The semi-finals of the ISPS Handa Chatham Cup will largely be an Auckland affair after only one side from outside the country’s largest city, Cashmere Technical from Christchurch, made it through a thrilling weekend of quarter-final action.
Among the victims were holders Birkenhead United, who succumbed 3-0 to Onehunga Sports, while fellow Aucklanders Central United secured safe passage with a pair of late goals giving them a 2-0 win over Wairarapa United. In the only game to be played on Saturday, another Auckland side made it through as Bay Olympic accounted for Western Suburbs 2-1 in Wellington, leaving Cashmere to fly the flag for the rest of the nation after their 3-0 win over Nelson Suburbs in a South Island derby.
Technical got the ball rolling at a sodden Saxton Field in Nelson through an unlikely source, Danny Boys drilling in his first goal for many years just before the half hour after being set up by left winger Lyle Matthysen. Suburbs made their task even more difficult against a team they had not beaten in the last five attempts when Kristian Gibson received his marching orders after picking up a second yellow card early in the second half.
It took some time but Cashmere eventually capitalised on their numerical superiority late on when Gary Ogilvie and Matthysen both found the net. The final goal was well worth waiting for as Matthysen rifled a shot into the top corner from fully 35 metres out.
Cashmere, who achieved the win without the presence of talisman Aaron Clapham, now have a chance to win their third Chatham Cup in just five years after going back to back in 2013 and 2014.
Up in the big smoke, Birkenhead were chasing consecutive titles after lifting the cup for the first ever time last season but those hopes were dashed by an accomplished performance from Onehunga. Birkenhead had been dealt a tough hand in their maiden defence after being made to face fellow NRFL Premier League opposition in all previous rounds and one more such match against the league leaders proved too much.
Birkenhead are the nearest challengers to champions-in-waiting Onehunga on the table but are 11 points behind and that gulf was emphasised in the cup this afternoon, despite the vociferous support of Birkenhead’s ‘Red and White Army’ at their Shepherds Park home.
After a tense first half, it appeared as if the sides would go into the sheds without troubling the scorers but former youth international Sean Lovemore had other ideas, giving Sports the lead with one of the last kicks of the half. Stoppage time turned out to be the game’s only goal-scoring window as Onehunga were made to wait until the dying stages of the second half to make sure of their win, Andrew Milne slotting home from the penalty spot before Jordan Vale managed to make it 3-0 in the remaining few seconds.
Late goals were also the order of the day on the southern side of Auckland’s Harbour Bridge, where five-time Chatham Cup winners Central United kept alive their hopes of a sixth crown after finally seeing off the challenge of 2011 winners Wairarapa United. The deadlock lasted for 84 minutes at Kiwitea Street before Dean Lausev decided to do something about it and Argentinian Emiliano Tade then put the icing on the cake deep into additional time.
If Central can go on to successfully complete their push for another title, they will draw level on total triumphs with Christchurch United and North Shore United, as well as being within touching distance of the all-time record of seven, held by Auckland club University-Mt Wellington.
On Saturday in the capital, Western Suburbs were chasing the double after earlier wrapping up the Central League but came up against a highly-motivated Bay Olympic, who have unfinished business in the Chatham Cup after coming runners-up in 2010. Many observers had picked Suburbs as warm favourites against their mid-table NRFL Premier League opposition but Olympic made light of those expectations when Nicholas Hindson gave them the lead on 32 minutes.
It was a short-lived advantage as Owen Parker-Price equalised from the penalty spot nine minutes later but Julyan Collett restored the Bay’s lead with nearly an hour gone and Suburbs were not able to respond this time.
The semi-finals of the ISPS Handa Chatham Cup – one of the oldest and most prestigious competitions in New Zealand sport – will take place on the weekend of August 26-27 with the official draw to be conducted by New Zealand Football this Tuesday.
ISPS Handa Chatham Cup Quarter-Finals
Western Suburbs 1 (Owen Parker-Price pen 41’)
Bay Olympic 2 (Nicholas Hindson 32’, Julyan Collett 57’)
Nelson Suburbs 0
Cashmere Technical 3 (Danny Boys 29’, Gary Ogilvie 87’, Lyle Matthysen 90’ + 2’)
Birkenhead United 0
Onehunga Sports 3 (Sean Lovemore 45’ + 2’, Andrew Milne pen 90’ + 2’, Jordan Vale 90’ + 5’)
Central United 2 (Dean Lausev 84′, Emiliano Tade 90’ + 3′)
Wairarapa United 0