Onehunga Sports make history

Onehunga celebrate winning the 2017 ISPS Handa Chatham Cup 2017. ISPS Handa Chatham Cup Final 2017, Central United v Onehunga Sports, QBE Stadium Auckland, Sunday 10th September 2017. Copyright Photo: Shane Wenzlick

Onehunga Sports are the ISPS Handa Chatham Cup Champions for the first time after a thrilling final was played out against Central United in bitterly cold conditions in Auckland.

The Hiroshi Miyazawa coached side showed huge character when they fought back from being a goal down on three occasions to finish 3-3 at the end of full time and extra time. They went on to defeat Central United 6-5 on penalties in one of the all-time great finals.

In a tense penalty shootout with the first six attempts from Onehunga finding the back of the net, it was a save from Louie Caunter against Central’s Albert Riera which proved the defining moment.

Onehunga followed Birkenhead United’s example from last year in winning the ISPS Handa Chatham Cup for the first time and in doing so completed a rare league-cup double.

Hiroshi Miyazawa was lost for words in the aftermath of completing a perfect season.

“There are no words for how I am feeling right now,” he said. “We couldn’t control the game at all. Our boys did an unbelievable job. I didn’t do anything from the sidelines. The boys did it. Day by day from day one this team has been about hard work and every opportunity they gave it 100 percent and that came through today.”

Five-time champions Central United, stacked with plenty of National League experience, came up against an in-form and confident Onehunga Sports who were playing in the ISPS Handa Chatham Cup Final for the first time.

Central United coach Aaron McFarland described it as the most important trophy to his club, while Onehunga Sports manager Miyazawa said there was still plenty of hunger in his side after winning the NRFL Premier League title. It was a fascinating script and that is how it played out.

For the first 45 minutes, the seasoned campaigners controlled the match superbly. Nicholas Zambrano had a number of early chances and converted one in the 20th minute on the back of a superb team move. At that stage it looked like the old heads would dictate terms. They held that lead at half-time and were delivering a composed and professional performance, but there was plenty of drama to come in the second half.

Shortly after the break, Onehunga chased the game like men possessed. The Ross Havilland-captained team got their equaliser through sheer will when Sean Lovemore found space in the box and his shot had just enough on it to beat Danyon Drake in goal. All of the sudden the green army, who had been drowned out by calls of “Yellow Yellow” found their voice. All of a sudden Onehunga had belief.

Central showed their class when they regathered themselves and went down the other end – a searching run from Regont Murati broke Onehunga open and he cut back for Seamus Ryder to finish and gain the lead again.

Sports rallied immediately. Central United were guilty of ball watching when Thomas Leabourn-Boss played to the whistle, kept the ball in just and finished from an acute angle to get back on level terms and send his team’s fans mental.

Again Central took the lead when Emiliano Tade produced some individual brilliance in the box and found space for Ryder to head home for his second within seven minutes.

Again, Onehunga Sports responded with probably their best goal of the afternoon. A well-worked team move saw Leabourn-Boss in space once again and he was good enough to get the NRFL Premier League champions back to level terms at 3-3. With nine minutes of regulation time to play it proved to be a massive moment in the match.

Both teams had their chances in extra-time as the rain pelted down on a cold evening at QBE Stadium but they could not convert. Still no-one was going anywhere as the penalty shootout was gripping viewing and in the end Onehunga Sports made history.

The Jack Batty Memorial Trophy for the game’s most valuable player went to Central United’s Mario Ilich, but the ISPS Handa Chatham Cup was Onehunga Sports to hold aloft.

ISPS Handa Chatham Cup Final
Central United 3 (Zambrano 20’, Seamus Ryder 71, 78’) Onehunga Sports 3 (Sean Lovemore 59’, Thomas Leabourn-Boss 72’, 81’) HT 1-0 – Onehunga Sports won 6-5 on penalties

Central United 1. Danyon Drake (GK), 3. Takuya Iwata, 4. Makro Dordevic, 5. Angel Berlanga, 7. Mario Ilich, 8. Dean Lausev (19. Albert Riera 62’), 9. Regont Murati, 15. Ignacio Machuca (2. Seamus Ryder 56’), 17. Reid Drake, 18. Nicholas Zambrano (13. Maro Bonsu-Maro 88’), 20 Emiliano Tade
Subs not used 6. Alfie Rogers, 12. Connor Cahill-Fahey, 21. Sione Fa’apoi, 24. Matt Hammett

Onehunga Sports  45. Lewis Caunter (GK), 4. Ross Havilland, 6. Jordan Vale, 7. Jack Caunter, 9. Sean Lovemore, 10. Jake Porter (11. Max Mata, 91’), 16. Thomas Leabourn-Boss (17. Charlie Hoyle 102’), 20. Shohei Moriyasu (29. Boon Ozawa, 106’), 21. Calvin Opperman, 22. Andrew Milne, 24. Harshae Raniga
Subs not used: 30. Joseph Dawkins, 31. Hugo Kidd, 32. Boyd Curry, 13. Robert Martinkovic (GK)


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