Wanganui Athletic 'humbled' by rampant Havelock North

06 May 2019

Wanganui Athletic's Scott Burney in a goal-mouth scramble with Havelock North's Campbell Whitworth and Nick Hayward. Photo/ Lewis Gardner

Wanganui Athletic's Scott Burney in a goal-mouth scramble with Havelock North's Campbell Whitworth and Nick Hayward.
PHOTO /  Lewis Gardner

A man who once donned Wanganui Athletic red has returned to Wembley Park to haunt his former club.

Tesco-Frederick Grunwald scored a brace and proved hard to contain as his Havelock North Wanderers hammered the home side 5-0 in Saturday's Federation League match.

The visitors - and early title contenders - scored after just 50 seconds before GJ Gardener Wanganui Athletic responded with a pleasing half of football against quality opposition.

And they should have levelled things just before the break but instead Havelock North doubled their lead and went on to dominate the second spell with three unanswered goals.

"Second half they came out firing and we just didn't have any answers," Athletic coach Jason King said.

"Every team's going to have a humbling at some point and five goals is a bit of a humbling for us. We've only got one direction from here."

Athletic came into the 5th round match in sixth on their back of the first win of the season when they beat Massey University 3-2 a week earlier.

Meanwhile, Havelock sat locked in a four-way tie at the summit of the ladder as the only unbeaten side in the league.

And their quality showed.

Havelock's opener came from the boot of Grunwald after he got his boot to a cross from Jared Bloor as the visitor's caught Athletic short before the first minute ticked over.

Jude Hiri had another solid game for Athletic. Photo/ Lewis Gardner
Jude Hiri had another solid game for Athletic. Photo / Lewis Gardner

Athletic weren't stunned though and footed it with their more fancied opposition for the next 40 minutes, forging a string of opportunities and only being denied an equaliser by the post - twice.

Jude Hiri forced a save out of Havelock North keeper Nick Hayward from close range while James Satherley sent several long-range shot sailing just wide of Havelock's goal.

Hayward was finally beaten in the 34th minute but there was still no way through for the home side.

Satherley leaped to flick a header on from an Athletic free kick but as Hayward flailed the ball struck the right hand post.

And when Satherley caught the rebound with the boot, the ball hammered the cross bar.

Recalling that incident post-match produce a wry-smile form King who said it was the story of their season.

Havelock North keeper Nick Hayward watches and James Satherley's header goes on to hit the post. Photo/ Lewis Gardner
Havelock North keeper Nick Hayward watches and James Satherley's header goes on to hit the post.  Photo / Lewis Gardner

"If we got half a point for hitting the cross bar we'd be winning the league," he said.

"I think it took more effort for it not to go in than go in. It's just been one of those things. We had some great opportunities."

To add to Athletic's frustration, a defensive lapse let Bloor round Athletic keeper Calvert to make it 2-0 at the break.

Grunwald grabbed his brace four minutes into the second spell as the visitors stepped up a gear to wrest total control.

Bjorn Christensen scored Havelock's fourth from a free kick in the 73rd minute while sub Liam Shackleton completed Havelock's scoring.

"In the first half it was a really good game,' King said.

"[Early goals] happen. We should be still really been in the game. We just didn't respond well in the second half.

"Unfortunately that been a theme for us this season."

King said Athletic boosted the midfield to counter Havelock North's quality.

"We knew they played good football so it was about getting more bodies in the way," he said.

"Everybody had to work hard. We knew we were asking a lot of each other and I think they all tried to step us best they could within the circumstances."

Would an equaliser at 1-0 changed anything?

"You can speculate - of course it would've given those boys a bit of a lift knowing that they could break them down and having that mark on the score sheet saying 'you can do this'. But that's all speculation," King said.

Federation League takes a break next weekend for cup football Athletic travel to Napier to play Port Hill United in the Federation Cup.

They then have a bye in the league they following weekend before playing Napier Marist at Wembley on May 25.

The result leaves Havelock North in a two-way tie at the top with Palmerston North Marist who have played one more game.

Athletic drop one place to 7th in the 11-team league.

In other matches, Versatile Wanganui City beat Red Sox Manawatu 4-1, Palmerston North Marist beat Massey University 2-1 and Palmerston North Boys' High School edged New Plymouth Rangers 4-3.

Napier Marist are due to meet Hokowhitu FC on Sunday afternoon.

By Zaryd Wilson
Whanganui Chronicle 6/5/19