ISPS Handa Premiership
Memorial Park, Palmerston North
Sunday 28th January, 2018
Att : 118
Kick off at Memorial Park on a stunning Palmerston North day The JourneyFan

Hawke's Bay United once again took a home game on the road, and once again they took it to Memorial Park in Palmerston North,  and once again the people of Palmerston North found something else to do!

Last season around 100 turned out to see Hawke's Bay United beat Tasman United 3-2. This season about the same number turned out to see Hawke's Bay United take on third place Eastern Suburbs. It looked as if it was going to be a decent crowd when arriving at Memorial Park, but it was quickly evident that the large number of cars were for people visiting the park's swimming pool as the temperature was up around 27C!

The first half was a pretty cagey affair, with the heat playing a big part in the game. Eastern Suburbs had slightly more of the ball but were unable to break down a very well organised Hawke's Bay United defence. Max Mata should have put Suburbs up after just 13 minutes, but after breaking into the penalty area he could only manage a weak shot straight at Hawke's Bay United's stand in keeper, Mack Waite. A shot against the post just before half time was the closest that HBU got in the first half.

With the heat and both teams looking very similar in strength, I was picking it to end 0-0 or maybe 1-0 if one of the defences wilted in the heat. When the second half started, Hawke's Bay United had other ideas and, Gavin Hoy took off down the left wing beat a defender and got a cross in, unfortunately debutant Tinashe Marowa was unable to connect with the ball and it went out for a goal kick. This did signal their intent though and it took just 10 minutes before Marowa, signed from Tasman United just days before, broke through and slotted the ball past Louie Caunter in the Eastern Suburbs goal.

Tinashe Marowa scores on his debut and makes it 1-0 to HBU The JourneyFan

The game then settled back in to a similar pattern to the first half, Eastern Suburbs with more possession but unable to find any way past the HBU defence, who were sticking to their shape extremely well. In the 73rd minute, HBU coach Brett Angell, took of goalscorer Marowa and sent on Hayatu Wakino, who only returned from Japan this week, and within two minutes he rifled in a cracking shot from the edge of the penalty area and made it 2-0 and gave Hawke's Bay United the win.

This season, it seems, is one for bogey teams (Team Wellington can't beat Eastern Suburbs, Auckland City can't beat Southern United, Wanderers can't beat anyone....) and Hawke's Bay United seem to be Eastern Suburbs, as this is the third time in the last four meeting that Hawke's Bay United have emerged victorious.

It is good to see Hawke's Bay United taking the game to other towns within their federation, and it's a real shame that it's not appreciated by the public of Palmerston North, a town that has produced the likes of All White's Paddy Breslin, Perry Cotton, Stu Jacobs, Steven Old & Jake Gleeson. With the exception of the Palmerston North Marist Women's team, who play in Wellington's W-League and the Central Federation Women's National League team who are based there, Palmerston North and the Manawatu region has fast become a NZ footballing backwater and unfortunately the locals have backed that up by not turning out.
Maybe Hawke's Bay United need to look to other towns within their federation, such as Gisborne or Wanganui, both those places have had time in the top league (Gisborne City won the National League in 1984, Wanganui Athletic made it to the National round of the Superclub in 1993) and were known for attracting decent crowds. Or if they go to Palmerston North again, they should look at getting Team Wellington as the opposition as there would be a few from Wellington that would do a day trip for that. Or maybe they just will stick to Napier in the future.