Congratulations to HB United on making the play offs.
Hawke’s Bay United roared into the Stirling Sports Premiership play-offs while Team Wellington booked a home semi-final and Southern United could not avoid the wooden spoon as the regular season wrapped up over the weekend.
Needing just a point to pip Eastern Suburbs to the fourth and final play-off spot, Hawke’s Bay did far better than that in hosting Hamilton Wanderers after putting on a scintillating attacking display in the second half.
With only pride and the prospect of finishing on a high to play for, Wanderers – who had still to post a victory since the turn of the year in their debut campaign – threatened to spoil the party when they were awarded a penalty for hand ball just after the half-hour mark. Surprisingly, it was defender Sam O’Regan who took responsibility for the spot kick but he could not take advantage as Hawke’s Bay goalkeeper Josh Hill dived to his right to make the save.
Wanderers proved their own worst enemies again soon after as Angus Kilkolly put the ball into a dangerous area and an unfortunate defender turned it into the net for an own goal in the 41st minute. With so much riding on the outcome for them, the hosts were never likely to let that advantage slip and completed the job in style in the second spell.
Kilkolly again proved a thorn in the side for Wanderers by scoring just a few moments after the break and it wasn’t much longer before it was 3-0 when Sam Mason-Smith played in Cory Chettleburgh to finish in the 52nd minute. It looked like that’s the way it would stay as the clock ticked into the final moments but there was still time for a goal that proved popular with the home crowd as fans’ favourite Facundo Barbero struck to make it four.
The Bay will now take plenty of confidence with them into the play-offs and are likely to need it as they will be facing a trip to the big smoke to take on classy Auckland City in their own backyard.