Napier City Rovers’ Jamie Wilkinson celebrates his first half goal against Wairarapa United. PHOTOS/PAUL TAYLOR

FOOTBALL

CHRIS COGDALE
chris.cogdale@age.co.nz

An embarrassing 9-0 loss to Napier City Rovers has Wairarapa United gaining sole ownership of the relegation spot in the Central League.

The young United side were always expected to struggle on the away trip to Bluewater Stadium, but they were never given a chance by the defending champions, who stretched their unbeaten run to 18 matches.

Rovers attacked at will from the kick-off and were eventually rewarded when veteran Solomon Islander Andrew Abba played a through ball for midfielder Gavin Hoy who coolly beat goalkeeper Matt King from inside the 18m box.

United’s Hugo Delhommelle and Rovers Jonny McNamara in an aerial tussle.

Prolific goal-scorer Martin Bueno doubled the lead seven minutes later when he latched on to a cut back from Jonny McNamara. That was the first of five goals for the Uruguayan.

An own goal to Wairarapa United captain Daniel Allen, a Jamie Wilkinson goal at 45 minutes and a second goal to Hoy in added time saw Rovers take a 5-0 lead into halftime.

The second half was the Bueno show. He scored in the 66th minute before bringing up his hat trick three minutes later. He then scored from a penalty in the 82nd minute and notched his fifth goal four minutes later.

It is the most goals Bueno has scored in a match and he has now found the back of the net seven times in the past three games.

United lynchpin Paul Ifill put the responsibility of the loss firmly on the shoulders of the older players.

“You expect players who are good enough at national league level to be able to lead a group of young men and I don’t think we’re doing that so I don’t want to blame the kids – I want to blame the older players,” he said.

United’s position wasn’t helped with fellow strugglers Wellington United, who had leaked 29 goals in three matches, picking up their first points of the season with a surprise draw with Waterside-Karori.