics Hawke’s Bay United were without Cory Chettleburgh and coach Brent Angell, who had to sit in the stands, however that didn’t seem to bother them too much, especially when Sam Mason-Smith beat Tasman’s keeper from an acute angle in the 2nd minute. Tasman weren’t to be out done and 10 minutes later Tanashe Moarowa slotted the ball past an advancing Josh Hill to level up the scores.

Tasman concede a penalty The JourneyFan 

It wasn’t long before Sam Mason-Smith restored Hawke’s Bay United’s lead, then a minute later, Tasman gave away a penalty (and effectively the game). Saul Halpin stepped up, but his kick was saved, but he pounced on the rebound and slotted home, but as he celebrated, the ref ran over to check with her assistant who had flagged. After some discussion it appeared that the keeper had moved of the line but as Halpin had scored the rebound the goal stood.

After 4 goals in the first 22 minutes the scoring settled down, although Hawke’s Bay United were unlucky not to make it 4-1 when they hit the underside of the bar just before halftime.

It took Tasman united just 7 minutes to score in the second half when Paul Ifill, at right midfield sent a long ball in which found Tanashe Moarowa on the edge of the penalty area and he hit a brilliant volley that curled into the top corner, one of those goals that are so good even the opposition fans cheer!

Tasman's Tanashe Moarowa scores a goal that even the opposition fans cheered! The JourneyFan

Despite dominating the possession and territory in the 2nd half, Tasman United were unable to breakdown a strong Hawke’s Bay United defence. Whether it was losing 3 players during the week, being bottom of the table, still waiting for their 1st win in the league or just most of the players waiting on Paul Ifill to do something special I’m not sure, but you get the feeling Tasman just need a couple of players who will put in that extra work rate and effort and results will start to go their way.

An enjoyable day in the Manawatu, it was a great idea of Hawke’s Bay United to take the game on the road to promote the game, just a shame the people of Palmerston North didn’t bother to turn up and support it.


  1. Thanks for the potted history of football in Manawatu. It's an important football region as a nursery of talent. Losing Youngheart from the national league meant a pathway to higher football for aspiring players from the Manawatu, Wanganui and Taranaki regions was narrowed considerably. Congratulations to Hawke's Bay United for taking this home game on the road.
    As for the game I think HBU were good value for the points based on a dominant first half performance with a very strong wind at their backs. With Fergus Neil hitting the frame of the goal and Facu Barbero and Ross Willox getting tangled in each other to miss from 8 yards the game could have been killed off by halftime. As it was, Marowa's superb second half strike made for a tense final 40 minutes. Hawke's Bay's defensive unit did well to keep it together against an increasingly threatening Tasman attack to take the three points back up the road in their minivans to prepare for Sunday's game with Auckland City.


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