WaiBOP United threw a spanner in the works of Hawke’s Bay United’s playoff push with a dramatic late winner providing a 1-0 victory at Bluewater Stadium in Napier.
With a playoff berth just minutes away for Brett Angell’s side with the score still locked at 0-0, Federico Marquez fired past Hawke’s Bay goalkeeper Josh Hill in the 90th minute to force the home side into a three-way battle for the playoffs next weekend.
Hawke’s Bay will secure their playoff spot with a point in next Sunday’s home match with Canterbury United but a loss could see Waitakere United and the Wellington Phoenix leap-frog the side currently in third place.
On Sunday, the home side created enough chances to wrap up their playoff place but an early miss by leading scorer Sean Lovemore after a Billy Scott cut-back set the tone for what was to follow.
We had our chances as well in the opening half with Dylan Stansfield’s header wide from a great position inside the six yard area on the 20-minute mark one of the best.
Soon after, Lovemore rounded WaiBOP goalkeeper Danyon Drake but the stopper recovered well to block a pass to Saul Halpin with the goal open.
The second half saw the hosts again produce several chances to clinch their playoff spot but Halpin’s 65th minute effort blazed over the cross bar while Drake again stood tall in the final 10 minutes – stopping goal bound efforts from both Ryan Tinsley and Lovemore.
Drake’s contributions proved crucial as Marquez pounced on the loose ball and fired in from the edge are of the area as the game entered stoppage time to at least delay Hawke’s Bay confirmation in the semi-finals until the final round.