Hawke’s Bay United and Team Wellington returned to action for 2016 with Sunday’s 2-2 ASB Premiership draw at Bluewater Stadium in Napier.
Having come from back from a 1-0 deficit to lead 2-1, last season’s grand finalists Hawke’s Bay were pegged back by Oceania Champions League runners-up Team Wellington when Ben Harris scored his second of the day from the penalty spot in the 60th minute.
Earlier, Harris had given the visitors a sixth minute lead with a good first-time finish and that 1-0 advantage stood until the break.
Hawke’s Bay’s Sean Liddicoat got the hosts back on level terms three minutes after the restart and Birhanu Taye gave Brett Angell’s team a 2-1 lead in eight minutes later.
But their advantage lasted just a few minutes as Harris slotted home from the penalty spot for 2-2 – increasing his league-leading goal tally to six for the season.
Hawke’s Bay United captain Fin Milne said his side were once again able to harness the strong wind at Bluewater Stadium after their astonishing clash with the Wellington Phoenix earlier in the season in similar conditions.
“It probably would have been quite entertaining [for the crowd],” Milne said, “we played some really good football and created quite a few chances but we lacked that final pass or finish to really make it count, especially in the second half when we had the wind with us.
“I think we managed to play into the wind but it’s harder to get that final pass when it’s coming at you. To score one quite early in the second half and put that pressure on when we scored that second one, it’s a little bit disappointing to concede that penalty at the other end.”
Team Wellington player/assistant coach Bill Robertson said both sides were impacted by Christmas cobwebs with the strong wind an obvious factor.
“Coming here we were targeting three points but how the game turned out, we’re pleased with a point in the end. Maybe there was a bit of rustiness after the Christmas break for both teams.”
“We’ll go away, take the positives out of it and it’s a point earned rather than two points lost.
“We knew the wind was a factor, it was a quite a strong wind as it was in the 5-5 game with the Phoenix. We knew we probably didn’t score as many goals as we would have liked in that first half, we had some big chances but could have put more away.
“So knew it was going to be tough and Hawke’s Bay were going to press us and that’s how the game turned out.”
The result sees Team Wellington move to 13 points, level with Auckland City ahead of their clash this afternoon with Southern United. Hawke’s Bay remain fourth, a point further back.
ASB Premiership 2015-16 – Round 7
Sunday 10 January
Hawke’s Bay Utd 2-2 Team Wellington (half: 0-1)
HB: Sean Liddicoat 48’, Birhanu Taye 56’
TW: Ben Harris 6’, (pen) 60’