Palmerston North Marist will be happy to have their awful start to the competition out of the way, despite not picking up any points.
They were left wondering what might have been after a 3-1 loss to defending Central League champions Miramar Rangers at Memorial Park yesterday.
It was the third loss of the season for the Simon Lees-coached Marist side, after going down to Wairarapa United and Wellington Olympic.
Even though Miramar had plenty of chances yesterday, Marist's last pass let them down too often when they were trying to push forward.
"They're a very good team, they're outstanding," Lees said. "Now we know what we've got to do."
Lees said Miramar had chances, but it was Marist's finishing that cost them and they were shut down too often by the Miramar defence.
Lees wanted his side to play with more composure with the ball and they could have drawn the match, with striker Jerram Tuck coming close a couple of times.
Marist's next challenge is an away game against Petone next weekend.
It looked as if it could have been a long day for Marist yesterday, with Miramar on top for a lot of the opening stages.
Rangers had most of the ball and Henry Fa'arodo opened the scoring, heading a cross past Gurkarnvir Singh into the top corner. Then former Manawatu player Cory Chettleburgh scored with a deflected volley.
Tuck never stopped trying for Marist and he scored a quality goal, putting one over the keeper from a good ball over the top.
He also hit the post and put a ball across the front of an open goal.
But straight after Tuck's goal, his team-mates just watched as Fa'arodo ran through them to score and burst Marist's bubble.
Both sides could have easily have scored more, but the finishing was lacking.
Khair Jones was Marist's best on the flank, also getting back to defend and being creative in midfield. Jono Steele was also good in midfield and defenders Fin Milne and Woody Maxey-Graham held things together at the back.
Big striker Sam Mason-Smith was a constant threat for Rangers.
Miramar Rangers 3 (Henry Fa'arodo 18', 63', Cory Chettleburgh 43') Palmerston North Marist 1 (Jerram Tuck 6') HT 2-0.
- Manawatu Standard
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