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Napier 1 - Olympic 4 (article from HB Today)

HAMISH BIDWELL

Beaten? Yes. Disgraced? No.

The history books will record that Wellington Olympic won 4-1, but that's not an accurate depiction of the fact that Napier City Rovers ensured yesterday's Central League clash at Bluewater Stadium was a real contest for much of the 90 minutes.

Rovers played with guts, occasional panache but, in the end, if the scoreline revealed anything, it was that they lack the playing resources to match the good teams. The players have worked hard this season, they've given their best, but they're short on the kind of class that Olympic had on display.

So, while there was still a degree of the hang-dog about Chris Shakeshaft's appearance at full-time, he acknowledged that his team had given him everything they had.

"We had two of our first XI, Brendan Adema and Hamish Price, pull out right before the game with flu, so we were down to the bare bones today," Shakeshaft said.

"At the same time, they've brought in two national league players in the last two weeks, Campbell Banks and Ian Robinson, and had the ability to bring on the Barbarouses brothers from the bench. So for us to do what we did, was quite encouraging.

"When you're playing a team that's that good, you need every bit of luck on your side and we didn't get that. But we did cause them problems and they had to make changes and they were important ones.

"This is no criticism of the players I've got in my squad, but we can only bring on subs when guys are injured or fatigued. They have the luxury of being able to bring on quality players and change the tempo of the game."

Which they did, with the second half introduction of first Costa and then George Barbarouses. Their pace widened the scope of Olympic's attack, freeing up Banks to rove.

At the time, a Willie Stanger goal had made it 2-1 and Rovers looked likely to grab an equaliser at any moment. Instead, it was Banks and Robinson who scored, leaving Shakeshaft to wonder what might have been.

"We'd come out in the first half and done bloody well," he said.

"Dunny (Scott Dunn) played great and when you've got a goalkeeper that's pulling off saves and keeping you in the game, the guys get a bit of a lift. Fyfey (Graham Fyfe) not putting that penalty in? Hey, you would've put your house on him scoring.

"He didn't, but the heads stayed up and in the second half we came out and played some really good stuff. Sadly, we didn't convert when we needed to and I guess I've got mixed emotions.

"I'm disappointed we didn't get the three points, but we competed and I didn't think 4-1 was a fair reflection."

Especially after the day that Dunn had in goal. You need the fingers on both hands to count the number of times he produced miraculous saves but, typical of any 'keeper, that won't be what he remembers his day for.

He'll be replaying the 75th minute, when his indecision allowed Banks to poach a goal. Dunn stayed on his line, Banks ran 40 metres to tuck it past him and, at 3-1, Rovers' race was run.



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